Anime and manga are two forms of storytelling that are comparable to films and books. Anime has a distinct edge over movies because it is more adaptable. Anime and manga, like Cubism or Pointillism, are distinctive styles in their own right. Due to the flat appearance of anime art, some people include it in the “Superflat” art movement.
The origins of anime storytelling can be traced back to ancient Japanese art, however, the years following World War II saw the birth of anime as a narrative medium. Anime differs from American cartoons in that it emphasizes realism in both picture and movement. The “God of Anime” Osamu Tezuka was the first to introduce this level of realism.
Tezuka wrote more than 150,000 pages of narrative, which encompassed virtually every subject and age category. He was the originator of anime’s breadth. In comparison, most animation storytelling in the United States is aimed at kids and viewed by them.
Anime is a unique and fascinating medium that has been around for decades. While it is often associated with cartoons and children’s programming, anime is much more than that. In fact, anime can be used to tell some of the most intricate and complex stories imaginable.
This article will explore the topic of anime storytelling, and why anime is such a powerful medium. We will also take a look at some of the different types of anime, and how their structure differs from other forms of narrative art.
Art Storytelling: Narrative art is a form of art that creates a narrative, whether it’s part of an ongoing story or a set of events that happen over time. People have been telling stories with pictures since the dawn of human civilization, according to some of the earliest evidence of human art.
Different civilizations have developed distinct methods to detect narrative action in images, despite the fact that there are some shared traits among all narrative art. Visual storytelling is a skill that can be used in many different areas of life. One of those areas is art. When you learn how to tell stories through artwork, you open up a whole new world of possibilities. Read my article on Art Storytelling and find out more!
Most narrative arts were created in a simultaneous narrative method before the introduction of literacy, with little or no overall structure. Images began to be organized along register lines, such as the lines on a page, at around the same time that literacy spread across the world.
In the 20th century, this technique of connecting sequences resulted in other storytelling methods such as newspaper strips and comic books.
Is Anime a Narrative?
The narrative is the most essential component of anime, and a strong storyline is required for a great series. Every visual storytelling medium has a narrative as its centerpiece. It’s very obviously the focal point in the film, novels, and other forms of media.
However, it may be found in other places as well. Each song in a musical narrative is told thematically, as well as across an album. A painting’s story is told through a single photograph or a series of photographs.
Finally, gaming may tell its narrative more freely, allowing the player’s engagement to create their own tales. Anime will be our focus here; nonetheless, recognizing the ubiquitous presence of narrative in visual storytelling is necessary for establishing its significance.
The narrative components in anime have always been the feature that I enjoy the most about the medium. It’s character moments, plot twists, and major disclosures that stay with me for years after I’ve seen a show.
Anime is an audio-visual form of entertainment, thus graphics are a crucial component of how narrative is delivered, but what makes anime moments unforgettable to me has much less to do with the way things look than it does with what’s being presented.
Do you think it would be useful to define what we mean by narrative in this context? I believe that while reading this, many people will have their own unique interpretations of the word, so it’s probably a good idea to be precise about how we’re employing it.
After all, there are artists such as Jackson Pollock or William Faulkner with unique narrative approaches to their work that some people may not consider narrative.
Anime is frequently divided into target demographics, such as children’s (kodomo), girls’ (shoujo), boys’ (shonen), and a variety of adult genres.
In many cases, shoujo and shounen anime incorporate features that are appealing to both genders in order to appeal to a broader audience. Adult anime may include slower pacing or more complex story elements that young audiences may find uninteresting, as well as adult themes and situations.
A subset of adult anime works featuring pornographic elements are labeled “R18” in Japan and are internationally known as hentai originating from a pervert.
Ecchi, sexual themes, or undertones without depictions of sexual intercourse are typical in the comedic or harem genres; as a result of its popularity among adolescent and adult anime fans, such elements are sometimes seen as fan service.
There are several genres that focus on homosexual relationships, including yaoi (male homosexuality) and yuri (female homosexuality). While the words yaoi and yuri are most often employed in a pornographic context, the terms can be used more broadly to refer to or focus on the themes or development of relationships.
