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Anime: A Style of Japanese Film and Television

A guide for those interested in Anime movies and television series.


Though anime is any kind of animation in Japan, it is considered to be a style of Japanese film and television in the United States. In Japanese, the word for animation is アニメション ("animeshon") and was shortened to アニメ ("anime"). Because of this, it is pronounced the Japanese way: "a-nee-may."

Anime is a medium, not a genre. Most anime is based on manga, Japanese comics, which may also be available in English translation. Anime is not the same as children's cartoons. It's possible to find anime aimed at essentially every age group. There are as many genres in anime as there are in cinema and fiction, with plenty of material for all ages. With titles for teens or adults, the content is no more extreme than what would be in an American video for the same age group.

It has been claimed that the earliest Japanese animation is Katsudō Shashin, an undated and private work by an unknown creator. Anime dates back to the end of World War II, with fans developing a cult following for the Astroboy and Speed Racer TV series of the 1960s. Walt Disney's 1937 feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs influenced a number of Japanese animators. Three Tales aired in 1960 and was the first anime shown on television.

Anime follows the usual production of animation: storyboarding, voice acting, character design, and cel production. Since the 1990s, animators have increasingly used computer animation to improve efficiency. Anime is cinematically shot as if by camera, including panning, zooming, distance and angle shots to more complex dynamic shots that would be difficult to produce in reality. A common anime character design element is exaggerated eye size. Characters with large eyes in anime can be traced back to Osamu Tezuka, who was influenced by early animation characters like Betty Boop. However, not all characters have large eyes. Character hair in anime is often unnaturally lively and colorful or uniquely styled as well. Additionally, anime is not always dubbed in English. In some cases, there may also be subtitles or a dub track in French or Spanish. However, subtitled versions are good way to encourage reading skills.

There is controversy regarding if western animation should be called "anime" when it has Japanese-influenced animation style or if anime should strictly be animation originating from Japan (style vs. origin). However, anime styles vary so it can be difficult to define by style. According to Anime News Network publisher, Christopher Macdonald, "On Anime News Network, we define anime based on the origin of the animation. If it is primarily produced in Japan, it is anime. It should be clear, that by adhering to a definition that defines non-Japanese animation that mimic common anime styles as 'not anime,' Anime News Network does not endorse the notion that these 'anime-style' works are in any way inferior to animation produced in Japan."


Anime Glossary:

Anime (A-nee-may): The Japanese term for animation. Americans are most familiar with anime through imported television programs (e.g. Pokémon, Card Captors, Yu-Gi-Oh, Trigun) and feature films (e.g. Akira, Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away).

Chibi (Chee-bee): Something small or shrunken while still being cute.

Gakuran: The uniform made for middle school and high school students in Japan.

Harem: A sub-genre of anime in which the protagonist is surrounded by many male or female secondary characters, most of whom have some kind of attraction to that protagonist.

Kawaii (Ka-wa-ee): Cute or adorable. Not to be mistaken for kowai (ko-why) which means scary.

Lolita: A Japanese fashion style in which girls dress up in Victorian-inspired outfits that make them appear doll-like.

Manga (Mahn-gah): Simply the Japanese word for comics; applicable to all genres.

Otaku (Oh-tah-koo): Self-descriptive term for American anime and manga fans. Originally a negative term in Japanese, it initially connoted the stereotype of the fan who has no life outside of an obsessive interest in anime/manga. In Japan, it is considered almost shameful to be an otaku, while in the U.S., the term has been adopted as a badge of honor.

OVA: Short for "original video animation," or anime produced for the direct-to-home-video market.

Pocky: A cookie stick covered with vanilla, chocolate, or strawberry cream.

Weeaboo: An English derogatory term for a non-Japanese person who’s so obsessed with Japanese culture that they will emulate it in multiple aspects of their lives.

Japanese Honorifics:

Chan: This is an informal title used for young children and very close, typically female, friends or family members.

Kun: This is an informal title used for boys and men that are younger than yourself.

Sama: This is a more polite form of san, commonly used in formal situations and letters, but too polite in a casual context.

San: This is the most neutral and famous title, and can be used in most situations. Only in formal situations, san may not be polite enough.

Senpai: This title is used by students to refer to or address senior students in an academic or other learning environment, or in athletics and sports clubs, and also in business settings to refer to those in more senior positions.

Sensei: This is a title used for teachers, doctors, and other people with a higher education and from whom you receive a service or instructions.

