My journey in understanding the anime culture

This will be a growing list of topics (and resources) that may help others in understanding/navigating the culture and phenomena surrounding anime. This won’t be a comprehensive guide nor will it solely be about anime; the topics presented here are centered around themes that I have a particular interest in.

Let’s dive right in. First, what is anime (as art, culture, and a commercial product) and what is its appeal? In What is the Appeal of Anime? (video version), which is one of my favourite analysis videos, Digibro does a superb job in covering all the basics while solidifying anime as a powerful medium.

In You’ll Grow Out Of Anime…EventuallyGigguk describes his experiences with anime, which I think many people from the anime community outside Japan can relate to. Don’t worry about the title, it’s a misnomer.

Gigguk also has Your Waifu Doesn’t Love You video, which I thought was a hilarious and slightly edgy commentary on people having ‘waifu‘s. If you’re familiar with the prominent and common themes in anime, such as waifu, ‘moe‘, and ‘fanservice‘, you may be interested in discussions regarding anime’s portrayal of women, children, and sexuality.

JekoJeko has two posts, What’s the Matter with Moe? An Inside Look and Fanserivce, Feminism and What’s Really Being Objectified that expertly navigates the discussion of such topics by offering multiple perspectives. They are highly insightful, and by bringing an understanding of the culture, it enables learning and celebrating the positives — it does not alienate.

“I’m Only Interested in 2D Girls!”: On Lust, Animated Desire, and Gender Expectations by gendomike is another great post that discusses these topics. Compared to JekoJeko, it takes on a bit of a cautionary tone, offering warnings as to what could happen with over-consumption. The author has a good grasp on the culture, being a fan himself, and does not judge.

Out of the academics that study anime and Japanese culture, the most popular — or the easiest to access, because English — is probably Patrick W. Galbraith. He is known for The Moe Manifesto, a whole book looking at the world of manga, anime, and gaming. He also tackles topics such as ‘lolicon‘ in essays such as Lolicon: The Reality of ‘Virtual Child Pornography’ in Japan.

In a related note, watching Welcome to the NHK has brought the ‘hikikomori‘ condition to my attention. This real suffering has been covered by BBC News in Hikikomori: Why are so many Japanese men refusing to leave their rooms? and it’s a good insight into how a different culture might aggravate different aspects of mental health issues.

On a differently related topic, I discovered the following discussion on Crunchyroll’s forum: Why Is Incest Such A Common Topic In Anime?. It’s an interesting read.

Switching topics a little bit, I’m not sure if it’s possible to convince someone the appeal of the ‘slice of life‘ genre. It is neither effective to force a taste in art on someone nor is it effective to explain the appeal without having them experiencing it themselves and them connecting with it on personal significance. With this is mind, I enjoyed K-On! – Life in Animation because RCAnime focused on what makes a film feel human.

From there, if you wanted to look at how anime has evolved over the years — through the lens of character design — AnimeEveryday has a video called The Evolution of Anime Character Designs that covers a fair bit of ground. He has another video called The Evolution of Moe Anime that is encompassing than it seems because AnimeEveryday defines moe as an aesthetic that anime has had since its birth.

Here are some other interesting videos:

By bill wurtz:

history of japan

By Anime Historian:

Lolicon And The Sexualization Of Minors: Anime History

Moe Part 2: Anime History

By That Japanese Man Yuta:

Growing Up Half-black in Japan (Interview)

What Anime Do Japanese People Like? (Akihabara Interview)

What Anime Do Japanese Girls Like? (Interview)

By 데이브 The World of Dave:

Dave [English,Korean, Japanese, Chinese, Cartoon Pronunciations]

Dave [Eng/Korean/Japanese/Chinese Marvel Hero Pronuncation Differences]

Dave [American, Korean & Japanese Pokemon song comparison]

By Mother’s Basement:

Avatar is an Anime. F*** You. Fight Me.

By The Pedantic Romantic:

How Hibike Euphonium Crafted The Most Human Characters In Anime



More to come!


Image is from Hyouka


10 thoughts on “My journey in understanding the anime culture

  1. Bonsai 30 Mar 2017 / 3:34 AM

    I’ve been following your blog awhile. Not sure if you have read about our case– perhaps the only true story of how the culture of cute and child idolization in Japan affected a family. Anime is related.


    • simoku 30 Mar 2017 / 9:52 AM

      Wow– I’m honored! Stacy (right?) I have read some of your posts, but not your book yet. I can’t promise that I’ll read it anytime soon but it’s definitely been on my mind. Thanks for commenting!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Bonsai 30 Mar 2017 / 1:42 PM

        I think it is very important to understand what is underneath the surface culture to really get at the themes in anime and manga. I am happy you seem to be thinking about these things.


      • simoku 30 Mar 2017 / 2:22 PM

        I think I found the post that you’ve previously alluded to — it’s “The Problem With Japan and Cute“, right? I have yet to fully process the contents as I’ve been encountering lots of new information recently, but I see what you mean by looking at what’s underneath the surface. Having grown up with anime back in 90s Korea, I certainly have a fondness towards anime, which goes as far as holding cultural and childhood significance for me. It’s interesting that many of the aspects of anime that I love can be found concentrated in the moe sub-culture (or maybe that’s the whole appeal). Because most of what I’ve been reading is understanding and clarifying moe in ways that celebrates it, I value this context and perspective. I’m not sure if you’ve already expressed this elsewhere, but I would be interested in hearing your thoughts on loving the people of this culture.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. lealea477 30 Mar 2017 / 7:32 AM

    what are your thoughts on these topic? I came to read what you think, not what they think.


    • simoku 30 Mar 2017 / 10:09 AM

      Haha I’m honestly so flattered to hear that. Unfortunately, my purpose for this post is for it to be a “pinned post” that I can keep updating and others can access to get an overview of such topics. And frankly, these topics are too huge for me right now. It’s one of my goals to write about them from my Korean/Canadian perspective, but for the time being, I simply don’t have the writing skills or the comprehension to make posts that contributes to any worthwhile discussion when many of these individuals have devoted themselves in researching and trying to understand. I still have lots to learn and read, and my journey in doing so is what gave me idea for this post. Thanks for commenting, it’s very encouraging.

      Liked by 1 person

      • lealea477 30 Mar 2017 / 2:23 PM

        ^-o I’m looking forward to seeing you coming up with your own thesis on topic you spot in anime or in what you see in the culture around you (your a good blog writer). You need to have faith in yourself. The bloggers of wordpress are good understand people, we won’t attack you like those violent YouTube commenters.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Bonsai 30 Mar 2017 / 4:34 PM

        Me too lealea047. I also think WordPress is kind. In Twitter or Facebook people will easily attack. I prefer to respectfully engage and I look forward to simoku developing original thinking in this space.

        Liked by 1 person

      • simoku 31 Mar 2017 / 12:24 AM

        Thank you to both of you for contributing in creating such a space! がんばります!


  3. Bonsai 30 Mar 2017 / 4:38 PM

    Moe fans are really seeing the beauty…and certainly there is charming loveliness. My concern is with any fan (especially Japanese males well into adulthood) having any titillation or arousal or waifu feelings toward clearly underage character. Another concern is also for women who become actual wives and mothers with a man of this tendency. I believe this is an outgrowth of the old culture and modern consumerism of idol/cute culture. Moe fans have such innocence they may miss social implications especially in Japan.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s