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