Hell. How should I know? You want me to tell you? Well.
In simple terms, it is animation. The word itself was
borrowed by the Japanese to describe the medium of
animation, and was then borrowed back by us to
discriminate between animation from Japan and other
this thing you call "anime"?
Select page to view from
Why do we differentiate?
Simple. The Japanese have taken the form that, in
most countries, is used primarily for children's
entertainment and taken it to its extreme, using it
as a valid art form and a means of entertainment
for all ages and tastes. While other countries have
been known to do this on a small scale (for example
Canada and its National Film Board), no other
country has done this to the same extent. So much
so has Japan developed animation that it was only a
matter of time before other countries got
interested in what they were doing.
But it's just cartoons, right?
Not really, though the difference is more to do
with what we mean by "cartoon". Though it may use
the same techniques as Roadrunner or Magoo, the
range of subjects and the genres covered are far
wider. It matters not who you are or what your
taste is, there is probably an anime that's right
for you! But it cuts both ways... just as you would
not show certain movies to your children, so some
anime titles are unsuitable for kids. To treat them
just as cartoons would be very wrong.
So why do they make anime?
Because it is popular. It started as a cheap way of
entertaining people, but has continued to the point
where it is a major industry in its own right,
contributing not only to a domestic market, but to
a booming export market too, both in domestic anime
and in collaborations with foreign companies such
But how do I understand it if I don't speak the
That is where the folks in the anime businesses
come in. Anime is licensed to these companies for
distribution within their countries. As part of
this, the anime is either subtitled or dubbed,
depending on the whim of the company (actually,
that is over-simplifying it a great deal, but a web
page is not the best place for a sub vs. dub
debate!) There are also fan clubs who "fansub"
anime, though the legality of this is a grey area.
(Very grey, depending on your point of view!)
How do I find these people?
Try your local video store, or give my link page a try.
That's just a basic look at anime. If you want to know
more, try looking at the link page, or give the
rec.arts.anime newsgroups a go (in the UK, try
uk.media.animation.anime). There you will find
all you need to know and more. There is also a regular
FAQ to be found posted to rec.arts.anime.info
including an anime "primer".
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