What makes something an anime?



  • This is a question I have pretty strong views on. I don't know why, but I can get strangely heated over this.

    What do you think makes something 'anime'? Does it have to be made in Japan, by Japanese people? Does it simply have to come from Japan? Be in Japanese? Include sushi (wut)?

    Personally, I think anime is a style. Anyone from anywhere can make an anime, as long as they use the anime style. In my opinion, saying it's only anime if it comes from Japan is like saying pizza is only pizza if it comes from Italy.

    What are your thoughts?



  • Considering that Japanese people created, defined, and expanded on anime, I'd say 'yes' to all your questions. That's not to say that other people can't emulate the style in their works. I draw characters with big, soulful eyes and colourful hair, but I'm not so sure I'm entitled to call myself an 'anime artist' or 'manga artist'. Perhaps I could call myself an 'anime/manga STYLE artist'.

    Also, leaving the style aside, anime is a vehicle for expressing Japanese culture. Even though the characters may not look Japanese, or the stories they tell may not be expressly about Japan and its culture, anime represents a way for Japanese people to express themselves that is unique to them. For my part, I like anime precisely because it gives me a chance to experience something different. If a Canadian made an anime about a uniquely Canadian subject, I'm not so sure how effective it would be.



  • @walimd:

    Anyone from anywhere can make an anime, as long as they use the anime style.

    That is completely subjective. There is no clear definition for the "anime style."



  • This is a very subjective question, and one I've only really thought briefly about until recently. There have been a couple of shows I've became familiar with just this year being called anime.

    The first was RWBY. This was not made in Japan, but still has the same feel to it as a lot of the shows I've watched. I assume Japan also feels it fits the culture since it had a Japanese dub in the works the last time I bothered looking into it. It may already be available there for all I know.

    The second is Ninja Slayer. Although I don't really want to make anyone mad by what I'm going to say, it has to be said to make my point. As in the first example, this was also not made in Japan. I also feel this completely missed the mark as fitting into anime. The show has more of a Robot Chicken or Space Ghost Coast to Coast feel than anything that I personally feel matches the genre. Sadly, I spent a couple weeks looking forward to this one because of story line I had researched on the internet prior to release, and couldn't manage to choke down the first episode because of the art style and corny feel of the script. I watch a lot of shows which I don't care for the art of because of either story or comedic value, but this one seemed to completely miss the mark. As an example, I'm currently working through Kill la Kill which has terrible art, but is still quite funny.

    Back to the point, I believe it is more subjective of the viewer. Each of us has an idea of what we consider anime. The location where it's made doesn't seem to have as much to do with it as the content. However, a lot of it does seem to hold a very similar feel. What that feel is can only be decided by the viewer.



  • Simply enough, I have always viewed anime as something made in Japan and originally intended for for Japanese audiences.



  • @walimd:

    Personally, I think anime is a style.

    I don't agree because I don't think you can categorize the process of animation production as a style

    Animation produced in Japan is anime. It's pretty black and white to me. Anime like Panty & Stocking or Ninja Slayer can employ Western influences, and North American productions like Avatar or RWBY can be heavily influenced by anime, but an influence is not the same as the location it's produced



  • @pleco_breeder:

    The second is Ninja Slayer. Although I don't really want to make anyone mad by what I'm going to say, it has to be said to make my point. As in the first example, this was also not made in Japan.

    ….Yes it was. :hmm:



  • Maybe a better way of saying it would have been "the story was not made in Japan"? http://otakumode.com/news/53a3f6f19f56c1003b000085/Interview-Ninja-Slayer-Creators-Bradley-Bond-Philip-N-Morzez-1-2

    The shows and Japanese releases of the novels and manga are supposedly translated from American writers based on the info in the interview



  • Made in Japan for a Japanese audience? Anime/manga.

    Anime is very broad and diverse so I don't know that I'd agree about it being a style. If anime isn't going to be used to refer specifically to Japanese animation then I fail to see the point in even using it (unless someone can offer up a more concrete definition of the anime style). We already have the terms cartoon and animation. People just use anime to have an easier/quicker way to refer to the very large quantity of Japanese cartoons and comics.



  • @pleco_breeder:

    Maybe a better way of saying it would have been "the story was not made in Japan"? http://otakumode.com/news/53a3f6f19f56c1003b000085/Interview-Ninja-Slayer-Creators-Bradley-Bond-Philip-N-Morzez-1-2

    The shows and Japanese releases of the novels and manga are supposedly translated from American writers based on the info in the interview

    Okay, but the adaptation is still its own creation. It's own form of artistic expression, if you will.



  • @pleco_breeder:

    Maybe a better way of saying it would have been "the story was not made in Japan"? http://otakumode.com/news/53a3f6f19f56c1003b000085/Interview-Ninja-Slayer-Creators-Bradley-Bond-Philip-N-Morzez-1-2

    The shows and Japanese releases of the novels and manga are supposedly translated from American writers based on the info in the interview

    Actually, that's part of the joke. The whole backstory of Ninja Slayer being made by two Americans is a complete fabrication. There is no original English version of the Ninja Slayer novel, and Bradley Bond and Philip Ninj@ Morzez are just pseudonyms for the real authors, who are Japanese. This is done as a sort of "meta-humor" which makes it a social commentary on what the Japanese think what Americans think how the Japanese are, if that makes any sense. It's actually quite clever.

    But yeah, Ninja Slayer is 100% a Japanese creation.



  • Alright, looks like it's time to pull out this video once again. Also watch it all the way to the end. Or at least up until he credits who helped to edit the video.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Qc0tIjw7fII



  • @7jaws7:

    Okay, but the adaptation is still its own creation.

