Discussions/IsAnimeAGenre

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I have to admit that one of the first things that came to mind when I saw the wyld mutation for tentacles was something along the lines of, "Well, they did say this was anime... Arafelis

Sorry, but I resent anime being confused with hentai. :P Anime is an industry same as tv-shows, it has bad series and very very good ones.. hentai, well.. it can be compared with the 1980's german porn-industry. Unwatchable to most eyes. tld

Anime is not hentai, but hentai is anime. Movies are not 1980's german porn-industry, but 1980's german porn-industry is movies. Anime is a style; things depicted within that style are anime. Arafelis

Just a semi-technical footnote on what seems to be a done discussion here; anime is not a genre but a medium. Within that medium a variety of genres can be implemented. Ben-San

Yes and no. Anime is both a genre AND a medium; it possesses genre conventions, such as steriotypical character types, plot conventions (including emotive standards like giant sweatdrop), and standard settings (ancient Asia, outer space, other 'frontier' settings). That's why it's possible for books, games, and the like to be 'anime,' even though it began as a purely visual style. $.02 &Arafelis

It would probably be more accurate to say that within the medium, certain genres enjoy great popularity, especially in the overseas market. Like how Hong Kong's filmmakers are known for creating martial arts movies, Hollywood is known for making big-budget SFX orgies, and Disney is known for making animated children's movies featuring talking animals.
This last thing is probably one of the major factors influencing American perceptions of Japanese animation; most American cartoons have traditionally been targeted at children, so Japanese cartoons with lots of violence, sex, and "adult" content seem strikingly unusual. We therefore tend to think of anime as being about violence and sex, since those are the things which tend to make "anime" seem different from "cartoons." Also, as is true with all types of film, violence and sex translate well, while more intellectual fare -- which tends to be more culture-dependent -- doesn't always. _Ikselam

You can make the same contention for Western comics and cartoons. Conventions do not a genre make! - willows

As a matter of fact... I can! http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=genre (The smirk is purely the Bravo troll in me, I swear. At least I got three extra points for Throwback!  ;) ) &Arafelis

Show me a giant sweatdrop or lustful nosebleed in "Sanctuary", and show me a cold-blooded, brutally effective yakuza in "Doraemon". You're talking about conventions of genres which have formed within the medium. As a comparison example, lonely wandering gunslingers are not a convention of the novel, but rather of a genre (the Western) which formed within the medium of the novel and later spread to other media (film, comic books, television, etc.) while retaining its conventions. The feudal-Japan setting is not a convention of anime, but of the samurai-drama genre (among others) which is well-represented in anime but formed in novels and developed further in cinema; the outer-space setting similarly is a convention of the science-fiction genre, which is certainly not restricted to the medium of anime. - Ben-San

I agree wholeheartedly that not all anime is the same, nor does it stick to the exactly the same setting/style conventions between works. But you've seeded your own argument with its counter; Sanctuary and Doraemon are examples of works (and subgenres) within the Anime genre, just like Tombstone and the Lone Rider are examples of works within the Western genre. There are defining characteristics of anime, but they're harder to pin down than "set in the west/desert, usually involving guns" is for Westerns. Typically, anime is designed to twist perceptions; to make unusual things or lifestyles seem normal, and normal things seem bizzare or unusual. It's often set in a 'frontier' circumstance, be it war, outer space, terrestrial frontier, or inner-city. Etc. Post-modernism has twisted the lines between *all* genres quite a bit; the further back one goes in anime, the more conventions were held between all of its works.

Additionally, while one genre tends to dominate a work, there's no particular reason it can't be multifold; Sci-fi horror romances abound on the discount rack. Does Science Fiction encapsulate Fantasy (because fantasy is the suspension or twisting of normal physical laws), or does Fantasy encapsculate Science Fiction (because it's a fantastic, only semi-believable setting)? Is Exalted a science fiction game? It does have giant robots, other dimensions, and technological artifacts... If it is, is it only science fiction?

