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Character Design in Anime

This has long been a question, that usually doesn’t get answered because most people don’t really care. Why do a lot of anime characters not look Japanese? Is it because of diversity on screen? It would be interesting for someone to dive in to this topic. Hopefully, appropriately without any negativity or hate. I have my own theories, but I am curious to hear what other fans think.

  • A really good topic to discuss and would be great if you could find some interviewers with creators to include as I am sure this question will have been asked of them at different stages. Perhaps even look at comparisons to others that do depict diversity also. – SaraiMW 5 months ago
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  • My understanding is that it's not so much that anime characters "don't look Japanese" per se, as that they have muted racial features in general. The audience members are then supposed to project their own race and background onto the characters. To a Japanese audience member, the character will likely still look Japanese--but to a Westerner, they'll look Western because that's what they're most used to seeing if race is ambiguous. – Debs 5 months ago
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  • I think part of the charm with anime is the different art styles and the variety of different characters we are exposed to. The unique and vibrant styles of each individual character is what sets anime apart from other TV shows. It's also fun to see people portray anime in real life, with cosplays and digital art. – chelseaatmaja 5 months ago
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  • It is worth tracing a path from the works of Katsushika Hokusai - Hokusai manga (1814). Then looking at the influence of Disney on Tezuka Osamu. This helps to see how the characters have come to look westernised while retaining a unique Japanese aesthetic. – Chris Carter 4 months ago
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  • It's great to see any characters design. However it choose who is the beat – GlennMandagi 3 months ago
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Monsters that Make Us Think

Within video games, we’ve met a whole host of monsters/villains, whether they are an individual consumed by a need for wealth, a mythical beast with an attitude, or a good guy turned bad. For this topic, one could come up with a list of monsters/villains that really made them think. Maybe it was a villain who actually had a point about his motivations to destroy a corporation, or a monster that was so vile and disgusting that we couldn’t fathom how they came into existence.

This article would likely focus on the morality and ethics of villains, as well as concepts to do with storytelling, backstory, and motivation.

  • I think this is a very interesting topic! Though I do not think it needs to be limited to video games if someone wanted to grab it. Whether its video games, literature, television, or film, there is plenty of fuel for this topic across all genres. – Sean Gadus 8 months ago
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The importance of violence in storytelling in Tokyo Ghoul

Tokyo Ghoul is an anime which has managed to generate a cult following among anime fans having two successful seasons leaving audiences begging for more. Tokyo Ghoul has a rather unique subject matter concerning the nature of violence though it also can viewed as somewhat of an allegory of society itself with the interspecies war between humans and ghouls demonstrating the violence caused by segregation. More of an attribute to the anime’s success however, would be its stunningly unique cinematic. The anime itself has no shame depicting violence in its rawest form yet does so with meaning and not just for shock value. Each an every violent exchange builds upon the overall moral of the story and also contributes to the development of each character- a prime example of this would be the 2 episode torture sequence where the antagonist modelled after western horror icon ‘Jason Vorhees’, grotesquely disfigured the vulnerable half human, half ghoul protagonist Ken Kaneki. This display was one of the most demented yet disturbingly well thought out scenes which makes the horror franchise ‘SAW’ look like a romantic comedy. The scene masterfully depicted the psychology behind the antagonist and his worldview on how the weak are overrun based on their lack of ability. This display is a very sufficient argument as to why violence can sometimes be necessary within media as it is an excellent instrument in storytelling. How much more effective would this iconic scene have been without the gruesome visuals and bone grinding SFX?

  • Should ghoul be written with a capital G? Is it because it is the name of a race in this anime? – Ceroca 2 years ago
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  • I feel that the violence is also partly due to the fact it is marketed as a Seinen so it's targeting adolescents and young adults. But the violent panels in the manga usually have very rough lines with plenty of monologues to depict the inner struggles of the characters. And this is one of the reasons why fans felt the anime didn't do justice to the series. – Hann 2 years ago
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  • Love the question at the end--would the story be as effective if heavily censored for violence? Might be worth looking up a few other series that were censored when translated into anime or live action adaptations, and suffered for it, just for the sake of the comparison. – Eden 1 year ago
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The Evolution of Anime Streaming

Analyse the growth and transformation of the anime industry in North America alongside the increasing accessibility of anime streaming. From disjointed episodes uploaded to YouTube in parts, to illegal fan-subbing websites, to today’s officially licensed streaming sites like Crunchyroll and Netflix, how and where fans watch anime has drastically changed. Examine the ways this has impacted anime’s popularity (and vice-versa) as well as the viewer experience. How has it affected shows that are not licensed to streaming services? What happens when a service fails (see: Amazon’s Anime Strike)?