The Cat Returns

Rating: G     ​IMDb Information

An act of kindness brings Haru, a schoolgirl, to the attention of the Cat King who lavishes her with presents, including a proposal of marriage to his son, and opens her eyes to a whole other world.


 

Kiki's Delivery Service

Rating: G     IMDb Information

A young witch named Kiki and her chatty black cat Jiji befriend a bakery owner. Kiki is an enterprising young girl, but she must follow tradition in order to become a full-fledged witch. Landing in a far-off city, and with the help of her new friend, she sets up a high-flying delivery service and begins a wonderful experience of independence and responsibility as she finds her place in the world.

My Neighbor Totoro

Rating: G     ​IMDb Information

Two young sisters spend a summer in the Japanese countryside with their father. The children's strange new home turns out to be a wonderland filled with creatures and a trio of furry woodland sprites who can only be seen by children.


 

Ponyo

Rating: G     ​IMDb Information

A young boy named Sosuke rescues a goldfish named Ponyo, and they embark on a fantastic journey of friendship before Ponyo's father forces her to return to the sea. Ponyo's desire to be human upsets the balance of nature and only Ponyo's mother, a beautiful sea goddess, can restore nature's balance and make Ponyo's dreams come true.

Dragon Ball Z Resurrection 'F'

Rating: TV-PG     IMDb Information

The return of Frieza; one of the anime world's greatest villains. Frieza has been resurrected and plans to take his revenge on the Z-Fighters of Earth. Goku and Vegeta must reach new levels of power in order to protect Earth from their vengeful nemesis.
 
 

From Up on Poppy Hill

Rating: PG     ​IMDb Information

In the year 1963 in Yokohama, an innocent romance blossoms between two high school students, Umi and Shun. As Japan recovers from World War II and prepares to host the 1964 Olympics, the mood contains both optimism and conflict as the younger generation struggles to escape the shackles of the past. While trying to save a dilapidated Meiji-era club house from demolition, the relationship flourishes. But a buried secret from their past emerges to cast a shadow on the future and pull them apart.

Grave of the Fireflies

Rating: TV-PG     ​IMDb Information

As the Empire of the Sun crumbles upon itself and a rain of firebombs falls upon Japan, the final death march of a nation is echoed in millions of smaller tragedies. Seita and his younger sister Setsuko are two children born at the wrong time, in the wrong place, and now cast adrift in a world that lacks not the care to shelter them, but simply the resources. They are forced to fend for themselves in the aftermath of fires that swept entire cities from the face of the earth.

Only Yesterday

Rating: PG     IMDb Information

After living her whole life in the city, 27-year-old Taeko decides to visit her relatives in the countryside. As she travels, memories of her youth resurface. And after meeting young farmer Toshio, she wonders if she's been true to the dreams of her childhood self.

 

Porco Rosso

Rating: PG     ​IMDb Information

Slouching towards middle age, Porco Rosso makes his living by flying about in his red bi-plane and fighting sky bandits who prey on cruise ships sailing the Adriatic. When he's not engaging in dog fights, this pilot lives on a deserted island retreat. Porco was once a strappling young man, but after his entire squardron was wiped out, he is mysteriously transformed into a pig. Then he is defeated in a dogfight against a dashing American rival, who has been hired by the dastardly bandits. With his plane damaged, he finds a repair hanger near Milan where a local woman fixes his plane.

Spirited Away

Rating: PG     IMDb Information

When a young girl gets trapped in a strange new world of spirits, she must call upon the courage she never knew she had to free herself and rescue her parents.

 


 

Summer Wars

Rating: PG     IMDb Information

Kenji is your typical teenage misfit. He's good at math, bad with girls, and spends most of his time hanging out in the all-powerful, online community known as OZ. His second life is the only life he has - until the girl of his dreams, Natsuki, hijacks him for a starring role as a fake fiancé at her family reunion. Things only get stranger from there. A late-night email containing a cryptic mathematic riddle leads to the unleashing of a rogue.

The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Rating: PG     ​IMDb Information

Found inside a shining stalk of bamboo an old bamboo cutter and his wife, a tiny girl grows rapidly into an exquisite young lady. The mysterious young princess enthralls all who encounter her, but ultimately she must confront her fate, the punishment for her crime.

 

Wolf Children

Rating: PG     IMDb Information

Hana was a student before she was a mother. Then she met a man, who turned out to be a wolf, and together they built a family. Hana loved her mate fiercely, but fate took him from her, leaving her alone with two unusual kids she didn't know how to raise. This is a mother's journey. Teach your children to chase their dreams - and smile through the tears as they disappear into the world in search of who they will become. Hana wasn't always a mother, but it was always what she was meant to be.

