Japanese animation, or Anime as it is more commonly referred to, has become a cult cultural phenomenon in America for years.
Although not a native Japanese word, the word is actually a "borrowed" slang word from the western word for animation.
This art form first came into Japanese homes in the mid 50s and has since evolved into a beautiful art form that is revered by animators throughout the world.
Actually, Japanese comics, or Manga as they are called there, are more popular than animation per se.
Comic art and drawings have always been a large part of Japanese culture, and often you can find many people of all ages, from a 40 year-old working man to a 7 year-old student reading Mangas of all genres. Some of the most famous figures in Japanese animation started out or have worked in Manga.
Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy, Metropolis), called the God of Manga in Japan got his start in the late 50s drawing manga and eventually stepped into the production of anime.
Famous film director Hayao Miyazaki has done both Manga and Anime at the same time. Before and after finishing his first film, Kaze no Tani no Naushikaa (Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind), he had been writing and drawing the manga of the same name. With Nausicaa, Miyazaki also created a world famous production house, known as Studio Ghibli.
Hayao Miyazaki's SPIRITED AWAY (DVD)with it's magical qualities, has received rave reviews as one of the best animated film in recent years.
Japanese animation comes in many shapes and sizes and in all colors and textures. It can be watched in three different formats:
In recent years, the once underground fan base has grown by vast margins. The airing of TV seriessuch as Gundam W and (dare I say) Pokemon on American TV has brought this animation genre into the mainstream US media market.
In 1994, you could go to a video store and find little nuggets of anime joy such as VHS tapes of the Robotech series tucked away in a remote corner of the store. This is how I discovered Anime.
Fast forward to 2007 and you now find entire sections of video stores devoted not just to the genre, but Manga, related media and paraphernalia from Japan, such as magazines or candy. Pocky is a personal favorite!
Fans everywhere have learned to appreciate other aspects of Japanese traditional and pop culture as well - such as Japanese music, live action TV and movies.
Whether old school otaku such as myself like this new surge of fandom or not, it has happened, and in a way its a good thing.
Droves of teenagers and college students are now in tune with a different culture - the Japaneseculture - and beautiful art form. Its helping diversify the way we think. Not to mention, Anime is fun to watch! Be sure to subscribe to the new "Shojo Beat" Manga magazine! It is rated T+ for older teens and is one of the year's biggest publishing stories...
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