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Anime guide: what you need to know and where to start watching
Anime guide: what you need to know and where to start watching

Lifehacker tells what anime is, how it differs from the rest of the animation and what is best for beginners to watch.

Anime guide: what you need to know and where to start watching
Anime guide: what you need to know and where to start watching

Are anime just cartoons from Japan?

To put it simply, yes. But the Japanese are accustomed to always and everywhere going their own way, so they have created not just their own animation, which visually differs from the rest of the world, but over the years have come up with many of their own laws and standards.

Ironically, one of the most recognizable attributes of Japanese animation - the disproportionately large eyes of most characters - was originally borrowed from Disney's Mickey Mouse and Bambi cartoons.

anime: K-On!
anime: K-On!

Over time, many more standard techniques and moves have been added: a simplified display of emotions, an increase in the size of the head when the character is angry or laughs heavily, static backgrounds (limited animation), multi-colored hair and much more, which anyone who is at least a little familiar with anime will learn … In addition, most of the series have acquired a clear structure with an opening intro for the title track, a summary of previous episodes, and some other attributes.

Is anime for kids or for adults?

Really for everyone. It is logical that a significant part of the cartoons are made exclusively for children. This anime is called kodomo. From vivid examples familiar to adult Russian viewers, one can immediately recall "Maya the Bee" and "Pokemon".

anime: pokemon
anime: pokemon

But there are many other types of anime, each designed for a specific audience. Shounen is for teenage boys. They often have a very dynamic plot, a lot of rivalry, humor and beautiful girls. Shojo is for teenage girls. There are mainly either love stories or girls with magical abilities (maho-girl) A striking example is the well-known "Sailor Moon". Seinen is for adult men. And no, this is not eroticism, but simply more serious, dramatic and dark subjects. Josei is for women. Most often, about everyday worries, problems in the school life of the heroines and, of course, love relationships.

anime: fullmetal alchemist
anime: fullmetal alchemist

Of course, no one forbids men to watch josei or women shonen, the division is rather arbitrary: according to similar plots and drawing of scenes and characters. Anime for adult men and women is often more realistic and drawn in great detail, while for teenagers more grotesque and dynamics are used.

There is also cyberpunk and steampunk anime for fans of alternative realities, mech for fans of robots, and well-known erotic and pornographic hentai. Almost every cinematic genre can be found in anime.

What to see for someone who has never seen anime?

First you need to decide whether you want to watch a full-length cartoon for one and a half to two hours or sit down for a long time watching a series. If you decide to tackle full-length films, then a win-win option would be to start with the work of Hayao Miyazaki. His work is often referred to as the pinnacle of anime development.

Why does everyone love Hayao Miyazaki so much?

Miyazaki is a storyteller and even a wizard. In each of his cartoons, he creates a world full of wonders, adventures and incredible characters. But in this almost childish atmosphere, he weaves touching and serious plots for which there are no age restrictions. Therefore, it is equally loved by both adults and children.

anime: Hayao Miyazdzaki
anime: Hayao Miyazdzaki

It is difficult to find a person who is not familiar with the images from his cartoons. Lovely trolls from "My Neighbor Totoro" or Faceless from "Spirited Away" will be recognized even by those who do not watch anime at all. And you can also combine the features of a cat and a bus in one character, and it will turn out to be very cute.

Which of Miyazaki's cartoons are worth watching first?

Spirited Away

  • Fantasy, adventure, fairy tale.
  • Japan, 2001.
  • Duration: 124 minutes
  • IMDb: 8, 6.

The evil witch Yubaba turns the parents of the girl Chihiro into pigs. And the girl herself finds herself in the world of ghosts and is forced to work for Yubaba as a servant. Chihiro will have to figure out how to save his parents and not forget his name, stolen by the witch, and also meet a real friend.

Spirited Away was the only animated film to receive a Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival for Best Picture, rather than Best Cartoon. And in 2003 he also won an Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film.

My neighbor Totoro

  • Fantasy, adventure, comedy, fairy tale.
  • Japan, 1988.
  • Duration: 88 minutes
  • IMDb: 8, 2.

The story of two sisters who moved into an old village house. In the forest, they meet spirits: small, large and huge, whose name is Totoro. The spirits turn out to be very nice and friendly and more than once help the girls not only to organize the economy in the garden, but also to meet with their sick mother.

Walking castle

  • Fantasy, romance, fairy tale, steampunk.
  • Japan, 2004.
  • Duration: 120 minutes
  • IMDb: 8, 2.

