The Japanese animation industry has attracted much interest in the West, with English-speaking fans avidly adopting Japanese terminology such as anime (short for "animation", but used almost exclusively to refer to animated features originating from Japan) and even otaku (a derogatory term meaning "obsessive fan"). The term anime (アニメ) is the short form of the Japanese word animeeshon (アニメーション), which is itself derived from the English word animation. Anime shares a similar visual style with its print couterpart manga and both are derived from the works of Japanese artists such as Osamu Tezuka.
As in the West, Japanese animation tends to follow Japanese comic book styles (called manga). An author/illustrator of a manga is called a manga-ka. Many anime begin as manga in magazines such as Weekly Shounen Jump, one of the most popular compilations in Japan.
In recent years, the translation process of anime and manga has come under criticism for the process of "Americanization". This process is the editing of the original works so that they can be made more acceptable for the American public. Episodes are known to be shortened to add more time for commercials. Religious influences and homosexuality are removed so that anime can be shown and marketed to younger audiences. Some directors adopt a policy of "no cuts", where their works cannot be altered and are more literal translations. If this condition is not met, the director will not allow his work to be translated. Some groups of Bilingual speakers have, thus, taken to providing "unofficial" translations for the general public, uploaded to the internet for free. This was one of the major controversies of the SOPA bill that was recently a major issue.
Some non-Japanese cartoons, particularly such shows as Avatar: The Last Airbender, My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic, Totally Spies!, The Amazing Spiez, Code Lyoko, The Boondocks and Kappa Mikey, have anime-influenced artwork and appearances (with Kappa Mikey and Totally Spies! and its spinoff The Amazing Spiez being the most anime-like in appearance and feel), showing a heavy influence by the anime style.
Japanese for young boy, Shounen is the most popular genre in Japan and the most well known outside the country. Aimed at young teen boys, Shounen are often action/adventure series featuring martial arts, Japanese and Chinese folklore, simplistic animation and conceptual fantasy and science fiction. Popular titles that have been translated to English include Astro Boy, Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (adapted for American audiences by Sandy Frank as Battle of the Planets and later by Ted Turner as G-Force: Guardians of Space), Star Blazers, Captain Harlock, Robotech, Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, Dragonball/Z, Gundam, Fullmetal Alchemist, Prince of Tennis, and Sgt. Frog. Pokémon, the 1990s superfad, is also Shonen.
Japanese for young girl, Shoujo is also popular outside of Japan, with such famous dubs as Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura (Cardcaptors in America), Tokyo Mew Mew and Fruits Basket. Within Shoujo there is the subgenre of Magical Girl, where an otherwise average Japanese girl has magical powers with which she saves the world. More often than Shounen, Shoujo are romance tales or rely heavily on romance in the plot. The heroine is often saving the world by night and snagging the boy of her dreams by day.
Japanese for young man, Seinen (or seijin) targets the 18 to 40 male audience, though it is not uncommon to find much older men reading manga on the train ride to work. Good examples of seinen anime and manga include: Ghost in the Shell, Gunslinger Girl, Bartender, Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou, Cowboy Bebop, Elfen Lied, Aria, Bokura no, Hetalia: Axis Powers, as well as the feature films of Satoshi Kon and Makoto Shinkai. Titles like Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell are considered classics, while Cowboy Bebop was the first anime aired on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim block. Seinen shares many elements with shounen, but is often darker and more mature (or immature, depending on the sense of humor) than Shounen, with horror, mystery and suspense. Sometimes, seinen manga features graphic violence, for example in the film Akira. Often it will also take a slice-of-life look at stories, and provide deeper character insights than shounen action-driven works.
Japanese for young woman, and targets women in the 18 to 40 age band. Can also be referred to as "redisu" and "redikomi", the latter being taken from the English "lady comic". It differs from shoujo in that the artistic styles of josei tend to be more realistic and restrained, and the stories tend to be more realistic and mature. Examples of josei manga and anime are Paradise Kiss, Hataraki Man and Honey and Clover.
Japanese for child, Kodomo are the cartoons most like American cartoons, as in for small children. They are often moral teachings with simple animation. Astro Boy is the first anime brought to America, having the notoriety that comes with being a child icon for 60 years. Modern titles include Hamtaro and Doraemon.
Anime and Christianity
Christianity is a minority religion in Japan, whose majority faith is Shinto (with Buddhism also prominent to a lesser extent); as a result, very few anime series are influenced by Christianity in that country. Of the few that are, notable ones include Haibane Renmei, Bunny Drop and Clannad. At least one anime adaptation for Christian stories such as The Dog of Flanders also exist. The Pokémon anime series, at least the original series, also had some Christian influences, such as the character Brock making a reference to the Book of Genesis in one episode, the character Misty attempting to ward a Gastly off via a crucifix in another episode, and James's (fake) flashback to his childhood depicted him supposedly dying with his Growlithe near the steps of a church (all of which were surprisingly retained in the Dub). In addition, a major subplot for the first movie had the character Mewtwo questioning its existence, including wondering whether it was in fact created by God, with it being explicitly mentioned that, besides humans, only God has the ability to create things (which, unlike the other examples, was cut from the 4Kids Dub for the movie.). In addition, Pocket Monsters: The Animation, an adaptation for the anime in book form, implied that Pokémon themselves originated as an extra species created by God during the six days of creation, more specifically when he "doodled" them during the seventh day of rest.
Criticism of anime
Anime has come under criticism over the years by animation purists due to most, if not all, anime shows (particularly the more recent shows from the 1980s onward) looking stylistically similar in their artwork and lacking a clear-cut distinction between styles, as well as being considered inferior in visual style to American animation. The anime genre has also been criticized for the inclusion of such above-mentioned subject matter as homosexuality, pedophilia, pornography (which has its own anime subgenre, hentai), horror and graphic violence, which tend to make such shows taboo for younger viewers. Another glaring criticism of anime is the poor adaptation of many such shows into English, with poor voice acting (in particular, making some charatcers sound childish), nonsensically-interpreted storylines and dialogue (especially when the dialogue and/or its tone do not match how a particular character feels in a scene), the changing of character names to ridiculous-sounding names, and the elimination of Japanese cultural references and their replacement with more recognizable pop culture for English-speaking audiences; while done with the intent of sanitizing the translated anime to make it more kid-friendly, such shows end up looking and sounding farcical and non-serious. The most looked down-upon aspect of anime is its hardcore segment of fans (the above-mentioned otakus), who often violently react in extreme, histrionic and illogical fashion to any criticism of the anime genre (including even making death threats to the critics and others who are not anime fans), giving such fans much in common with liberals who react in similar fashion to any criticism of any of the liberal sacred cows like "global warming", the homosexual agenda, abortion, feminism, socialism and Islam.
- The Christian's Guide to Anime and Otaku-dom at Beneath the Tangles
- Anime at TV Tropes
- Anime Recommendations for Christian Viewers at Beneath the Tangles
- Criticism of Anime and Manga
- Our reasons for not liking anime
- Captain Harlock vols. one and two by ZIV International at the Captain Harlock Archives
- Anime Adaptations
- Anime at Fanlore Wiki
- Questions asked when overprotective anime fans come to this page