One more question. How the hell did we get here from tentacle sex? $.02 &Arafelis

Yeah, let's go back to tentacle sex! Seriously though, anime is not a genre simply because of the fact that an anime can concievably be made in any genre. The fact that some genres dominate and others are non-existant is irrelevant, and probably due to practical and econimical reasons more than anything else. Studio Ghibli films are a good example of anime that spans many genres, from mundane dramas to fantastic fairy tales. There are many anime series that don't fit into your generalizations, and if you look to manga, they have an even wider spectrum. If you disagree, name one genre that can't be made into an anime. Resplendence

Define Anime. If you mean, "animation done by a japanese artist/in the style of japanese artists who do Anime," then of course I can't- just like if a Western was "Something set in the West/in a situation resembling the Old West," I couldn't name anything that couldn't be made into a Western; and certainly, there are Westerns that are set in some odd places. It's the nature and spirit of the genre that defines it. I would challenge you to name an anime that doesn't challenge the subject it takes to be examined from a different perspective- even something as prosaic as Sailor Moon is built on a premise that the most ordinary person (regardless of gender, even!) might really be a miniskirt-wearing superhero. Like I said above- it's possible to mix any set of genres. $.02 &Arafelis

No offense, but this is really foolish. The definition of anime is "animation done by, or in the style of, Japanese artists." This silliness about "challenging perspectives" is true of any fiction. Some anime have to do with crazy stuff like schoolgirls turning into superheroines, sure, but some are also serious drama/ action/ whatever, in which the only highly "unrealistic" things are the stylized appearances of the characters. When you say "anime," what I think you mean is "fantasy fiction." That's an actual genre, and one into which a good deal of anime fall -- many films and TV shows, live-action or animated, fall into it. _Ikselam

http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=anime
http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=Western
http://www.google.com/search?hl=en&lr=&ie=UTF-8&oi=defmore&q=define:GENRE
I'm using these definitions to show just how broad a genre is; if you walk into a video store, you will see dramatic titles in the science-fiction section, comedies in the horror section, and romances in pretty much all of them; despite these titles, like Anime, having their own dedicated 'group' on the shelves. And I disagree about fiction intending to challenge perspectives; most exists to feed a market. Grave of the Fireflies challenges the viewer just as much as Cowboy Bebop. Genre defining conventions are always a set of guidlines rather than hard-and-fast rules; one might see a Japanese artist working on Disney movies, but that doesn't typically make them any more 'anime' than an American artist working on the newest hard-bitten animated drama about a gangster turning his back on his international crime ring to pursue a daughter he never knew he had isn't- depending on the style of the dialogue, of course. Arafelis

So basically, you're saying something gritty like Batman: TAS is automatically anime because it does involve a coyote running off a cliff accidentally? That's just dumb. --dissolvegirl

Batman: The Animated Series might be considered anime. However, it doesn't particularly challenge its viewer in any way- the characters are pretty one dimensional, as are the situations they find themselves in- and it uses American dialogue conventions (primarily: there's more of it). If the strain of switching between his two lives were to show more, it might be more appropriate. Batman: Beyond I would be more inclined to put into the anime category- but as I keep stressing, a genre isn't an absolute. Something can easily be many at once, or seem as though it were to one person and as though it weren't to another. &Arafelis

Have you ever actually watched the older Batman cartoons? They blow the pants off Batman Beyond in every conceivable way. If anything, I'd say Beyond is more cardboard and conventional than the original, which contained some very fine, tightly-plotted noir storytelling.

Look, Dragonball GT challenges nothing. It's a spinoff of a spinoff of a show about guys with big hair who blow up planets with martial arts. It, and most other anime shows, pander to their audience just as much as American cartoons. How many shows are there about teenage mech pilots? About magical girls? About athletes going for the gold? About angsty demon hunters? Most anime are not intellectually challenging at all, and being intellectually challenging doesn't make something anime. The original Batman series was engaging and thoughtful; so was the Iron Giant. So are some Disney feature films! Saying nonsense like "anime is more intelligent than American cartoons" is just as wrongheaded as saying "anime is all about giant robots and tentacle monsters." _Ikselam notes that when people start quoting dictionaries to back up their arguments, it usually means their position is pretty tenuous.

