Is Anime a Legitimate Form of Animation?

Is Anime good or bad Animation?
Anime. Chances are good you either love it or you hate it. And if you’re an animation teacher, very often you fall into the hatred category for the simple fact that young, starry-eyed animators refuse to work in any other style if they’re obsessed with Anime and Manga. Some professors even go so far as to say it’s not legitimate animation! What do you think?

When you look at it objectively (as objective as humans can be, at any rate) it’s true that the general Anime style is a very limited form of animation. Often it comes down to scenes of mouths moving with the occasional eye blink, sandwiched between brilliantly rendered long shots of epic backgrounds. The fluidity of traditional 2D animation rarely make an appearance, except in short spurts during fast, motion-blur filled action. Anime is also the master of the “animated cycle” and reusing drawings and actions.

Ranma 1/2 Animation

But does that make it some sort of “lesser” form of animation? While there may be fewer frames, most of the best Anime is still fundamentally very well crafted art. In fact, often it requires MORE attention to detail and proper posing, because those images and poses are going to be on screen (and held) for a lot longer. Still, art =/= animation; the two go hand in hand but are very different things.

Background_from_Miyazakis_spirited_away

We want to hear what YOU think about the great “Anime Animation” debate. Do you find it to be a cop-out? Think it’s the highest form of our artistic medium? Maybe it’s less black and white, and there are only particular films and shows done in the anime style that you feel go far enough to consider them proper animation? Whatever the case, leave a comment below with your thoughts and we’ll collect them together for a future article. Maybe together we can finally come to grips with the long running Anime discussion! Be sure to include if you, personally, enjoy anime or not, from an animator’s perspective!

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Roque

As any animator knows, Animation is about creating the illusion of life from a series of still images. If Anime is able to successfully create the illusion of life (and I think it does), it therefore must be considered “real” Animation.

Of course, they use little dirty tricks (ie. limited animation)… but isn’t the whole animation thingy about tricking the eye? Thank God there are different styles of animation so that not every product look the same.

Viktor Locke

I have to ask, though. From an animator’s perspective, how often does a character have to move when they’re supposed to be moving in a realistic manner? Because actual people don’t move around so much vs cartoons like Tom and Jerry

Rick Sternberg

As an animator, all I have to say is animation is hard enough without having other animators denigrate your work. Constructive criticism is good. Outright dismissal because of style is bad.

Waijeun

Is it legitimate? That is all a matter of opinion. I would say it depends. The legitimacy of several “western” style animated works is also questionable.

Are character designs sometimes even more homogeneous than Disney’s CG protagonists, even across studios? I would say so. But there is also a lot of variety in anime too.

Does it make extensive use of limited animation techniques? Sure, but that isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Animating is hard, so people are always trying to find and make use of methods that simplify the process of telling an animated story.

Is there room for more than one style and method of animation? Absolutely. If you don’t like a certain style, don’t use/watch it.

Landon Kemp

I’m not the world’s hugest fan, but I personally really enjoy anime a lot. I love other animation styles from other countries as well, but there’s something so intrinsically appealing about anime and manga, be it in the designs, the acting, the poses, the expressions, the stylizations, or the storytelling. So yes, I consider anime to be animation, definitely a unique style of animation of its own. Sure, it may be a little more limited when it comes to the frame rate, but a lot of it still looks really great from an artistic standpoint, and the animation itself looks and moves great in its own way. It’s very much why I also love the work of Bill Plympton, his frame rate is more limited, but the results he gets are stellar, regardless.

And personally, I’d take it over the crap spewed out over the years by the likes of Hanna-Barbera and Filmation any day.

TajRoy Duane Calhoun

I’m sorry. I know you probably want civil argument written with respect to the other sides argument – so I am truly sorry for this. But if this is an actual opinion floating around, I feel like I would be coward to not confront it, and say, flat out, anyone who doesn’t consider the the likes of Spirited Away, A Letter to Momo, or Metropolis to be animation – anyone who considers the masterclass character and effects. . . movement (I don’t know what word to use if not animation, but whether it is or isn’t that is what we are debating here, right?) created by “people who create movement through sequential drawings” (cause I guess I can’t call them animators) such as Norio Matsumoto, Shinya Ohira, Mitsuo Iso, Takeshi Honda, Hinori Tanaka, and others to not be animation – is flat out stupid.

Again, I’m sorry. I no you don’t want insults, but I don’t want objectively incorrect and truly quite disgusting “opinions” being passed around as arguable perspectives. Because it definitely isn’t perspective. It is, in fact, a complete lack of perspective. I can’t conceive of how this is a question, and all I can ask is whether this position is founded on elitism, racism, xenophobia, or just actual stupidity. Because there is no definable, defendable argument with which one could back up this position.

Yann

All previous comments said what i wanted to say. So i will just add a few things.

The main point of animation, in my eyes, is to create a convincing universe for the sole purpose of making the spectator enjoying the moment. They have to be roll over by emotions. Some anime can do that like – full length Japanese animation – Akira, Ghost in the shell or some Miyazaki’s movies for exemple.

Yes, an animator as to do his best. But that is not ably animation behind anime. The stories are there too.
And anime have a huge range of different kind of stories ! That is what i like.
So for me, it is animation. Different yes, but animation nevertheless.