    I can agree that the format of the anime is Japanese. The manga has the same writer and illustrator as the novels. However, the anime can be seen as a separate entity as it doesn't use the same illustrator and only based upon the texts to the extent of any other manga/anime comparison. I'm unsure whether either of the authors are involved in that portion of the project aside from the licensing for it to be created. Legally, the creative rights would still fall to the original authors, and I'm sure they have more than a fair bit of control regarding what happens with the Japanese portion of this creation.

    Regardless, I think it still makes my point regarding the differences in range of what is called anime and what can be considered as such being completely reliant upon the perspective of the viewer.

    I've only recently began reading manga, and working on creating stories to apply my own art to. Shows like RWBY, Ninja Slayer, Genshiken, and Shiro Bako were the original impetus for this, and my reason for asking myself this question prior to finding this post.The art style is definitely distinct in the traditional anime, and is a lot of what makes a specific anime stand out from the crowd. The story in my opinion is the other half of the equation. While either can destroy a series, the overall feel of both is what makes it fit into the classification in my own opinion.

    I'm not trying to ruin a post I'm actually interested in the collective opinion on, so I won't post my opinion again. However, I would ask that some thought be put into the answers before just placing a three word response. For those that actually believe it has to be made in Japan, a nice description of why you feel that way could make for some interesting reading and allow for some idea of what makes that the defining factor.



  • ^….You just completely ignored my post altogether, didn't you? -_-



  • @pleco_breeder:

    For those that actually believe it has to be made in Japan, a nice description of why you feel that way could make for some interesting reading and allow for some idea of what makes that the defining factor.

    Because anime is very diverse and cultural background/country of origin is one thing that they all have in common (without splitting hairs over the handful of titles that make the waters murky, because the core idea is still clear). Anime is a medium (animation), not a genre (comedy, drama, horror), that covers a wide variety of art styles, stories, and subject matter, and it's sometimes influenced by western animation just like western animation is sometimes influenced by Japanese animation. "Feelings" are too vague and subjective to be meaningful to anybody but the individual.



  • Something that I think could help, or not help depending on your point of view, but is not really a part of the subject is that a type of fine wine (I think it was champagne) doesn't need to be made in Champagne, France in order to be considered champagne. There's supposedly a big debate about whether or not it can or can't be champagne. I think that the idea of what is or isn't anime falls into that same argument.

    Personally I just think of anime just as cartoons… but made in Japan. I think the question is supposed to be "what makes an anime anime?" but then again its one of those things where its just your personal opinion on the matter.



  • Actually, you can ONLY call it Champagne if it's made in Champagne, France. Unless you're this one upstart American company in California that no one takes seriously. They call their sparkling wine Champagne, and the rest of the wine world poo-poos them heavily.

    And, yes. I believe that true anime can only be made in Japan. There's a cultural flavor to the Japanese work that no American company can hope to reproduce. Avatar, while great, feels unequivocally American. You can see it in the art work, the way the voice work matches the mouth movements perfectly, and the animation. It is heavily influenced by anime, and you can definitely see the influence. It remains an American cartoon, though.

    As for RWBY, I've seen a part of one episode, and the animation style turned me off. It looked like an interesting story, but I couldn't get past the animation.



  • @SpacemanHardy:

    ^….You just completely ignored my post altogether, didn't you?

    No, your post hadn't been made when I started typing. Is there a reference for this? I wasn't unaware of the "joke" claim before making my first post in the thread, but wasn't going to go on nothing more than an uncited wikipedia statement.



  • @paige62182:

    Actually, you can ONLY call it Champagne if it's made in Champagne, France. Unless you're this one upstart American company in California that no one takes seriously. They call their sparkling wine Champagne, and the rest of the wine world poo-poos them heavily.

    Fine I'll use a different example because I just heard about it. A company called "Just Mayo" is having major backlash because other companies are claiming that you need to have eggs in order for something to be called mayonnaise. Just Mayo says that they never refer to their product as mayonnaise because the nnaise part indicates eggs which their product has not. This example may not be as good as my other one but I think it still applies to what I'm trying to say.

    But you get what I'm saying right? Just because convention said that it had to be made in Japan (talking about anime again) doesn't mean that it has to apply today. What's to stop a japanese company from making an anime in america but still use japanese voice actors that they found in america? Would that mean their product would never hope to be called anime because it wasn't made in Japan?



  • @darthrutsula:

    But you get what I'm saying right? Just because convention said that it had to be made in Japan (talking about anime again) doesn't mean that it has to apply today. What's to stop a japanese company from making an anime in america but still use japanese voice actors that they found in america? Would that mean their product would never hope to be called anime because it wasn't made in Japan?

    I see what you're saying. If it was made by a Japanese company, using primarily Japanese writers/artists/animators/voice talent, then yes, I would still call it anime, even if they did the physical labor parts here in the US, because it is culturally Japanese. It would still have all the cultural richness that any decent anime brings. American animation is just indefinably different.



  • Okay, so one question that's been on my mind is: Why is it so important that Avatar and similar western cartoons be called "anime"? What is it about them other than the influences that would make them "anime"? What is the anime style? Do the western influences make Panty and Stocking not anime but a western cartoon?

    Anime is just a fancy word for cartoons made in Japan because it's quicker to write and say than "Japanese animation/cartoons". Being anime isn't some marker of quality (Avatar and other series show that westerners can make quality animation too, and there's plenty of very bad anime out there), and anime covers such a wide variety of shows that defining it as a style is hard. The Japanese cultural background of these cartoons impacts them, even if not in overt or big ways.


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