Your Name

Rating: PG     ​IMDb Information

Mitsuha and Taki are two total strangers living completely different lives. But when Mitsuha makes a wish to leave her mountain town for the bustling city of Tokyo, they become connected in a bizarre way. She dreams she is a boy living in Tokyo while Taki dreams he is a girl from a rural town he's never been to. What does their newfound connection mean? And how will it bring them together?

The Castle of Cagliostro

Rating: PG-13     IMDb Information

Master thief Lupin the Third's latest and greatest caper has hit a snag. When bags of cash stolen from a national casino turn out to be full of counterfeits, he heads to the nation of Cagliostro to exact revenge. Together with his partner-in-crime Jigen, Lupin must fight his way through a trap-filled castle, a deadly dungeon, an army of assassins, and rescue a royal damsel in distress.

The Garden of Words

Rating: TV-14     IMDb Information

When young high school student Takao decides to skip school one day in favor of sketching in a rainy garden, he has no idea how much his life will change when he encounters Yukino. Despite the difference in their ages, they strike up an unusual relationship that unexpectedly continues and evolves with random meetings in the same garden on each rainy day. Between the raindrops, between the calms in the storm, what will blossom in The Garden of Words?

Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence

Rating: PG-13     ​IMDb Information

In the year 2032, advances in cybernetic technology and genetic research have opened the world to possibilities once only dreamed of. Humans can be fitted with cybernetic modifications, download their brains into permanent robot bodies, or bring home their own intimate robotic companion. It's a life of luxury. Or so it seems. A rash of gruesome murders begins to plague the city and with every lead comes more questions. The culprits, the beloved robotic companions programmed to obey.

Individual Eleven

Rating: PG-13     ​IMDb Information

The year is 2030, and an influx of refugees have effortlessly transformed themselves into a terrorist organization known as the "Individual Eleven." With a sadistic intent of mass destruction, will they realize victory or the gloomy pitfalls of defeat?

 

 

Ocean Waves

Rating: PG-13     IMDb Information

As a young man returns home after his first year away at college he recalls his senior year of high school and the iron-willed, big city girl that turned his world upside down.


 

 

Princess Mononoke

Rating: PG-13     IMDb Information

A young warrior searching for a cure for a deadly curse becomes entangled in a battle between a clan of humans and the forest's animal gods.

 


 

Sailor Moon R: The Movie

Rating: TV-14     IMDb Information

Long before Mamoru found his destiny with Usagi, he gave a single rose in thanks to a lonely boy who helped him recover from the crash that claimed his parents. This long-forgotten friend, Fiore, has been searching the galaxy for a flower worthy of that sweet gesture long ago. The mysterious flower he finds is beautiful, but has a dark side- it has the power to take over planets! To make matters worse, the strange plant is tied to an ominous new asteroid near Earth!

Steamboy

Rating: PG-13    IMDb Information

In 19th century England, young Ray Steam receives a Steam Ball, a mysterious, powerful device, from his inventor grandfather. Governments and businesses around the world covet Ray's Steam Ball, and he finds himself in a murderous conflict over its possession. He's also caught between his father who builds terrible weapons for an American arms merchant, and his grandfather, who believes science should improve people's lives.

The Wind Rises

Rating: PG-13     IMDb Information

Jiro dreams of flying and designing beautiful airplanes, inspired by the famous Italian aeronautical designer Caproni. Nearsighted from a young age and unable to be a pilot, Jiro joins a major Japanese engineering company in 1927 and becomes one of the worlds most innovative and accomplished airplane designers. Jiro meets and falls in love with Nahoko, and grows and cherishes his friendship with his colleague Honjo. The film chronicles much of his life, depicting key historical events.

Akira

Rating: R     IMDb Information

Clandestine army activities threaten the war-torn city of Neo-Tokyo when a mysterious being with powerful psychic abilities escapes his prison and inadvertently draws a violent motorcycle gang into a heinous web of experimentation. As a result, a biker with a twisted mind embarks on a path of war, seeking revenge against a society that once called him weak.

Cowboy Bebop: The Movie

Rating: R     IMDb Information

A terrorist bomb destroyed a tanker truck on Highway One on Mars, killing hundreds. The rewards for the bomber's capture is massive and the crew of the Bebop would love to get their hands on it.

 

 

Ghost in the Shell

Rating: Not Rated     IMDb Information

In 2029, a female cybernetic government agent and the Internal Bureau of Investigations are hot on the trail of "The Puppet Master", a mysterious and threatening computer virus capable of infiltrating human hosts. Together, with her fellow agents from Section 9, they embark on a high-tech race against time to capture the omnipresent entity.

