Anime is an abbreviation of the Japanese word for animation. It is a specific style of hand-drawn or computer-generated graphics characterized by vibrant characters depicted in stark colors with often embellished or overstated features. Within the classification there are several genres and even more subgenres. Many works may fall into more than one anime genre.
The earliest piece of known anime dates back to Japan in the year 1917. This was when the Japanese first began experimenting with film techniques developed in other countries. It showed a brief clip of a samurai warrior, who upon trying to test his new sword on an enemy, suffered defeat. The technique flourished in Japan since it allowed artists to create characters and settings that were not limited to locations and actors from that country. A lack of Western-looking actors hampered the ability to shoot actual films set on locations outside of Japan. There was a surge in popularity both in Japan and other countries when the works of anime artist Tezuka Osamu, who was heavily influenced by the creations of Walt Disney, came on the scene.
Types by Genre
There are several basic classifications of anime by genre. Action/adventure usually involves martial arts, weapons and some form of battle. Drama stresses character development and relationships. Game based develops from a card game or board game. Horror involves dark themes and the supernatural. Sci-fi is based on technology and is often futuristic. Progressive indicates the work is classified as a stylized art film.
Types by Demographics
Different types of anime may be classified by demographics, or by target audience. Kodomo is marketed for preschool children, Shojo for young girls, Shonen for young boys, for teenage boys or young males and Josei for young females.
Types by Theme
Anime may also be classified by theme. Bishojo has beautiful girls while Bishonen involves pretty guys with girlish beauty. Sentai has fighting teams, while Mecha exhibits robots and machines. Post-Apocalyptic portrays what happens in a post-apocalyptic world. Maho Shojo is about magical girl stories, while Maho Shonen is about magical boy stories. Moe utilizes cute, perky characters that may be weak or naïve. Expertise is based on a skill such as a sport, art or even cooking ability. Sex is a big part of anime targeted toward males and females between 18 and 30 years of age. Lolicon includes the sexualization of an underage female while Shotacon includes the sexualization of an underage male. In Harem you find a male character involved with multiple women. Reverse Harem has female character involved with several men. Magical Girlfriend has one man and with an inhuman girlfriend. She may be either alien or supernatural. Hentai has a storyline that is sexually explicit. Ecchi includes perversion or indecent sexuality. Yuri or shojo ai includes bisexual or lesbian girls in the plot. Shonen ai has gay male characters with no sex scenes while Yaoi has gay male characters with sex scenes.
Some of the earlier anime works that made their way to America include "Astro Boy," "Kimba the White Lion" and "Princess Lion." More recent works for ages 13 and under include "Pokemon," "Card Captors," "Dragon Ball Z," "Sailor Moon," "Gundam," "Gundam Wing," and "Yu Yu Hakusho." Works for older viewers include "Cowboy Be-bop," "Appleseed," "Blood: the Last Vampire," "Ghost in the Shell" and "Vampire Hunter D." These are just a fraction of the many, many titles that are available. Numerous others have not yet made it to American viewing screens.