[pic1]It’s safe to assume that just about everyone at one point has been mesmerized by cartoons. Whether you rose at 6 a.m. on Saturday mornings to watch them or were engrossed by comic heroes in flashy graphic novels – cartoons pervaded many of our childhoods. From Bugs to Mickey, Scooby Doo to Thundercats, Care Bears to Ninja Turtles – we all started with a childlike lust for the animated. But many are still religiously hooked on cartoons, and we’re not just talking about South Park and Family Guy.
Images of futuristic worlds, high-octane martial arts moves and even steamy love scenes fill the screen. Exploding with a vivid assortment of vibrant pixels that dance like a pupil-seducing eye massage, these ‘toons are far from the toilet humor and elementary artwork of some adult cartoons. While others will never see anything more than a flashy childish cartoon, this isn’t just another form of dry animation. No, this isn’t “kid stuff” or your regular Saturday cartoon. This is anime.
“Anime is the new wave of entertainment for the younger and older crowd,” said architecture junior Brittany Cartwright. “It is changing how children and adults perceive cartoons; they no longer have to be childish and have pointless story lines…but mature meanings which are delivered to all ages.”
Cartwright’s philosophy is one shared by many on MSU’s diverse campus, where an anime-enthusiastic mode has settled in the campus air. After the mainstream boom in the 1980s took Japan by storm, the reprised production values of anime in the 90s and beyond have allowed an overseas fan base to flourish, thriving in places like East Lansing. Producing a culture in and of itself, anime has taken both MSU and America by force.
Anime is a very distinctive type of cartoon animation that is commonly produced and imported directly from Japan. The genre is depicted in numerous mediums, such as full-length movies, television shows, DVDs or video games. Most commonly, anime is derived from Japanese comics called Manga. The complex style is cultivating in surprisingly large niche communities and in a huge assortment of campus underbellies, gamer circles and “Otaku” communities. More significantly, the vines of fascination are spreading past the hardcore base to the casual viewer. It shouldn’t be too shocking nowadays to find out that your good buddy is a closet anime fan. [quote2]
So what sets Anime apart from other typical cartoons and video games? One of the central points is that it is spread out over a bevy of themes and sub-genres, most of which are rife with adult philosophy, political intrigue, and perspectives and content not targeted at children.
“To me, anime is so appealing because of the art. It is so simple, yet so complex,” said veterinary medicine freshman Angie Hardy. “The way they draw things is amazing. The stories are usually very catchy where you can\’t stop watching; they’re humorous, scary, intense, sad…everything really.”
The animation is commonly labeled and categorized into various sub-groups depending on what the theme of the content depicts. From the explosion driven action spectrum, you might find anime groups like Shonen or Seinen which depict violent displays of graphical flare while other poles of the universe might elicit more centralized descriptions like that of horror, drama, fantasy or even subverts like religious theory, animated historical documentary, mecha, cyberpunk thrillers and even residual film noir. A minority of titles also exhibit further themes such as ecchi, which is a collection of shiny sexual innuendos and humor, or hentai, which is at its basic level: full blown animated pornography. The canvas for anime is wide, and the range is vast and varied.
“Japan is filled to the brim with art…and it has to do with their ability to create something unique that I can’t find in any other country,” said Cartwright. “Anime is so interesting and in many categories it can be silly in the way of stupid jokes or containing serious philosophy. We see ourselves in those characters, or we wish we did. It’s appealing to the imagination, and I feel it\’s the kid left in me that is reaching out while the mature side is able to relate.”
Apparently, Americans all over the country are able to relate. The success of mainstream children shows like the popular Pokemon and Yu-Gi-Oh have spawned a revolution in merchandising and gear. Capitalizing on the trend are niche-based franchises like Cartoon Network’s [Adult Swim] which has single-handedly brought adult-themed anime to the mass spectrum of American households.
“It might be more of a fad than anything else,” said science and engineering freshman Thomas Santini. “Most of the anime that people I know watch comes from Cartoon Network\’s Adult Swim block, so the popularity of Adult Swim has a lot to do with it, I think.”
Santini’s viewpoint is one that is rapidly growing alongside the Anime boom. The engineering freshman, along with several other MSU students, believes anime is just an overly dramatic cartoon style with an annoying and often “geeky” fan base. “Specifically, the type of animation bugs me,” said Santini. “It\’s jerky, and it’s lazy at times. They all seem to be about the same thing, too. I could rattle off about 10 different anime show titles, but I couldn’t tell you the difference among all of them. Most of all though, it\’s the hardcore anime fans that I can\’t stand, above the anime itself. These people talk about it constantly, use Japanese words in their daily speech, dress up like anime characters, and are just – in my opinion – insufferable.”
Whether or not anime fans are “geeky” is subjective, but the Otaku, or hardcore Anime supporters, are direly passionate and sometimes utterly obsessed with the medium. It wouldn’t be anomalous to find a member of this demographic participating in “cosplay,” which is basically dressing up like your favorite anime character and joining hundreds of other dressed up Otaku at large conventions to talk about, you guessed it: anime. [anime2]
“Of course I don\’t think it\’s ‘geeky’ or ‘nerdy,’ I think those who believe that are again afraid of change,” said English freshman Tybithie Harris. “People are not so accepting of anime or it’s culture because most people do not like change. When something is different and out of their comfort zone, they tend to hate it.”
“I think a lot of people aren\’t accepting of anime because it is labeled as ‘geeky’ and some might not think all the ‘revealing clothing’ [referring commonly to anime vixens] is appropriate,” said Hardy. “Look… some anime is very geeky, some is not. I used to think it was really nerdy, until I actually sat down and watched some. Now I realize it has so much talented art in it.”
While anime is a grandiose, motion-fixated art form, stripped to its bare bones it has been argued that the categorized cartoons should be seen as nothing more. Is some of it geeky and bizarre? Maybe. However, the notion quickly becomes that this is the general texture of the entire genre. The fans simply want everyone to appreciate the passion they share for the moving arts. Are some of them geeky and bizarre? Maybe. But if you look at any channeled fixation, whether it’s video games or movies, sports, cars or even fashion, it becomes immediately obvious that every base will have its hardcore and its casual.
However, within the realm of anime, the hardcore is spreading…rapidly. “Anime is the future of cartoons,” said Cartwright. “It will get better and it will become more mainstream. It is now the mature Bugs Bunny.”

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