By: Remi Tateishi
“So you’re a weaboo? Isn’t anime only for nerds?” This is the kind of response I usually encounter when the topic of anime comes up. Anime (short for animation) is Japanese animation. The art originated in Japan in the 1910s and has since become a worldwide phenomenon. Anime is a complex, artistic medium that incorporates a variety of different storytelling techniques such as cinematography, characterization, graphic art, and much more. Simply put, anime has evolved into an art form that deserves to be appreciated by all. Unfortunately, there is still a stigma that surrounds the medium.
While there are multiple reasons why people object to anime being an art form, the most popular misconception is that anime is strictly for kids. This generalization is due to the fact that, in the U.S., the majority of animated films are targeted younger audiences. Others fail to take anime seriously because the characters tend to have large goofy eyes, bizarre hairstyles, unusual outfits, and comedic exaggerations.
Freshman Cass Tse, states that “When people think of anime, they automatically think of shows like Pokémon and Dragon Ball Z which are unique and pretty ridiculous…All of the characters have crazy hairstyles and outfits. It’s no surprise that people would be weirded out by shows like these.”
However, there are numerous critically-acclaimed anime that explore serious philosophical themes and topics that are relevant to the real world. Neon Genesis Evangelion is an example of an insightful and thought-provoking work. The science fiction series follows Shinji Ikari, a young teenage boy who is forced to fight for the survival of the human race in an apocalyptic world.There are even anime shows that have had positive social implications in the real world. Captain Tsubasa, an anime about a boy who wanted to win the World Cup title for Japan, has inspired professional soccer players around the world. In fact, James Rodriguez, a professional Colombian soccer player, grew up watching the anime and wanted to become just like Tsubasa Ozora, the protagonist of the show.
Another reason why anime is dismissed is the belief that it objectifies and sexualizes women. Although a handful of producers choose to sexualize women and target shows to an immature male audience, not all anime dehumanize women. On the contrary, there are numerous shows that feature strong female protagonists. Some of the industry’s most iconic works, such as Sailor Moon, Princess Mononoke and Ghost in the Shell include strong-willed and fearless female leads who embark on tough journeys and take on life’s harsh challenges.
The anime industry is growing rapidly and becoming more mainstream every year. In 2016, director Makoto Shinkai released Your Name which topped $600,000 on its opening day. According to Box Office Mojo, Your Name is currently the highest grossing anime of all time with an impressive box office revenue of $357,986,087. The film’s coming of age story has touched the hearts of people around the world, and has helped reverse negative perspectives on anime.
An open mindset is the key to appreciating anime. An anonymous senior observes that, “If people can either get over the cultural differences in anime or accept it with an open mind, more people would really enjoy anime. It’s unfortunate that close-minded assumptions are made about anime even before they watch it.” Anime is deserving of more mainstream acceptance. There’s an anime for every taste and, who knows, you just might enjoy it.