Again, please name one genre that couldn't concievably fit into anime. Resplendence

This reminds me of discussions about the borders of philosophy as a field. Anime is so broad that it may not initially seem to have much of anything in common, but those accquainted with a variety of anime will start to get a sense of what is "anime-like" and what isn't. Everything from character interaction to visual style to story elements have a certain common flavor in anime. The genre of Anime is not as exclusive as, say, Western or Superhero Comic, where it's easy to come up with stories that the genre simply can't tell, by definition. But the conventions and cultures surrounding anime shape its stories. Most genre's can't accomodate stories as varied as, say, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, the Odd Couple, and the Book of Job. Anime can. But if it did, they'd all be influenced deeply by the retelling. And they'd all *feel* like anime, despite the lack of sweatdrops. LordAuran

So name a genre that American comic books can't cover. (Hint: if you name anything, you're wrong.) Anime is no more a "genre" than sculpture is. It's a MEDIUM, and anyone who says differently is living in their own little world with their own definitions, and has no bearing on reality. --dissolvegirl would at least then be able to say she hates all anime.
Anime is a culturally flavored medium. Yes, it has a very strong mainstream and yes, it has a set of unique, strong and recurring (although not omnipresent) symbols and themes. So do Hollywood films. For every typical anime you can name, I can name one atypical that doesn't fit into genre conventions. For every common stylistic feature of anime you can point out, I can point out animes that don't employ it at all.
I'd like to remind you all that "anime" is short for "animation" (or animeh-shun as the Japanese would say) - that is, animation in general. Animation is undeniably a medium. Anime is part of that, most often volontarily limited by the japanese culture, and then also western anime companies who choose what to import and focus on. Resplendence
Animation is to anime as sculpture is to classical Greek sculpture. I wouldn't argue that it was impossible for a classical Greek sculptor to create abstract sculpture, and I wouldn't argue that it's impossible for some group of Japanese creators somewhere to get together and create Veggie Tales. But when we talk about classical Greek sculpture, we're not talking about the theoretical limits of the Greeks. We're talking about their style, their influences and their body of work. No one's claiming that the Japanese brain in hard-wired for big eyes and hotshot mecha pilots. But if you sat down to watch a new anime and instead got Superfriends, you'd be surprised, because anime has a distinctive feel and set of cultural/industry influences that affect its content in predictable (but not perfectly predictable) ways. That's a genre, in my book. LordAuran
Yes, your book. But don't think your definition is the one in every other, technically correct book. --dissolvegirl
If only there were some kind of book with agreed upon definitions for words that we could all use. Wait, there is! And if you check a dictionary, you'll find that a genre is universally defined as a category of artistic work that shares a common form, content or style. The wording varies from dictionary to dictionary, but I don't think you'll find much support for your viewpoint in any of them. Granted, this is essentially a silly argument revolving around imprecise definition and differences of opinion, but if you insist on a brass tacks answer, I think you'll find that the word "genre" is technically broader than you're trying to claim (one dictionary even lists "poetry" as a genre!). LordAuran
Where is this shared common form, content and style? You can stretch those defition to cover most anime, but far from all. It only shows that there are quite homogenous mainstream genres that are strong within anime. Studio Ghibli anime doesn't fit into common definitions of anime very well at all, for example. Resplendence
Er, LordAuran, you are aware that Japanese animators do produce things equivalent to Superfriends and Veggie Tales, right? I'm well aware that the typical American defense of anime as an art form is that it's "for adults," but there's a great deal of anime being produced that's intended for little kids. Sure, not all of it is being brought over to America, but it's being produced and watched. Yes, there are cultural influences at play, but that doesn't mean that that makes its content predictable, no more than Western animation or comic books are constrained to being kiddie stories. -- AntiVehicleRocket
My examples both happen to be kid-oriented because that's typical of American animation, it wasn't by design. I was referring to differences in methods of characterization, artistic style, cultural background, etc. I would argue that there's still a difference in feel between dumb American animation and even the dumbest of Japanese animation. LordAuran