 

Horus, Prince of the Sun

Rating: Not Rated     ​IMDb Information

A brave young boy who pulls a blade out from a centuries-old rock giant only to discover that it is the Sword of the Sun. If re-forged, the sword's destiny will transform the boy into the Prince of the Sun.

 

 

Night on the Galactic Railroad

Rating: Not Rated     IMDb Information

Giovanni is a young kitten mired in hardship, and the sole bright spot of his life is the Festival of Stars where he hopes to run into his only friend, Campanella. When they finally meet up, the Galactic Railroad whisks the two away for adventures in parts unknown.

 

Otaku No Video

Rating: Not Rated     IMDb Information

A thinly fictionalized history of the Gainax anime studio filled with in-jokes for devoted fans of Japanese animation and mangas. Also includes interviews with adult fans.

 


 

Paprika

Rating: R     IMDb Information

A revolutionary machine allows scientists to enter and record a subject's dream. After it is stolen, a fearless detective and a brilliant therapist join forces to recover the device before it falls into the hands of a "dream terrorist."

 

 

Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise

Rating: TV-MA     ​IMDb Information

War between the Kingdom of Honneamise and its archrival, The Republic, seems inevitable. But even as the two nations' rapidly evolving technology creates new ways to wage greater and more deadly forms of warfare, a small group seeks to use those same advances to propel mankind forward into the future and into space in the world's first manned spaceflight program. For astronaut candidate Shirotsugh Lhadatt, it's not just a journey beyond the reach of the atmosphere, but a personal odyssey.

Ajin: Demi-Human

Rating: TV-MA​​     IMDb Information

When the truck slammed into Kei Nagai's body, he should have died instantly. Instead, the high-school student finds himself resurrected, with all of his wounds somehow healed. However, Kei's real problems are just starting. Now revealed to be an Ajin, one of a mysterious new breed of demi-human that have begun appearing around the world, he's been marked with an international bounty, and in the eyes of the world's governments, Kei is a specimen to be contained by any means possible.

Angelic Layer

Rating: TV-PG     IMDb Information

From the moment twelve-year-old Misaki Suzuhara first arrives in Tokyo to live with her aunt, she finds herself swept away by the amazing world of Angelic Layer, a fast-paced high-tech game where dolls called Angels are controlled by the thoughts of their operator or Deus. Discovering that her new friends are as interested in Angelic Layer as she is, Misaki builds her own Angel, Hikaru, and begins competing in battles where will and determination count far more than size and strength.

The Betrayal Knows My Name

Rating: TV-14     IMDb Information

Gifted with a strange ability to see into the the troubles of others, kind-hearted Yuki Sakurai finds his life turned upside down the day a handsome stranger named Luka appears. A peculiar longing pulls Yuki towards him. Is this the mysterious man from his dreams? He's left with questions but no time for answers as danger begins lurking around every corner.

Cowboy Bebop

Rating: TV-MA     IMDb Information

The Bebop crew is just trying to make a buck. This motley lot of intergalactic loners teams up to track down fugitives and turn them in for cold hard cash. On their own, any one of them would be likely to get lost in the sprawl of space, but together, they're the most entertaining gang of bounty hunters in the year 2071.
 

Digimon: Digital Monsters

Rating: TV-Y7    IMDb Information

Seven kids are transported to a strange digital world where they make friends with Digimon, creatures born to defend their world from various evil forces including Devimon and his Black Gears. The Digidestined and their Digimon attempt to defeat Devimon, but they soon learn there are other bigger threats after them. To stay safe, they must band together and keep moving through the Digital World.

EscaFlowne: Dragons and Destiny

Rating: PG-13     IMDb Information Not Available

Hitomi, an ordinary girl is suddenly transported to the planet Gaea. She doesn't know that she could be the key to saving the planet...

 


 

Gatchaman Crowds Insight

Rating: TV-14     IMDb Information

For most of the residents of Tachikawa city, life seems to be perfectly normal. That's how it seems, but the truth, known only by a tiny select handful, is that this is a city at war. Every day, as the citizens go about their business, they are under attack by alien criminals and mysterious organizations seeking to conquer, enslave and destroy. But to combat these threats, a covert council has secretly selected certain individuals to serve as protectors.

The Good Witch of the West

Rating: TV-14     IMDb Information Not Available

Trapped between opposing factions and manipulative parties, Firiel finds her life in danger, and her best hope is to learn the queenly skills her rivals already know. Unfortunately, the place to do that is at the same school her bloodthirsty competition already attends!

