Anime guide for beginners


Anime originated in Japan but you can see it influencing the west (think The Matrix and that Kanye West video) very strongly. You don’t have to be otaku (a breed of Japanese obssessive) to enjoy anime…

I personally have been an anime fan for nearly 12 years now. When I was at the young age of 10 I saw my first anime movies; the cult classics Akira and Ghost in the Shell. Both of which changed my life. Since then anime has become a dearly beloved hobby of mine, consisting of collecting DVDs, the manga that goes with the series and bits of merchandise related to anime. I would even go as far to say I’m an Otaku when it comes to anime. I have the plushies to prove it.

A lot of people seem to think that anime is solely for sci-fi geeks, video-game nerds or comic book dorks. And I heavily disagree. Sure, I may like comic books, I’m a big gamer and I like reading Philip K. Dick novels but I do like other things as well. To most normal people, if you want to call them that, anime is just a bunch of Japanese cartoons. But it’s so much more.

When anime first came about in the early 20th century, Japan didn’t have the resources to make full-length live action movies – like America did, for example. So a lot of filmmakers relied on animation to tell their stories without breaking the bank. As Japan’s economy had suffered immensely from WWII, the anime industry began to take root with the manga works of Osamu Tezuka, which were developed into animated shows. Since then the industry has been on a rapid increase, not only in Japan but worldwide.

You may have not seen any anime, but I’m betting you’ve seen something that anime has inspired. Kanye West’s video for his single Stronger was heavily influenced by Akira, with West himself playing a would-be Tetsuo. Then there’s The Matrix. The Wachowski Brothers asked producer Joel Silver to watch Ghost in the Shell before The Matrix was even in production for inspiration, and there are many noticeable references to Ghost in the Shell in the film itself. Coincidentally, Production I.G. (the studio that animated Ghost in the Shell) also did the animated O-Ren Iishii introduction sequence for Quentin Tarrantino’s Kill Bill Volume 1. So you see, anime is everywhere.

But the point I should be talking about is the fact that anime is for everyone. And when I say everyone I mean EVERYONE! Not just for kids, as a lot of people make out, but for all ages, both genders and all interests. More often than not, the storylines in anime series can be more gripping, thrilling, funny and emotional than anything else you can find on TV, plus it’s not restricted in terms of what it can portray the way most live action shows are (because technology doesn’t allow it to be done properly, or because the production budget is too tight). The possibilities are endless.

The anime business in Japan is worth well over $100 billion alone and stateside it’s in excess of $5 billion. Looking at figures like that suggests that every man, woman and child will be buying some kind of anime that fits their personal tastes. Whether you’re a businessman, nurse, teenager, office worker, athlete; the list is endless with numerous anime you may enjoy. And then there’s the manga; Japanese comic books that anime is usually based on. But that’s another story altogether.

If you are interested in getting into this fantastic medium, my advice would be to do a bit of research first. Get on the internet and find some anime sites where you can read reviews of new and old releases. Or you could just dive right in and buy some DVDs which you can pick up pretty cheap now from Amazon, or your other favourite store.

Anime – it’s not just cartoons.