Sunday, March 17, 2013

Anime is Not a Medium!

There are almost no words I hate more than "That's not an anime!" (actually, there are many words I hate more, but I had to sound tough!) Those four little words have been the bane of many conversations. It's terrible to be having a pleasant discussion, all deep and what-not, when some person you weren't even talking to--you know the type. The one wearing Edward Elric's jacket, the Sharingan contact lenses, and the bleached hair with a bizarre array of candy-pop colors--butts in and shouts: "AVATAR ISN'T AN ANIME!"

Really now?
So if googly eyes and action-blur don't make an anime, what does? "Well, it has to be from Japan," they will say. "If it wasn't made in Japan, then it isn't anime."

Now, I know this won't be true for anybody else out there, because the only people who find this post will be the weeaboos searching through Google, but the idea that only Japan can produce anime is patently ridiculous. An artistic medium is not defined by the country in which it is crafted. Novelettes only come from Italy, right? Otherwise they're just stories? No. No, absolutely no. (Note: I'm picking on novelettes because I once read that they were highly popular Italy.)

I ask: "Well, what other than Japan makes a specific show considered an anime?" Typically the response is: "Well, you know. They're anime." The implication here is that all anime look alike.

Totally looks like Naruto and not The Powerpuff Girls.
Some people won't consider shows like Panty and Stocking with Garterbelt to be an anime, but the vast majority of fans will simply because it came out of Japan. I'm starting to get the feeling that the idea of anime being the exclusive realm of Japanese studios is rooted more deeply in some kind of national worship than it is anything else. These people can't accept the concept of anime being created outside of Japan, because only the perfect and beautiful island nation can create real art. You'd think this kind of worship must come from Japan itself, right? Surely the Japanese distinguish between what is and is not an anime?

No. Because in Japanese the term "anime" means "animation" and refers to literally every single form of moving-pictures media. Shrek is an anime, The Looney Tunes is an anime, InuYasha is, of course, an anime, and Family Guy is an anime. There is no distinction between a cartoon and an anime. And what I really love is that, after all of this, the response is:

"Well, anime has this feel that cartoons don't have."

No. No, no, no. While it's true that cartoons which come out of Japan definitely have a particular aesthetic and unique set of story tropes and methods, this does not make them a completely different medium. That unique feeling the weeaboos want to believe separate anime from cartoons is the influence of the culture, and culture is completely separate from medium.

So while it is fair that, as part of American culture we designate all Japanese cartoons as "anime", don't jump down peoples' throats for calling an anime a cartoon or a cartoon an anime. Because, really, they're right and you're crazy.

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