Do You “Not Get the Anime Scene”?

Welcome readers. You’ve probably clicked on this link because (hopefully) you are one of many people in the world today who knows little, or would like to know more about anime. You may be curious as to what the vast ocean of anime is about. After all, why would there be a subculture today centered around a medium that is so hard to access unless you go out of your way to find it? There are a number of reasons. This article aims to explore what makes anime curiosity grow into anime fandom. For those who don’t know – anime is the term used to describe Japanese animation.

One of the more unconventional anime out there. Furi Kuri (c) 2000 GAINAX

Most individuals are drawn to anime by its artwork and animation – cute girls, hunky guys, cool robots, pretty costumes… the list goes on. Anime’s animation ranges in quality depending on which studio and project you are addressing. Some studios well known for high quality animation are: Studio Ghibli (duh), Kyoto Animation, BONESSunrise and Production I.G. Like mainstream media, there are plenty of character designs and mediocre works that should be thrown in the garbage and never spoken of again; however, every season has one or two gems, which eventually find their way to stores. I hope that one day I will find a show that has high quality animation from episode 1 to finish.

That’s the most obvious point though. There are plenty who desire a good story in an anime. 90% of anime follow a plot, much like Dr. Who. Again, these vary from uninspiring sitcoms, tummy bubbling romance, to soapy drama. The varieties in genre are endless. Common ‘genres’ unique to anime are magical girlecchiharem and mecha- which you may be already familiar with. How complex or stupid a story is, you may never know unless you read reviews first! Anime can be misleading in this way. Plenty of shows that have appeared on TV are 50 to 100+ episodes, which only represents about 10% of anime out there. If you base your opinion of anime on the likes of Naruto or Inuyasha, I feel sorry for you.

Apart from story and animation, creativity often comes through in Opening and Ending credit sequences, where popular Jpop artists will lend their talent to the production team. Animation is more respected in Japan, so the process of preparing an array of catchy tunes is taken seriously. Very rarely will you hear an anime theme song mention its title, the character names, or logline… and no, Digimon or Pokemon don’t count. The US versions of the songs are a lie! Soundtracks for anime can vary from improvised Garage Band style rubbish to movie quality compositions.

If you don’t know who these guys are… nevermind. (c) Evangelion 1996 GAINAX

Still don’t get the “anime scene”? I would like to quote Pixar’s The Incredibles director Brad Bird on this one (from the DVD commentary). “People think of animation only doing things where people are dancing around and doing a lot of histrionics, but animation is not a genre. And people keep saying, “The animation genre.” It`s not a genre! A Western is a genre! Animation is an art form, and it can do any genre. You know, it can do a detective film, a cowboy film, a horror film, an R-rated film or a kids’ fairy tale. But it doesn`t do only one thing. And, next time I hear, “What`s it like working in the animation genre?” I`m going to punch that person!” It is the same with anime: the possibilities are endless, and occasionally you will find something amazing! I can 99.9% guarantee that even though you may not like the idea of anime, I bet that there is a show or movie out there you will be able to enjoy.

This is what I aim to do here as an honorary member (cough) of The Artifice – help you narrow down that show you may like, and potentially turn your curiosity into appreciation, perhaps even fandom? I leave you to be inspired by an anime music video called Fighting, made by sloken18amv. It showcases some great action moments!

What do you think? Leave a comment.

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Female University student. 26 years old. I started writing about anime when I was 15 and it looked far worse than this.

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19 Comments

  1. Great article! I would be interested to read more about anime movies, I have seen the ones that everyone has like Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Fist of the North Star… Maybe a hidden gem that has not got enough attention but should.

    • Jordan

      Thanks heaps! Glad you like it! Sadly I haven’t watched Ghost in a Shell or Fist of the North Star yet, but have heard they are good!! Perhaps I should for another article! HMM!!
      I can most certainly write about the ones I have seen!

  2. I believe one of the reasons of why some people look the other way when being presented with anime is some of the super-cute pictures that has kind of become a standard for defining anime.

    Shame though as there is so much to explore here. In terms of animation, anime has some of the most intelligent releases for mature audiences.

    • Jordan

      Yes absolutely. The “cutesy factor” rubs some people the wrong way. Perhaps “mature” anime should be in a different section of a DVD store? LOL

  3. Mike G

    I remember when I was younger I just never got it. Didn’t appeal to me one bit. Then I saw Spirited Away. Easily one of my favorite films. Then I started seeking out more and more anime, especially Studio Ghibli movies. I urge anyone looking into getting into Anime to check out Miyazaki’s work and Satoshi Kon’s(RIP). Or just come to this site! There already seems to be people here who know their stuff. Great article Wynter!

