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North American Anime Stereotypes

By Ami (ai_girl05@yahoo.com)

our attention turns to the stranger at the door, article at hand...

 
 

this article approaches the issue of the viewpoint of anime from the "normals", one which this publication strives to address (and perhaps change)...

then again, i don't know if there's much we can do, except try ^_^;;

~Jason Nishi (Photo Editor)

 

Japan is well known for it's cars and computer technology, but it also excels in the field of entertainment. Japanese animation has its roots in the nineteenth century on prints and ancient Japanese myths. The more familiar anime of today has been composed of a style developed from the 30's and 40's, having characters with large eyes. A large variety of anime has been created, approximately fifty television series are broadcasted in Japan at any time. On top of television, Japanese animation is available as Original Animated Videos (OAVs) and theatrical releases. Anime is mainstream entertainment in Japan, about as much as sitcoms and television dramas are in North America. In Canada and the United States, anime is quickly increasing in popularity, but there are a few problems. Many people, usually having uniformed ideas of anime, have misunderstood Japan's animation industry in North America. These views are easily remedied. Here are some of the most common misconceptions the public has grown to believe.

a note on our article submission policy

all submissions passed to either chris (at liff@hotmail.com) or myself (at jnishi@aol.com) will be considered. this does not mean that a submitted article will automatically be posted. we do have to maintain some editorial power here. ^_^  also note that we maintain the power of editorial review (in easier words, going through your articles with our handy machete), so don't expect many articles to come out exactly the same that they came in. however, we will try to keep the spirit and arguments of the article intact.

if you want to help your case, doing the following may improve your odds of getting your article posted:

1. anime related: we're an anime publication, after all... it'd make a lot of sense if the article actually fit in.
2. good grammar: it's not that we're lazy (or at least, not too lazy), but the better the grammar is, the less we have to fool around with it.
3. sources: if you use external sources for your information, it would help if references were included these in your article, probably at the bottom as a bibliography... it's not like we want to get sued, after all ^_^;;
4. uniqueness: it helps if we don't have a similar article on the website. a unique viewpoint, a unique understanding, or a unique topic all help.

Note that this policy is not necessarily standard amongst our staff... however, these are pretty common sense.

~JN

 

Since anime is animated, many people automatically assume it's for children. Most animated programs on TV are cartoons, many of which are childish, repetitive and stereotypical. Therefore, many who observe you watching anime might say something to the effect of "Aren't you a little too old to be watching that?" or "Are you still watching cartoons at your age?" This is an extreme stereotype. One of the primary reasons many enjoy anime is the fact that they make animation for all ages over there. It's not like in the United States, where the almighty Disney rules and animation only hints at adult themes and situations. Anime is thus not "cartoons" in the same sense as the word is used. Anime is "animation for all", and that separates it from the word "cartoons" for more than any other reason I can think of. The fact that many anime series actually have continuing plots (whereas most cartoon series do not) also bolsters my opinion on this matter. Unlike many North American cartoons, anime have complete stories that continue from one episode to another, making them very compelling with suspenseful cliffhangers. The stories do have endings, and not always happy ones. Saying all the above quiets those who believe in the childish stereotype.

in defense of the industry, at least they are starting to shape up, with cartoons aimed at teenagers and adults (good examples may include baby blues, dilbert, and even if i don't like to recognize it, south park as well). this is in addition to showing anime like tenchi muyo and gundam wing, which are not really intended to be shown to as young an audience.

of course, the majority is still aimed at a demographic aged 2-11. but hey, at least the rest of us still exist to them.

~JN

 

The next extreme stereotype is that all anime is porn. Sure, a lot of the time people are just joking about it when they assume that, but many others still hold this conviction about Japanese animation. I'd like to think this opinion comes from the fact that the Japanese happen to be more open-minded with their standards of animation than outside countries. It's easy to dispel this opinion; I'd just like to point out the thousands of popular anime titles that are not pornographic (which, by the way, greatly outnumber the fully pornographic titles made). I won't deny there isn't any anime pornography out there, but once again, let me explain that anime is for all ages in Japan. There is something for children and adults, but that isn't all that is available. Anime is very diverse, containing many genres.

 
 

Another stereotype of anime revolves around the dialogue and voices in anime. Most non-fans who are willing to sit down and watch anime with an "otaku" are expecting to hear the fast measured rhythm of the Japanese language. But when their friend plays a dubbed tape, the people are surprised to hear English coming out of the mouths of the characters instead of Japanese. They are even more surprised when they see how the words are synchronized with the mouth movement perfectly. Whether you're anti- dub or a dub lover, everyone should agree that the dubbed (or translated) anime is a lot better than they were when Bruce Lee was making those embarrassing kung-fu movies.

And of course, the classic Godzilla examples ^_^ ~JN

 

With programs like WordFit and other methods of timing the words, dubs are getting better and better as time goes on. Sometimes, the potential anime fan may get hooked simply because the English dubs are pretty well done.

 
 

"Anime is only a niche hobby for a small amount of devoted fans." is one thing an uninformed person might say. This stereotype is, obviously, a debatable point. It's really difficult to gauge the popularity of anime right now. It is one thing to be among anime fans and feel that anime is really popular at the moment, but then you have take a step back and compare it to the real world where things such as Titanic or The Matrix can take the world by storm.

Of course, it helps that shows like Card Captors and Escaflowne and Pokémon are showing (or are going to be shown) on syndication.

 

However, unlike this funny thing called Dungeons and Dragons or "Star Trek", anime is not just limited to those strange few who gather in secret hideouts to take in a couple episodes. Fans have other sources of Japanimation. The amount of local and web-based anime clubs has increased lately. As there are "Star Trek" conventions, there are also anime conventions. There, people can buy or view anime videos, trading cards, posters, and a large assortment of other merchandise.

for a list of anime conventions happening in the US, visit the anipike's list of conventions.

 

There are anime fans everywhere who enjoy or have been addicted to an anime show at least once. These fans just don't go around announcing their infatuation unless someone was to ask, most likely because of the false stereotypes so many believe in. I still do feel like anime's popularity is gradually growing, both in the real world and on the Internet. The misconceptions of anime are slowly disappearing as more anime is exposed to the North American audience. People who have a passing interest in anime don't have to go far to find it. It's on television almost everyday. In the past, anime movies could be found in movie theaters and more are on the way. Since the majority of people don't know any Japanese, some fans have translated and subtitled unreleased anime for viewing at anime clubs or conventions. Probably the easiest place to find anime is in video stores. Some stores, such as Blockbuster and Suncoast, have entire sections dedicated to anime and other animation. Serious fans, though, know that many people are still largely uninformed about Japanimation.