an.i.me- noun. Japanese animation often characterized by highly stylized art and adult themes.
man.ga- noun. Japanese comic books or graphic novels characterized by highly stylized art.
The Starz feature"Anime: Drawing A Revolution" is an insightful but brief look into the Japanese subculture which has been embraced into many of American films for its realistic and stylized portrayal of humans emotions and plot driven storylines consisting of hopeless romances,familial betrayal, genocide, and sci-fi violence. THIS DOCUMENTARY AND REVIEW IS NOT IN ANY WAY A COMPLETE REPRESENTATION OF THE HISTORY/MEANING OF ANIME OR MANGA.
The documentary is divided into different subsections( listed below):
"The Roots Of Anime," "The Art Of Anime," "Anime In The U.S.A.," "Anime Is Here To Stay," and "Hollywood Rides The Wave."
Though the documentary is fused with 3-4 case studies which showed the influence on Western civilization, I felt that they were not significant to the overall direction it was trying to portray and will only be discussing one of the studies I felt had the most impact.
The studies mentioned:
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
THE ROOTS OF ANIME:
The documentary begins with the inception of anime through manga. In post WWII Japan, artists were able to express themselves through art and none had such an impact as much as Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka was influenced by Disney films (Bambi, Mickey Mouse) which lead him to develop a series of panel like arts that would be seen as new and innovative by using Japanese art told through Western storylines. Astro Boy became the first Japanese series to be produce domestically and became a hug success which led the way for others creators/shows to be brought to fruition.
THE ART OF ANIME:
The art of anime is highly based on 2-D drawings and linear drawings in order to convey a sense ofrealism to the characters. A common theme in anime is big eyed characters which show a sense of purity and innocence while more squinted eyed characters are those of a conflicted nature. The use of anime in Japan began as a way for filmmakers to have their vision brought to a large audience without the advantage of a Hollywood film budget. The main difference in Western and American art form is the use of a more in-depth approach to the highly visual display of characters in a physical nature. Characters are given more acute jawlines and muscularity. Another aspect of the art is the use of live action films angles in scenes where characters are given a more unique approach. For example, characters are seen with close ups and slow motion fight sequences. The storylines in animes are more darker and realistic than its American counterparts. Shows such as " Naruto" tell of a boy imbedded with a demon spirit against his will and is looked at as an outcast by his people. Only through the death of his comrades and betrayals of mentors does he find his place in the world. The storytelling of animes only get deeper when shows such as "La Blue Girl" dive into the sexual nature of the human mind. The sexuality in anime is seen as normal and mundane and doesn't shy away from people's insecurities. It's through this openness that anime is not taken in by mainstream America.
ANIME IN THE U.S.A:
Television in the U.S was puritanical in nature thus making audiences ( young kids) awe in wonder as they were given a new type of action and guilty pleasure.The storylines in animes are more darker and realistic than its American counterparts. Shows such as " Naruto" tell of a boy imbedded with a demon spirit against his will and is looked at as an outcast by his people. Only through the death of his comrades and betrayals of mentors does he find his place in the world. The storytelling of animes only get deeper when shows such as "La Blue Girl" dive into the sexual nature of the human mind. The sexuality in anime is seen as normal and mundane and doesn't shy away from people's insecurities. It's through this openness that anime is not taken in by mainstream America.
Though having a somewhat of a opposing nature, anime was still heavily embraced for its depth. "Pok mon became the "Mickey Mouse" of the 21st century".
ANIME IS HERE TO STAY/HOLLYWOOD RIDES THE WAVE:
Hollywood sees the potential of anime in films such as "Ghost in The Shell" in which The Matrix borrowed heavily from, and Speed Racer which had a popular following in the 60's. Anime is giving Hollywood a whole new genre in which they can make a profit.
While highly involved in describing the anime influence in the U.S, this film was a disappointment. Hoping for a complete understanding of the subculture, I was given a brief college lecture on the history.The case studies used to show the influence in American culture should have been chosen to show the greatest influence which shows like" Dragonball Z" and "Pokemon" had radically changed the landscape.Though a good documentary, it lacked in substance and tried to make up for it by using the names of "experts" who were nothing more then a big time Hollywood names.