Anime (pronounced "AH-nee-may") is the Japanese word for animation. In Japan, this refers to everything, from Pocahontas to Popeye; however, in America, the word specifically means Japanese Animation.
Japanese animation is perhaps the most advanced animation in the world. While Americans view animation as simple children's fare, not suitable for adults, the Japanese respect animation as a full fledged art form. This attitude allows their work deal with complex, mature storylines and topics, ones hardly (if ever) covered in the animation of other countries.
Films range from the beautiful and tear-inducing drama Grave Of Fireflies, to the rousing adventures of the infamous Hayao Miyazaki's Porco Rosso (the Scarlet Pig, a pig flying an allied plane in World War Two), to the almost insidiously complex teenage love drama of Marmalade Boy. The genre is at least, if not more, varied than the American movie market, mostly because it is not hampered by production costs. In animation, you don't need special effects; only an imagination, and a steady drawing hand.
However, Anime is often criticized in American media. People seem to focus in on only the obscene and violent in Japanese animation, something akin to the Japanese proclaiming that American movies are all disgusting and pronographic because they happpened to come across a copy of "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: Part 2". Anime is no more "all violent and lewd" than all American movies are disgusting and violent. These elements DO exist, but they no more represent the whole than Freddy Krueger represents all American cinema.
Anime, unlike American cartoons, is not only played on the television but also released in theaters and on direct-to-video releases (known as "OAV's", which stands for Original Video Animation). People lined around the street two days in advance to assure themselves tickets to The End Of Evangelion, a movie tying in with the mega popular Anime series Neon Genesis Evangelion. Monokoke Hime continues to burst Japanese box office records and is soon slated for an American theatrical release.
(pictured: a scene from the hilarious romantic martial arts comedy, Ranma 1/2)
Anime, while overflowing off the shelves in Japan, can be a little elusive here in the states. but never fear, with some persistence you can find all the Anime you'll be able to stand.
First, try your local video rental store; or better yet, a Japanese video store, if you live near one. Stores often rent anime for a fair price, so this is an easy an cheap way to expose yourself to the medium. Be sure to use rental places to try out different genres of Anime, so that you find out what you like and don't like without paying through the nose first.
Now, try large video stores, like Media Play. These stores will often have a section devoted entirely to Anime. They'll have an array of commercial titles for you to choose from, and you should have your work cut out for you, deciding what to spend your money on.
Third, look for specialty stores, or mail order specialty stores. These places will most often not only carry anime videos, ranging from the well known to the highly obscure, but also clothing, school supplies, CD soundtracks, and more. If you really start getting into Anime, all these trappings will help to fuel your addiction. However, when mail ordering, make sure you know that the place you'e ordering from is reputable, and never send money through the mail (just a word of advice).
Not sure of what to watch? I'll provide some suggestions for the different genres of Anime viewers....
Action/Adventure: The Hakkenden
The Hakkenden is set in feudal Japan, and tells the story of the "Dog Warriors", a band of warriors drawn to each other by unknown, other worldly powers, to do battle with an evil they cannot understand. Featuring lots of martial arts action, beautiful animation, and an exciting, frightening storyline, The Hakkenden is a real winner. It also features lots of interesting Japanese history. Caution: contains violence.
Science Fiction: Neon Genesis Evangelion.
The future. man has been driven underground by a mysterious race of powerful creatures known as Angels. Desperate, and once again under deadly Angel attack, a special government group, known as Nerv, recruits children to pilot immensely powerful robots meant to defend Earth and destroy the Angels. Full of dazzling robot fight scenes, intense personal drama and highlighted by great animation, Evangelion stands out as one of the most popular Anime series of all time.
Comedy: Ranma 1/2
Ranma Saotome is a normal, happy martial artist, except for one small problem: whenever he is splashed with cold water, he changes into a female. And he's not the only one with this strange affliction; his father turns into a panda, his friend into a pig, and his neighbor into a cat. If that wasn't enough to worry about, he's been engaged about six times; to different women, who all violently vie for his attention. Ranma 1/2 is absolutely hilarious comedy with a martial arts twist, and is highly, HIGHLY reccomended. Caution: brief, but relatively unoffensive, nudity.
Children's Movies: My Neighbor Totoro
My Neighbor Totoro is another masterpiece from perhaps the most famous Anime creator, Hayao Miyazaki. After some mysterious happenings, two girls discover that their new country home is inhabited by furry creatures that only they can see, which range from small and white to the size of a house. Wonderful animation and an intensely enjoyable story that everyone in the family will actually like.
If you're interested in reading more about Anime, there's really only one place to go.
The Anime Web Turnpike
The Turnpike is the most complete list of Anime links you will ever find. Organized and easy to use, and they do a much better job than I could ever do. You'll be on your way to connecting with the Internet Anime fandom in no time.
This homepage was created, and is maintained, by Daniel Barrett and Kafkaesq Productions. Email will be read and replied to. Mulder@ntplx.net. please do not take any graphics that have been altered by me without requesting permission. 1998.