Exploring Anime | A Deep Dive Into An Artistic Wonderland
Patty and her special guests take a deep dive into the world of Anime and discover a wealth of artistic wonders that have to be seen to be believed!
What is Anime? All eyes are right now set on Japan as the 2021 Summer Olympics is underway. However, many of us whether we knew it or not had our eyes already set on Japan. This is due to many of us watching animated shows from Japan, known as Anime.
So what is anime?
Anime is an animation art style that uses signature aspects including large eyes, vibrant colors, dramatic panning, and characteristic facial expressions. Anime encompasses many genre’s including Science Fiction, Horror, Romance, historical dramas, etc. I love the variety that anime offers including sci-fi dramas like Ghost in The Shell, romantic comedies like Fruits Basket, historical period dramas like Emma, to long-running shows like One Piece.
If you are not familiar with anime, you may not realize that you may have already experienced, but not know it. With shows like Astro Boy, Robotech, Pokémon, Samurai Jack and animation sequences in some movies like Kill Bill and Academy Award-winning movies like Spirited Away.
You do not just have to take my word for it. I asked many of my friends to help describe what is Anime in their own words and perspectives. In addition, some gave recommended titles for those that are not familiar with it or want to explore more.
Paul Kemner, Anime Enthusiast, and Advocate
Most adults only know the popular shows aimed at a high-school and under crowd. Mostly the boy’s tournament-fighting and proxy tournament shows like the Dragon Ball franchise, Pokémon, Sailor Moon, and their modern-day descendants, which takes a while to get to the point where people really love it.
So my starting recommendation is to go for shows with adult protagonists, and suggest shows in the same genres that people like. Movies or short OVA series, or series around 12 episodes, because that’s less of a commitment. There are great shows with a younger cast, but if people already have a “cartoons are for kids” attitude, that’s one strike right from the start. I’d also say that Japanese culture can be very different from Western culture, which can be a plus or minus, and they should be aware of that.
There are shows, both in Japan and the West that expect viewers to pay attention, or you miss what’s going on. So if they normally multitask, I wouldn’t suggest something by Satoshi Kon or Makoto Shinkai, for instance. Also, some of the movies use the Japanese Kishotenketsu story structure instead of the 3-act structure we’re familiar with. Something like Garden of Words or Your Name won’t have things happening as people expect. This structure shows up in Japanese horror films too.
Amy Riddle DeClerck, Author
Anime is an art form in which stories are told via animation of various styles. And to me, it is the ultimate expression of creativity and imagination. It goes beyond the ability to tell a good story because the creative team has the responsibility of telling the story visually and through writing. Anime can bring those artistic visions to life, and it can take almost any form. The evolution of anime has pulled the writer’s vision from his mind and put it up on the screen for everyone to see. They can be as deeply engrossing and as emotionally gripping as the writers and artists can imagine.
I prefer anime with compelling characters and complex storylines, my top 5 being:
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
- Naruto: Shippuden
- Fairy Tail
Anime includes many genres and stories for not only the younger generations, older generations as well. For example, my husband loves the iterations of Junji Ito’s works as anime (he’s an Ito fan in general). So I think there’s a type of anime out there for everyone. It’s not all the same stuff, horror lovers, SF lovers, drama/romance lovers they can all find what they’re looking for.
Anime tells stories the same way I like to tell stories – however, I want! No rules, no expectations, no limits to what we can do. Cross genres? Yes! Start at the end? Why not? Unreliable narrator? Please! No idea what’s happening until 3/4 through? Might as well! That’s the beauty of anime, and I’ve taken that freedom it has and decided I’m going to apply that to my writing as well.
Thomas Storaï, Future of The Force
Anime has a huge variety of genres so there is something for everyone. That’s what is so great about it. When talking about anime, Studio Ghibli has to be mentioned as it has been the introduction to anime for many people in the West. And it helped spread the Japanese culture there. It’s one of the best studios that have done such incredible work. So it’s a good start for people who have never watched an anime. There are also so many other studios that have done amazing work and are worth mentioning. As for my favorites. In terms of series/franchises – Free!, Yuri!!! On Ice, Violet Evergarden, and many others.
