What is Anime?

Anime (An-i-meh) refers to Japanese animation. The word is derived from the French word for animation, "l'animé". Both animation and "l'animé" derive from the Latin word "anima" which means to move.

Anime is a subset, or type (not genre) of animation, just as American Animation also is a type of animation. Anime in the United States means animation from Japan, however, in Japan anime is used for all types of animation, including foreign animation.

Anime usually is based on a manga, and sometimes a game. This is not always the case. There are exceptions where anime came first, such as Gundam, Escaflowne, Heat Guy J, and so on.

There are often borrowed elements from manga such as bubbles, text going through the background, and even borrowing of angles and shots.

Anime, unlike American animation puts more emphasis on backgrounds rather than character movement. Also more movie shots borrowed from French and German film are often used, such as upshots, panning shots, and other shot work. In doing so it sacrifices movement, but tries to trick the eye into thinking there is movement. This saves on general cost. American animation usually saves on cost by conserving on background and recycling previous footage and backgrounds. How each type of animation applies rules of conserving money by using various techniques defines the animation.

Anime does tend to get more exposure around the world than it's companion, manga. This is because movies things tend to be easier to market than books.

As with all media, not all of the things I said in here will hold true for every single anime, there are bound to be crossovers, and exceptions to the rules. But this is the general definition of what Anime is.

Anime Conservation

Depending on the length of the series any one of these things may or may not be used. Usually the shorter the series is, the more in between and less still shots there are.

- Avoiding animation altogether, i.e. using a static shot. This can be used in such a situation as looking at the character from far away, using a back shot, where the character doesn't move because it's a quiet moment, or simply having a shot of a background with no characters in it. These things are usually not considered "proper" in American animation.

- Recycling. American animation does this too, however not to the extent that Japanese animation does. For example with Magical Girl anime, they may reuse footage from a transformation sequence. In the industry this is called "stock" footage.

- Conserving the in betweens. American animation uses a lot of tweening, and shots to make a character move more smoothly. Anime tends to try to cut down on such shots as they cost more money when shipping overseas.

- Putting in shots that are monocolor.

Anime Emphasis
Despite the conservation, Anime does try to compensate in ways that American animation often does not.

- There are actual schools for voice actors in Japan, Seiyuu colleges. Thus because of this there is an industry and fan base to support these voice actors.

- The plots have a start, middle and finish, unlike many American animation with serialized stories that follow arcs. Because of the backgrounds are included this makes it easier to set things like change in seasons.

- Bringing in new music that usually only fits that series. This can also include famous or popular singers and bands in Japan. Sometimes they will also use American or foreign songs.

- Anime also tends to be creator-centric--that is that the animation crew will often depend on the director and ask for direct input from the original creator, such as the game maker or the mangaka (the person who created the manga). These original creators are often also employed in making toys, helping to design games, and also storyline mock ups.


- If the anime in serial is a hit then a movie is usually made with a separate plot. The plot can be a simple summary of the series with a new version, or the plot can deal with the current themes of the series, but in most cases the main plot is ignored. In the case of movies at the end of series, sometimes a future view, or a continuation finishing of the series is done.

- If the animation is a further hit, it might be made into a drama.

- Complex manga character designs are often simplified to make it easier to animate.

- Sometimes colors are fudged in order to make it look more vibrant for the screen.

Adaptation Issues of Long Series

- The character designs are more likely to deviate from the original designs. The designs tend to be simplified.

- The plots are either stretched condensed or ignored from the manga. This can detract from the original story, or in some rare cases add to it.

- The characters may be slightly changed to appeal to a larger audience.