Anime: Cartoon or Culture?

Essay by tato424College, UndergraduateA+, March 2008

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Anime: Cartoon or Culture?Anime, a popular Japanese stylistic animation, has become so common that there are more confused looks tossed from the subculture rather than upon it. Anime fanatics wonder why the rest of the world does not share their attraction to this unique Japanese art. Though it arrived from Asia nearly a century ago (Wikipedia), anime has become significantly Westernized-affected by American tradition. Many of the most popular anime television shows are produced entirely by American companies. However, anime has held onto the Japanese cultural feel and style, which still appeals to the growing population of anime fans to this day.

Anime, "a [Japanese] subset of animation" (Wikipedia), has many characteristics specific to the style. These characteristics are so recognizable that even someone who has never really been exposed to this foreign cartoon can distinguish it from the typical American animation. Broad brush strokes and bold colors draw attention to often fantastic or surreal characters (Kasuga).

It is not uncommon to see an anime character with blue or purple hair. Emotions are also commonly portrayed through the use of common symbols and styles. Large eyes and exaggerated expressions are drawn to enhance emotion and reflect realistic moods (Greenfield). Stress can be displayed through bulging veins in the neck or temple of the forehead. A single drop of sweat running down the side of the face or a visible red coloration of the cheeks is used to show embarrassment (Wikipedia).

The animation technique is different from traditional Western cartoons in that it is often considered a form of "limited animation". Limited animation is a stylistic way of fooling the eye into perceiving more movement than there really is (Wikipedia). Another distinguishing feature of anime that is quite different from other American cartoons is the variety of genres. While most American...