Sabina K

Although I dislike anime (or more precisely the attention anime’s getting) I cat’t say it’s not animation. It may not have the best animation ever, but it is animated. And I think it focuses more on the details of each drawing. But the attention it’s getting really annoys me. I remember when I went to my art school almost everybody was into anime except me. And everybody drew in the anime style. But the worst part is they weren’t drawing fanart of their favorite characters they were redrawing screenshots. And they couldn’t draw anything else, and they didn’t even want to! It’s not the same thing as redrawing a piece to understand the construction of it, so one could apply the things they’ve learned to their drawings. It’s mindless redrawing with no purpose. And their silly question after they finished: ”Look what I drew, do you like my drawing?”
It is not your drawing, YOU didn’t drew that! That’s why I tend to think of anime in a negative way. I see ton of people ”drawing” this way and it makes me so sad and frustrated at the same time.

Henry P

I experienced the same thing as you did when I went to art school. Fanboy/fangirl mentality are producing so many hacks and mediocrity who are trying to pass it off as some kind of masterpiece. Anyway, it’s just their immaturity and the same mentality is also found in comic books realm as well.

Luckily most Japanese animation studios don’t hire people who can’t draw real people and objects correctly.

Tony McCrorey

Ok not all anime is the piss poor crap it’s being generalized as. Redline(100k hand drawn frames),summer wars, any katsushiro otomo movie,almost any production ig film. Each of these animes or groups I mentioned are amazing just a great as any American animator, and just to point out how much of our animation is done in Korea anyway? These animation teachers shouldn’t even exist, animation is rarely done here unless it’s 3d lol

Rica R2

Even that most of them seems to be cheating onto cheap tricks with repeating mouth shapes, limited animation etc, those Japanese guys are extremely skilled.
I was once having animation lessons with one of Japanese pokemon directors and he said that all that limitation is mostly because they have “paper budget” they can just use so much cells for each episode. He told me that that’s the exact reason the Evangelion series has so much either people standing still talking or even tuned back while talking, that’s to save drawings so they could use them in those awesome fight scenes.

Josh K

My only concern is the growing popularity of anime. Every art site I visit is literally covered with anime-styled art with little of any other art styles. Anime is fine itself, but if it’s at the expense of other art styles, then I have a problem with it.

Henry P

Don’t worry. It’s just kids being kids. They’ll grow out it.

Richard Carrillo

This can’t be a question… OF COURSE it is animation! Animation doesn’t have to be done in certain way to be animation, as someone said here, it has to give the illusion of life and certainly many anime shows achieve that. I even consider doing “limited animation” a hard thing, for example: in anime, many times they just put a drawn scene and pan it a little and they play background steps and some conversation and sometimes you don’t even notice this! that’s awesome man! I mean they can convince you with such simple stuff.

Professor

I may likely be one of those professors you’re speaking of, and I will try to explain why here, though honestly some people, particularly students, have no intention of listening.

I teach at a very well known school for the arts, usually a wide range of topics from color theory to drawing for animation. Each semester new students enter and several are always obsessed with anime. It’s gotten to the point where I have had no choice but to ban it from all work. Here is why: Anime, as a style, is not well suited for animation. The artists who do it work around that by making sure things are very limited in movement and the attention is spent on the art, coloring, shading, and camera moves. If you watch a typical Anime show, you will find the ratio of actual animation to “moving camera pans while MAYBE a mouth opens and closes” is almost 5 to 1. This is not animation. This is illustration with camera movements. Now that does not mean one can’t tell a story in this method, but you did not come to this school to learn camera panning. You are paying a great deal to learn the art of animation (or rather in many cases your parents are which is why you do not appreciate the opportunity), and Anime is not suited for that education. You need to be able to move forms and characters in space and that requires simple, well constructed figures that are designed for that purpose. Anime is not.

Many students are furious when I take away their security blanket of Anime. They have drawn it their entire life and they hide behind it like a crutch. They are told, especially now that the Internet has breeding grounds for it, that they are extremely talented. No longer is it only doting mothers that heap praise on them, they can find Anime fans that will do the same. They have no skill at drawing or illustrating anything else, and that is holding them back. They say I don’t know what I’m talking about, because many are at an age when they think they know better than everyone else in the world. At first I tried to reason with them early in my career. Now, however, I don’t bother. They will learn as they age that they have no idea how much there is to learn, and if they focus only on one type of art they will never be able to master the whole of animation. And for some, that is the path they will choose. But limiting yourself in your school days to such a thing is a huge mistake, because you do not have enough experience yet to make that decision wisely. I’m sorry if that upsets some young head-strong kids who think they know better, but it’s the truth, and they will learn that eventually.

Henry P

Of course your students will be upset when you “insult” their youth culture. If you’re a metal rock fan and someone much older says it’s a devil’s music, wouldn’t you get upset?

Just tell them that all Japanese animation studios don’t hire people who can’t draw. Also you need to look up some feature-level Japanese animations and observe how they use their limited animation in effective cinematic way. Simply put, do some serious homework before forming an opinion.

