You might be someone who has wondered about the anime culture that has been evolving around the world recently. Or, you might be someone who loves anime dearly and couldn’t for the life of you understand why some people show distaste towards it. All in all, anime is still an enigma to the majority of people. Anime is a vast medium, and often, confusions or misconceptions can easily arise about it.
Many people are confused by what all can be called “anime”. This term is used by the Japanese to talk about any animated work, regardless of its style or origin. Outside Japan though, it is used to denote any animation that has been produced in Japan. Interestingly, many people are clueless about anime but have been watching anime since they were kids. For instance, some of the most popular cartoons that we all loved as children are anime: be it Pokemon, Dragon Ball, Shinchan, Doraemon, or Beyblade.
“Isn’t Anime just Japanese cartoons meant for children?”
Contrary to the popular belief that anime is for kids, a lot of them are intended for a matured audience. There are storylines, complexity in plots and themes that might not at all be appropriate for a younger audience. Tokyo Ghoul, PsychoPass and Attack on Titan are some popular examples of storylines and themes that are better suited to a mature audience. Some animes have such depth in their characters and plots that can’t even be fully appreciated by a child. Just because they are in the format of two-dimensional cartoons doesn’t mean they are made only for children.
Attack on Titan, for example, is a fascinating example of an anime that digs deeper into the concept of humanity. Living in fear of the man-eating humanoid giants that are loitering outside the walls of their kingdom, the Eldians living in Paradis believe they are the last of the human race. The story starts to unravel when a colossal titan invades the outer wall and lets the titans plunder cities and eat humans. We get to see the desperation and fight for survival. How through the fear of something seemingly undefeatable, they muster hope and determination to devise ways to turn the tables. And while all the battle strategies and fighting happen, the story is intertwined with revelations about the titans and their origins that further help them to find more ways to protect themselves.
“Anime often seems to be unidirectional and predictable.”
Many people presume that most animes are just fighting sequences between a number of characters. They often end up equating anime to a specific popular one such as Naturo or Death Note. It is important to understand that anime is not a genre but rather a medium of entertainment. In the same way that Hollywood movies can be sorted into different genres, anime too, has a massive range of genres, some general and others specific. The broad genres like romance, comedy, action, etc exist in anime, but they have many nuanced genres as well. There are even gender and age group based genres. For example, though people might think anime is for children, there’s actually a specific genre known as kodomomuke which translates to “intended for children” like Pokemon, Doraemon and Anpanman. Other than that the genres range from shonen, shoujo, isekai, mecha to ecchi, harem and yaoi.
“Anime fans spend all their time obsessing over it.”
When it comes to the anime fans itself, people have various assumptions about their personalities. Some think anime lovers are social recluses or perverts who like hentai. Some think anyone into anime is an otaku— a person who is obsessed with it and surrounds his life with everything related to anime. This is pretty much untrue. At the end of the day, anime is just an entertainment outlet and can be seen as pure recreation and relaxation. It’s nothing different than watching your favourite American or British TV Series.
“Isn’t most of anime just perverted?”
Anime can be weird sometimes, and some of those particularly weird things become more popular on the internet than the normal aspects. Hence people who haven’t seen anime at all see these things and generalize it. While talking to a few people who have not ever seen anime, they said, “Aren’t they filled with girls with big breasts?”. This comes from how some ecchi genre anime clips easily spread online due to their strangeness and humorous scenes. Even those anime which aren’t ecchi might have a lot of females with a lot of accentuated curves. However, that doesn’t mean all of them are like that. We see all kinds of people in anime, and even if there’s an emphasis on a specific body type, it is not always intended to be perverse. We should be able to look beyond that as much of it can just be attributed to the art style.
The world of anime is vast. Many people might think it’s not as popular or it isn’t that huge, but the worldwide anime community is growing rapidly due to their availability on the internet. While many animes are action and power punches, many of them carry a lot of depth and a good storyline. Anime or manga artists have a way of eliciting emotions out of us in the most interesting ways. Many of their stories are unconventional and unique, and some might have fascinating complexities. Some might be simple yet impactful, and others can be pure comedy. Anime can’t be put into a box of a narrow definition and hence shouldn’t be judged by the few elements it is stereotyped by.
The Manga and Anime club of MIT is hosting a quiz for all anime fans on the 20th of November. Make sure you check it out!
Written by Anushka Bhattacharyya for MTTN
Edited by Naintara Singh for MTTN
In collaboration with Manga & Anime Club for Manga Quiz