What is Anime?

I know that lately this has been a cliché question that a lot of people are asking and writing about recently, but this is my take on it.  Ever since western cartoons has been made with an anime influence, or RWBY came into existence, or Shelter appeared on Crunchyroll.  In my eyes, this just begs the question of how we can even determine what anime is.  Is the definition of anime so rigid that it can only fit into a prison cell and never change or can there be a more fluid definition that not many people have considered?  We see this debate all the time and there is never an end to it.  I think the main reason why is that everybody has their own personal definition anime and there has never been an official one.  A lot like how a catch in American Football is not defined in anyway which causes a lot of calls to be put into question.  The Japanese have a habit of calling anything animated anime, but that’s not completely true from a western perspective.

I have heard many rigid definitions of anime.  The biggest one for it is an art form produced by the Japanese to be watched by the Japanese.  This is a very clear definition with an iron tight boundary, but that’s my problem with it.  There is no room for change and anime is changing all the time.  Whether it’s influencing other animated works or it’s being influenced by something completely outside its cultural range, Anime is not rigid. vAnime being made for the Japanese by the Japanese is a term that is becoming more and more out of phase with our current world.  What about the fact that we have legal streaming sites dedicated to getting us anime as fast as they can?  What about some creators making works of anime specifically for the western audience?  There is so many things going on that a clear definition can’t exist.

The best place to start with this is the beginning.  Before anime influenced the rest of the animated world, anime was originally influenced by Disney.  In fact, without Disney you could say that it wouldn’t have existed at all.  Osamu Tezuka, the guy that started anime as we know it, saw some western cartoons and decided to make some of his own.  Astro Boy came into existence, but it was made incredibly cheaply and without fluidity.  The modern form of anime was born.  I know that Japan made animated works before this, but this was the start of how we know anime.  If you don’t believe me, look at the eyes of anime characters and Disney characters from that time-period.  Mickey Mouse and Astro Boy look similar, don’t they?  There are reasons for that.  So what was the point of this paragraph?  That one thing can easily influence something else and to show how impure anime is to some people who can’t accept this.

If you follow the rigid belief of anime being made by the Japanese for the Japanese, then that isn’t just wrong from a cultural point of view.  The Japanese have been outsourcing to China and South Korea for years.  I also doubt that this will put this to an end because the Japanese population’s growth is slowing down.  There isn’t enough people to share the load completely.  Anime production is at an all-time high right now.  Do you think they can do it all themselves?  Then something like Shelter happens.  An anime production brought to you by A1 Pictures and Porter Robertson.  I believe that what we saw was a glimpse into the future.  A future that creators and backers from all over the world can help create or produced anime.  I am deeply excited by this.

So in the end, I don’t think I can answer this question and I’m okay with that.  Why do we need a definition for everything?  Anime is amazing and many of its works are being explanation.  Why can’t anime be without definition too?  Let it be what it is.  A really cool form of animation that just happens to come from Japan.  I’m not going to stop people from leaning one direction or the other, but this is what I believe.  Have fun guys.

4 thoughts on “What is Anime?

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