Anime is a unique form of animation that does not fall into the category of other forms. Gundam 0080, which was dubbed “A New Hope” featured a complex depiction of war as a “giant robot” anime, as compared to simply labeling War and Peace a “war novel.”
Science fiction is one of the most popular anime genres, and it includes such landmark historical works as Tezuka’s Astro Boy and Yokoyama’s Tetsujin 28-go. The Gundam metaseries is renowned in the mecha genre.
The broad fantasy genre ranges from works based on Asian and Western folklore to the Japanese feudal fairytale InuYasha, as well as the depiction of Scandinavian goddesses who come to Japan to keep a computer named Yggdrasil in Ah! My Goddess.
A wide range of genres is represented in anime, with many of them hybridizing or blurring the lines between them. For example, Dragon Half combines fantasy elements with comedy, and Castle of Cagliostro mixes slapstick humor with crime drama.
Magical girl, harem, sports, martial arts, literary adaptations, medievalism, and war are some of the other categories.
One of the defining characteristics of anime as opposed to a few Western cartoons is the capacity for visceral entertainment. Once the notion that animation’s primary purpose is to amuse kids is debunked, the audience may see that themes including violence, trauma, sexuality, agony, and death are all possible storytelling elements in anime.
However, as anime popularity grew, so did the style’s use in both serious and comedic creative works. Adult Swim’s Perfect Hair Forever and Nickelodeon’s Kappa Mikey are examples of Western satirical depictions of Japanese culture and anime, but some anime has also been lampooned with anime clichés.
Traditionally, only Japanese animations have been classified as anime, although Avatar: The Last Airbender, which was produced in an anime style, has stirred debate regarding whether or not to blur the boundaries between anime and cartoons.
In an attempt to categorize all anime-influenced animations created by non-Japanese artists, the term “anime-inspired animation” has been used. The French production team for Ōban Star-Racers moved to Tokyo to collaborate with a Japanese production company, for example.
Anime may be defined as a “style” rather than a national product, allowing for anime to be created outside of Japan, but this has been controversial among fans, with John Oppliger stating, “Having the term “Japanese anime” or “manga” used to describe original American art robs the work of its cultural identity.”
Torkaizer, a U.A.E.-Filipino-produced TV series dubbed the “Middle East’s First Anime Show,” is currently in production and seeking funding. Netflix has collaborated with several Japanese animation studios to create anime series, making them more accessible to Western markets by delivering them through a more accessible channel.
The web-based series RWBY, created by Rooster Teeth in Texas, is produced in an anime style. By several sources, the series has been characterized as “anime.”
For example, in one of its articles, Adweek referred to the series as “American-made anime,” while The Huffington Post simply wrote “anime” in another headline without mentioning its country of origin. “Some people believe that like Scotch must be made in Scotland, an American firm can’t produce anime,” said Monty Oum, the creator of RWBY.
“I don’t think so. I believe anime is a form of art that should be appreciated as such, not limited to just one country.” In Japan, the animated series RWBY has debuted with a Japanese language voice track; Matt Hullum, CEO of Rooster Teeth, said, “This is the first time any American-made anime has been marketed in Japan. It’s usually the other way around, and we’re ecstatic about it.”
Storyboarding, voice acting, character design, and cel production are all typical elements of a modern anime production process. Animators have used computer animation to improve the efficiency of their processes since the 1990s.
Anime films from the 1960s were early examples of experimental animation. Stop motion animation was used to make paper cutout figures move, and silhouette animation was employed.
Cel animation eventually dominated the field, and it became famous throughout the world. In recent years, the usage of other animation techniques has mostly been restricted to small independent films, especially stop motion puppet animation by Tadahito Mochinaga, Kihachirou Kawamoto, and Tomoyasu Murata.
Computers have been used to create animation since the 1990s, with films like Ghost in the Shell and Princess Mononoke combining cel animation with CGI. The announcement that Fuji Film, a significant cell producer, would cease production caused an industry panic to acquire cel imports and accelerated the shift to digital processes.
