Blog Club: Don’t Call Them Cartoons

I could sit here for half an hour trying to think of a great way to introduce one of 9rules‘ little unofficial project “The Blog Club” or I could already direct you to Tammie who wrote about it and then concentrate on writing this week’s appreciation of the Anime Community.

Where I grew up in Malaysia, Anime is a pretty big thing. It’s big enough that you can actually have an alternative lifestyle from it, much like where Anime originates from, Japan. We have Anime conventions, Cosplay (costume play) conventions, Anime forums, bookstores filled with Manga and Anime, short of having cafe’s where waitresses cosplay as anime characters and personally entertain customers, we’ve got the whole nine yars worth of it.

That being said, I’m pretty much what they call an otaku or a hardcore anime fan. I know my anime to the detail and I pretty much would start yelling at people new and seasoned to anime what they should watch so that they can enjoy the best of what the entire the genre has for them. I draw the line at dressing up and prancing around as my favourite character but hey, it’s not for everyone and whatever rocks your socks off.

I like to point it out right now that for a lot of hardcore anime fans, calling anime just a cartoon isn’t going to go down well for them, or me for that matter. Yes, they do resemble the prancing aninated characters you’ve watch on saturday mornings when you were a kid. But anime is more than it’s unique visual styling, it’s what it’s built on that gives it the distinct flavour that is all anime. Think if it as watching your prime time favourite TV series in an animated format and you have the idea what Anime is basically about. It can be serious, it can be funny, it’s definitely long, it’s got swearing, it’s got nudity, it even has sex, it’s everything that makes up a good series except that the characters are all drawn. You don’t find that in western based cartoons except for the what’s coming out lately which does draw the bulk of its inspiration from Japanese Anime.

What I find interesting in all of this is the difference between the eastern and western appreciation for Anime. In a lot of asian countries like Malaysia, you’ll have our fan base. No one would not know what an anime is (except for this case here early this year which proves that some people can be just as clueless no matter where they are). We grew up on it shown side by side with western based cartoons on normal channels. Even if you didn’t know what it was called, you would have caught it on TV before somehow. It’s ubiquitous where we live…omnipresent even.

As far as I know, people in the States, the UK or even Australia, did not grow up with it. You don’t find them on regular broadcasting channels and you certainly can’t find the complete collection of an anime series in your local movie store. The result of which leaves the majority of the public completely oblivious to what Anime is. So we have Anime like Spirited Away winning the Oscars, but the truth is, the bulk of Anime that has been in production for decades remain largely unknown and unrecognised by that public, which at the end of it skews the idea of what it is all about.

Taking Spirited Away again as an example, it’s easy to tell the newcomers to anime from the way they claim that it is the best Animated show they have ever watched. For those of us who have been watching Anime for more than a couple of minutes, Anime like Spirited away is good to watch, it entertains, it’s a classic rendition of Studio Gibli’s unique works (the music or the old women). It probably isn’t as good as Akira or Studio Gibli’s previous masterpiece Princess Mononoke (Mononoke-hime), those definitions of what’s good and what’s not rests on how much exposure a person has to Anime.

At least though, the Anime culture does seem to be creeping up the international scene in terms of the number of fans that know their thing about anime. Still, I think it’ll be a long time before western culture gets the level of anime appreciation that a lot of asian countries have. Still, it’s nice to know that there are people in the rest of the world that know how to appreciate this unique culture. It just isn’t enough yet…but it’s a start nevertheless.

You can visit the 9rules Anime Community and start exploring what Anime is all about. Who knows…you might end up as one otaku yourself. So now if you don’t mind, I think I’ve got anime left to watch.

12 thoughts on “Blog Club: Don’t Call Them Cartoons

  1. short of having cafe’s where waitresses cosplay as anime characters and personally entertain customers

    In the planning. I already have some of the menu, but I’m not sure whether it will take off or not. ^_^

  2. Anime is pretty big in Malaysia. The thing to keep in mind is that not all anime is for everyone. It’s a pretty wide genre so I can see why people who watch some or no anime would feel weird associating themselves with the whole anime culture.

  3. Pat: Alright, now we kinda have everything. 🙂

    ChickyBabe: Maybe you aren’t watching the right ones. I could recommend some for you that I think you might like. 🙂

    Michael: I tend to think that Anime like live action shows, have their own likes and dislikes. If you watched an anime that isn’t you, doesn’t mean that they aren’t anime out there that you wouldn’t like, you just haven’t found them yet. But I get what you mean about associating with the culture. You can be a die hard fan, or you can just be someone who enjoys it from time to time, doesn’t mean you’re going to dress up and start prancing around in character.

  4. Hi Kamigoroshi, I love the lil duckling icon that comes up next to your link in favourites!!! :)) I think the thing is that Europeans associate animated films with childhood and fairy tales. Therefore, when the first adult animes were broadcast in Hungary mostly kids were watching it, after all, it was “just” a cartoon. Then parents realised there was blood and guns and tits in them and they kicked up a big stink. For years Asian animes were (and I think, still are) frowned upon here. It’s changing slowly, but there is still a long way to go before they become part of popular culture.

  5. ehem…. Im Hungarian… what’s that US flag doing next to my name? it should be red-white-green…. BTW, KL rox!!!!!

  6. Well, there is something wrong with the IP ranges in which detects where you’re from. I think there was an error when I uploaded it.

    Anyway, I complete understand where you’re coming from. While anime is popolar in Malaysia, there comes a point where the older generation realize that it’s not just a normal cartoon. It’s a whole new dimension of entertainment itself. So they usually think its something bad. Too late though, we already have quite a standing in Malaysia.

  7. Hi all,

    I think you all would know by now that Astro is bringing in Animax showing anime 24 hours a day 7 days a week this coming 31st August.

    Besides the usual concerns with dubbing Anime in Bahasa Malaysia or English (although Astro will offer dual-sound capabilities, this will be limited to certain anime at certain time slots), what are the challenges that you think Animax will be facing here in Malaysia?

    Hope to hear from you guys on this.


  8. While it’s true that anime is very different from what people grw up with, it is also true that some (a lot?) of the content in there is not very appropriate for young kids. I mean, a few things that have been associated with japanese anime – voilence, inappropriate clothing, and use of inappropriate language are all good concerns that people can have.

  9. Hollow Ichigo, the same way that normal TV shows and movies can be inappropriate for children as well. It’s just that, to watch anime you have to move away from the stigma that all animation is suited for kids. It’s just not. Not in this case.

  10. Although it might take some time, but western culture starts to know more about anime. We can now see that anime industry is now growing in States, anime is getting more and more popular in States.
    In the 1990s, there were only about 17 popular anime series, but now, in 2000s, there are over 80 anime series that are populer in States 🙂

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