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Sunday, 25 January 2015

Anime

Anime has taken the world by storm and won the hearts of people worldwide. It is no longer directed at a single demographic. There are very few countries in the world which do not air Japanese anime.

With that, I would like to analyse the content of these animated shows. There are popular anime in every genre, be it slice of life to dystopian fantasy, every genre has been covered by the anime world.

But the question is, what makes it so popular?

Anime is unconventional. It doesn't belong to the TV soap opera category, neither is it a cartoon. Its different. It has formed a category of its own and is a trail blazer for anything different. It has provided animators employment. There are translators, voice artists and even scholars who are required to make an anime.

From character design to voice acting, from hair colour to facial expression, everything is evidently expressed. It is not abnormal for an anime character to have pink hair, violet eyes and dog ears. We may see certain unique physical traits in cartoons, but the character design for cartoons cannot be compared to the design made by the Japanese animators. While anime started airing in HD long ago, cartoons and soap operas have just started this trend.

Both male and female characters are designed in such a way that the audience pays attention to their every move. What's more surprising, is that due to excellent character design, even antagonistic characters have gained popularity. Anything that deviates from the normal is what the audience accepts, simply because 'normal' is boring. That's why cartoons, which have crazy plot lines, but repetitive episodes, are only popular with children who can't grasp higher level ideas.

Soap operas waste time by extending a simple 2 seconds to 2 minutes, whereas anime is quick paced with fast dialogues, instant facial expressions, and action. Missing even a single episode can mean loss of vital information in order to follow the anime. That's not the case with cartoons or soap operas. There is a recap in anime and soap operas, but during soap operas, the conversations will reveal what occurred in the previous episode, so it's not like you missed much.

But sports, psychological or action anime, missing an episode is inadvisable.

While watching anime, there are certain noticeable aspects which almost all anime have:

1. Sexism- There are very few animated shows which do not portray sexism. There are scenes of rape, sexual abuse, voyeurism, and molestation which are made to appear acceptable. This maybe acceptable in the Japanese society, however, that's not the case in other countries. Ukraine has banned all anime, for this very purpose. Many women have voiced their dislike for anime due to this reason. Most of the female characters are weak, idiotic and act as fillers with no major screen time. There are constant jokes about their breast size, underwear colour, and groping is as normal as breathing in certain animes.

2. Plot line - Some anime have astounding and unexpected plot lines, other anime are mostly the same. These are called 'formula' stories. Soap operas follow them, and so do the anime. The top 5 worldwide loved anime all have the same plot line. A new adventure begins, and with determination, the main character overcomes all obstacles and emerges victorious. Ex: One Piece, Naruto, and Dragon Ball Z.

3. Portrayal of male characters- Surprisingly, the male characters do not have any depth. Their surface and source traits are as transparent as glass. Goku, Yusuke, Inu Yasha, and Naruto have only one goal in mind. To 'protect' their loved ones and defeat evil. The good vs bad never gets old. Hence, the old hero with new enemies makes it rather repetitive. Whereas in cartoons, it the old hero vs old enemy.

The complexity of the human mind, or the emotions of a normal man are not captured. Their strength, their agony and physical pain are palpable, but their emotions aren't addressed appropriately.


4. Clothes- For girls remaining in school uniforms throughout the day is very common. Short skirts is not uncommon either. Very little effort is put in for clothes in most anime, and the characters never seem to change their clothes. True, this is the anime world, the laws of Physics don't work, but stylish clothes are  important. In certain anime, circumstances and plot lines do not allow characters to frequently wear different clothes, while some other animators just never bother to put in the effort in designing good costumes for characters, even when it's necessary. Hence, their clothing and personal style is usually ignored.


Despite all this, there are hundreds of anime communities in every country, with Otaku's taking their life long pledge, and some others entering the field of animation due to their love for it. Whether you're a 13 year old  or a 25 old year old, there is bound to be an anime which you like or did like as a child. Whether it's Inu Yasha's dog ears or Sasuke's chakra, we love it all. The plot line has you hooked for life.

Otaku forever!

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