I shall be the unabashed fan here. I love stories as well as perhaps any other person. My preferred medium just happens to be animated works.
Japanese animation or “anime” has something that western animation does not have. This is certainly not a matter of technical or artistic expertise, but more of a perception. Whereas the term “animation” is largely targeted at children in the west, “anime” has no such restrictions. As such, the subjects covered by “anime” is considerably larger and often more serious.In terms of average quality, quantity and variety, “anime” simply trumps “western animation” flat.
Personally I won’t even regard most mainstream anime as suitable for children. (To parents with young children, beware the anime channels on cable. You have been warned.)
There is also the matter that I feel the quality of production tends to be higher for anime than a typical western animation series. Artwork style is a subjective matter but there is significant effort put into other things like music as well. For example, it is common to have a mainstream (pop/rock) singer do the openings and endings, something I don’t see on this side of the coast. In fact a number of singers had their beginnings in doing anime music. There is also a lot more competition for voice acting in Japan, leading to higher average quality. (English dubs of Japanese anime tend not to end well…)
Don’t get me wrong. I certainly enjoy the annual productions by Disney, Pixar, Dreamworks and such. “Shrek” and “Frozen” took the world by storm because it broke the mold. The reboot of “My little Ponies” and “Transformers” are most certainly entertaining as well. I watch them with my kids when they do so on Netflix. The one thing lacking is that they are usually very sanitized works. “Good” and “Evil” are almost always as clear as day and night. The stories are relatively straightforward. It is not a bad thing actually. Easy to understand, and hence great for kids. Boring for older kids and adults though.
(I can’t stop watching anime. I don’t wish to stop either)
To date, I have watched over 500 titles, from comedies to tragedies, from the silly to the serious.
There are anime that made me dream about the future. I am a techie at heart. If there is one thing that anime does well, it is the imagination of the future. Works that re-imagined current technology in their futuristic, yet plausible forms. It is science fiction, freed from the confines of a book. Some even inspired real scientists to focus on new areas of research, like this one on orbital solar platforms. It is easier and cheaper to create a great science fiction animation than a great science fiction movie. And it can stretch the imagination more.
Then once in a while, there is that gem that can send your emotions on a roller-coaster ride, that makes me fight back a tear or two and go “Damn that was one awesome ride” when it is done. The music, artwork, voice acting all combined together to give that “Simply beautiful” experience.
And that is why I like anime. The imagination’s the limit. (Glad I learned Japanese – hah!)
The ones that actually made me emotionally exhausted (in a good way) by the end deserves a special mention. (Your mileage may vary.)
- Code Geass (2008)
- 獣の奏者エリン/The Beast Player Erin (2010)
- Sword Art Online (2012)
- 四月は君のウソ/Your lie in April (2015)
- 僕だけがいない町/Erased (2016)
Favorite science fiction works (that is largely plausible):
- “Ghost in the shell” series (Cyborg, physical augmentation)
- “Macross” and “Gundam” series (Various, usually space related)
- “Accel World” (Augmented reality)
- “Sword Art Online” (Virtual reality)
- “Angelic Layer” (Brain-wave control devices)
Great for young kids (probably need subtitle reading abilities first):
- Studio Ghibli productions
- Can’t go wrong with them. The dubs appear to be quite decent too.
- Card Captor Sakura (2000)
- Full Moonをさがして/Searching for the Full Moon (2003)
- 獣の奏者エリン/The Beast Player Erin (2010)
- Little Witch Academia (2013)
(The anime that prompted this article is “四月は君のウソ/Your lie in April”)