Anime And the Issues We Have With It Part 1: 100 years of history in 1200 words or less.

Anime: To the Japanese it is simply what they use for all animation. For us, it means anything animated from Japan. What started as a way to get around the dirt poor budgets of the Japanese film industry is now a 4.5 billion dollar industry, with a large following of anime fans, both passing and full blown fanatic alike, in the United States and an even large following in the Latin Nations of South and Central America.

Yet, for all its popularity, it has developed a good large number of people who heavily criticize this style of animation in, with varying degrees of intelligence. In fact, from my experience on discussions on the web and in person, most of the reasons people do not like anime is often found in unhealthy amounts in our own forms of entertainment. Out of all the arguments and rants on anime, I figure a good 95% of the arguments are either idiotic at best, are done by people that are just as rabid as the weirdest of anime fans, or what they are complaining about they would ignore in a more western style of animation.

So for a simplified account of its history. As a note: this is largely from an American perspective, and how anime has done in the US. I'm not sure how it has done in the last few decades in the rest of the world, so any anime fans into it from across the world tell me how its done in the rest of the world.

So with no further ado: The film industry in Japan during the early 1900's sucked. By the time the United States and Europe were now out of the making things up as you go stage of this fledgling form of entertainment, the Japanese were just getting into it. Moreover most film makers had three major handicaps when it came to making films.

1. A lack of funds. Pretty much the people in charge of the studies then, were penny pinching scrooges and didn't a lot for a lot of money for the filmmakers. This has not changed since then for the most part. Because of this, this severely limited where directors could film, how many people they could have for a cast and crew, and how elaborate the sets, props, and costumes could be.
2. Very short deadlines. Much like the American films industry, the Japanese one had to constantly be churning out movies. While I do not know the exact number of films they had to produce in a year, if it was like their American counterparts, it would have not been unheard of to pull off three movies a year with one director. As you might guess, this probably caused much untold amounts of stress on the actors and filmmakers.
3. A complete lack of other racial groups, or at least people who could pull them off to some extent. While there were multiple ethnicities they could do, Japan at the time didn't have a lot of none Asians. Most people from other racial backgrounds that came there were either missionaries, diplomats, or sailors and not much else. This lack of diversity also limited the filmmakers as to what kind of films they wanted to do.

And those films were largely period pieces, namely samurai films. Unfortunately, while they may have been great, people got so oversaturated with them that they became board with it.

Seeking another solution, Japanese filmmakers turned to Animation as you were only limited to the artists' imagination as what you could do. As the realms of physics and nature were thrown out the windows, things that were impossible to have do to coasts, technology, or safety issues could be done freely, and Japan loved it.

However America would not get its first taste of anime till after World War 2 as many of the G.I.'s stationed there would watch the Japanese cartoons and feel right at home. They probably didn't understand anything going on, but it probably reminded them of when they did this back in their hometowns before they left to fight the war.

Americans would soon get another taste of it in the sixties when many film studios grew tired of seeing the same cartoons over and over again. A decade earlier, the film industry was bought out by corporations who wanted to make a quick buck and play it safe. However as animation was no longer cheaper then live action film, it got shafted into children's fair, and high quality material was never truly given to children's fair. Animation quality was one of the things that got shafted, and with little exception, story as well. This is also why today people in the United States consider animation largely in the realm of children's fair.
With Anime, especially the early stuff that got brought over like Star Blazers, Speed Racer, and Astro Boy, they provided something different. At the same time the average person didn't know they were getting imports as frankly the characters in them didn't look all too Japanese.

Then Star Wars came, bringing with it a science fiction craze that has not been really seen since then. This saw a whole slew of anime getting licensed in the 80's, especially ones that were sci fie like Robotech, Voltron, and G-Force. We also saw others coming in out of the wood work, as Thunder Cats was largly outsorced to Japanese studios, Transformers was animated in Japan and origionaly based on a Japanese toy line Hasbro got a hold of, and we saw more kid oriented stuff like Samurai Pizza Cats and Super Book cross the Pacific.

