If you are a parent of an Otaku or two, you know what anime and manga mean. I am one such parent and since I love everything Japanese, I decided to arm myself with some working knowledge so I don’t have to say “duh” every time my Otaku tries to share her enthusiasm with me.
As I understand it, anime in Japan is a blanket term for animation. But outside Japan, it is a Japanese form of animation. It has its own style which is different than other animation. It originated around the early part of the twentieth century, but was developed widely in the sixties by Osamu Tezuka. Anime could be a video, a movie, a video game, a commercial, TV series, internet based or in print. The characters, as developed by Tezuka have big eyes to show emotions distinctly and a proportionate head. Some movie makers, especially, the revered Hayao Miyazaki, use proportionate eyes, body features and coloring.
There is a huge following of anime and manga within and outside Japan. Anime memorabilia and products fly off the shelves in the stores and online and a lot of them have somehow landed in our house too :-) Although most Anime is meant for teens and adults, there are some beautiful films for kids like “My Neighbor Totoro,” “Kiki’s Delivery Service,” “Spirited Away,” and the famous Pokémon.
Anime also tends to include non-humanoid characters and hybrid beings. Non-humanoid characters include robots, animals, spirits, and demons. Anime tries to achieve three-dimensional views. There is also an emphasis placed on the changing seasons. The anime can be generally distributed into five compartments–action/adventure, which focuses on battles, war, and physical competition including martial arts, weapon fighting, or other action oriented material. Drama usually features a high degree of character development and emotional themes; many times the anime dramas involve relationship complications. Horror uses darker and supernatural themes. Science fiction relies on futuristic elements, especially future science and technology. And progressive anime tends to be extremely stylized. I find it difficult to digest the storyline of the soul stealing themes but the teens are somehow enamored by it.
As a result of the love for anime, my daughter is learning Japanese, she is reading about the Japanese culture, history and geography, making new friends, she is drawing, writing stories, creating her own characters, making small Anime videos and is learning the guitar and piano to provide the background music for her videos.
An anime convention is like a pilgrimage in our house. One is going on currently in Somerset at the Garden State Exhibition Center. And I, a good Otakumom, have been drafted as the designated driver and chaperon this weekend. I am posting some pictures of the cosplayers that I found interesting. The most amazing cosplayer to me to was a dad who was dressed to the T and armed with his props at 8:30am on a Saturday morning, and said to me when I was taking his picture, “I am here for my daughter.” That surely validated my sentiments that morning.