Then please define anime in such a way that it incorporates all or most of its styles, themes, settings, stories, formats, animation techniques, intended (and unintended) viewer groups, etc. You likely can't, because there is no so clear definition of anime and no one defining characteristic( besides the cultural and geographical ties, and even those are increasingly weak). This is even more true for manga, which you could similarly (and wrongly) argue is a comic genre. Ancient greek sculpture, on the other hand, is AFAIK distinct and limited enough to be a genre within the medium of sculpture.
As for the possible genres that can concievably be contained in anime, it only shows that anime itself isn't a genre. People have tweaked anime a lot and it's still anime. That it doesn't happen very often is irrelevant. Resplendence
I don't think I could possibly write a checklist that would definitively differentiate anime from non-anime works. I would feel similarly unable to write such a checklist for philosophy, fantasy fiction or pop music. Something would always slip through the cracks. However, anime has enough in common with other anime that I can call something "anime-like" without being incoherent. Which of these sentences is not like the other? "This movie reminds me of anime"; "This painting hints at impressionism"; or "This novel is very much like a statue"? I'm not saying that all anime meets a certain core group of criteria, just that there are definitely a large collection of traits that are *characteristic* of anime, and which constitute an anime genre. There are sub-genres, to be sure, but I have an easier time wrapping my head around Magical Girl as a sub-genre of Anime than I do concieving of Anime as some kind of "sub-medium" of animation. LordAuran
Is american animation also a genre? Anime might have a stronger mainstream and more commonly used visual and thematic language, but I'd say it's just as wide (or narrow) as animation that comes out of the US. If you do see such things as american animation and Hollywood films as genres, then we simply have different definitions of what constitutes a genre. I'd be interested to see your core criteria for anime though. Resplendence
My definition of genre is just slightly narrower than you're suggesting here, and seems to be much broader than yours. My idea of a broad genre might be "Saturday morning cartoon" or "Summer Blockbuster". Those are two *very* broad genres, yet they're also limited enough compared to their respective mediums (animation and film) that they're useful in denoting a wide variety of common traits. As for the typical traits of anime relative to other animation, here are a few off the top of my head (they're by no means universal, merely typical): character driven, heavily symbolic, slowly unfolding (the reasons for events often aren't revealed until after the fact), commonly makes use of fantastic elements like magic or superscience, tends to reflect Japanese culture and/or counterculture even if set outside of modern Japan.... I could probably think of more, but an exhaustive list would be very, very long, if "exhaustive" is even the right word. LordAuran
AAAAARGH! Make sense! You say "Saturday Morning Cartoon" is a genre, after you acknowledged that there are "saturday morning cartoon" types of anime. That's all I can really think of to say here. It doesn't get more plain than that. I think you've already seen the error in your judgement but are too embarassed to concede the point, so I'm going to just stop reading this. You hurt my head. --dissolvegirl
And here I was just about to make a minor edit about the remarkable civility of this thread. Somebody tell dissolvegirl that genres overlap all the time. Or don't. LordAuran
I think she's just getting frustrated; she, or we supporters (I go to work and what happens?) might want to back off for a bit. I think that LordAuran is pretty accurate; genres can quite easily overlap, and usually do. It's rare, for instance, to see a Western that isn't also an Action movie or a Romance. Genre is a method of categorizing things by form and content (so, anime is a genre of art, I think we can all agree, even if we can't agree that it's a genre of content- like realistic is a genre of art, or cubism is a genre of art); just like any other method of categorization, things can fall into an infinite number of categories.
In the intrest of not alienating members of the community from one another over what is, in essence, a hypertechnical discussion of interpretation, I'm going to ease back on this discussion. I agree with LordAuran (completely, from what I've read), and I think I understand the points in contention. This was a debate, but it's becoming an argument. Let's not lose friends or sleep over this, eh? $.02 &Arafelis

In America, animation is a medium, and "anime" is a de facto genre, due to the fact that Americans are exposed to only a small slice of Japanese animation, one which is heavily skewed toward certain themes and styles which importers have found to be marketable. In Japan, anime is a medium, because when a Japanese person says "anime," he means the same thing an English-speaker does when she says "animation." I assert that people who are conscious of this latter fact tend to think that using the word "anime" to denote a specific genre of animation is a sign of ignorance. _Ikselamis one of those people.

