Do you watch cartoons? I do. Not bugs bunny; I’m talking about anime. Do you know what that is?
Anime is, simply put, animation that’s made in Japan. I’ll give you, การ์ตูน some examples of anime that you might know. Speed Racer, Hello Kitty, Pokemon, RoboTech, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, and a lot of the cartoons you find on Cartoon Network qualify as well, particularly Adult Swim.
Thankfully our country has gotten the rights to translate the stories from Japanese to English, because the storylines in anime are really good. Often they’re better than what Hollywood shovels into your brain.
That’s basically what anime is. Now let’s talk about what it’s not.
Anime is not a genre; it’s an art form; a medium. From now on I want you to think of anime as being equated with movies, books, music, etc; all the entertainment media. Just like you have movies for kids, movies for teens, adults, so it is with anime.
All your entertainment comes in 31 flavors, right? Comedy, horror, drama, suspense, action, etc. You file similar movies on the same shelf in the store, don’t you? But you shouldn’t be putting all anime on the same shelf because anime is not a genre. It’s a medium, like movies are a medium, like books are a medium. A medium can have any genre of entertainment in it; well so can anime. Anime is not all sex and violence as some people will tell you. When i hear someone say that anime is sex and violence, that immediately tells me that they watched probably one particular anime show that had that and then they go “Oh well that’s how it all is. “
Now granted, some anime has that. Just like some movies have that. Just like some books have that. Does that make all books bad? No. So why should it for anime? Again, anime is an art form, not a genre. Anime can have comedy, it can have horror, drama, suspense, action, hey it can even have porn or blood-and-gut, but that doesn’t mean it all has it! I’m not going to lie to you and say that anime is all happy goodness and none of it has anything you don’t want to see. There is good stuff, and there is bad stuff, and there is everything in between, just like any other form of entertainment. If somebody came up to you and said “Hey man, we should really be censoring these ‘movies’ that people are talking about. They’re all sex and violence. I mean every movie has that in it, and I don’t think we should let our kids be watching movies. ” Would you believe that? No, you’d go “Excuse me, but that doesn’t apply to all movies leave me alone. “
You’ve got a rating system in the movies, right? G, PG, PG-13, R, NC-17. Anyway, think about the movies. Just because Lord of the Rings was PG-13, did that mean it was necessarily bad for kids to watch? That’s opinionated. Okay, think of a movie you like but your kids don’t like it because they don’t understand it. The themes are over their heads and they don’t go for all that characterization. In our movie rating system what would we rate a movie like that? It doesn’t have anything the kids shouldn’t be seeing, it’s just that they don’t understand. What do you think MPAA would rate it?
Now with anime it’s the companies who distribute the anime who rate the anime. Their rating system is a little different from the movies: They’ll take all factors, not just sex, violence, nudity, language, etc. but also factor in if younger audiences will be able to understand it. So on the back of an anime the rating could be OT for Older Teens, but really all they did that for was because the story is difficult to understand. Now granted OT can be for the other stuff too, but you have to realize that they think of everything when they rate.
You could have a G movie that’s for little kids, and a PG movie that they completely don’t understand. The rating system didn’t help in this case; you need to read up on the movie so you know what’s in it, and that really goes for all entertainment, including anime. You need to read up on something you want to watch, read, listen to. It may be okay; it may not. You can’t expect the rating system to do it all for you, because it won’t.
Another reason why people may be against anime is that certain companies make only anime that a lot of us don’t want to watch; then when people get introduced to anime, they unfortunately see it from these companies, which is like taking an Amish person to a shoot-em-up movie. That Amish guy is not going to think well of movies after that!
So understand that just as certain publishers publish certain books, and certain movie companies put out certain movies, so certain companies put out certain anime.
So as of now, unfortunately, all anime is grouped together like it’s a genre, and it’s not. You could have a porn right next to Hello Kitty and who knows the difference because “Oh it’s all the same. ” Watch Hello Kitty and watch that porn! You’ll see a difference! Those are two extremes, by the way. Like I said, not all anime is porn; in fact most of it isn’t; just like movies. And not all anime is for little kids, but I would expect more of it’s for them than is for porn-seeking people.
So that’s one extremist viewpoint of anime: that it’s all sex and violence. Another view that people take on it is that anime is just like cartoons: it’s for little kids, and it has nothing bad in it. Don’t take that approach either. I just went over anime, so you know now that it’s just like movies, books, and music: it can be good or bad, for little kids, for teens, for adults, could contain this or that. Just like we wouldn’t believe the stereotypes that all blondes are stupid, that bodybuilders have no feelings, and that life is always a happy ending, so we shouldn’t be casting anime as cartoons gone bad.
But I don’t want to lead you into the thinking that an anime that has something like nudity is necessarily a bad show to watch. You have to take into consideration that anime comes from Japan, and just like other countries that come into contact with each other, you’ll find that Japan has different thinking than we do. Is that to say that nudity has no effect on them? No. Something that you may find objectionable, they may not. For example, Japan has public baths, therefore their stories may include that. You may see in an anime a public bath scene in which the characters are talking while they are in the bath. Public baths are part of Japanese culture; the nudity is not sexual in any way, but some people find that offensive.
And anime often has sexual humor in it. Not anime for little kids, just for us older people. You may also see a person naked or partially so, but it doesn’t have to be sexual. What I’m getting at is that the Japanese are willing to talk about a lot more in their cartoons than we ever will in ours. They are a lot freer; depends on you to decide whether that’s a good or a bad thing.
So when people say that “Oh this anime has nudity in it, ” you have to ask them “What kind? ” Then they’ll give you a look. (Make a look) “What do you mean ‘What kind? ‘? ” Well there are several kinds! There’s the making out kind, there’s the public bath kind, then–and I don’t even know that I would put this in here–the short skirt kind. Japanese girls wear short skirts to school, and since a lot of the anime stories are going to center around Japan, since that’s where it came from, you’re most likely going to see short skirts. The kind that if there was a big gust of wind–you might get a big gust of view. And some people might find this offensive. You know, you’re watching the show, and there’s a gust of wind, and you get a panty shot. Now granted, you could take that as sexual, but it was the wind’s fault, not anyone else’s!
But you might see a skirt that you think is too short, and oh! That’s bad! It depends on you. It’s what you’re comfortable with. Just like movies; you watch what you’re comfortable with, but again, many people think of anime as cartoons, therefore they’re for little kids. Not always the case. You have to understand that we as a culture have accepted other culture’s stuff like languages, customs… we really are the melting pot, and you can’t think of cartoons as being for kids anymore.
To sum it up, there is anime that is porn. There is anime that is for little kids. There is anime that has wonderful stories and that really makes you think, all without objectionable stuff. And there is everything between those. And the reason that anime can be so varied is because the japanese view anime as an art form; a medium. They’ve got it figured out; a lot of people here in America think that cartoons are for little kids, and anime as some screwed up cartoon. But that’s not the case. Anime can be and often is deeper, richer, and more thought-provoking in its stories, but what I really want to stress to you is that anime, and all other types of cartoons, are a form of entertainment, not a genre.