Anime, or Japanese animation, has become a worldwide phenomenon. Japanese animators created their distinctive style in the 1960s, and it gained popularity in other countries in the following decades. Anime covers a wide spectrum of material, from children’s shows such as “Pokemon” to adult-oriented films with violent and sexually explicit content. The influence of anime and manga, or Japanese comic books, is sometimes controversial, but the good effects of anime include art, culture and education.
Japanese history is rich with centuries of distinctive art, but until the 1980s, the average American knew little more than "Godzilla" films. Audiences around the world have embraced anime, which includes views of Japanese history, religion, and tradition. This may lead viewers to seek out and understand the culture of other nations.
Anime art in its highest form may inspire filmmakers and animators around the world. Creators of U.S. animated films, such as Pixar/Disney executive John Lasseter, look to anime to find new ways to approach their own work. Director Hayao Miyazaki in particular has been influential; his 2002 film “Spirited Away” won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature. Critics praise Miyazaki’s uplifting themes and beautifully detailed imagery. Film critic Roger Ebert finds in Miyazaki's work a “depth and complexity” often missing from American animation.
Anime fans, like many media-specific fans, unite around their common love of a genre. Many gather online and at anime conventions around the world. Early anime fans pioneered the use of the Internet to share and discuss their favorite videos. At anime conventions, creative approaches are encouraged, such as making and wearing homemade costumes based on anime characters. Friendships, romances and even marriages have grown out of anime fandom.
Some teachers use manga and anime art to encourage students to study Japanese culture. University of Sussex lecturer Rayna Denison has studied for years the effects of anime on the cultures of Japan and other nations, while doctoral candidates have written dissertations on the nature of anime fandom. Museum exhibits on the history of anime demonstrate the art form’s worldwide cultural impact. Students of animation and comics art often are required to consider the influence of anime.
- manga styled lady samurai image by Anastasia Serdyukova from Fotolia.com