Japanese Anime, Japanese Manga

An introduction to both Japanese Anime and Japanese Manga

Japanese Culture Japanese Anime and Japanese Manga

Japanese Anime     漫画, 動画

Japanese AnimeAnime is the Japanese word for Animation. In Japan, the animation industry is much more towards the forefront than it is in the United States, and shows covering virtually every genre can be found in the form of television shows, Original Animation Videos (OAVs or OVAs) and feature films. Much like any other entertainment medium, Japanese anime can range from the very silly to the very serious, and is not necessarily intended for children or any specific age group.

Japanese Manga

Many people might say "Manga are Japanese comics, and Anime is the Japanese version of animation. Anime is usually, but not always, the animated version of popular manga." That's partially true, but it can be misleading. (Note that "anime" in Japan technically means any animated film, and "manga" is any printed cartoon, but people in the rest of the world take them to mean animated films or comics from Japan.)

First of all, though an outsider might think Japan "stole" comics from the West, this isJapanese Manga, or known as comics in the U.S. not true. Japan has been making cartoon art for a very long time (there are humorous ink drawings of animals and caricatured people from hundreds of years ago, bearing striking resemblances to modern manga). True, some aspects of Japanese manga are taken from the West (Osamu Tezuka, the "father" of modern manga, was influenced by Disney and Max Fleisher), but its main features, such as simple lines and stylized features, are distinctly Japanese. It may be that Chinese art had more influence than Western. 

Secondly, Japanese manga and Japanese anime come in all types, for all sorts of people. Unlike the U.S., which generally seems to believe that "comics are for kids" (though this has been changing recently), Japanese manga-ka (manga writers) write for everyone from innocent young children to perverted sex-starved men (there is even a category for ex-juvenile delinquent mothers!). But even the kids stuff tends not to be as simple-minded as the American versions (not including intelligent American comics, but more thinking of TV shows). Children's manga and TV anime shows in Japan will sometimes depict death --- while the U.S. (on children's TV) seems determined to run away from such realities of life (note how the U.S. version of "GoLion" ("Voltron") deleted all references to one of the protagonist's death). And, not surprisingly, much of Japanese manga and Japanese anime includes scenes of students in class or doing homework, or of people working in their offices. The work ethic seems omnipresent in the background. Japanese manga and Japanese anime also tend to portray technology sympathetically, while some U.S. comics seem almost to avoid it, or revile it, or simplify it as much as possible.

A third major difference is the unique Japanese manga and Japanese anime style, which is distinctive and fairly easy to recognize. This is not to say the style is limiting. Within this broad common stylistic ground, each Japanese manga artist's technique is distinct and unique. The stereotype is of characters with huge hair and large eyes, but there are many, many variations, from L. Matsumoto's seemingly unevenly drawn squash-shaped "ugly" protagonists, to the soft-edged figures in Miyazaki's work. And, of course, there is less emphasis on the "superhero" world of the U.S.. In most Japanese manga, the men and women aren't necessarily exaggerated extremes of their gender stereotypes, and they wear things other than skin-tight costumes. In fact, Japanese manga and Japanese anime characters tend to have unique and aesthetic tastes in fashion. (It's also true that many modern U.S. comics have thankfully broken this stereotype, and serious-matter cartoonists like Alan Moore or Art Spiegelman have always been around.)

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