Anime in the West: A Modern Day Perspective

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As an avid viewer since I was roughly 10 years old, anime has always captivated me and it wasn’t until my teens that I could truly understand why. Anime is something which sets itself apart from an everyday ”cartoon” (as some seem to refer to it). I’m sure that like myself this infuriates the vast majority of anime followers as, to us, saying anime is a cartoon is sacrilege. However, it isn’t just the fact that anime is a product of Japan that makes it so unique. It is the obvious desire for true mastery that the Japanese possess which makes anime an art form as opposed to mindless entertainment made to anaesthetise the younger generation. However, this isn’t without exception.

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From a young age i grew up watching what every other child did in terms of anime, which was in fact the only anime made available in the UK. Networks such as Fox Kids, Toonami and Cartoon Network showed a rather small fraction of anime which is aimed specifically at children with reference to my previous quote involving ‘mindless entertainment’. That isn’t to say it wasn’t ”good”. In fact the whole basis of my love for the genre is due to countless hours of Pokemon, Sailor Moon and shouting ”Kamehameha!” at the TV. Yet I think that the reason most of my friends moved past the anime trend during later life is because most of the shows we saw at that age were in fact, style with very little substance. I don’t know who exactly to blame for this when I really think about it. The TV networks? Fate? Yet what I do know is that I am glad that, because of my childish tendencies, I never in fact ‘grew out’ of love with anime.

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Yet, because of this unnameable anime villain, it would seem that the appreciation for anime is lost on most. No self-respecting Otaku would in fact recommend an anime to a stranger and this, in my opinion, is a travesty. It isn’t just the childish stigma that contributes to this either. Japan is also partly to blame. Don’t misunderstand me, I am not trying to single out an entire culture, this isn’t some sort of hate rally. Yet for those who are familiar with modern-day anime it would seem that the choice of shows is abundantly littered with what we like to refer to as ”Fan Service”. For those who don’t know, Fan Service is a term used to describe unnecessary nakedness in anime as a sort of ”service” to the fans who enjoy that sort of thing. I’m not here to judge but this isn’t something that I personally enjoy. To me it just feels like another setback for the anime community. Fan Service is something that only seems to create another stigma that this art form doesn’t really need. In addition to fearing that someone will think you’re childish for watching anime you can also enjoy the added tension of them thinking you’re a ”cartoon watching pervert”. This is something that I’m sure many disagree on but I honestly feel that Fan Service only stands to hold the genre back and further outlines Japan’s blatant depiction of women as emotionless sexual objects.

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So what I would really like to see for the future of anime is just a difference of opinion. If people understood that there was more to it than boobs and Pikachu then every anime fan could feel more at ease with what they enjoy. Everyone will always feel differently and I don’t have any misguided notion that anime will be universally loved in years to come. Nor do I think that Fan Service will stop because, let’s face it, the people get what the people want. However I would just like there to be some understanding of what anime truly is. Before you next judge someone, why not educate yourself beyond the realms of your youth. Watch shows such as Cowboy Bebop, Neon Genesis Evangelion or masterpiece films like Akira or anything made by Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli. Just think before you judge and look beyond your preconceptions. Maybe then more people will enjoy anime just as countless others have for many years.

 

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