On 'American Anime'
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PuppetChaos's avatar
By PuppetChaos   |   Watch
0 7 66 (1 Today)
Published: June 28, 2009
Copypasta'd from my LiveJournal.

I should preface this that I tread on the edge of the dark way known as Weaboo, I seem to exist between two worlds sometimes, when it comes to entertainment and artistic sensibilities. I wonder if the fact that I'm listening to JAM Project right now tips me over to the dark side.

Today I read something by a weaboo far more gone than I, a professional weaboo, who expounded his wise(?) opinion upon 'American Anime' ... in short, it wasn't anime, and is just lifting anime style as a marketing shtick.

And this is true for the most part.  

But isn't that true about 90% of everything?  Television is commercial, marketable and wrapped in a package for public consumption. If something sells, they will adopt it and sell it some more. Thus is marketing. And if you think Japan is any different, you are a fool.

But with this title of 'anime', an incredibly fuzzy term that probably means nothing, being bandied about by anime fans arguing as to what constitutes 'real anime' and what does not. In the end, it seems to fall to a xenocentric philosophy, that 'anime' is of the orient, the other. It is not of the western world; that despite the numerous fans of it in the western world, and the adaptation of its style by innumerable western artists... that it is still Of The Other. There is no crossover, no bleedthrough. Anime and Cartoon must remain different to allow the anime fan to continue their illusion of belonging to a secret circle.

Had this ideology been applied to cinema, this ideology of separation for the sake of exclusion, directors such as Akira Kurosawa and George Lucas would have never come into being. If this ideology was universally shared by everyone, and the Other and Ourselves must remain ever apart, 'Anime' as we know it wouldn't have even existed in the first place.  A fact that anime fans conveniently forget is that Tezuka, the 'God of Manga', was inspired by Walt Disney.

I am not trying to argue that Teen Titans or Avatar the Last Airbender can count as 'anime', I am rather arguing that when it comes down to it, "anime" is a term used by fans of Japanese media to continue to have their exclusiveness, their mystique.... their fascination with the Other.

But Xenocentrism is really no better than Ethnocentrism, it's still a one-sided fascination, except now it's inverted.  Instead of Japan being the lesser of the two, America is now the lesser.

In the end, cultures intermingle and exchange ideas. Putting up walls only results in stagnation. The world would have never made it to the current state, as flawed as it is, without the conflict and cooperation of cultures alien to the other.

tl;dr - Anime is an arbitrary term.
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MikaelTheCreator's avatar
MikaelTheCreatorStudent Digital Artist
I had a long conversation with someone about this subject. Do you want me to copy paste it? lol.
PuppetChaos's avatar
Only if you really, really want to :XD:
Oedipusfoot's avatar
It's only tl;tr if it wanders like mine does. now...where did my point go??!

Okay. Anime is a term that is understood to mean japanese animation. Just like manga are japanese comics. If it is not produced in japan and by someone who exhibits japanese culture/thinking process, it's not manga. And it's not anime. Just like "canadian maple syrup" can't be called "canadian maple syrup" if it's produced in kentucky.
These terms aren't subjective at all.

That's why the terms "anime" or "manga" are used, because they describe a national product, not only because weabs like to parade the term around and put it on a pedestal. Even outsiders see manga and anime as a product of japan. anything else is just a copy, an effort. If it's good, if it copies successfully, it's still not manga or anime because it wasn't created in japan. there's nothing weabish about this.

I've also seen a lot of "manga" produced outside of japan using a lot of steoreotypes, not building anything new, and using a lot of the old conventions. but you're not talking about non-japanese "manga."

Anime is a different story. There are certain products that can only be created in japan by a japanese person. American "anime" likes to copy the style (thought a lot of times they fail horribly or latch on to stereotypes), but are they really able to capture a view point that a japanese would have? this is what makes anime so special, because it's the product of a foreign mind and has new things to offer. I have to say that Akira would be very different if an american or non-native japanese created it, being the social commentary of the post WW2 society in Japan it is.. It's just, what does "american anime" bring to the table? Beyond that, it shouldn't even be called "anime" because it's not Japanese animation.
PuppetChaos's avatar
Wow, a reply to this! :XD: Seriously, thanks for taking the time to make a thought-out response.

Oh, I agree, the animation/comics produced in Japan is inherently different than the ones produced elsewhere due to cultural differences... but I was arguing more against this idea that there's no crossover between 'Anime' and 'Cartoon'; and insisting that there IS bleedthrough, and there's a lot more of it than you think.