Then the late 80's happen, and anime would go into the college demographic niche market. We would still get stuff out like Dragon Ball, and Gargoyles and EXO Squad were heavily influenced by anime, but as a whole this didn't change until the advent of the late 90's.

And this is largely do to two things. 1. Toonami, which originally largely just broadcasted old action cartoons but slowly but surely involved more anime into its time slots. This included the Midnight run, which also aired the first violent anime to be uncut: Gundam Wing. While the cut version was still shown during the afternoon and early evening, but the fact it was shown unaltered would later warrant the creation of Adult Swim.

As for the other thing that brought anime back on the radar? Pokemon, and the fact that between the games and other merchandising it grossed over a billion dollars worldwide within its first year. Something like that does not go unnoticed in the business world.

Now a days, it's not as big, but it is no way going back to a complete niche market.

Still, it has had as large a hatdom as it has a fandom throughout the years. Why is that? I wish to cover that in nine more posts with the following aspects of anime that may be new to the none anime crowed.

1. Animation Quality and the Lack thereof
2. Anime and Sensuality.
3. Anime and Violence
4. Other Clichés
5. Cosplay
6. AMV's
I hope you enjoy, and please feel free to rip this a new one as you see fit.

Interesting read, I don't think your quite correct on everything and a little bit too aggressively biased.

I'm a moderate fan and here is my take:

To be entirely fair, I think the big problem with a lot of it is that above and beyond being stylized a lot of the artwork and animation is objectively bad, and the overall product is basically crap. Of course the same can be said about American cartoons as well, I mean we're the guys who produced shows based on properties like "Ace Ventura: Pet Detective" and MC Hammer acting as a super hero with a pair of magic shoes... and yes, they turned out much like the image that springs to your mind.

The thing about Anime is that it helps when your a science fiction, fantasy, and/or horror fan to begin with. Anime was messing around with the kind of material you'd typically only find in novels, or RPG books and the like, largely because a lot of it was inspired by these elements from the west (which is an entirely differant discussion, modern Japanese culture pretty much came from America). When your the right kind of nerd, it's easy to forgive a lot of the inherant flaws in something for the sake of the material itself and to see someone put a slightly differant spin on a concept. Also when the stereotypes are new, they seem fresh and original, though that tends to wear off with time (Anime is just as stereotypical as anything the western media does, it just uses differant stock characters).

To begin with, given the difficulty of importation and translation companies were pretty selective about what made it into the US market. As a result we were seeing a lot of the best stuff Japan put out, period. Fanboys were oftentimes crying about what they were missing out on, but in reality the reason why nobody went after the rights to begin with, was simply because it just wasn't worth importing.

As time went on and anime became more of a fad, you saw more and more of a demand for imports and as such pretty much anything someone could liscence was being snatched up,
just as people were getting assimilated to the stereotypes. Admittedly anime also ceased to progress at around the same time Western TV and the like was beginning to catch up in using the same kinds of science fiction and fantasy material.

The glut of complete garbage is pretty much what has turned a lot of people who were fans, or would otherwise have been fans against it. What's more to be honest a fanatical fanbase that will embrace anything no matter how trashy it is, doesn't help matters, when they go chasing people around holding onto whatever piece of garbage is hot right at the moment insisting that people will like it. It's even worse when they go off about Japan, and what a big deal Anime there because well... it's really not, it's disposable pop culture, and it's doubtful that many people are interested in a show that's been off the air for 2-4 years if they even were to begin with. Most of it isn't adult entertainment, being intended for kids and teenagers. The target audience goes a little older than the US (and has a higher mental age level) but it's still pretty much nerd fodder. Things like "Otaku No Video" made a big joke over how nerds over there aren't exactly any more respected than they are over here.

Basically, writing huge messages implying people who don't like anime are idiots and things like that, is part of why people strive to avoid it and the entire community as much as anything.