Below are some of the reasons why these are my favorites…
- Yuri!!! On Ice is one of those special anime’s that have given us a much better LGBT representation in the mainstream than what the major US studios have done in the past few years. This is a must-watch!
- Free! is a sports anime about competitive swimming. It’s such a fantastic franchise with loveable characters. It’s halfway between drama and comedy.
- Violet Evergarden is a poignant anime, if you watch it you need to be in a good mood because it will make you cry many times, but it’s a really beautiful story.
Both Violet and Free! are made by Kyoto Animation who always delivers top-tier animation. And in terms of movies that aren’t part of any franchise – Weathering With You, Your Name, From Up On Poppy Hill, Only Yesterday, Ocean Waves, The Boy and the Beast. Makoto Shinkai (the director of Weathering With You and Your Name) is one of the most talented directors, a genius. I love his work, it’s poetic and a deep reflection of the human condition (life, death, love, friendship).
Elin Wynn, Author
Cowboy Bebop, Trigun, Outlaw Star, Robotech, Seven Deadly Sins, Madoka Magika, Princess Tutu…. now I want to watch things, and not get my words in…
Echo Icci, Author
Evangelion. Don’t leave out the really early stuff like Galaxy Express 999. Also, the current big hit manga/anime Demon Slayer, which my daughter loves it❤️
Jenna Bennet, Author
My kid likes My Hero Academia, and movies like Weathering With You and Your Name. Of course, they both grew up on Pokémon like the rest of their generation.
Lyra Torres, Author
I started with Cowboy Bepop, Elfen Lied, Ah! My Goddess!, Fushigi Yuugi, Naruto, Fruits Basket, and Evangelion. While my husband’s all-time favorite is The Robotech Saga.
Jaymee Goh, Author
“Japanese animation.” It covers a range of styles and subject matter, from slice-of-life (Ore Monogatari!!!) to action movies (Lupin III) to experimental (Paprika), in multiple formats, like one-shots, short films, full-length feature films, and series.
For many years, Americans did not know they were watching anime because the translation and importing outside of Japan has led to different works. For example, when I was a child, Saber Rider and the Star Sheriffs was my favorite anime show, BUT, it was actually re-written when dubbed over from the Star Musketeer Bismark, and the American company that bought the rights also got six more episodes. The Robotech Saga is another popular example of how Americanization changed the entire story while using animation. It’s made of three different anime series, not just one.
Linda Mooney, Author
I will always love “Crying Freedom“. At its core is romance, but it also has lots of action, adventure, fighting, and drama. But its heart is the romance.
Paula Lieberman, Author
Anime is a video and movie format in which the content can be anything from pedestrian daily life to historical fantasy. From far-future SF to urban fantasy to religion and mythology… Princess Nine  is about an all-female baseball team and the lives and concerns of the girls on the team. The only non-realism content it has, the occasional near-supernatural abilities of some of the characters as pitchers and batters and fielders, limited to star players involved only.
The series “My Roommate Is a Cat” is mostly straight contemporary fiction, about a writer who lives alone, is rather misanthropic, and acquires/becomes adopted by a young cat. And interacts with other people/forced to interact with other people because of the cat. The series has both the viewpoint of the writer AND the viewpoint of the cat. A few episodes in, some supernatural content temporarily appears, via poltergeist-like activity, but overall feels very realistic.
Dakota Harrison, Author
The world-building and storytelling style in anime is fantastic. You can do anything and it works. We get so constructed by ‘should do this’, ‘can’t do that’ that we’ve forgotten we’re here to tell a story. Screw the rules and the sticklers to exact this or that. If nothing else, anime has shown me if you tell a good story, the rest is just noise.
STAR WARS: VISIONS
As you can see from all these friends of mine, anime is not just one genre or just a children’s cartoon. In future posts, I plan on exploring more into anime and the studios that create them, especially those that are involved with Star Wars Visions.
Are you an Anime fan? What stories inspire you? Leave a comment below. We’d love to hear your recommendations of top Anime titles.
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I am a self proclaimed fangirl who is disguised as a mild mannered data analyst for a consulting firm. You can find me on Twitter as @pattybones2 or @Everyday_Fangrl