  • Anime streaming has been a contentious topic for a long time because in the early days, most if not all of it was illegal. Since watching the streaming videos was easier than buying the licensed product, the anime studios both in Japan and the US lost tons of money, and some people in the anime industry have even given whole panels at cons explaining about the perils of streaming. A lot of the policies of legal streaming sites like Crunchyroll--as well as the new technique of simuldubbing--were developed to deter illegal streaming or make it less profitable. – Debs 7 months ago
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  • Thanks @Debs! That makes a lot of sense. If you have any recommended sources that talk about this, let me know. I wonder if I can find any sources that talk about why some illegal sites have remained, despite the prevalence of legal streaming? – Eden 7 months ago
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Philosophy in Anime

Attack on Titan seems to be heavily influenced by German culture and philosophy. Are there any real correlations to this? Do any other anime shows portray philosophical theories and are they doing it as a service or a disservice?

  • I am not a very big anime fan, but Neon Genesis Evangelion has definitely been influenced by philosophical theories, especially by Kierkegaard. It was also an outlet for the psychological battles of creator Hideaki Anno. – tanaod 2 years ago
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  • great topic! while it may be difficult to actually statistically correlate these occurrences, i think it's certainly true that many anime display influences from certain philosophical theories or debates. Naruto, for example, mirrors the tensions in philosophical discourse of the search for a true "Universal," which you can see displayed in the ethos of certain characters and their goals. – ees 2 years ago
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  • Well, there's a lot of interplay between anime and philosophy. Fullmetal Alchemist deals with Plato's Allegory of The Cave , while Attack on Titan deals with Scmitt's The Political.Naruto definitely has elements of Buddhist thought. – RedFlame2000 1 year ago
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Anime vs. Live Action Counterparts

Japan frequently produces a live action of an anime. While the West is doing something similar to popular animé like Death Note, what are your thoughts on an animé’s live-action counterpart in Japan and the West?

  • I'd be interested to see the demographics and response to live actions produced in each country. Where North America generally meets such adaptations with displeasure and an upturned nose, how do Japanese viewers respond? – Slaidey 8 months ago
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Masaaki Yuasa's dynamic animation style is integral to the stories he chooses to tell

Masaaki Yuasa is one of the most celebrated directors in anime today, and for good reason. His dynamic, fluid style of animation, which creates a look and feel of real movement in all of his projects, is unlike that of any of his peers. He often applies his style to odd narratives with odd art styles, which serves to accentuate the difference between the work that he produces and that of his contemporaries.

To what extent is his dynamic style of animation integral to the stories that he chooses to tell? Are the manga versions—in cases where there are such—sufficient in and of themselves, or are his animations more whole works? Are they fundamentally different? What commonalities exist between disparate entries of his canon such as Mind Game (2002) or the Tatami Galaxy (2010), Devilman Crybaby (2018) or Ping Pong (2014), his contributions to Space Dandy (2014) or to Adventure Time (2014)? Yuasa seems to be concerned with growth, change, and self-overcoming, but is this interest expressed in his style as well as in the plots that he works with?

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    Art style as a world building tool

    It is widely believed good art-style is the one that is most pleasing to the eye, while this true to certain level art-style has more to it then beauty. Art-style when used properly can do more than just make an anime look beautiful . It can be used as a tool of visual communication and world building. For example the wacky art-style used in one piece perfectly complements its odd unrealistic setting, it also gives a good insight into the characters(Ussop is a liar hence has a Pinocchio nose,Sanji has tall legs signifying his use of legs as his weapon of choice). On the other end we have death note, it has a more subtle and realistic art-style suggesting grounded story,its grey tones are similar to that of neo-noir suggesting the vibes of the crime drama it is. So in this light exploring art-style as a tool that can perfectly compliment and complete the story is some thing that needs to be done.

    • You may want to consider the works of Masaaki Yuasa, which are all heavily stylized. From Ping Pong (2014), to the Tatami Galaxy (2010), to Devilman Crybaby (2018), the use of color, art style, and dynamic animation style are all vital to the storytelling and, a case could be made, to the setting itself. This is most striking, in my opinion, in The Tatami Galaxy (2010), which uses color and stylized representation of the setting (through photographs on top of drawn panels) to striking effect. – C.W.B. Bryson 9 months ago
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