Explain Like I’m Cool: Anime

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One of the strangest things I hear about anime from people who don&rsquo;t watch anime is &ldquo;I just don&rsquo;t get it, it&rsquo;s not for me.&rdquo; People who don&rsquo;t watch anime seem to think that anime is a genre in and of itself &mdash; in truth, the only thing all anime have in common is the art style (and even then, art style can vary a lot across different shows).</p>

People who write off anime as not being for them should realize that anime has just as many different genres within it as conventional television. Romance, action, mystery, comedy, psychological, sci-fi, supernatural — I’m pretty sure the only genre that I haven’t seen in anime format is political drama. Then again, maybe I’m just not looking hard enough. Granted, certain genres tend to have more prevalence in anime than they would in conventional television: for every one-of-a-kind, deep, and thought-provoking psychological thriller, there’s a dozen shows that are just some variation of “boy discovers he has special powers and goes on a whimsical adventure,” but all things considered, I’d say there’s probably at least one anime out there for any person.

So yes, anime probably has a worse rep than it actually deserves among Western audiences. Does that mean it’s above reproach? Heeeeeell no. I’m not gonna sugar-coat it, anime can be really freaking weird sometimes.

Due to a combination of established anime tropes and different cultural norms between Japan and North America, there are just some things that don’t really make sense to new anime watchers, and it can be pretty uncomfortable sometimes. For example, the fact that in 90 per cent of anime, the characters are about high school age. Or that, due to the fact that men make up a considerable majority of anime watchers, there’s usually at least one girl in any show that’s there almost exclusively for fanservice purposes (and yes, this definitely overlaps with the high school-aged characters). One trend I still can’t wrap my head around is the prevalence of shows about teen musical idols, especially considering the aforementioned male viewer dominance. And of course, a lot of anime are really not that original — a considerable amount of anime being made right now are just adaptations of existing manga or light novels.

But again, this is not the case for every show. Just like with Western television, most of the shows on air are probably garbage (my apologies to readers who enjoy said garbage television), with a few genuinely good shows sprinkled into the mix. Even if there are a lot of anime that really aren’t your cup of tea, unless you really can’t stand the art style, it doesn’t make sense to write off anime in its entirety. So for those hesitant to start, just try to look up recommendations based on your taste in regular television. Odds are, you’ll probably find something you enjoy. 

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