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Anime Movies

Japanese animation or, Japanimation, or Anime (or if you live in Japan, animation) is pretty much the pinnacle of animated entertainment in the world.  While, the good folks at Disney might like to disagree there is no discounting the fact that in sheer volume and depth of story telling and innovation Anime movies are the best the world has to offer in Japanese entertainment.

Many lay people outside of Japan associate Anime with the several classic movies that have managed to make it overseas (either with subtitles or voice dubbing) and catch on with audiences. 

The most famous of these is the cult classic Arkira, which is set in a post-apocalyptic Japan inhabited by ferocious biker gangs.  However, the genre goes far beyond these classic movies and has permeated everything from adult programming (very adult programming read: Hentai) children’s programming and even shows aimed at the ’tween’ audience. 

What many fans like about Anime is the depiction of human characters with an almost ’expressionist’ style where all of the characters features and expressions are amplified to evoke a more emotional response from the viewer.

For instance, an Anime characters surprise at an event might translate into a eyes that expand to take up most of their face, and mouth to open to several times it’s normal size (or disappear, depending on the emotion).

This may make some western audiences confused, if not a little uncomfortable, but it is what truly gives Anime an engaging quality, and helps it connect with its viewers on a more personal level. 

The other aspect of Anime that might disturb western audiences is the depiction of explicit violence often demonstrated in these films.  Spraying blood, severed limbs and high body counts often cut against the grain of western prudence, but the violence often serves the story.  We must also keep in mind that in term of actual violence Japan has far fewer murders per capita than the United States.

The storytelling style in many Anime films is also quite unique.  Japan is an island nation with centuries of history that have blessed their culture with a specific cultural narrative.  Naturally, many subjects and contexts that a native Japanese audience will take for granted will seem absolutely absurd to western audiences. 

Many people, after having watched a Japanese movie, animated or otherwise, will often ask: ”What the F*#k was that!” This reaction is most likely the result of a cultural norm trumping what we would think of as a linear storyline.

The following sites will detail the phenomenon that is Anime, and should act as a great beginners guide to this fascinating and entertaining genre.