Simple education time. Now pay attention, Japan *points at the map* has changed a lot over the years, and also not at all. It is a vibrant, busy yet calm place, with interesting ideas. One of them is Anime.
There’s a lot of rumours about anime, about its fans and culture, and I would like to dispel some of them. I can’t do them all, but you’re grown ups, I’m sure you can research the holes, it’ll give you something to do when it’s raining. Anime does not instantly mean pornography, and I’m getting a little fed up of being judged harshly for one of my choices of home entertainment.
The catch-all term ‘Anime’ covers a hell of a lot of Japanese animation, as that is precisely what it is. Anime is the English translation of the Japanese word for animation, so, anime is just cartoons. But then you get those people who shout about “I can’t believe you’re watching cartoons, you’re an adult!” Yeah, and you’re an idiot, but you don’t see me screaming that in your face, perhaps I should start. There are lots of western adult cartoons, so what makes my choice so offensive to people? The western world has The Simpsons, Family Guy, American Dad to name a few, so what makes Black Butler, Akira, Tokyo-Ghoul and lots more so different?
The joy of anime is that you can do a lot more with effects, looks, make-up and scenes for a lot less money, and not lose the basic integrity of the show itself. With live action movies, there is always the risk that the CGI won’t match in with the rest of the film properly, though, obviously with the leaps and bounds of CGI technology, that risk is becoming increasingly smaller. However, they’re doing the same with CGI that they have done with anime and other animation, in that they are creating the places that can’t exist, filming in places humans can’t go and creating things that can’t possibly exist, or we hope they don’t, at least!
Anime covers a lot of works, Akira being quite famous, even known amongst those who aren’t anime fans. Black Butler, Attack on Titan, Tokyo-Ghoul and Sword Art Online to name a few, even Pokémon is an anime. Studio Ghibli pieces are often listed as anime, but even Ghibli is known in the western world, amongst anime non-fans. Spirited Away, for example was the winner and nominee of several major film industry and entertainment awards. But still it’s seen as the animated hidey-hole for people who those who can’t cope with the outside world. Again, this is bollocks!
I can cope fine with the outside world. I don’t like it very much as it’s filled with arseholes who never get punished for the awful things they do, and good people who never get rewarded and are forever beaten down until they have no choice but to turn into an arsehole or die. I know that pressure too well, I’m struggling to stick to my path at the moment, but I’ve managed to avoid the ‘die’ path for at least thirty years, so hopefully, I’ll be able to avoid it a little longer.
The problem with the misunderstandings surrounding anime is in the confusion and fear caused by idiots who don’t, or won’t, understand the difference between anime and hentai.
Hentai is basically the name for pornographic animation. And that’s a massive simplification, I can only get closer to its ideals by saying that Hentai is generally described as “animation with adult, violent or deviant themes” which, again, is an over-simplification. There are a large variety of animes, hentais and other Japanese things that have taken a massive group by storm here in the UK, to the stage that we have huge conventions and cos-players purely for anime. I was recently at the London comicon, MCM, the UKs largest convention for fans of comics, computer games, internet worlds, anime and other pop culture things that so many parents have no idea what their kid is talking about.
There’s a really helpful guide for parent who are unsure, or uncaring, as to what their child is watching, it’s called the BBFC, and it puts a large age rating on the front, back and side of every film. It’s difficult to buy the original books, if they’re age related, without being informed of the age rating. We were surrounded by small children at MCM who were wearing a huge amount of cos-play, kit and make up from Attack on Titan, Tokyo-Ghoul and Deadpool. (I know, I know, Deadpool is a comic, not anime, but I have a point). These children appeared to be, at most, aged around 10-14, which is bad enough to see wandering around London alone, but worse, being covered in T-G and AoT stuff? AoT is about giant humans who eat ‘normal’ humans for no reason, violently and aggressively, and eventually vomit them back up in balls of undigested human flesh to make room for more. There’s probably a reason for this, I’ve not managed to find it yet. Tokyo-Ghoul is based on the idea that there are ghouls wandering round Tokyo who eat humans and occasionally each other. Deadpool is so violent it’s untrue, and they are all rated as at least 16, at least. Yet for some reason, there are children watching it.
Anyway, I digress, again. Hentai, generally equals rude, pornographic and violent. Anime generally equals variant degrees of cartoon, from Yu-gi-oh and Pokémon right through to Attack on Titan and Deathnote.
However, surely if people are allowed to watch comedies or dramas made in CGI, like Beowulf, Life of Pi or Ice Age, why aren’t I allowed to watch comedies or dramas in animation, like Spirited Away, anything Disney, AoT, T-G or pretty much anything by Studio Ghibli?
A lot of people complain that anime has unrealistic ideas, women with purple eyes, men with huge bodies, gorgeous eyes and everyone with a horrible habit of suddenly becoming either a demon or animal, occasionally eating people or talking to animals. But how the hell is that any different from making films with unnaturally thin, surgically enhanced women who either rush forward on extreme levels of karate training to save the day or die because they’ve run into the baddie wearing only bra and knickers?
But that’s just my opinion, the anime I watch isn’t hurting anyone and neither am I.