Monday, September 27, 2010
Japanese Animation (anime) has been placed underneath a stereotype. I am a big fan of these shows, and I feel that people should not think that I am "childish" and "immature" because I watch "cartoons". Japanese anime is a wonderful art form that should not be regarded as "that sex cartoon" or "for kids". There is much more to anime then gratuitous sex, ultraviolence, or "cutesy" shows.
When anime first showed up on American/Canadian shores, the first few tapes were "La Blue Girl" and "Urotsukidoji", both terribly graphic sex movies. These films are what are known as "H" movies (which stands for "Hentai", which is Japanese for "pervert"). Sadly, these videos got a lot of media attention, and so Japanese Animation got its stereotype of "sex cartoons". In regular (family) anime, there is still nudity, but there is nothing sexual about it, since in Japan, they are more open with their bodies than we are (for example, they have public bathing houses). However, some people believe that showing a bare breast means sex. That is completely wrong. If any nudity shows up in a family anime, it is used for humour. Americans and Canadians just have a different reaction to public nudity, which, when combined with the initial press of the "H" films, furthers their thoughts on the myth that all anime is sex.
Another myth is that anime is ultraviolent. This, unfortunately, is true - but only in some cases. In "Sailor Moon", there is the occasional violent act which was cut out of the American/Canadian release. Japanese children do know what is real and what is not, whereas American children duplicate what they see on TV. This is true because of the "Mighty Morphin' Power Rangers", which originally broadcast on Japanese airwaves. "X", an anime movie in Japan, is very bloody. However, the movie follows a comic, which was violent to begin with. Japanese audiences find "X" "artistic", where here, it may be branded as "unrealistic and unnecessary violence". To fully understand the movie and its purpose, you have to read the comic. Only then the ultraviolence is explained.
My final gripe is the mind-set that anime is "for kids". Because most animation is America/Canada is "for kids", everyone believes all animation is "for kids". "Sailor Moon" is a good example. Even though the ideal age range is 8- to 13-year-old girls, it has lured many other people - especially guys - to watching it. I, myself, used to watch the show. I was surprised to see an animation that had a continuing storyline. Most American/Canadian cartoons works as one-episode shows, but anime shows - almost all anime shows - have a storyline that builds up to a climax. This is what keeps us interested - the fact that the shows don't end after 30 minutes. It's like watching one chapter of a very large novel.
In conclusion, I would like to reiterate that anime (also written with an accent-eigu) does not mean sex, violence and ultra-cute. It is a much deeper experience than those stereotypical thoughts. My suggestion is for everyone to view an anime show such as "Oh! My Goddess" and to view it with an open mind. You have to see something before making you assumption, based on what you have only heard. Who knows? You may be a fan of anime, just like me.