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Japanese animation, more popularly known as “anime”, is famous worldwide for its unique artstyle. Be it earth-shaking action, or romantic settings, there are different genres for each kind of viewer. Anime characters are also often subjects of cosplay, which exists as the basis of annual events in Japan.
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From the advent of anime in 1917, a hundred years have passed until what it has become today - a global phenomenon enjoyed by all kinds of audiences, and it indeed has come far.
Animation started out as something difficult and exceedingly expensive to produce. Some of the earliest forms of animes were made merely with stop-motion animation using colored paper and even chalk, brushing up to the artists' creativity before the gradual improvement of technology. Usually running only a couple of minutes short, the early forms of anime also relied on storytellers to deepen the context of their earlier works; this was before the infusion of sound.
During its early days, to attain funding for their works, studios created anime with propaganda as a theme for the then militaristic Japan. The events of the past era would influence anime's direction before it would be produced solely for commercial purposes.
After the war and era of politically aimed anime, Ōkawa Hiroshi would establish today's Tōei Animation (originally Tōei Dōga) in the late 1950s, where Miyazaki Hayao started out his career before co-founding today's famous Studio Ghibli. This internationally recognized studio produced many famous anime movies.
※ Right Stuf Anime, "The History of Anime"
Japanese animations became recognized worldwide, and its animation style unique that people started to dub it simply as “Anime” or an animated film from Japan.
One of Anime's selling points being popular even to international audiences is its flexibility to capture the attention of its target market, at times attributed to the many different art styles of animation.
The variation of techniques used in animation is often directly connected to the settings of stories. Anime, depending on the audience, can be incorporated with different techniques to set the film's atmosphere, masterfully displayed by manipulating colors, depth, point of view, and overall feel.
An example is that lighthearted Anime is usually displayed with bright and light colors, while those with a more mature theme like horror can be on the darker side, with heavier shadows. Another beauty in Anime is that both can be used, clearly defining the current ambiance that the characters themselves feel.
Modern anime is usually divided into seasons containing 24 episodes, with each episode spanning around 20 minutes, though it is not rare to find titles containing only 12 episodes per season.
To start, one only needs to briefly identify the type of anime they may be interested in. Among the anime genres, there are three that are important to know and understand.
Shounen - aimed towards young teens, specifically men. The stories are often straightforward, laced with action, and the most popular are long-running shows that may span hundreds of episodes.
Shoujo - translating to “young girl,” anime in this genre are generally lighthearted and geared towards romance and relationships. Some of them may be action, like Sailor Moon, but expect an emphasis on more cuteness.
Seinen - a genre aimed towards an older set of audience, Seinen is enjoyed for its intrinsically set plot twists, darker themes like tragedies, psychological warfare, and violence meant for the mature minded and not quite for everyone.
Other genres include Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, and others. It is important to know the three above because they may as well set the general feel of the anime. For example, an anime with Shounen and action is one where the hero defeats the villain, ending the day on a happy note to be repeated in another episode. On the other hand, a Seinen anime with action may be one where the hero has to make drastic sacrifices resulting in deaths and ends the day with only a pyrrhic victory.
One thing to note is that the genres do not completely depict the entire plot in a single direction, especially since anime is meant to tell stories that can progress from a happier start to a more grim ending, and that some Shounen is lighter while some are closer to Seinen than others. And Shoujo can also get quite dark at times as well.
Generally engaging, and suitable for a wide range of audiences, the recent top hits are good titles to start watching Anime.
Demon Slayer (Kimetsu no Yaiba)
Shounen, Action, Supernatural
Kaguya-sama: Love is War
Seinen, Comedy, Romance
One Punch Man
Action, Comedy, Super Power
My Hero Academia
Shounen, Action, Super Power
The following titles are suited for the general audience and are perfect films to watch during weekend nights. Anime movies have an average run time of 90 minutes to 120 minutes, more suited to watch in one sitting with your family instead of whole seasons of a regular anime that takes much longer to finish.
A Silent Voice
Howl's Moving Castle
My Neighbour Totoro
The following titles have already bested the test of time, with some still currently ongoing today with hundreds of episodes already like One Piece. They are often considered as the flagship anime of their time and are still recognized today for their memorable moments, and lasting impressions accumulated over their seasons.
Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Of course there are many many more, with its 100 years of history. Some people find favorites by reading the manga first and then watching the anime, others become fans of voice actors or animation studios and primarily watch their projects, and others simply venture based on the recommendations of streaming sites. There’s bound to be something for you!
Light novels are novels written towards young adult readers, while Manga is basically the Japanese form of comics. In comparison, light novels may have a page or two of illustrations in key turning points but mostly depend on the literary prowess of the writer in delivering the story, while Manga utilizes the art for the story to be expressed by the artist or mangaka.
Successful light novels may be adapted into a manga while manga that garner enough fame may be given a shot as an anime, but there are also anime with original content that does not follow this process.
To read more about manga, here’s our article about it:
Cosplaying is an activity to look like your favorite character. Cosplaying in Japan can mean having an exclusive event solely for it or be part of a bigger program like the Comiket, a semiannual event visited by hordes of anime fans. Cosplaying is also a fun way to meet people of similar interests, like those that cosplay the same character or related characters in the same anime.
When one talks of anime stores, it would be difficult not to mention Animate first. Animate's establishment in Ikebukuro is only a five-minute walk away from the Ikebukuro Station and is claimed to be the largest anime store in Japan, if not the world. Spanning nine floors worth of products, their anime merchandise range from small keychains to authentic plushies and figurines. There are over 100 Animate stores in Japan, a recognized store for both international fans and local anime lovers.
Kotobukiya is the place to go if you are planning to browse a wide selection of anime figurines. Some of the popular merchandise is from Pokemon, games of Square Enix, and figurines from seasonal trending animes.
ACOS Akihabara is a haven for cosplayers or the perfect place for interested individuals to start in. Because of their wide range of garments, costumes, wigs, and other related materials, future cosplayers should place ACOS in their priority list of stores first.
Read more about anime events in Tokyo:
Anime has come a long way through its hundred years of history, and it has changed greatly then. Today, anime titles can accommodate different audiences, precisely the reason why it has been a global hit towards international audiences. After all of these, have you decided which anime to watch?
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