Discovering Your Library: What is Anime?
July 11, 2011
When I was a kid, I would wake up every Saturday morning to watch a series called Pokémon. It was an adventurous show – a cartoon (or so I assumed when I was eight) that swept me off my feet into a world of amazing pets and creating friendships.
As I grew into my preteens, Pokémon wasn’t as interesting as it had been, but a new cartoon (again – so I assumed) caught my eye: Yu-Gi-Oh! Following the story of a boy, this show encompassed card games, ancient Egypt, and – again – creating friendships.
It took me into my early teens to realize both of these amazing shows weren’t cartoons like Thundercats and Gargoyles (two of my other favorite shows). Yu-Gi-Oh! and Pokémon were shows created in Japan called anime (short for animation).
Then what’s the difference between anime and cartoons? Not much, actually. The Oxford Dictionary says that a cartoon is "a motion picture using animation techniques to photograph a sequence of drawings rather than real people or objects." Anime is – truthfully – almost the same thing. Most differences reside in subject matter and style.
Obviously, culture is different between the United States and Japan. And so, a cartoon – or anime – wouldn’t always have the same subject matter in Japan than here in the United States. A popular idea for anime is mecha, a show (usually aimed towards teenage boys) based around giant man-run robots. Another idea, this time aimed towards teenage girls, is slice-of-life comedies set in high schools.
Cartoons on television here (in the United States) are normally extremely exaggerated. After all, in real life, Wil E. Coyote wouldn’t have lasted more than an episode. Though anime still has that sense of incredibility to it, it’s much more realistic. Body proportions are more natural in most cases and facial structures are much more believable.
Though anime and cartoons share many similarities, they are – in base – different. Anime has such a wide variety that there’s sure to be something for everyone.