What Is Anime- More Than Just Cartoons

A brief history of what Anime is and a synopsis of popular television titles, such as Sailor Moon, Gundam Wing, Dragonball, and Tenchi Mugo, and videos like Dirty Pair and Ghost in a Shell.

Japanese illustrated works (cartoons) have developed over a huge stretch of time, from the late 7th century, when rough drawings of people and animals were found on the walls of 2 sacred temples in Nara, through the mid 17th C. when Otsu pictures were mass produced by artists in the town of Otsu and then through 1702, when Shumboku Ooka created booklets, called Toba-e, which were hugely popular. They were cartoons of everyday life accompanied by text. They were followed by kibyoshi, or "yellow-cover" books, containing strong story lines and narrative art. One would wonder what these early artists would have made of today's product.

It is Anime (ah-nee-may- a Japanese term for animation which was borrowed from the French), first seem mostly on television but since the "˜80's development of OVA, Original Video Animation, now found in abundance at video stores as well. Anime provides Japanese artists and writers with a medium to tell elaborate, visually stunning stories in a way that would be impossible using live action.

Anime cartoons are quite different affairs than the old Disney or Loonytune variety. No chattering animals that seemed to run their own lives quite independently of humans, no sociable ghosts, no obsessive coyotes; some very unusual, very intense, yet oddly noble characters have

taken their place. And, more than likely, it isn't just your kids watching, but their dads as well

When viewing just a snippet of the afternoon Anime line-up, you might come to the conclusion that the violence portrayed is unworthy of your children's time. But more than battles and sword fights are involved.

Young girls have become rabid fans of Sailor Moon. Sailor Moon and her girlfriends possess talismans which empower them to defend purity, kindness and honesty against evil spiritual forces. They remain quite feminine, but they fearlessly kick butt every day. Not a bad


Tenchi Mugo was just a normal kid, too. Then he broke the seal that held the legendary demon Ryoko, and he's got big trouble. When Princess Ayeka and her younger sister Sasami arrived, Ayeka discovered that Ryoko, her mortal enemy, had been freed, and young Tenchi had real problems. But he feels an ancestral obligation to recapture the demon that an ancient family member imprisoned so he forges on.

In Gundam Wing, giant flying space robots are piloted by absurdly courageous young men and capable, self-reliant young women, both with extremely strong ethical codes and great loyalty. They're fighting to preserve their existence in a world they once saved from destruction. Now they're regarded as a threat by the very people they protected, an interesting study of values.

Goku is the main character of Dragon Ball/Dragonball Z, as well-known as Mickey Mouse in most of the world. He's pure of heart and mind, just a tike really, but also a highly skilled martial artist when he absolutely has to be. He and his friends seek to collect seven "dragonballs" which, when brought together, summon a wish-granting dragon.

And, of course, there's Pokemon, digital monsters, adorable little critters, trained by highly responsible adolescents.

All of the above are beautifully drawn, have highly complex storylines and tons of action. That explains why a large part of their male audience is considerably past the Mickey Mouse stage.

The adults are especially entranced by Anime videos, which are much more adult in concept than their television counterparts.

"The Professional" (described as "a virtual cornucopia of sex and violence), "The Dirty Pair" (two wild heroines with a strong sense of the absurd), "Appleseed" (Urban warfare and cyberpunks) and "Ghost in the Shell (the ghost being the "˜indefinable element of human consciousness', whatever that's about) are just a few of the tittles available. Check video stores, bookshops, or the Internet for more.

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