Dating back as far as 1917, Anime is a western term commonly associated with Japanese Animation characterised by highly stylised, colourful art, that often (but not always) uses exaggeration to accentuate features of the characters (e.g. crazy hair or outrageous clothes) and locations. Anime series are mostly adaptations of preexisting stories, such as Manga (Japanese Comics), classic Japanese folklore and even western fairytales. Although original anime series are becoming increasingly popular.
Anime made for TV follows the same series format that most shows follow, with episodes typically being 30 minutes to an hour long. As an exception to standard show length, some animes have been known to run short episodes of around 15 minutes or less.
In the past it was common to have an Anime series run for long lengths of up to hundreds of episodes. In recent years however it has become more prevalent for series to run for lengths of up to 24 episodes per season. Modern Animes typically run two distinct lengths:
- 11-14 episodes, known as a single cour.
- 24-26 episodes, known as double cour.
Anime premiers generally follow seasons mimicking the weather seasons of the year. There will be 4 major seasons per year, which usually results in shows finishing around the same time, with some overlap caused by series length and the series starting date.
OVAs are released separate from an Anime’s season run, and are typically considered extra story or holiday specials. An OVA can run longer than a normal episode as they are not made for television broadcast, and are usually distributed on DVDs.
Anime generally adheres to one of four major demographics. These major demographics originally stemmed from printed works such as manga and mostly correspond to the maturity of the reader and their ability to read Japanese. Once associated with a demographic, standard genres apply such as Comedy, Drama, Scifi. Due to the nature of Anime and the wide depth of stories made into anime there also exist specialist genres not usually found outside of Anime or Manga, such as Giant Robots, or Moe (pronounced mo-weh).
|Shonen||Shonen or ‘boys’ anime is aimed at young boys between the ages of 8-18. Shonen is the most popular genre of anime, known for being action packed and humorous. Popular Shonen titles include One Piece, Naruto, and Pokemon.|
|Seinen||Seinen loosely translates to “youth” and as a demographic it is marketed toward male teenagers, or older men. Unlike Shonen, Seinen has the capacity and tendency to be more graphic in depiction and contains heavier subject matter. Popular Seinen titles in Anime include Black Lagoon, and Death Note.|
|Shojo||Shojo or ‘girls’ anime is aimed at tween/teenage girls. Shojo anime generally features female protagonists and often includes themes of romance, drama and friendship. Popular Shojo titles include Sailor Moon, Cardcaptors, Fruits Basket and Lovely Complex.|
|Josei||Josei anime is aimed at adult women or older teens. Like Shojo, Josei often features romantic themes however it is often more realistic and/ or sexually explicit. Popular Josei titles include Princess Jellyfish, Paradise kiss, Usagi drop and Shirokuma Café.|
Subtitled vs. Dubbed
One of the biggest division of opinions between Anime fans is the argument over subtitled vs dubbed anime.
Subtitled anime, as with all television and movies, retains the original spoken word of the voice actors that played the characters in Japan but translates what is said into written form and is displayed at the bottom of the screen. This then puts the strain on the viewer to read fast enough to follow the subtitles as they appear.
Dubbing anime is the process of re-recording character voices in the localized language for the release. Most of the difficulty with dubbing is translating the source material in a way so that when it is recorded the timing and pacing of the translation matches the mouth movements of the characters. Done well, dubbing can enhance an Anime while making it more accessible for western audiences, however poorly done dubbing can lead to a poor experience for the viewer.
In the past most Anime viewers preferred to watch subtitled anime, however in recent years the quality of Dubbed anime has been steadily increasing allowing viewers to enjoy their favorite Anime whichever way they like.