Because film and TV is so lucrative, many art forms seem to have mid-points bringing them onto the screen.
Want to listen to music on the screen? Watch a musical!
Want to admire art on the screen? Watch a silent movie!
However I’ve never known what could be considered as the screen version of the next biggest art form, reading a book. I know the first thing that popped into your head then was “What you chattin’!? Books are turned into movies all the time!” But they’re just movies, they’re not the same as reading the book and you know it!
Well, I finally discovered how to read a book on the screen, Japanese anime!
Recently I reviewed Japanese anime series Attack on Titan. If you’ve seen it then you know how blown away I was by it, I felt like I had my eyes opened to a new world of stories! Since then I’ve been hooked by what anime has to offer.
Cartoons in the western world are generally considered to be things you watch when you’re about 12, and certainly not a mass-market form of entertainment. However, I’m going to try and convince you connoisseurs why anime is more than just girls with puppy eyes!
I would like to start my argument with a statistic:
According to Wikipedia, the first book of box-office sensation The Hunger Games has sold more than 28 million copies in the United States alone. The whole trilogy has sold more than 65 million copies in the US.
Well, hugely successful manga comic series Attack on Titan has so far sold 50 million copies in Japan (a country with less than 40% of the States’ population). Also, Attack on Titan is a series that is yet to be completed.
Manga comics are as big out there as traditional novels are here. The same can be said for the anime on TV, with the highly-praised TV adaptation of AoT receiving as much interest in the east as you would expect from major TV series’ in the west.
If it’s good enough for them, then why shouldn’t it be good enough for us!
What to expect
Since watching Attack on Titan I’ve thrown myself into the fascinating world of anime TV. These are some of the major differences I’ve noticed in this form compared to more common film and TV.
Dialogue: since the majority of anime is translated from Japanese (I haven’t watched any with English voices yet) the dialogue was bound to be different. The conversations do seem much less natural, their sentences seemingly drawn from the pages of a book instead of real-life. However, this does make for a much more thoughtful watch, something you wouldn’t necessarily expect from a cartoon.
Drop In, Drop Out: One of the major attractions of anime is its pick-up-and-play style. For someone with a tiny attention span like myself, being able to watch a 20-min episode (a seemingly common run-time for anime) here and there instead of having to commit to a full hour of viewing makes these stories much easier to get into, and if you dislike it you can put it away without feeling like you’ve wasted your life away.
Western influence: Even though the anime series’ are usually set in Asia, the characters themselves are predominately western, as is the drawing style for many manga pieces. For example, Attack on Titan had only one major character of Asian origin, female lead Mikasa, and she is only Japanese-American.
Opening Credits: Keep the remote with you, because the opening credits are usually way too cheesy to watch. I’m sure they mean well, but when you hear cheesy singing and read the ‘philosophical’ lyrics that barely make sense when translated to English, you can’t help but cringe. I’ve only seen one opening credits the whole way through, and that was for the first time only. Closing credits are usually the same.
Creativity: As you would expect, the majority of anime stories are very far-fetched. If you’re looking for realism, this might not be for you, although the characters are as real and human as you would find in a book. These people are not bound by budgets (as such) or physical abilities, meaning the stories you find in this form are some of the most original you’re likely to find.
This creativity passes into the people. More specifically, the bad guys. Some of the villains I’ve seen over the last few weeks have been the most exciting and interesting villains I’ve seen in the 1Yr+ I’ve been reviewing culture.
As I’ve been saying, I’ve watched a fair amount of anime on Netflix over the last few weeks. While I’ve seen parts of many different series’, two particularly caught my eye. Here’s a quick review of these two:
Sword Art Online (S1, 26x20min)
Perhaps what people assume Japanese anime is all about, SAO follows Kirito as he is one of thousands to be trapped inside the virtual MMORPG by the game’s developer. Completing the game is their only escape, something that could take them many years.
I think this is aimed at a much younger audience, and came across to me as a bit simplistic in story. The characters were solid, but I think there was a lack of sub-plots throughout the episodes. Also, the main plot is pretty dragged out, with the mid-series twist (and future seasons, from what I’ve read) extremely unoriginal. I can imagine young gamers would like this, though.
Tokyo Ghoul (S1, 12x22min)
This might require a bit more explaining. In this, ghouls are terrifying people that only survive by eating other humans. After Kaneki is nearly killed by a ghoul, he is saved by doctors who use the ghoul’s organs to save him, turning him into a ghoul/human hybrid. He is forced to adjust to the life of a ghoul, learning to appreciate the struggle and humanity shown by Tokyo’s modern-day boogeymen.
This is a really good series, and shows exactly what I think anime can offer. While it might not have the plot-twists that make AoT the success it is, the drama and conflicting beliefs in this are good enough to rival most books and films I’ve seen.
Also, this would be just perfect for an American, live-action remake. If eastern culture was to ever hit the mainstream (something that may hinge on Ghost in the Shell’s American live-action adaptation), I would put good money on this being made into a film or TV series for a western mainstream audience.
If I’ve managed to convince you that anime might be worth your time, I would highly suggest trying Tokyo Ghoul out as a starter point!
I was never one for TV series’, however I cannot stop watching anime! It simply offers stuff that film and TV could only ever dream of, and for that reason alone is well worth a watch.
Also, I’m still relatively new to the anime scene. If you know something really good that I should watch then please let me know in the comments!
We’re always looking for passionate contributors! I would love to work with a seasoned anime viewer to deliver regular anime reviews. If this sounds interesting to you, why don’t you get in touch!