So what is Anime?

The word “anime” literally means cartoon or animation. In Japan, this word is used to describe any cartoon including ones from the United States. For example, “Shrek” is considered an anime in Japan. This word describes all animated works regardless of origin or style. Here, this word is used by people who do not live in Japan to describe the county’s cartoons. 

Anime is characterized by the characters and their exaggerated physical features, the limited animation and the complex plots — often with an adult focus. Anime has become a cultural phenomenon characterized by intense fans. It has become one of the country’s greatest global exports with 60% of the world’s animated shows originating from Japan. 

Anime has become a sort of breeding ground for cross-cultural learning. The cartoons and their intense followings symbolize an intrigue towards the beauty of Japan, its art and its culture. Anime has resulted in “contents tourism,” a new kind of tourism with the focus being on narratives, characters and locations. It also focuses on other creative elements of popular culture forms, including film, television dramas, manga, anime, novels and computer games. 

So Snoop Dogg just posted this on Instagram: Naruto
Snoop Dogg reading Naruto, the manga the popular anime is based on.

Essentially, anime has played a vital role in building Japan as a brand, and a successful one at that. Fans of anime, typically, are fans of Japan. The appeal of Japan in pop culture has stimulated the country’s domestic tourism industry. The Japanese government, well aware of the growing global phenomenon, developed a national branding strategy using the slogan “Cool Japan.” 

Gaga for Manga: How to Navigate Tokyo's Comic Culture - Backyard Travel
Photo from Backyard Travel

Cross-cultural appreciation? One of the strongest pop culture fandoms of all time? Content that is both aesthetically pleasing and acclaimed for its intensity? What’s keeping you from seeing for yourself what all the hype is about? For many people, anime comes off as something out of a comfort zone. But in order to conclude that something just isn’t for you, you need to experience it first. Here are some of the most influential and iconic anime that beginners are encouraged to check out. 

Why You Need to Watch Death Note - IGN
Photo from IGN

“Deathnote” is about a teen genius who comes across a mysterious notebook that grants him the supernatural ability to kill. “Deathnote” garnered immense cultural recognition and to this day is considered one of the greatest anime of all time. The television series came out in 2006 and is considered a pioneer series.

Spirited Away 
Studio Ghibli's 'Spirited Away' is being turned into a stage play
Photo from NME

“Spirited Away” is a film directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The film is about a 10-year-old girl who, upon moving to a new neighborhood, finds herself trapped in a spirit world and takes on a journey to free her parents. Movie critic Roger Ebert pointed out in his review of the film, each frame is made with an overwhelming amount of “generosity and love.” Vice wrote; “This delivery of sensitive spiritual and emotional messages made Spirited Away the highest-grossing film in Japanese history.” 

Berserk' Season 3: Everything We Know So Far
Photo from Trinikid

“Berserk” tells the story of vengeance and ferocity. The series is a darker anime, there is a lot of graphic violence. Buzzfeed sums it up as “If you want a show that makes Game of Thrones look like a rom-com, then this is the dark fantasy anime for you.” Despite its darkness, the series is celebrated for its touching, emotional intensity. 

Dragon Ball Z
Dragon Ball Z: The Board Game Saga will let you play the anime series from  start to finish | Dicebreaker
Photo from Dicebreaker

“Dragon Ball Z” is one of the most well-known animes. The series follows the adventures of Goku as he defends the world against evil with the help of the “Z warriors.” The series is filled with touching lessons about life, happiness, and love.

Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood
Photo from ScreenRant

“Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood” is widely considered to be one of the most influential anime. The series tells the story of two brothers on a quest to restore their bodies after an ill-fated ritual. Screenrant puts the series as number one on their list of the 15 best anime for beginners.

“The series has some of the most intense action, compelling characters, and heartbreaking episodes in anime history, making it a perfect contender for someone’s ‘first anime'” they write.


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