What is the Appeal of Manga/Anime?

As someone who always thought cartoons were for children, the enormous manga/anime fandom has baffled me for quite some time. When I think of anime, I think of her:




As a teenager, I always admitted that I loved certain Disney films, but I didn’t follow them the way my manga-fan friends followed their anime, highly invested in it the way I was invested in adult television shows. I thought maybe was a fad, but if it is, it’s still going incredibly strong.


To be honest, I know very little of manga/anime, and what I have been exposed to freaks me out. The majority of what I’ve seen is squid, horned monsters and fetishized twelve-year-old girls in school uniforms.


After browsing several forums, I discovered that manga is a lot more dynamic than I gave it credit for. In Japan, “cartoon” is not synonymous with “children.” This would explain why so many people my age and older adore it, and why there is so much dark, violent and sexualized content. Apparently, “more than half of all movies and television programs produced in Japan are animation … But these are not the cartoons of your youth – they are often sophisticated, sometimes violent and frequently have adult themes … You’ll see complex stories including love, growing up and female empowerment” (Napier). This same article notes that the most common reason lovers of anime love anime was because it was different, unlike our American comics which, “wouldn’t have Archie and Jughead dealing with the apocalypse” (Napier).


Anime is not a genre – it covers many genres including comedy, action, fantasy, thrillers and even erotica, with a similar drawing style and this vibrant and unique. I’m glad that anime is breaking the traditional idea that cartoons are for children in our Western world where we embrace anime so strongly.


–          Diana Harrison




–          Napier: http://www.utexas.edu/features/archive/2004/anime.html





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2 Responses to What is the Appeal of Manga/Anime?

  1. Steven Huynh says:

    I think it’s great that you’ve discovered a little more about the medium than you did before. And honestly, being an anime/manga fan myself, I wouldn’t put it past you for initially thinking badly of the medium. After all, what you described as “squid, horned monsters and fetishized twelve-year-old girls in school uniforms” represents a significant portion of what is being sold out there. But like with any medium, sometimes you have to look past the vast sea of crap to truly appreciate the gems hidden underneath. Anyone who takes a little time and effort will find a world brimming with people like Hayao Miyazak, Osamu Tezuka, Naoki Urasawa, Satoshi Kon, and more.

    It is important to note however, that there are some significant differences between the world of anime and of manga, both in terms of presentation as well as content. People like to use the two interchangeably, but in reality both mediums can take very different approaches to sharing similar ideas. In fact, the worlds found between the two is more different you would expect.

  2. nicolericher says:

    Manga and anime are brilliant. Whether or not it’s for adults, I have come across so many manga and anime’s alike that enhance Japanese history. Off the top of my head I can’t think of anything even remotely similar for Canadian history that has had the popularity that say.. Peacemaker Kurogane, Rurouni Kenshin, or Ninja Scroll. Entertainment value never dwindles, and although storylines are not always COMPLETELY accurate, they reference many major conflicts and accurately (most of the time) represent the different eras. For example, Kenshin unfolds during the high tensity Meiji Restoration when there was conflict surrounding samurai’s being able to carry their katana, odachi and/or tanto’s around with them (their long and short blades). The outlaw of them brandishing their blades was an attempt to abolish the samurai class.
    Interesting, no? I think, more than entertainment, manga and anime provide an escape for many but also an educational opportunity to branch across ages and cultures. Of course, there are always going to be school girls popping up throughout even the best anime and manga… rest assured, the squids and horned monsters aren’t as frequent. It’s a genre to delve into for sure!

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