I'm aware that Japanese people use "anime" to mean "animation". I'm not positive about the usage, but I think even American animation can be termed "anime", or at least "American anime". That usage of the term isn't useful to Westerners, though, and it's not how we use it. Is it your contention that anime is basically indistinguishable from other animation? How much anime could just as easily have come from another country? Given only a script and stage directions, how much of it would be recognizable as animation? Once informed that it's animation, could a well-versed reader distinguish it from non-anime? Suppose you've got vision problems and can't see finely enough to notice the distinctive artistic style of anime. Would you still be an anime fan, or would all animation be the same to you? I know how I feel about these questions, but unless someone really wants to run these experiments, maybe we'll have to agree to disagree. LordAuran won't get derailed from a promising line of argument by accusations of ignorance, but does in fact feel that you're a stupid-head
I've gotten sidetracked, too. The thing which I think is stupid about this discussion isn't the claim that anime is a genre -- it's the assertion that "intellectual challenge" is a distinguishing characteristic of anime. It really isn't. _Ikselam has seen some really dumb, really derivative anime shows.
I also apologize for the oblique ad hominem stuff. It was impolite. _Ikselam
I've seen some really dumb stuff come out of every genre. I feel that most animes I have seen, however, are especially significant in terms of social, philosophical, or artistic twist; there's an entirely different attitude towards the every-day or 'real life.' This is in part cultural and in part thanks to the medium... animation, by definition, isn't 'real,' giving artists much more room with which to attack reality. However, above and beyond those contributing factors is a very real use of the medium in that direction. For every Cute Killer Monster Training And Battling show (and even those were pretty original when they first started), there's a Gundam Wing or Ghost in the Shell- things that don't act at all like american animation, which as discussed above is usually oriented towards children (although satire is pretty common too), and exploit the artistic freedom afforded by animation fully. Anime likewise isn't comic books, which sometimes deal with serious subject matter but inevitably attempt to do it by making the characters and setting as 'realistic' (and frequently humourless) as possible. Again, I'm not saying that just because something is expressed in the medium of anime that it must leave you going 'Huh?' or 'Wow!'. There are other things that make an anime anime even if it lacks this trait- it can be slick and cool (Witch Hunter Robin tried to be significant but didn't succeed very well most of the time- but damn, was it pretty), or just plain strange ('Giant Robot Squid! Fight!'). But usually a good anime will make you question reality- or at least your sanity- just like (at least in my opinion) a good Western will leave you with the ultimate desire to be a tenth as bad-ass as the protaganist and a good Romance will make you fall in love with both (or more) of its main characters. Do you see my argument, or should I just give up the ghost here? &Arafelis thanks Ikselam and LordAuran for not dragging this thing through the mud.

This is because you are just another baka gaijin. In truth, anime is the only true genre; all things derive from it- and waffles! Arafelis thinks Socrates was right about wisdom