I have two examples, the first is one Felipe Smith. He started out as an 'OEL' artist, but his work got noticed by a Japanese publisher, and now he lives and works in Japan, and is published by a Japanese publisher - [link] ...but he's not Japanese, as you probably guessed by his name, what would you call that?

Another example is the currently-running anime Basquash. I don't like it all that much personally, but that's besides the point. It's a creation of Shoji Kawamori, the guy who's directed nearly every (if not all) Macross series; and Thomas Romain, the creator of Code Lyoko. There's also several French people working on the project.

Finally, Teen Titans and Transformers Animated. Both use an anime inspired style. Transformers Animated has outright tributes/visual references to Japanese mecha anime, from Starscream transforming just like a Valkyre from Macross, or a sequence where all the Decepticons transform one-after-another, and the entire thing resembles one of the sequences from the various Brave (GaoGaiGar is the most famous of these) series, lastly, amongst others, there is a Transformer who's clearly based on Lagann. While I wouldn't call Transformers Animated 'anime' (1. Anime fans would eat me, 2. It's more 'cartoony';) ... it effectively uses elements of it to enhance the already-existing Transformers franchise.

tl;dr - Crossover of the two creates new cultural products. Everyone wins!
Oedipusfoot's avatar
I probably sounded like a jerk when I replied...sorry
about that -_-

But anyway, I thought about it when I made that first reply and your journal entry was crafted with solid points that I believed in.

And I really do operate on a narrow view of what manga is, since there's that Felipe Smith. Things become really complicated when one's trying to employ narrow definitions..

Though if I were to study manga and influenced foreign manga, that's the only time I'd personally be able to glorify the creation of "new cultural products." The influence of manga to create new/varied art forms is worth a study itself, but I can't say I'm all that into something like what Felipe Smith creates. It uses a lot of stereotypes, it seems like a parody, or like he's trying on purpose to meld his style and a "japanese" style, and that it doesn't come naturally in his case. His comics seem like comics born from foreign influences with a manga-style exterior...I don't like the style much but the subject of such a crossover of foreign and japanese styles is interesting. I'm just a weab who prefers the whole product to meld in perfectly with what I see as the "japanese style." Though what the heck this means or is isn't worth describing because it probably can't and is too subjective to jump into. It doesn't exist...

Though because of your reply I'm starting to see the value of these kinds of crossovers, but I think I'll have to wait to see a product that doesn't anger me...

I only know a little about the examples you've cited. And I can't say anything on that because I can't possibly say there's anything "purely japanese" at all, or something like "japanese is better" because there are a lot of foreigners working on japanese anime anyway.

tl;dr: I see what you mean now. I'll try to be more open minded.
PuppetChaos's avatar
You didn't come off as a jerk. Trust me, I've seen real internet jerks quite a few times...

I'm not real familiar with Felipe Smith, but unlike a lot of people who just boost things from anime shamelessly and awkwardly shove it into something else, he seems to be earnestly trying to create something new from both the manga and comic book worlds, as opposed to simply emulating either. Whether or not he's wholly successful at it (from what I can tell, he's much more successful than a lot of other stuff I've seen) is up for grabs.

The whole anime/cartoon/comic cultural exchange seems to be in its infancy, as opposed to how it's been going on in film for a while. We've got Akira Kurosawa (dude took Shakespeare plays and turned them into samurai epics!), George Lucas (took Kurosawa's ideas and gave us Star Wars), Quentin Tartino, etc. as examples... but we haven't many good examples of this in the animation and comic world yet.

My POV is colored by that my sensibilities are somewhere between both worlds. My style, for one... I've had people tell me it's 'not anime' because I don't do eyes quite the same way, and others tell me I draw 'manga style' ... although I asked a friend recently what she thought, and it was like 'anime without the super cutesyness' and 'American comics without the overwrought drama' [/talkingaboutself]
Oedipusfoot's avatar
Hm...I've thought about your style before. I've tried to understand it. And I have to say that's it's not anime and it's not western. Or maybe it's like anime but it's a bit diluted and colored by the "Puppet Chaos Special" if you know what I mean. You might use manga/anime as a platform but you don't really mimic the ideas and style of traditional manga/anime. That's why I have you on watch, haha. But I guess this is just an example of something completely new coming from two prominent sources of influence. I really have not seen your style anywhere, so hopefully in the future we'll get some crossovers in the anime/manga world that form some new creation like what you've done so far. Hm...
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