Opinion based from very limited knowledge or experience will not convince your students to listen to you. Being a teacher doesn’t mean that you’re no longer a student.

Thomas H.

I understand where the professor is coming from, but this is quite a closed-minded way of thinking. He doesn’t believe in illustration-centric animation, which characterises Japanese animation.

Broadly speaking, the ideal of traditional Western animation drawings is hiding of the artist’s hand, hiding the fact that animation is made of discrete illustrations in favour of the infamous ‘illusion of life’. Certainly this approach has value, but it is so mediocre to say that this is all that animation can be.

In Japan, animation originally developed from imitations of the Western model, which don’t resonate culturally with Japanese people, and then to increasingly elaborate ‘moving manga’. Because of the more explicit derivation from comics, the mindset of the Japanese animator is much more that of an illustrator, and in Japan the stylistic standards of illustration tend to favour large amounts of detail (or at least subtlety). So the emphasis is on the image first rather than the movement, which is (partly) what turns people like the professor off.

Like others have said, it is completely ignorant to say that all Japanese animation is identical to the worst TV anime. For starters, TV animation is incredibly poorly paid in Japan, not enough to live on unless you are extremely fast at animating. Consequently, excepting some extraordinary animators, the shows are filled with stills (which aren’t inherently bad, but that is another argument) and bad movement. This leads the better animators to work on films whenever they can. Truly bad animation in films is rare. Just look up videos for the names TajRoy mentioned.

All this being said, I think it is a good a positive challenge for students obsessed with ‘anime’ to be forced to draw in different ways. Just don’t ban it all outright.

Caustic

I think the main problem is that you’re not getting them to realize how important artistic fundamentals are to making anime in the first place, not to mention they’re probably drawing “anime” wrong in the first place. The two can definitely be related to each other, you just have to draw the connection.

Anime, when you look at it closely, like really closely, requires a lot of technical skill. While a lot of cartoons can get away with unrealistic movement and character body shapes, anime tends to focus exclusively on humans with much more realistic proportions, not to mention frames with a buttload more detail, and that in itself requires knowledge of anatomy and human movement. In addition, you need to know just about everything else in art to do anime properly. Color theory, light and shadow, perspective, composition, etc. Once you know how to depict reality properly within art, you twist and simplify those elements slightly to suit your needs. Change the body proportions to be a bit thinner, make the eyes slightly larger, you have one in a diversity of styles in anime.

Unfortunately, a lot of Westerners don’t realize the amount of technical skill needed to draw anime properly, they just see the symbols like the bugeyes and pointy noses and publish terrible anime drawing books that don’t teach the fundamentals at all. Not to mention they often ignore the alternative styles present in Japanese animation, which tend to stray towards realism.

I think it’s perfectly okay for students to like drawing anime, but you’re totally right that you have to get them to draw realistically first too. You don’t have to condemn the former, however; just say the latter is the means to it if they ever want to draw something awesome like Attack on Titan. That and tell them it’s stupid to believe they’re special snowflakes who are getting persecuted for their “styles,” because you’re the art teacher who knows all the shit they don’t.

It’s particularly effective if you show them a production drawing from an actual anime like this and tell them, “Can you draw like this? No, but I’ll teach you how,” and then point out all the elements and how they are technically present in anime, and why they need to be learned. If they complain, tell them all the anime artists went through the same thing in order to get to where they were today.

http://i2.wp.com/artbook-passion.com/wp-content/uploads/ARTBOOK-LIVRE-ATTACK-TITAN-0041.jpg

I’m also interested in what anime you have watched. Anime has gotten a lot more dynamic ever since digital methods were introduced.

Elizabeth

Of course anime is animation, but it’s just bad animation. It is cheating and limited and uses the same things over and over again. How many times have you seen this? http://www.freewebs.com/ledastudios/rpr/cliches/sweatdrop.jpg It’s lazy and boring and they use it over and over until it becomes pointless. Some of the stories are okay, but most of the time it’s the same thing over and over and over and over. Giant robots or school girls or both. Over and over. Now they’re remaking old Anime and it is pretty much copied image for image from the old comics. How lazy can you get.

TajRoy Duane Calhoun

Obviously not as lazy as your argument. Limited? Anymore limited American tv cartoons?

And a sweat drop isn’t an animation technique, it is a symbol. Like the cloud of smoke for fighting, birds or stars over someones head when their knocked out or dizzied. It’s not even related to limit animation, rather its used for quicker, symbolic, or comical and purposely unrealistic expressions of an idea, and symbols are just as common in American cartoons. The fact that the symbol is so noticeable to you (us) is because it is a foreign symbol, and we don’t notice ones we are more used to as being “overused”.

Richard Carrillo

Have you even seen anime??? I’m not talking about DBZ, naruto or any series (low budget and less time productions), I mean MOVIES. Before saying all that nonsense go and watch Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Spirited away, Evangelion.. the list go on. Those are BRILLIANT, fluid, beautiful camera work, some say better than many old school 2D Disney.
Besides anime isn’t just focused on making a joke every 2 minutes and isn’t pointed just for children.
Research before giving useless opinion… damn you really made me angry.

mooser

Anime has moving pictures so that makes it animation. Done.

Davis S.