Anime has long been made using the pose-to-pose approach, although prior to the digital age it was produced with traditional animation techniques utilizing a pose-to-pose technique. The majority of popular anime use less lively key frames and more in-between frames.
Studio Pierrot, AIC, and Sunrise were early pioneers in limited animation, which has helped define the anime genre. Anime, unlike Disney animation, places a premium on the art quality and minimizes movement. Anime emphasizes the arts’ excellence rather than movement, sacrificing limited animation techniques to make up for time lost due to the lack of time spent on movement.
One approach to achieving a deadline is to utilize these methods as artistic tools. Anime sequences place a premium on generating three-dimensional views, and backgrounds are critical for creating the work’s atmosphere.
Although the backdrops aren’t always manufactured, they are frequently based on actual places, as seen in Howl’s Moving Castle and The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya. According to the critic, anime is one of the few media in which assembling an all-star cast usually works out “extremely well”.
The cinematic qualities of anime set it apart from American animation’s stage plays. Anime is shot cinematically rather than in real-time, with panning, zooming, distance, and angle shots to more complex dynamic shots that would be difficult to film in reality.
In anime, the animation is produced before the voice acting, as opposed to American cartoons, in which the voice performance comes first.
Human anime characters’ body proportions generally match those of real people. The artist regards the head’s height as the fundamental unit of proportion. Although head heights may differ, most anime characters are approximately seven to eight heads tall.
Anime artists occasionally make purposeful modifications to physical proportions in order to produce super-deformed characters with a disproportionately tiny body relative to the head; many super-deformed characters are two to four heads tall. In some anime, such as Crayon Shin-chan, these proportions are completely disregarded in a manner that they resemble caricatured Western cartoons.
Exaggerated eye size is a typical anime character design practice. Osamu Tezuka, who was significantly influenced by such early animation characters as Betty Boop, who had eyes that were proportionally outsized, is responsible for the animation of characters with enormous eyes in anime.
Tezuka is a legendary figure in the history of anime and manga, having invented the distinctive style and character designs that allowed for all human feelings to be shown solely through the eyes. The artist applies various color shading to the eyes, particularly to the cornea, to create greater depth. A light tone color, a dark tone color, and a medium shade are generally used.
According to cultural anthropologist Matt Thorn, Japanese animators, and audiences do not feel that such stylized eyes are inherently more or less foreign. Big eyes, on the other hand, are not necessarily a characteristic of all anime characters. Hayao Miyazaki’s films, for example, are known for having realistically proportioned eyes and hair colors on their characters.
Anime people’s hair is frequently abnormally vibrant and distinctive, or it is dressed in a unique manner. Anime hair movement is emphasized, and “hair action” is used to add to the drama and emotions of characters for more visual impact.
Color is associated with the Kigo or lucky words. These four colors are combined in many ways in the manga; vivid artwork and bright tones are desirable for children’s manga. Although anime is designed for a domestic audience, it frequently features characters of uncertain race or nationality, which is often the case.
The Pokémon animated series, for example, contains a deliberate decision to make characters from different nations and races. Anime and manga artists frequently utilize a common repertoire of iconic facial expression pictures to convey various feelings and ideas.
Anime is a great illustration of Japanese traditions that have been in use for millennia. These procedures are frequently distinct from those employed in Western animation, and they rely on a defined iconography that refers to particular feelings and emotions.
When a male character is excited, for example, he may develop a nosebleed. Sweat droplets are used to represent nervousness, visible blushing for embarrassment, and bright eyes for an intense glare, among other things. The use of chibi (deformed, simplified character forms) to punctuate emotions like confusion or embarrassment is another recurring sight gag.
The majority of anime television series feature J-pop or J-rock music during the opening and credits sequences, which are generally accompanied by songs from renowned artists tailored to the series but also intended for the general music market, so they mostly allude vaguely or not at all to the plot or themes of the show.
Finally, as a result of the number of YouTube videos that exist for every TV series and film, they are frequently utilized to provide background music “insert songs” in an episode in order to emphasize certain key moments.
