Monday, January 31, 2011

Anime 101, Part 1


A Naruto Shippuden wallpaper, taken from naruto.viz.com

My favorite entertainment consists mostly of anime. I watch it, write about it, talk about it, and even joined a website where users recommend, review, blog about, and generally discuss anime and manga. In the past year and a half, I’ve completed a whopping 82 anime series. It shames me even to write that number, as I realize what other things I could have been doing. Don’t get me wrong; I don’t consider all the time I spent on anime to be a waste. For one thing, I need the leisure time, and sometimes my brain is too worn out for even my favorite books. For another, I learn quite a bit by viewing anime. I know more about Japanese culture and language than anyone in my family or close circle of friends. I can say “Good morning,” “thank you,” “sorry,” and “I’m really sorry,” in Japanese with little or no pause, though my pronunciation may be a bit off still. All this purely from watching anime.

But hold up. After watching such a bulk of anime, I forget that, two years ago, I didn’t even know what anime was. Not everyone knows about this widespread element of Japanese visual pop culture. There are both adults and teens who have no idea what I’m talking about. It’s time to explain myself.

Last spring, needing a break from researching tough topics like abortion and embryonic stem cell research, I decided to write my twelve page research paper on a topic of increasing interest – anime. This paper covered the basics, from definition to history to why anime became so popular. I uncovered gems of information about culture both in Japan and worldwide.

Now, I want to spend a week or two revising and condensing that paper into a more reader-friendly, lighthearted reading and post it in segments on my blog. I think anime fans and the clueless public alike will find the information intriguing – I know I did.

Part I – Introduction

One lazy summer day, I sat on my bed with my laptop, searching for passive entertainment. Having exhausted my usual television shows, I looked for something new and exciting. Through some forgotten process, I ended up on the page of a Japanese animated TV series called Naruto that was geared toward teens. Within two episodes the show captured me, whirling me into the fictional world of a young ninja. I enjoyed its plot, its lighthearted moments, the scenes of emotional, relational, and physical struggle, and the many times I laughed out loud. This new style of animation had me hooked, and before long I wanted to add similar shows.

Over the past year, my interaction with Japanese animation (known as “anime”) has expanded significantly. Before (and after) I began researching for this paper, I spent a horrendous amount of hours watching Naruto and other anime. This became my favorite escape, especially when school and life in general wore me out. I began to realize the enormity of this form of entertainment, not just in Japan and America, but all over the world. I became curious about the medium, and decided to research it, both for my own sake and the sake of my befuddled parents and friends. As a result, I learned about anime and manga (its printed cousin) and the history behind them.

(next post: anime and common misconceptions)

Punie-chan from Dai Mahou Touge,
taken from punie.jp

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