Hi there to all, this is an interesting discussion. To me there are really two kinds of anime. One is the really bad TV show anime that is dull and cliche. The other is the kind that studios like Miyazaki’s makes, like Princess Mononoke. It is beautiful, full animation that has a great attention to movement AND drawing. I would say the first kind of anime is barely animation and I would be okay if people didn’t call it that. The second one though is better animation that most animation in the whole world. I was really sad to hear that Studio Ghibli is closing because we are all losing some of the best animation movies of all time. 🙁

Alexis

Holy cow….okay, so this became much longer than I intended but here it goes.

I’d say it depends on what aspect your focus on. In terms of animation I would say that western animation is better than anime. However, please keep the cultural difference in mind. Anime is made in a certain style that the Japanese, not the West, find attractive and so the animation reflects that style. Animated movies simply aren’t as big or common in Japan and so most of the animation you see would be from a television series. If you think about, a lot of western cartoon series don’t usually have Disney or movie level animation either Furthermore, manga is the main selling point in Japan, not anime (seriously, people read A LOT of manga here). Most anime have an extremely limited budget and, with exceptions, last on average between 13-25 (or 100+) episodes, so the animation quality suffers greatly. That being said, there are some series that I do think have some decent animation (in terms of both countries). Now whether the animation remains consistent throughout the series is another question; however, I’d say some of Hayao Miyazaki’s movies, as well as many Studio Bones series, are usually pretty decent. Some recently popular series like Shingeki no Kyoin, Kuroshitsuji (Circus Arc version) and Free! have some nice fluid, expressive, appealing, humorous animation and animated moments. There are also many good series that create an emotional response in the audience through “good” storytelling despite the limited animation (see examples in the next paragraph). People often think of anime just in terms of DBZ, Pokemon, Ranma 1/2, Sailor Moon and what not, and judge it based on those series but if you look around, there are many examples of good animation that is simply a little different what we are used to in the West. I certainly don’t study anime while I’m studying animation because that is not the kind of animation my culture uses, so comparing it to and studying it in the West isn’t really fair. It’d be like trying to be a clothing designer or chef in the West while only studying Japanese fashion or food. It’s a different culture so the way things were developed, the intentions, the audience, the appeal, and the way things are presented is going to be different. However, that doesn’t mean we should dismiss it as not animation because, well, what is animation. I mean, animation is about giving characters life (I believe Derek Hayes and Chris Webster call it “autonomy”” and anime does that. You can develop an emotional connection to the characters and you often get some very believable and interesting animation, so despite its flaws anime it must be doing something right.
I’d also like to argue that, even though this topic focused on animation, Animation Island has previously written many articles stating that a good story is just as crucial as good animation. There are many anime series that have compelling, creative, original, shocking, and emotional stories that I personally think surpass the execution of many stories in American cartoons (including Disney and Pixar). This may be because Japan and the West view animation differently; anime is made for every age group in Japan whereas in the West we still see animation as something for children (with some exceptions), so they have more freedom to experiment. Some of the most popular anime series have fantastic storylines that deal with issues such as prejudice, parental disconnection and internal isolation (Fruit’s Basket), sin, redemption, science vs. religion and brotherly love (Full Metal Alchemist), power corruption and pure intentions that become villainous [way before Breaking Bad did it] (Death Note and Code Geass), discovering the meaning of family after abandoning and reconnecting with your child after a tragic event (Clannad:After Story), and the psychological effects of participating in or being involved in war (Rurouni Kenshin: Tsuiokuhen and Evangelion, the later has some of the worst, laziest animation ever but is widely respected among fans for having a compelling story). Anime may not have the best animation in the world, but I think animators could gain a lot of inspiration and really learn something about writing and developing emotional and compelling stories and characters that are unlike anything we normally have in the West through anime. Of course, I’m not a professional, I’m just learning animation, and I’m sure many people would disagree with me, but even if you find that the animation is poor, just remember that it is from a different culture and you should still consider giving anime a fair chance in terms of story and characters. Also, J.K. Riki, I’d be super happy you replied to my long rant:)

Henry P

Can I add one more?
Western animation technique: Stage-style Acting.
Japanese animation technique: Mini Cinematography.

doublemax

You want to judge animation? Watch it with no sound. Now go watch anime with no sound. It’s stupid and pointless and barely anything moves. You can call that real animation if you want, but you’d be lying to yourself.

Daisuke

Kid, you haven’t really seen anime haven’t you?

Ghost in the shell or FMA OR you can jump into a car..

chunkysoups

Are you kidding? Is this even a debate? Is anime real animation? Is the sun hot? Of course anime is real animation. And like all genres of animation, there’s good and bad animation. Pixar has quality 3d animation, while some 3d tv shows do not. I’m not even the biggest anime fan out there, but even I know that there are animes out there with incredible animation, some with not so incredible animation. I think people like to hate on anime simply because it’s looked down on as “nerdy” or “weeaboo behaviour.” Some awesome anime animation work I’ve seen are kill la kill and attack on titan, just to name 2. But honestly? It’s stunning that anybody would even go as far as to discredit the hard work the anime artists do by calling it “false animation.” simply because they are annoyed at the notion that anime is Japanese. Grow out of your close minded shells and expand.

dobermunk

The context in which anime arises is important in such a discussion, as is the recognition of the fruitful co-inspiration between eastern and western styles.
1) asian audiences spend much more time viewing the background of an image than do western audiences (Chua et al, 2005). And massively so… In this context, shifting the weight from character to background seems an obvious choice. Western stories also rely on more specific characterizations of conflict… ie. the villain is seldom as black-and-wight as you would find in a Disney film, for example. Is there a connection here?
2) When I look at the anime influences in recent western tv series, I can’t help but rejoice. It has a whole new dimension. Ye the respect for earlier sensibilities is still there.