Personally I rate my interest as "moderate" because I love sci-fi, fantasy, and horror, and I've enjoyed a lot of Anime over the years. I however learned it's nothing to get fanatically wrapped up in, as like anything it varies greatly in quality, and truthfully the sheer glut of derivitive garbage on the market is staggering. For me, I don't bother wading into the morass of reeking garbage hoping to find the occasiona gem much anymore.

Sorry if I sounded heavy handed. I just find half the time people would forgive cartoons and live action tv and movies for the same things they complain about in anime, another 40% is nit picking (eyes are too big, mouth movements are open and close and not much else, so on and so on) 5% being the nutters that scare everyone, and then you get the people who make sound arguments.

People hate anime mostly because of anime fanboys/girls. It doesn't look correct to some people, and so their first instinct is to rage against it.

As a massive anime fan, I find some of the ignorance against anime offensive. It is a different way of doing things, it's not worse, it's not better. It just so happens to be what I prefer.

So you'll keep going?

Cool, I'll look forward to it. Other than the nigh-unforgivable lack of mention of Osamu Tezuka, this one wasn't bad at all.

EDIT: Just realized this was in User Reviews. I would have expected Off-Topic.

That's probably a good thing, though. I'll be interested to see that, too.

Hm, I've always wondered why anime had such a polarizing effect (me being on one side, myself). I'll look forward to further installments on this.

All i really see anime as is a different palette of entertainment. Instead of watching reality shows and whatnot, I'll watch an anime. Sure it has its stereotypes, but everything does. From american television, I always see something like, the "stupid pretty one", or the "condescending smart one". In anime, you have stuff like "The badass who actually likes picking flowers or something" or the "clutsy airhead". Sure theres alot of bad anime, but theres a good one for every bad one. And there's so many damn genres that I find it hard to believe someone can hate all of it.

Actually, that's a really throrough and accurate history of Japanese animation. Bravo sir; well researched.

What I like about anime is that it represents a very alien culture. It is different than western culture - it provides a different set of archtypes, tropes, and culture backdrops. Are those aspects overused in anime? Often. But the same can be said of western archtypes in western culture. Being different creates a certain interest.

It's also a rather facinating look at eastern culture. Or it was - I've been a fan for 15 years now, and I've watched anime go from being obscure to common place. Many of the things that originally attracted me to anime have since been absorbed by western culture (see the works of Joss Whedon for one, Scott Pilgrim for another).

And, you know what? I don't watch much new anime anymore. I watch my old favorites - Revolutionary Girl Utena, Slayers, El Hazard, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Sailor Moon, Noir (and others) - and every so often a new one will catch my eye. Hasn't happened recently though; the most recent anime I've bought was the new season of Slayers, made 10 years later.

I still like anime. But the reason I went to it (for something different - for a new look at the world) isn't as relevant anymore.

Oh, and finally, I have to agree with Therumancer - anime is great for a fantasy fan like me, because other than Xena, how many western fantasy TV shows are there?

Anime is basically the same as everything else, 90% of it is crap. And, just like American TV, the most popular animes are crap as well (like Bleach, Naruto, Dragon Ball, etc.); pretty much any anime with 100+ episodes is crap, maybe it started out good but long before episode 100, it turned into crap somewhere along the way.

I will give anime credit where it is due as several anime shows really try to do very different and interesting things that you just don't see anywhere on American TV; stuff like Ghost in the Shell (the finest anime series ever), Ergo Proxy (it was alright), and Neon Genesis Evangelion (it was pretentious crap). Most of the time, the shows that start off really interesting and different just don't end as well as they could have (I'm looking at you Last Exile).

*looks at name: Saint of m* *looks at own user-name: mParadox* Since when did I get a saint?!

OT: Interesting article.

And now anime is all generic. It's either demons, school-girls, ninjas or guns. Just started watching Angel Beats and Clannad(simultaneously) and I'm liking both anime's style of story. Hellsing was excellent in this department.

Thanks for the comments. Looks like I'm adding rabbid fans to the list I need to cover.