    • Jordan

      Thank you very much! I agree, Miyazaki’s films are probably few of the anime which are “mainstream” but of great quality. Have yet to see Satoshi Kon’s work but have heard lots of good things! 🙂

  4. Dan Grove

    My interest started back in the 80’s when Robotech (Macross) was on TV. I couldn’t wait until the next day to see the future episodes. It really wasn’t until watching Ghost in the Shell that I really took to the art side of it.

    There is definitely a difference between American ‘Cartoons’ and Japanese ‘Animation’ in my opinion. I like the fact you hit on the OST side of the anime as well. It is sometimes not picked up by writers. Thanks for the interesting tour!

  5. battledash

    I noticed in the caption of you images you were trying to using the copyright symbol like this “©”, to do so hold down the alt key and on the num pad type 0169 and then release the alt button and the symbol should appear.

  6. Camille Brouard

    Hello again. I’m lurking about the anime articles, a good place to be!

    This article was informative and covered a good range of series/ideas/tropes found in Anime, however in one or two places I found the tone a little off-putting e.g. ‘If you base your opinion of anime on the likes of Naruto or Inuyasha, I feel sorry for you’ – I agree that there is so much more anime out there, but I think that saying something like ‘series like Naruto and Inuyasha are both powerful contenders for attention in the emerging Western anime culture, but in their shadows there are hundreds of other series just waiting to be watched’ would be more inviting. The popular shows may be tiring for fans who have watched more (like me!), but are important as “gateway” animes (I mean, without Inuyasha and Naruto I’d less likely watch anime these days, so despite their faults they served a good cause.)

    Apart from that, I really enjoyed this! The quote from Brad Bird is great.

    • Jordan

      Thanks for your feedback. You’re right- without shows like Naruto, there would be fewer anime fans! If I had received the suggestion of alternate phrasing when I originally wrote it, I would have changed it 😛

  7. Hi Jordan, I know you wrote this a while ago but it caught my attention so despite it being an older article I figured I’d leave some feedback as well!
    First off, I love the Dr. Who comparison, many anime lovers easily transition to being sci-fi/fantasy fans and vice versa! As far as utilizing anime reviews, I have mixed feelings… If you are sure said reviewer has similar tastes, then it is a great first resource. However, a better option may be to watch the first few episodes of a new show independently, then use reviews as a supplement to decide whether to continue. Many reviewers tend to include if the beginning episodes don’t do the show justice. Just a thought, since many newcomers to the anime scene may find it hard to know which reviewer reflects their own interests. Also, I love how you pointed out the creativity in opening and closing scenes, it took me a long time to realize how thought out these are and appreciate that they can typically stand alone as works of art and expression. Finally, the Brad Bird quote is the best quote I’ve heard yet on animation, perfect for the anime skeptics. If you happen to have seen any of the new episodes of Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, they contain a beautiful style of animation (Seth MacFarlane is producing the series) and it is the perfect form of expression for the show. Just another example of how seamlessly animation flows from one genre to the next. Thanks for a great intro to anime!

    • Jordan

      Thanks for the long comment! 🙂
      I have started to read less reviews and stream the first episode to show to decide whether I buy a show or not. I completely agree that it’s important to listen to people who have similar viewpoints to your own. If someone writes a fab review in something you hate that’s a red flag! Or at least a yellow one.

  8. That’s a warm opening. I’m not the most learned anime fan but, I look forward to reading some more of your anime reviews.

    • Jordan

      Thanks. There are a couple I’ve already done: Perfect Blue, Kokoro Connect, Pokemon Origins… the list goes on 😛

  9. Mo Sadek

    This was a pretty good article! I was always confused about the sports anime scene… I’m a huge fan of Kuroko no Basket, but I have no clue as to why. @_@ Sports animes are just really strange and I’ve never understood the scene, even if I am a part of it!

  10. Tatijana

    For me anime was so different from the usual cartoons I had watched previously. It’s probably a cultural thing, but as I was growing up it seemed that anime touched on more mature topics than american cartoons. It definitely had its allure.

    • Jordan

      Yes, anime definitely is not afraid to explore serious topics, but it depends largely on which series you are watching.

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