Fantastic article!

Leopoldio

I agree wholeheartedly with TajRoy Duane Calhoun. Go to youtube and look up the work of animators like Hiroyuki Okiura, Mitsuo Iso, and Shinya Ohira. Looks like “real animation” to me. So what if they don’t animate on ones? Nobody does these days.

I see other commenters are harping about ‘shortcuts’ and limited animation as if Japanese animators are lazy by nature, when much of what you see in Japanese animation is born out of budgetary and time constraints. Compared to American productions, Japanese animated TV series are generally produced on minuscule budgets at a breakneck pace, necessitating the need to prioritize certain types of scenes (action scenes, for instance) over other types (i.e. dialogue). This is why the animation quality of an average anime TV episode can run the gamut from dialogue scenes with static characters and 2-3 mouth shapes to dynamic, painstakingly choreographed battle scenes. Regarding production time (this might be an extreme example) the production time for Masaaki Yuasa’s recent series, ‘Ping Pong’ was 2-3 weeks per episode (http://www.cartoonbrew.com/interviews/delivering-quality-on-a-tight-schedule-an-interview-with-ping-pong-art-director-aymeric-kevin-101497.html), while the typical American show gets 6-8 months. Budget-wise, the average cost for an anime episode is $150,000 (as of 2011) (http://www.crunchyroll.com/anime-news/2011/10/30-1/how-much-does-one-episode-of-anime-cost-to-make). This is while an average Nickelodeon animated show costs $600 – $700K per episode and ‘The Simpsons’ can cost $2 million per ep (http://lineboil.com/how-much-does-an-animated-tv-episode-cost/). So right off the bat, Japanese animators have far less to work with than their American counterparts. Not to take anything away from the following shows, but does an episode of ‘Spongebob’ or ‘Avatar/Korra’ look FOUR TIMES better than an episode of ‘Attack on Titan’ or ‘Kill la Kill’? This is also true when discussing feature films. Katsuhiro Otomo’s ‘Steamboy’ is acknowledged as one of Japan’s most expensive animated films at about $20 million (according to IMDb). Disney’s film from the same year, ‘Home on the Range’ cost $110 million. And while you could argue that the Disney film is better animated (I haven’t seen it), ‘Steamboy’ is no slouch in the animation dept. while being far more elaborate in terms of design (i.e., the level of detail of the character models and mechanical/environment designs, etc). In fact, it’s probably true in many cases that while the Japanese show might be simpler in terms of animation (though I think this is debatable when talking about TV animation), it is more complex design-wise.

This actually brings me to another point – when i see this animation quality debate, Disney (or some other lavishly-animated theatrical feature) is usually being held up as the paragon of so-called ‘real’ animation while some random, trope-heavy anime TV series is used as the exemplar for ALL of Japanese animation. Take this site, for example – Disney is cited all over this site, which is great. But the one example of Japanese animation is pulled from Ranma 1/2 – a 25 year old TV show. That’s not quite fair. Why not a GIF from ’Spirited Away’, ‘Akira’, ‘Redline’, or a Satoshi Kon film? You might not find examples of characters wildly gesticulating in anime, but there is a plethora of suitable examples of dynamic action, draftsmanship, shot composition, and staging. Conversely, I never seem to find shows like ‘Family Guy’ or ‘Venture Bros’ or ‘Archer’ in these discussions about why Western animation is ‘real’ animation. Could it be that *gasp* there’s Western animation out there that isn’t “legitimate” either?

TajRoy Duane Calhoun

Thank you!

TajRoy Duane Calhoun

Thank you. Perfectly said.

Henry P

Now I’m going to stir hornet’s nest…

I believe a sense of bias and tunnel vision are main reason for article like this one. When non-western animation like anime gets all the adoration from its fans, many Western animation fans can’t help themselves feeling jealous. I’ve seen the same negative attitude from comic book nerds (notably superhero types) in late 90’s when Manga got popular among young people.

I believe snobby western animation fans are insecure about their fan identity when they asked whole “real animation” nonsense. The question may sound innocuous, but I think they felt threatened because they’re worried that their precious fan collective might get taken over by zealous anime fans. Also I believe they are bitter because anime pumps out tons of homegrown 2D animations while western animation only produce a handful of their homegrown 2D animations. Therefore they want to feel SUPERIOR by asking technical question which many anime fans can’t answer. This is what I call being petty.

Western animations make far more money than anime and are more mainstream conscious, so what if some overzealous anime fans make big hype about some niche animation titles?