Interesting article and it brings a lot of good points of anime. Being a large fan of the art style for years I've known the struggle the media has faced being labeled "children's entertainment". Like you've brought up, it has. We all grew up watching Pokemon, Sailor Moon, Speed Racer, etc. and enjoyed each episode thoroughly. When we began to mature so did the media and more age appropriate forms of anime appeared on late night television. Granted, anime has gone too far in some aspects but what media hasn't and also what media hasn't become so cookie-cutter? Look at today's shows even outside of anything cartoonish, we see drama shows and competitions that just take a previous season's writing and put one word different to each main topic. i.e. Bachelor- Bachelorette- Rock of Love. All have the same idea but with different people or stereotype. In anime we all see the same alien, same highschool kid, same hero/heroine. It's times like these that we'll see the media either mature further or be caught in the rut it is in.
Kay, now that I've went completely off topic, back to children's play. I've dealt with being told that anime is only a cartoon and is only for kids therefore lame but I've ignored these statements when what I watch astounds me and, yes, even bring back a bit of my childhood. While we shouldn't always dwell on our pasts it's great to look back and just enjoy the nostalgia. I'm one of the big fans of the known genius Hayao Miyazaki but it's not just cause the unique characters, original/historical story lines, or become everyone else loves it. It's from the artwork, have you ever not pay attention to the movie and just look at the cell shading used in his backgrounds? The amount of colors and contrasts that don't overwhelm your eyes but rather draws you in and leaves your mouth gaping. It's not everyday that you see art like that in moving picture. I'm having difficulty thinking of a good Western animated movie that does what Miyazaki's films do. (If you do please tell me so I can enjoy too, kay I just thought of several Disney movies...) Take artwork like that and put it with the interesting story line that he also brings and you find yourself watching a 2-2 and half hour movie and not realize that it went by that fast. Miyazaki's films' focus is on children but what if we take that concept and put it in today's more mature anime? Heck, Isao Takahata did in Grave of the Fireflies. It was a story of two children living in Japan during WWII and them starving to death. Obviously not a film you want a five-year-old watching. But to watch the struggle of children in such a desperate adult time period moves you to think deeper about yourself. I cried my eyes out while watching it and thought more about my life and how grateful I am living in a home like I do in a relatively peaceful time period. It just shows that anime, like many other animated medias, have a lot of potential- the problem is everyone is going for the easy dollar and rips off a enthralling media that moves people to the cheaper more cookie-cutter media that makes $12.50- $30 a pop. We the consumers have sadly obsessed over the cookie-cutter media too much to demand more original or thoughtful entertainment. I'll admit it's hard to not enjoy the darn cookie-cutter... curse you!

Phoenixmgs:
Anime is basically the same as everything else, 90% of it is crap. And, just like American TV, the most popular animes are crap as well (like Bleach, Naruto, Dragon Ball, etc.); pretty much any anime with 100+ episodes is crap, maybe it started out good but long before episode 100, it turned into crap somewhere along the way.

I will give anime credit where it is due as several anime shows really try to do very different and interesting things that you just don't see anywhere on American TV; stuff like Ghost in the Shell (the finest anime series ever), Ergo Proxy (it was alright), and Neon Genesis Evangelion (it was pretentious crap). Most of the time, the shows that start off really interesting and different just don't end as well as they could have (I'm looking at you Last Exile).

What about One Piece? Thats well over 400 episodes but has stayed extreamly true to the manga that even most of the scenes in the anime you can find exactly drawn in the manga.

I think reason why Bleach and Naruto became bad was because extreamly extreamly long arcs that tend to bore you by the end and fillers, lots and lots of fillers.

Korten12:

Phoenixmgs:
Anime is basically the same as everything else, 90% of it is crap. And, just like American TV, the most popular animes are crap as well (like Bleach, Naruto, Dragon Ball, etc.); pretty much any anime with 100+ episodes is crap, maybe it started out good but long before episode 100, it turned into crap somewhere along the way.

