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What is Anime?
There is a section at BellaOnline dedicated to anime, but what exactly is anime? In Japan, anime is used as a blanket term to refer to all animation from all over the world. In English, many dictionaries define it as, “a style of animation developed in Japan.”
Anime art styles range from wild, exaggerated stylization to realistic approaches. The use of lines is also prevalent, although the lines are influenced more by a brush than by a calligrapher’s pen. In a lot of anime, body proportions come from the proportions of the human body, with the height of the head as the base unit of proportion. Most anime characters are 7-8 heads tall, although characters with extreme height are roughly 9 heads tall. The exception to this is the “super deformed” (Chibi) style, where characters are drawn in an exaggerated fashion. In Japanese, “Chibi” means “dwarf” or “small child.”
Large eyes are one of the common traits of anime; however, it doesn’t appear in all anime. Exaggerated facial expressions are also common in anime. Upset characters may have bulging lines appear on their forehead. Sometimes angry women may summon a mallet from nowhere and strike someone with it; this has become known as “hammerspace.” Male characters may develop a bloody nose around female love interests to indicate arousal. Embarrassed characters tend to produce a big sweat-drop; this has become one of the most widely recognized anime stereotypes.
Anime also tends to include non-humanoid characters and hybrid beings. Non-humanoid characters tend to include robots, animals, spirits, and demons. Anime tries to achieve three-dimensional views. There is also an emphasis placed on the changing seasons.
There are five general genres of anime. Action/adventure focuses on battles, war, and physical competition (which include martial arts, weapon fighting, or other action oriented material). Drama usually features a high degree of character development and emotional themes; many times the anime dramas involve relationship complications. Horror uses darker and supernatural themes. Science fiction relies on futuristic elements, especially future science and technology. And progressive anime tends to be extremely stylized.
In Japan, there are five main demographics that anime is aimed at. The “shojo” demographic is focused at young girls. The “shonen” demographic aims at young boys. The “seinen” demographic aims at teenage boys and young adult males. The “josei” demographic is focused on young women. And the “kodomo” genre is aimed at all children, regardless of gender.
When anime was brought to other countries back in the 1980’s, editing of cultural references and objectionable content was rather prevalent. However, now that there is a higher demand for anime in its original form, this kind of editing has declined in recent years. And the advent of the DVD allowed for multiple language tracks; so many anime releases can provide both the dubbed audio, as well as the original Japanese audio with subtitles.
As the Anime editor, I will be focusing on the western definition of “anime.” So the features and reviews you see here focus on properties that originate from Japan.
Content copyright © 2007 by Lesley Aeschliman. All rights reserved.
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