 

Legendary Armor Samurai Troopers: The Complete OVA Series

Rating: Not Rated     IMDb Information Not Available

Ceaseless fighting, five tiring souls.

 


 

Legendary Armor Samurai Troopers: The Complete TV Series

Rating: Not Rated     IMDb Information

As despair grips the city of Shinjuku, five young men emerge wearing mystical armor that grants strength to defeat the Emperor of Doom once and for all. Ryo of the Wildfire, Toma of the Heavens, Shu of the Stone, Shin of the Torrent, and Seiji of the Nimbus will have to join together and learn to work as a team to defeat the armies of the Empire of Doom, who possess mystical armor of their own!

Pokémon: Indigo League

Rating: TV-Y7     IMDb Information

Join friends Ash, Brock, and Misty as they begin their journey through the Pokemon world. Enjoy the Pokemon story from the beginning. Meet our hero Ash, in his hometown of Pallet Town where boys and girls are encouraged to begin their Pokemon journeys. 

 

RWBY

Rating: Not Rated     IMDb Information

A young hero, an exalted heiress, a troubled rogue, and a party girl-- these are the four members of RWBY, a team brought together and trained for the sole purpose of combating the rampant evils that plague the fantastic world of Remnant. RWBY focuses on 15-year-old Ruby Rose, a young girl who has just been accepted to Beacon Academy. This ancient school was founded to train the monster-slayers known as Huntsmen and Huntresses. however, Ruby will not be alone. Upon arriving at Beacon, she is promptly paired with Weiss Schnee, Blake Belladonna, and Yang Xiao Long. If these four girls want to graduate they'll have to learn to work together both on the battlefield and in the classroom.

Sailor Moon Crystal

Rating: TV-14     IMDb Information

Usagi Tsukino is a little clumsy and a crybaby, but she's also one spirited eighth grader. One day she meets Luna, a black cat with a crescent moon mark on her forehead, and transforms into the pretty guardian of love and justice in a sailor suit, Sailor Moon! As a chosen guardian of justice, Usagi apparently has a mission to protect a princess, and to find her fellow Guardians and the phantom Silver Crystal.

Samurai Champloo

Rating: TV-MA     IMDb Information

Let's break it down. Mugen's a reckless sword-slinger with a style that's more b-boy than Shaolin. He's got a nasty streak that makes people want to stick a knife in his throat. Then there's Jin, a deadbeat ronin who speaks softly but carries a big blade. He runs game old-school style, but he can make your blood spray with the quickness. When these roughnecks bring the ruckus, it isn't good for anybody, especially them.

Speed Racer: The Complete Series

Rating: PG     IMDb Information

An eighteen-year-old boy dreams of driving his car, the incredible Mach 5, in professional races around the world. When the going gets tough and meddling crooks keep him from the finish line, he always finds a way to make it through. Join Trixie, Pops, Spritle, Chim Chim, and the whole gang as they root for Speed in the most nail-biting, death-defying races in history.

The World God Only Knows OVA Collection

Rating: TV-14     IMDb Information Not Available

Dating Game master (and now real-life romance wizard) Keima Katsuragi and his spirit-hunting partner Elsie are dragged kicking and screaming into their wildest set of adventures yet. Things get off on a strange foot when Chihiro convinces Elsie, Ayumi, and Miyako to form a band. Unfortunately, they're really not very good and their quest to get rehearsal space from the school somehow escalates into a challenge to score perfect 100s on their English tests.
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References:

Anime. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.animenewsnetwork.com/encyclopedia/lexicon.php?id=45

Anime. (2018, April 02). Retrieved from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anime

Bunche, S. (2004). A Layman's Lexicon of Manga and Anime. School Library Journal, 50(8). Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ705709&site=ehost-live

Halsall, J. (2010). Anime Goes Mainstream. School Library Journal, 56(9), 32-33. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=53475373&site=ehost-live

Kraft, C. (2015, August 14). Your Anime Vocabulary Starter Tuide. Retrieved from https://geekandsundry.com/your-anime-vocabulary-starter-guide/

O'Connell, M. (1999). A Brief History of Anime. Otakon 1999 Program Book. Retrieved from https://web.archive.org/web/20070824124913/http://www.corneredangel.com/amwess/papers/history.html

Poitras, G. (2003). Anime Basics. Library Journal, 128(9), 10. Retrieved from http://search.ebscohost.com/login.aspx?direct=true&db=a9h&AN=9739717&site=ehost-live