I will give anime credit where it is due as several anime shows really try to do very different and interesting things that you just don't see anywhere on American TV; stuff like Ghost in the Shell (the finest anime series ever), Ergo Proxy (it was alright), and Neon Genesis Evangelion (it was pretentious crap). Most of the time, the shows that start off really interesting and different just don't end as well as they could have (I'm looking at you Last Exile).

What about One Piece? Thats well over 400 episodes but has stayed extreamly true to the manga that even most of the scenes in the anime you can find exactly drawn in the manga.

I think reason why Bleach and Naruto became bad was because extreamly extreamly long arcs that tend to bore you by the end and fillers, lots and lots of fillers.

I've never seen an episode of One Piece, so I have no knowledge of the show. However, being true to the manga doesn't make it good if the manga is bad. I literally can't sit through an episode of Bleach, Naruto, or Dragon ball. If each show's manga is anything like the show, then those mangas suck because I really find little to no redeeming value whatsoever in those shows. Bleach is the best of the worst, I could see the manga being decent at best. With that said, One Piece could be the exception to the rule.

Phoenixmgs:

Korten12:

Phoenixmgs:
Anime is basically the same as everything else, 90% of it is crap. And, just like American TV, the most popular animes are crap as well (like Bleach, Naruto, Dragon Ball, etc.); pretty much any anime with 100+ episodes is crap, maybe it started out good but long before episode 100, it turned into crap somewhere along the way.

I will give anime credit where it is due as several anime shows really try to do very different and interesting things that you just don't see anywhere on American TV; stuff like Ghost in the Shell (the finest anime series ever), Ergo Proxy (it was alright), and Neon Genesis Evangelion (it was pretentious crap). Most of the time, the shows that start off really interesting and different just don't end as well as they could have (I'm looking at you Last Exile).

What about One Piece? Thats well over 400 episodes but has stayed extreamly true to the manga that even most of the scenes in the anime you can find exactly drawn in the manga.

I think reason why Bleach and Naruto became bad was because extreamly extreamly long arcs that tend to bore you by the end and fillers, lots and lots of fillers.

I've never seen an episode of One Piece, so I have no knowledge of the show. However, being true to the manga doesn't make it good if the manga is bad. I literally can't sit through an episode of Bleach, Naruto, or Dragon ball. If each show's manga is anything like the show, then those mangas suck because I really find little to no redeeming value whatsoever in those shows. Bleach is the best of the worst, I could see the manga being decent at best. With that said, One Piece could be the exception to the rule.

Ah, makes sense. One Piece's manga is really really good. Its a bit old now, still going but it started back in 1997 so its over a decade old now.

From wikipedia:

One Piece is the highest-selling manga in the history of Weekly Shônen Jump in Japan and the first manga to increase the magazine's sales in eleven years.

While you may take it with a grain of salt and just one person saying its good probably isn't the best source but if it did what it did stated above. It must have done something right.

I thought anime was hated for the same reason Justin Bieber and Twilight were hated.
It's fans are percieved as annoying (Obessed with japan and it's "superiority" and resentful of anything from the West) that's obviously not true... not in all cases at least.

It's popular and on the internet there exists a sect of people determined to crap on anything popular. Why? Because, mostly.

You do raise good points though, and you come about it with an intelligent mind set.
I eagerly await the other installments in this... thingy.

The manga for Bleach is bloodier. Case in point: The little ghost girl that Ichigo was beating some guys up for disturbing her grave. In the anime she's pretty normal looking, but the manga has her looking like she had just been in an ugly car accident.

Korten12:
One Piece's manga is really really good. Its a bit old now, still going but it started back in 1997 so its over a decade old now.

Actually, just reading the wiki page, the show seems like it could be interesting. I'm not a big fan of pirates (I'm all about the ninjas lol) but it seems like it's a lighthearted and humorous show from skimming through the basic plot details. But, 400 episodes is a commitment.

Actually, very well written OP. You obviously know what you are talking about, and bring up a topic that you say "I disagree with this" without it seeming like a direct attack. As wierd as this sounds, this seems like a civilized debate on the internet.

 

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