This will be a growing list of topics (and resources) that may help others in understanding/navigating the culture and phenomena around 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…Eventually, Gigguk 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:
By Anime Historian:
More to come!
Image is from Hyouka