What is Anime?

So, what is anime? For those of you who are curious because you're a novice or just an anime fan and you just want to enhance your knowledge, just knowing what anime is and what's involved in understanding it is necessary in order to properly perceive and enjoy it. Those new to anime, the perception of the term "anime" is different can be quite different from person to person.

Some people hear the word "anime" and they immediately think of this "weird" animation on TV that doesn't fit into regular "cartoon" conventions. Others, who have been exposured to it in some form or fashion, see it totally different. And, then there are still others have been exposed to it without even knowing it. Many of us grow up watching "Thundercats" and "Transformers". And, at the time, we didn't realize that we were, in fact, watching anime. Even though they don't appear as anime do today, with their superior artistic quality and conventions that can be immediately recognized. However, they did originate from Japan. So, technically, they are anime. But, one thing about anime is if the characters don't grab your attention, there's no doubt that something else will.

Anime is a genre/medium that developed in the 1960's when the Japanese began making television versions of their own version of comics called "manga". Unlike the cartoons in the US and in other culture's which feature plots of good vs. evil themes, anime are one of deeper, thought-provoking, sometimes more mature themes that are presented by complex characters who have the ability to change as the stories progress. Anime stories include developed storylines, linear plots, and aspects of violence, sex, drama, and comedy, which are typically seen in live-action films in the US and not in our traditional cartoons such as Bugs Bunny, the Flintstones or the Jetsons.

In anime stories, death is a reality that, sometimes even the main characters can't avoid. Unlike the American cartoons, anime are a more intelligent genre/medium because of its shock value and its seriousness. There are different kinds of anime and each kind embraces a different age group or group of people. In Japan, the anime are as much respected as the "live-action" genre of movies. They pull strongly from the Japanese and Asian mythology and symbolism, from the rich Japanese traditions of Shinto, the martial arts and Zen.

The Japanese are responsible for some of the world's finest technology. And, have, in fact, projected the serious implications that derive from advanced technology. Some anime have explored those implications that affect the distinction between man and machine, good and evil, male and female, leaving anime characters to deeply explore the ethical and spiritual uncertainties of life in a world that is utterly consumed and overwhelmed by technological evolution.

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