Instead of dwelling on glorious past, western animation fans should be excited over birth of their own new TV animations (both kid shows and adult shows). Aren’t there supposed to be a battalion of My Little Pony and Black Dynamite cosplayers at local comic convention instead of same ol’ Spiderman?

tjunard

In this case, I think the term “real animation” is being interpreted as “quality animation”. With that being said, Yes…anime is a legitimate form of animation and ART! It’s unfair to stereotype a genre because of a few bad seeds that are in the spotlight. The action scenes in anime are Incredible!

TajRoy Duane Calhoun

Leopoldia raises a perfect point which I didn’t consider before – Riki, why would you use such an example as you did as a demonstration of Japanese animation?

It would be the equivalent of me making an article on why Japanese animation is better than American animation (and although you open this as a debate your writing – backed by your use of a very specific example – insinuates that you hold the belief of American animation > Japanese animation) and using Flintstones as an example of American animation, pitted against the greatest of Japanese character and effects animators.

Because you know that when you talk about Western/non-Japanese animation, and the “fluidity of traditional 2D animation” that your audience is not thinking of the Flintstones as its point of reference for such animation.

No. You know the reference being used is the best of Disney, Time-Warner and Fleischer. Given that, providing an example (as I assume you did to demonstrate Japanese animation) of that level would not only be the reasonable thing to do, but to do otherwise would be to profess your own bias.

It’s disappointing. I call you out because your treatment of the debate in your post illustrates your own biased unprofessionalism in regards to this topic. And the fact that you, and others like “Professor” B up there feel the need to adopt such unprofessional-behavior in your approach to this argument highlights how bankrupt of a belief it is.

It doesn’t deserve a debate. Especially not if you, and the Professor, and others are going to present the debate and debate it so crookedly.

I apologize if I’m so confrontational in this and all my posts, but as I said – this position is bankrupt; it is bjectively unarguable, founded on ignorance (willful or otherwise), and at best sad, at worst utterly disgusting. It concerns me greatly that others who profess to love animation would hold it, and concerns me that your treatment of this “opinion” in your opening post would be so tilted.

I can only hope your talkback will be less concerning.

David

Anything that moves is technically animation, but this is probably less about it being “technically” and more about what people think of anime. I like the stories in most anime but the lack of things actually animating usually bothers me so much that I don’t watch more than an episode or two. I usually just go read the stories, or if it was based on manga I read that. Manga is so much better than anime in so many ways…….

I also want to say thank you for making this an open discussion and not “Here is what you should think” in the post. Certain other animation sites [you know the one] just shove negative opinion down your throat like it’s fact and it really pisses me off. Are you going to share your thoughts on this tho? It would be nice to have a comment by you in the comments to share your opinion. Where it belongs, in the comments.

flash of greatness

anime is all the same. its animation yes but it is the same animation over and over no matter what show you are watching. and the characters all look like big eyed freaks. no matter what show.

Daisuke

One word FMA

Ailey

If you hate anime and don’t know anything about it, then please don’t go around saying it sucks.
Pop Team Epic is different from, let’s say, Tokyo Ghoul in many, many ways. The art style varies more than you’d think. And plots are NEVER the same. Naruto is about ninjas. Re:zero is about how the protaganist gets summoned to a different world. But there are creative ideas, and Attack on Titan’s animation is amazing. (Not just the action) I am not trying to be mean, it’s just that this comment made me angry.

C@pit@l Gin

Anime sucks. It is overhyped and overrated. The animation is lazy and everything always looks the exact same no matter what show it is. Take the people out of Naruto and put them in Bleach and you would never even be able to tell. And the names are always stupid or repetitive. How many Sakarais have there been now, 1000? It’s lame and lazy.

Daisuke

Wow you sound dumb, you haven’t actually watched any anime really. Seriously, the name FMA ring a bell?

Jessica L.

I hope I never have to meet one of the people who say anime isn’t “real animation” because I don’t think I could have a conversation with them. To me that kind of view is extremely narrow minded and extreme. You maybe don’t LIKE anime, but of course it is real animation. It’s not really an opinion if it’s animation or not. Animation is moving pictures and anime is moving pictures.

I don’t think anime is as good animation as like the Disney shorts with Mickey or old Looney Tunes cartoons, or even some newer cartoons like Spongebob. But it is animation still. I wish that they maybe would have a little less detail and shading and make the movements better. More like feature film anime like Totoro and stuff. THAT is good animation, but I don’t think I call that anime even if the style is similar because it is really great animation. To me anime is TV shows in that style not movies.

guiii

These days it’s close to impossible to judge anime as anything except “anime.” It is its own thing now. I wouldn’t call it traditional animation just like I wouldn’t call Flash animation traditional animation. They are separate genres.

Jaxston

First off I want to say that any time anybody takes this discussion too seriously it is a bad idea. Animation is entertainment and I see people practically get into fist fights over stuff like this and that is very extremely stupid. Save your passion for important things like stopping wars from happening.

Past that it would be hard for anyone to say anime isn’t “real animation” because as many people have said here of course it is. The better question is probably is it “good animation” and that is going to depend on the person juding it. To me it is not good animation. It is usually interesting story and characters and worlds but the animation is bad. It is very limited (with reasons but still). If I had the option of watching anime or any other kind of animation I would watch any other kind especially Disney.