The sweet girl Sophie turns into an old woman by the Witch of the Wasteland, after which she finds herself in the castle of the handsome but arrogant wizard Howl. This castle can move like a hut on chicken legs in Russian folklore (according to Miyazaki, he took the prototype from Russian fairy tales). The demon of fire Calcifer, who serves Haul, helps to walk the castle. The girl (in the body of an old woman) becomes a cleaner in the castle, and he and Calcifer decide to help each other.

What to watch from the TV series?

Everything is not so simple here. There are many different ratings on fan sites and movie sites in general, and each one offers its own variations of the best and most interesting anime series. Here are some of the most common examples.

Death note

  • Thriller, psychology, mysticism.
  • Japan, 2006.
  • Duration: 1 season.
  • IMDb: 9, 0.

This series raises one of the most important philosophical questions: is it possible to achieve good for everyone by killing some people. The main character has a notebook in which he needs to describe a person, then he will die almost immediately. Can such an ideal weapon be used with good intentions only?

A television series based on the same plot is expected to be released soon on Netflix.

Fullmetal Alchemist

  • Adventure, drama, comedy, steampunk.
  • Japan, 2003.
  • Duration: 1 season.
  • IMDb: 8, 7.

The brothers Alphonse and Edward try to revive the deceased mother using alchemy, but their experiment fails. As a result, Edward loses his leg, and Alphonse completely loses his body. To save his brother, Edward sacrifices his hand, and Alphonse's soul is attached to metal armor. Later, Edward is invited to become a state alchemist and is given artificial armored limbs. Using his position, Edward tries to return the body to himself and his brother and resurrect his mother.

Cowboy bebop

  • Adventure, space western, science fiction.
  • Japan, 1998.
  • Duration: 1 season.
  • IMDb: 8, 9.

It's a post-apocalyptic space cowboy series. The main characters Jet Black and Spite Spiegel work as bounty hunters. They fly in the Bebop spaceship, named after the classic genre of music, and catch criminals on different planets. But at some point, the crew of their ship grows greatly: they find the gambler Faye Valentine, the hacker Ed and the cleverest dog Ain. In this composition, they continue their space adventures.

The anime "Your Name" is coming out soon in Russia. What's special about it?

The appearance of a full-length anime on big screens in Russia is a rare case. But the creations of the author Makoto Shinkaya are now in the world just insanely popular. "Your Name" has already topped the list of highest grossing anime, surpassing even Miyazaki's creations.

  • Romance, drama, adventure, mysticism.
  • Japan, 2016.
  • Duration: 107 minutes
  • IMDb: 8, 5.

This is a very beautiful story about a girl from the province and a young man from Tokyo, who sometimes suddenly change their bodies in their sleep. After the first surprise, young people begin to help each other in life and leave prompts on their mobile phones. But one day the girl disappears, and the young man decides to find her by all means. The story first takes on a mystical, and then a philosophical connotation.

What else to see at Makoto Shinkai?

Almost all of this author's work is united by the theme of love, which overcomes any barriers and distances. Considering that Makoto Shinkai takes on most of the work - writing the script, drawing, directing - the stories are very personal and deep. In addition, the author works out to the smallest detail not only the plot itself, but also the picture. For example, in the work "Your Name" you can repeatedly see the glare, which usually appears when shooting on a sunny day. This creates the feeling that the landscapes are not painted, but filmed.

Makoto Shinkai does not have many full-length works, but still one of the most successful ones should be singled out among them.

Five centimeters per second

  • Romance, drama.
  • Japan, 2007.
  • Duration: 61 minutes
  • IMDb: 7, 8.

Three stories that tell about ten years of the life of the main character Takani Tohno. In the first, he breaks up with his close friend after elementary school. They correspond for a long time, but then she moves even further. The heroes decide to meet for the last time, but a heavy snowfall tries to ruin their plans.

The second story is about his classmate, who fell in love with Takani from the very first day, but did not dare to confess her feelings until six months were left before graduation.

In the third, Takani Tohno is already an adult. A few years after graduating from university, he breaks up with his girlfriend and quits his job, not fully understanding why. But at one point he finds himself exactly in the place where in childhood he walked with his girlfriend. But again, there are trains nearby that can destroy everything.

So what's the correct way to pronounce the word "anime"?

There is no exact answer to this question. In Japanese, there is no force stress familiar to the Russian ear, so both options are acceptable. But according to the rules of the Russian language, the emphasis on the last syllable is preferable.

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