Are you ready to go with me on an adventure in the world of japanese animation ? Is that a ‘yes’ you’re thinking ? Or maybe is it a ‘no’ ? Well guess what, it doesn’t matter cause you’re already here ! Fasten your seatbelt and hang on tight because the ride is about to start.
What is « anime » ?
The word anime (plural is also anime) comes from animation (who would have thought) and designs, or at least used to, any kind of work of animation made in japan. I said « used to » because the word evolved to describe any kind of animation that looks like something made from japan, in other words, anime is not japan exclusive anymore.
History of anime :
This section is gonna be quick since im not here to put you to sleep. Let’s just say that everything started in the 20th century when the japanese got to learn and use french, german and american animation techniques. They made it their own and used it to create the big eyed characters that we all know so well nowadays.
The different genres in the medium :
The general consensus on anime is that it’s all about fighting ,ninjas, pirates and bald guys. I can’t deny that the most popular ones are all about these things but that is just the tip of the iceberg, Indeed, anime has so many genres that are unkown to the large public. As a disclaimer, these genres can be directly transalted to specific audiences, for exemple shonen means young boy. This means that each genre is targeted to a certain type of demographic. These terms are still used but their meaning has changed to just design a certain genre of anime.
Shonen(Young boy) : I’ll start with the most popular one, shonens are anime mainly around fighting and action, the story is most of the time a stepping stone for epic fights between badass characters.The biggest anime, « Naruto« , « One piece » and « Bleach« , know as the big three, are shonens. But the genre doesn’t only consists of this, shonens can also be anime that can be relatable to young boys mostly in term of school life, romance and life in general, some examples are « Nisekoi », « Daily life of high school boys » (pretty self-explanatory) and « GTO« .
Seinen(Young adult men) : Seinen are more mature anime, where the world is not black and white anymore but consists of different shades of gray. They try to convey an idea or a moral and sometimes, they even go as far as to make you think. Some of the most famous seinens are « Cowboy Bepop » , »Ghost in the shell » and « Code geass« .
Shoujo(Young girl) : This is basically shonens but targeted for young girls, less fighting, more romance and drama, they offer a refreshing and relaxing feeling. The most popular one is the well known « Sailor Moon«
Josei(Young adult woman) : Shoujos but more mature, even though it’s still based around romance and drama, it’s more about the relationships between the characters and how they evolve/grow up togheter with all the bad and all the good. My favorite joseis are « Shouwa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu: Sukeroku Futatabi-hen » and « Usagi drop« .
Anime are without a doubt most known for their animation (what a surprise). Since the studios behind these anime have a limited budget, they do whatever they can do to save it as much as possible, and as a result of that,they became well know for the limited animation technique. This approch relies on using a still image and only put some part of it in motion Depending on the budget, an animation sequence can have more or less frames.
You then have the scenes where studios decide to throw all of their budget away and allow their animator to go all out, making you forget about all the boring scenes you saw just before. These moments are called sakuga.
Honorable mention to cgi animation, it’s the technique used for special effects in hollywood blockbusters. You’d expect that i’d look good in anime too, but 90% of the time, it’s horrendous. The 10% that’s left is studio orange that was able to use it correctly to produce two beatiful anime « Houseki No Kuni » and « Beastars » (Zootopia the anime).
Sound in Anime :
- Voice acting : The profession of voice acting is taken really seriously, in Japan it’s the childhood dream of many japanese and is as a result really respected. What’s more, voice actors in Japan are considered by most as idols, they are the equivalent of actors in the west. What im saying here is that the requirements required to be a voice actor in japan are completly different compared to the rest of the world, consequently, their performance as voice actors are on another level. This is why most anime fans prefer to watch anime in their original voices rather than watching them dubbed. Voice actor in japan are known as seiyuus and some popular ones are Tomokazu Sugita or Sora Amamiya.
- Music : Each anime has an opening and an ending sequence, their role is to open and close the episode, they are always different and play a role in the popularity of an anime, Indeed, these OPs (Openings) and EDs(Endings) can mark the viewer with a good or bad memory depending on how good the songs were. On top of that, these songs can quickly gain a lot of traction on the internet, and who doesn’t want to know the source of a really good song ? For these reasons, studios spend a lot of ressources in producing great OPs and EDs with famous singers to attract as much viewers as possible.
Opening of Beastars:
Anime can be either adapted from a manga, a light novel or can be an original story. A big majority of anime are adapted from light novels, a style of Japanese novel primarily targeting high school and middle school students, and mangas. These adaptations are generally really mediocre for multiple reasons : they tend to cut out a lot from the source material to fit the length of the anime, they rarely have a conclusion/ending and they do their best to follow the current fade without really trying to be original. This doesn’t mean that all of them are bad, once in a blue moon you’ll get a masterpiece that you’ll never forget like « Katanagatari » or « Ping Pong the Animation« .
Other than adaptations, you have anime with original stories, as in they are made from scratch, these anime are in general the best ones because they are made to fit the media. They tend to have an introduction, a developpement and a conclusion which is quite rare sadly. They are way more time consuming to make compared to adaptations which means that you’ll find way less of them. « Cowboy Bebop » is without a doubt the most famous anime original story.
As a conclusion, anime has been evolving and growing for so many years now, it started as a niche hobby and became nowadays a mainstream media competing with western series and even influencing them. And with the popularization of anime movies such as « Your Name« , we can only expect this medium to grow even further.
- France is the second biggest anime consumer after japan.
- A french manga called « Radiant » got adapted as an anime in japan, this the first time an anime has been adapted from a foreign source material.
- Weeb and Otaku are terms used to describe anime watchers, weeb used to be pejorative but evolved to become the standard, a good analogy would be the word « geek ».
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If you are insterested in anime and want to join a group who’s passionate about it, then the Pop’Otaku is here for you, you can find us on facebook or ask Yassir Zraigui direclty.