FANBROS GUIDE: Intro to Anime 101
Greetings and salutations – Deadly Diva, your neighborhood friendly Anime Czar here. (Yes, that is a proper title. No, you do not have to bow when you see me. Yes, you must offer tributes.)
Are you excited? No? Doesn’t matter. I am excited enough for all of us. This is going to be one hell of a ride and luckily you have me as a guide.
I can feel you starting at my wondrous title. I can feel the unspoken question. I know you are asking, “what is anime”. The simplest answer is anime refers to Japanese animated productions that feature hand drawn or computer generated animation. If that sounds eerily similar to what you may consider a cartoon, you would be correct. In Japan, the word is used to refer to all animation. Outside of Japan, it has become a term that means animation from Japan.
Now you are probably wondering what makes anime so special. What it is about these moving pictures of cat girls, dog demons and giant robots inspires such loyalty? It is the fact that no matter which genre of anime is your favorite, there are characteristics that cross genres and create a sense of familiarity and comfort.
The look – A picture is worth a thousand words. And when you see anime, you know it is anime. Even though each artist and studio has their own style, there are similarities in animation technique and character design. (Think: “anime eyes” and gravity-defying, brightly colored hair) One day we will talk about those exaggerated proportions, but today is not that day. Today, we are keeping it light and airy.
Storylines, arcs and loop de loops. – Anime is (in)famous for epic, captivating, and almost never ending storylines. (Dragonball, I am talking about you.) From firefights and love triangles to cooking competitions and plots to take over the world, there is never a shortage of amazing plots. Whether it lasts 26 episodes or 206, be prepared to hand over you heart and sanity to the well written series…Especially if it takes two years to get a second season. (Shingeki no Kyojin, I just can’t quit you.)
Ancestor worship – Before you pull up Wikipedia and furiously copy and paste the definition of ancestor worship, let me finish. Anime, as a uniquely Japanese export, stays true to its cultural roots regardless of the genre of anime produced. The Japanese language, values, and worldview are clearly displayed. Speaking of language, if you do not speak Japanese, learn to love subtitles. This Deadly Diva cares not for your dubbed anime. In fact, I silently question your entire existence when you tell me you prefer dubbed anime.
There’s a genre for that – As you leap into the rabbit hole known as anime obsession, you may be wondering where to start. Just like television shows and movies come in any number of genres, so does anime. You like comedy? Give Hetalia a try. Giant robots your thing? Mobile Suit Gundam is just what you are looking for. Fan of action? Try Gungrave. Looking for a good scare? Elfen Lied has been known to disrupt the sweetest dreams. Have a hankering for magical girls? Sailor Moon may work for you.
If I have just overwhelmed you, take a deep breath. I shall return shortly with a genre breakdown with all types of nifty recommendations.
Diva’s note: At FanBros, we know that just because something is animated does not mean that it is meant for children. Anime is no different. While there are many series that are kid-friendly, there are just as many that are not. Keep in mind that Japanese standards for nudity and violence are different than those in the United States. So please exercise due diligence before viewing with children or those easily scandalized. I do not want your Nana emailing me in all caps talking about the half-naked cartoon woman she saw on your screen.