Charlotte

being a previous art student and animation student currently that likes anime i can understand where the teachers come from if there students only draw in anime style,however as many as stated anime is techncally an animation due to it being still imges usedto create movement. many have stated about low budget but the same can be said for any animation style be it 3d cgi or cartoon, there have been many movies made where the animation was of poor quality and not fluid.

also stating that anime is just the same cliche is also the same for animation from any other company and many shows/movies are being redun, stories and pretty much the same in a large amount movies ive lost cpunt of movies where animals fight bad humans killing the ecosystem/hunters.

also with anime there is a large variety aimed towards adults/teens unlike in western animation where there are only a small few and thoseend up being extreamly violent/crude.

i draw in many styles from anime to life drawing, charcoal, abstract and think the best way to get students to not draw in mainly one style is to set a simple project where they have to draw in slightly deifferent methods, starting with lifedrawin s they need to draw what they see

Erica C.

I was sadly one of those kids who probably drove teachers nuts at my art school trying to stay true to anime ONLY. I never listened to them when they said you had to do drawing from life because I was already good at anime and I never did life drawing. So to me it was like they didn’t know what they were talking about. How did you NEED to have life drawing if I was so good without it? Life drawing was hard and foreign to me so I wanted to stick with what I knew and succeed. And since all my friends in school loved anime as much as I did and said how they wished they could draw as well as me I thought I was right and the teachers were just biased against anime.

Well years later I found out I was wrong. I got a job working at a smaller Canadian animation studio for commercial work and I wanted to try to be in the concept art group more after a few years but they kept keeping me with the animation. I was very frustrated and finally I went to talk to my direct manager and he said that I was very good an animation but the reason I wasn’t considered to move to any other group was because all I could draw was anime and they didn’t need anime for any projects. But “if there is a client who needs that look we will bring you into it” like that was supposed to make me feel better. It didn’t.

I quit and went back to school and actually did the life drawing and now I am trying to get hired at other studios but it is hard to find a job right now. So I will keep trying but if I could tell a young version of me one piece of advice it is listen to your art teachers because you don’t know the real world yet and they do. I still love anime and manga though. I still like to draw it. It is just only drawing one style is not a good way to be an artist who gets to try different things and do whatever job you eventually want. I hope to be an art director one day, that is my goal. For things like that you need to know many styles.

Henry P

You’re absolutely right. Even Japanese animation studios won’t hire people as animator who can draw only in anime/manga style. Here are some wonderful advices from Cindy Yamauchi, veteran Japanese animator who worked on numerous anime titles since 1980’s:

http://www.animestylepro.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=58&Itemid=69

-Learning how to draw in the anime/manga style is just like learning any other art or style–you need to understand the basics first. The general body construction of an anime girl is no different from any other girl…they just tend to be exaggerated. No matter how huge their eyes (or certain other body parts) may be, they’re still based on human anatomy.

-The anime/manga style is simply another approach to drawing human figures, but in order to really understand the differences, you need to know what it takes to draw “normal” humans and their environment.

– Believe it or not, talented anime animators don’t refer to anime that often in order to improve their skills. They know that what they see on the screen is simply the result of knowledge and experience gained from other sources. Those who stick to anime and manga as their only sources of reference often end up with a very mediocre, generic style.

mike

no.

Caustic

It totally is a legitimate form of animation.

A common misconception of anime is that it’s just still frames and panning. While anime definitely has a lower budget, it still has fully animated segments, and not just for action scenes; it also applies for character acting and subtle actions. In fact, anime is perhaps one of the last venues of 2D hand-drawn animation.

Yes, it uses less frames, but personally I don’t think 2D animation has to be Looney Tunes all the time–and yet Japanese people can do that all the same if the director calls for it. The sakuga animators I’ve seen in the industry are incredibly talented at conveying movement in a variety of styles, and to see their work and technical accomplishments dismissed merely through people not noticing their work–come to think of it, you really don’t see people appreciating the animation behind a Looney Tunes cartoon, only “Oh, it looks smooth, that means it’s good”–is really hurtful.

At the end of the day, Japanese animation still pays great attention to things like the role of the camera and timing in animation, and we need to recognize that instead of enforcing a false stereotype that they are lazy.

Jesse J. Jones

Was just thinking about this today, and wanted to say how great it is seeing shows like Steven Universe and Bee and Puppycat that clearly take influence from anime, but add their own expression to it.

Anime got me into drawing when I started, then I practiced realism and life drawing to build up my skill, and now I’m getting back into anime and cartooning for the appeal, but now I have a backbone of life drawing to add structure to it.

I saw a lot of people in art college draw in anime style and refused to study life because that was their “style.” But it wasn’t a style, it was a limitation they were imposing on themselves. They couldn’t draw anything else.

I love anime, and I think there’s a lot of great things to take from it, but the most important thing you can do as an artist and an animator is to first study life. Your influences will find their way into your work on their own. 🙂

damn

It’s not real animation
Why was animation created? To create stuff that is not possible in Live Action
There is no Anime out there that actually does that…hence why Japanese Animation is not Real Animation and probably will never be since the Japanese have never understood Animation and never will…they’ve always seen it and still see it as a mere tool of delivering a narrative…in other words they see it as a cheaper form of Live Action which is not what Real Animation is

Carlos

[Swear words in this comment have been removed. Please keep it clean and be respectful even if you think another person’s opinion is wrong.]

