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Published:September 3rd, 2010 09:36 EST
Anime 101: Japanese Animation

Anime 101: Japanese Animation

By Tony Graff

Anime, the vast genre of Japanese animation, has been an interest of mine for over a decade, but, mentioning that to some people, I get the look that says I have an infectious disease on my face. Obsessions for and against the medium have really created a stereotype much bigger than the sum of its parts, which creates the kinds of interactions I deal with when I bring it up. 

So, let`s take a giant step back, and clear some of the fog surrounding the culture of anime. With over ten years experience, including several conventions, I`ve got a PhD in the subject. 

First things first, the Japanese use animation like Americans use live-action. It`s cheaper, it`s less time consuming, but the trade off is, there`s anime rating from G to R and even XXX. That scares a lot of people. Case in point, a friend borrowed a movie entitled Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust. I had warned her that it was rated R, which got shrugged off because it was just a cartoon. The next day she comes to me in hysterics because she showed the "cartoon" to her five year old brother whom she was babysitting. 

Most people have seen something that`s considered anime. Over a decade ago, Disney bought Studio Ghibli, with its legendary director, Hayao Miyazaki, claimed to be the Disney of Japan. Aside from mispronouncing the name every time, Disney can now take credit for amazing anime movies, like Castle in the Sky, Spirited Away -which won an Academy Award-, and Howl`s Moving Castle. 

The other side of the coin is the collective of people who are really into the genre. The ones that attend conventions, dress like the characters for Halloween parties, and generally live life a little off-skew. Svetlana Chmakova covered this really well in her three book graphic novel series entitled Dramacon. It`s one of the most accurate descriptions you can find of people who are into anime, ranging from never-going-to-touch-it to the people who eat, sleep, and breathe anime. 

Anime, when it all boils down, is a genre big enough that everyone could find something that interests them. I don`t doubt it at all. As with any hobby, you`ll find the entire spectrum of interest, from a little to obsession.