Themes of Anime
Anime has a wide appeal, making it difficult to define. Anime stories usually include the following motifs: Technology (or magic) vs. humanity. Problems of technology (or magic) vs. whatever is trying to destroy the world or city. Good vs. Evil. In a person or in society. Rite of Passage. A child growing into an adult or a person becoming a better, healthier person. The challenge of living with other people.
However, there is more to anime than simply its plots. Anime is a means of telling stories. A medium transmits information. One sort of medium is oil painting. Another example is comic books.
Anime’s flatness, huge eyes, animation mode, and use of paintwork are comparable to those used in painting. Live-action anime adaptations have become increasingly popular lately.
One example is Attack on Titan, which is an anime. Story and medium are two distinct things. It’s not an anime; it’s a narrative that happens to be delivered via the form of anime. This may seem pedantic, but it’s vital to make the distinction.
Stories may be conveyed via a variety of media. A book might become a film, inspire a painting, or even become a comic book. Each medium has advantages and disadvantages that influence how the narrative plays out.
Writing a comic story, for example, gives the illustrator more control over the characters’ facial expressions and body language than a book does; it also provides more opportunities to focus on intricate details that can be missed in live-action films.
What Makes Anime Unique?
Anime is a Japanese term that refers to animation produced in the traditional animation style. Anime is essentially a type of low-budget animation in which the animator does not create each frame from scratch. It eliminates the need to produce a completely new scene every time.
This approach, as a result, has the effect of making people believe that more action is taking place than actually exists. In addition, because fewer frames are drawn during the process, anime production becomes cost-effective and time-saving.
Anime provides a more stylized end product that frees the animators from having to follow real-time reality. Anime art styles range from straightforward and direct to strange and flamboyant. Not to mention, even shows with simple artwork are attractive to many people.
Scenes in anime movies place a premium on obtaining three-dimensional views of settings while including background elements that represent the drama’s atmosphere. Many anime films, such as Tenchi Muyo, frequently show changing seasons.
Adults enjoy them for the same reason that children do: because of their plots. Adult-themed stories such as Queens Blade and Monster are most of them, in fact. Complex anime characters require viewers to understand from the inside out.
In general, this style is designed to appeal to everyone, regardless of age. Even the use of humor in the anime storyline is intended to alleviate a more violent or gloomy topic. It, therefore, engages adult audiences more.
Many classic anime films make use of architecture as a narrative device. One of the most essential skills in storytelling is knowing how to utilize the location. The setting is where our tales take place, which means it’s critical to consider how the characters who interact with one another are affected by and affected by them. Architecture is a fantastic method to define the ambiance of a location.
Architecture has now expanded to incorporate a wide range of themes, from the history of Baroque to Art Deco’s rise and demise. But all of that information and history behind a building’s design may be boiled down to a single frame in film and anime. That is itself, an aspect of storytelling.
Anime authors use a wide range of architectural settings to help tell their tales, with influences ranging from medieval towns to futuristic megacities. The first approach is, of course, to distinguish between locations. It’s critical for the audience to know the distinctions between each location when an anime is set in several places. If you’re traveling from city to city, it’s usually simple.
If a city is genuine, people are generally aware of the architectural influences. The Tube in London and Westminster are examples of this, as well as the Tokyo Tower and Rainbow Bridge in Tokyo. However, representing various locations in the same location is where things get difficult.
Anime Storytelling – Conclusion
Anime storytelling is a unique and interesting way to tell a story. With its focus on classical animation production means, anime has a style all its own that can be both engaging and visually stunning. Additionally, anime stories often incorporate architecture in a way that helps to define the atmosphere and differentiate between locations.
Whether you are a fan of anime or not, anime storytelling is definitely worth checking out. Anime storytelling roots extend far back in Japanese art. Anime’s popularity has grown in recent years, thanks in part to its accessibility online.
While some argue that anime is simply a product of Western animation, the truth is that anime is its own distinct medium with a rich history and tradition. Anime is not just for kids; it is a medium that can be enjoyed by people of all ages.
Thanks to its unique storytelling possibilities, anime has the potential to be one of the most popular forms of entertainment in the world.