There was a time when you could say ignorant [stuff] about Japanese animation and nobody will disagree because there was nothing remotely close to the sakuga fandom.

But now, you have a lot of information about animators, styles, influences. Some of them are in twitter even, I think American animation got so dogmatic that sometimes it’s like the car industry.

When spirited away won an Oscar a lot of American animators were upset and [are still ignorant about it]. See the guy above me.

Lok

LOL! So Western animation is legitimate? Anime has far better things than Western animation could never offer. The character designs are perfect, the plot is amazing (unlike American cartoons, god awful quality of story and work). Yes, it’s far more legitimate than American animation. Even the Avatar the Last Airbender and Avatar the Legend of Korra use EASTERN STYLE, the questionable thing is, when it comes to this, Americans tend to praise it. Here’s the breakdown it’s legitimate, far more legit than the Western crap I see. No offense, but the author asked a very cynical question and had it coming.

Nida

Of course anime is a legitimate form of animation! I can’t believe anyone would say otherwise. They might not like it, but the beauty of animation is that there is so much room for different styles. You’re not limited by the way things look and move in real life.

Viktor Locke

Putting a picture of a tv series from the 90s vs a film from 2000…really?

APNK

Japanese animation doesn’t lose its legitimacy just because it’s less sophisticated than what’s possible by Western standards. Japanese animation is purposed with serving the drama of the story between the observed characters. Death Note, a 37-episode anime series produced by Madhouse Studios (Trigun & Black Lagoon) and directed by Tetsuro Araki (Attack on Titan & Black Butler), is a prime example, given that I estimate it has less than 10 action scenes in the entire show and that less than half of THOSE are truly action scenes as opposed to just being scenes in which a very dramatic and very active thing occurred. Western animators measure animation according to how much activity is seamlessly rendered on screen and how fluid all the motions seem, but these are not the primary objectives of Japanese animation, which means that measuring the two on the same scale is improper.

Japanese animation is strictly about exaggerating the plot’s inherent drama, so to do that, the animation gives you hyperbolic backgrounds for actual action, yet they also give you understated stills to create a natural contrast that highlights the difference between the dramatic moments and the still moments and thereby exacerbates the viewer’s perception of drama during said dramatic moments. Anime are best measured according to these goals, not according to the goals of Western animation. It is also worth mentioning, though, that the Anime industry is more focused on mass production and longevity than Western animations because it is the only animation style in the world that, all by itself, IS an industry and serves as one of the top 5 fastest growing exports for the Japanese economy (4th largest global export economy). No other animation style is anywhere near as lucrative all by itself.

The reason so many aspiring illustrators love Anime is really because Japanese Anime tends to be more sophisticated than, firstly, Western cartoons and, secondly, many live-action dramas in the West even. This is a more literary sophistication, though, and that’s what makes anime fandom so fanatical. That’s also what makes it difficult for European and American fans to accept that, by Western standards, Japanese animation is considered rudimentary.

Krakatau

This idiotic question is just another case of typical american western arrogance. Apart from your yearly typical cookie cutter Disney/Pixar 200 million dollar productions the US non-CGI animation industry can’t even compare to Japanimation. Westerners complain of the low frame count of anime TV series but turn a blind eye to the less detailed artwork in american cartoons, it’s almost as if it’s a conscious decision on part of japanese animators! I’d take low fps animation with beautiful artwork and detailed character design over its high fps simplistic hideous american counterpart any day. Also there is absolutely no question which one of the two has greater thematic variety or the sheer volume of genres that anime encompasses. Let’s not even talk about how bigger american budgets are even for painfully average technical endeavors like The Simpsons or ironically the equally popular low framed South Park, that’s the only advantage that americans have over the japanese. Whenever the japs had a decent budget to work with they made anime on par with any high profile american production.

Eve Hunt

Home of Anime is a pretty decent site to watch anime online with english dubs because it does not contain ads. That’s one of the reasons that this became my go to site…

Alisha Ross

ChruncyRoll doesn’t have english dubs.
– Netflix in my region has like 30 anime and most of them old?
– Hulu – doesn’t allow me to pay – unsupported region
– funimation – “”content isn’t available in your country””

– Youtube .. where is the anime? I only see trailers.

Alisha Ross

Wow Amazing Article. Thanks for sharing us this knowledge. Your Article for anime is really helpful for me. Thank you so much

Nano

I believe Anime is more than a form of animation. Anime has it’s own style and culture. Either way you feel… it takes a lot of talent to create anime… there are writers, illustrators, animators, graphic designers, etc. I’m not really sure why anime gets a bad wrap sometimes.

Muhammad Ubaidullah

well, there is no doubt about it that. Anime has to offer so much in terms of emotions, drama and love moments.

sagar trivedi

As far As I believe My concern is the growing popularity of anime. Every art site I visit is literally covered with anime-styled art with little of any other art styles. Anime is fine itself, but if it’s at the expense of other art styles, then I have a problem with it.

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