And that justifies trashing the anime-industry as a whole? :o Not everyone can make these distinctions and may be confused to think falsehoods. tld
Uh, I think the above poster, like you, knows the difference between general anime and hentai. But unlike you, I also think the above poster had a sense of humor. Chill, dude. It was a joke. --dissolvegirl
Da. Anime deserves to be taken just as seriously as any other significant genre. Which isn't all that very much. Part of why I like it is because it can joke about itself... I wouldn't be into Exalted if I loathed anime, or thought it was all catgirls and tentacle sex. Sorry for any misconceptions I engendered.
Or transgendered. The post below brings up an important point, too!  ;) &Arafelis
I always felt tentacle sex was a very serious issue, and should be treated with the solemnity and gravity it deserves. .... Mmmm, tentacle sex .... --Miedvied
What justifies your trashing of hentai, and our undeniably cool use of it in Exalted? Resplendence
I think you might be confusing the narrowness of hentai with that of your experience with it. Hentai runs the gamut from the most innocent erotic stories to utter depravity - just like regular erotic/pornographic media, which also encompasses more and less popular genres. This is especially true for hentai here in the West. We get a very filtered view of it, just like manga and to a lesser extent anime.
There, I'm done defending my perversions. Resplendence
My trashing of hentai? Well.. its just a personal preference I guess, but I dislike hentai because its and I quote "just like regular erotic/pornographic media" .. maybe I haven't had the pleasure of seeing an erotic production that is sophisticated, 'realistic' and pleasing to the MovieWatchersEye and so I haven't got many positive notes about that media. No doubt such a media is needed in the world and no doubt there is a constant and 'infinite' demand for it, but "some people like american cars and some people like japanese cars, maybe some people like them both" - I don't like this 'media'.
On another note, I couldn't call myself trashing hentai just because I like it alot less than anime. I honestly think hentai is more moral than any regular 'erotic/pornographic media' product and thus couldn't trash it further than "me no likey". -- tld

This is a fantastic discussion. :) - Morpheus

To all tentacle sex fans: Never read the Berserk manga. It totally nullifies the concept in a painful way (and it was cut in the anime) Nihilio

Just letting it be known where I stand on the matter. Anime is a medium. Anime is Japanese word meaning "cartoon" -- and technically it's a loanword, as "anime" (ah - nee - meh) is short for "animation" (ah - nee - meh - shon). Cartoons are a medium. Moving pictures on a screen is a medium, whether photographic, computer generated, hand drawn, or stop motion filmed. Even though in North America, "anime" is loaned back into the English language to mean "cartoons from Japan", it's still not a genre. Furthermore, to reply to a comment waaaaay up at the top of the age which said "Anime is not hentai, but hentai is anime." No. There is plenty of live-action hentai. Most hentai is live-action. Hentai is the word for porn. La Blue Girl, which is tentacle hentai, is available both animated and live-action. -Okenshawho apologises for the terrible attempt to get across syllabic pronunciations found in this post

Anime is a medium. It's no more a genre than "American Cinema" is a genre. there are many styles and techniques which are unqiue storytelling tools in anime, just as there are certain cinematic conventions. "Opera" and "Poerty" are no more genres than anime is. - ImaginalDisc

Seems to me that anime is neither a genre nor a medium. It's a style (or, perhaps, technique). Something similar would be "impressionism". Impressionist painters worked in the medium of painting, but used the rules of the style (short, "broken" brush strokes of pure, untinted and unmixed pigments, usually thickly applied, often using unusual viewing angles) to create paintings. Paintings using this style were usually created in specific "genres" (landscapes, day-to-day snapshots, etc.), but it would be very possible to paint, say, a spaceship battle using the impressionist style. The sensibility of a style can also tranfer to or from other media. For example, surrealism started as a philosphy, became a style of painting and elements of the style have now moved (occasionally) into television (The Prisoner) and films in many different genres (Brazil, Spellbound, What Dreams May Come). Anime, similarly, is a style originally applied to the medium of animated film, where works using this style were made in many genres (feudal samurai stories, science fiction, tenticle rape). The sensibility of the style has migrated to other media, including comic books (manga) and role-playing games (Exalted). - Wordman

I think the definition of medium is a mean of transportation. So Television, Radio... those are mediums. Genre is a kind of art most often diverted in sub-genres. So "Books" is a medium, "Literature" is a genre, "Novels" a sub-genre and so on. So anime would be a sub-genre of "movies" or "animated cartoons", and then you could start to even differentiat it more. But that is just as true about any art (compare 50 cent to Britney Spears, both are "modern american music" but one is "hip-hop" and one "pop"). So I would say animes are the genre of animated cartoons that use a certain style of graphics.

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