Let’s talk about anime. No, not cartoons like Steven Universe or Gravity Falls, anime is a sort of animation specific to Japan, sometimes called Japanimation. It has a very distinctive art style and has a wide spectrum of genres. You’ll be able to find everything from horror to sci-fi to romance or even fantasy and sports. There are also genres unique to anime like isekai which means ‘different world’. Anime, contrary to common belief is not at all a childish and silly branch of animation. It has a varied collection of series with shows for adults, teenagers and kids.
Some shows come under the seinen and josei category which aim for an older audience. With gory, rather blood-soaked undertones and much more adult themes, Attack on Titan, Death Note, Tokyo Ghoul, The Promised Neverland, and many other series that have similar themes, are certainly not the kind of shows that you would want a 9-year-old to watch. there are other shows have much more kid-friendly plots. In the anime community, these shows come under the shoujo and shounen genres. You may have heard of some these like Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, HunterxHunter and many more. These shows have lighter themes and have plots revolving around the protagonist and his friends defeating the villain and coming out victorious. Although the endings of plots of this genre are usually quite predictable, they manage to entertain the viewers by adding their twists and making the story interesting.
Coming back to a genre I mentioned earlier, isekai is one of the most popular types of genre. Isekai animes generally start with the protagonist unexpectedly ending up in an alternate dimension where they meet a guide who aids them and helps them understand the world that they’ve landed up in. The protagonist must then solve the secrets of that world to understand how they ended up there and to get back home. The creators add in some action, romance, mystery etc. to make the show more intriguing.
Next up we have character design. This is one of the most significant points of any show and a lot of detail goes into crafting each character. Everything from how the character looks to speaks to thinks has to be fully thought out and moulded into a personality. Not only the main character but also the supporting cast have detailed personalities. And the fact that anime shows have such detailed worlds help in immersing the viewers into that world. As the show progresses, you slowly fall in love with the characters and feel a sort of bond with them as you explore the several aspects of their personality. Some shows manage to present great character designs that slowly develop to become even better, without ever shifting the focus of the show.
Coming to another favourite genre worldwide, romance. Some of the most popular romance animes are Your Lie in April, Clannad, Fruits Basket, Kimi no Nawa and WotaKoi. All these shows have a great plotline and revolve around the main couples and the development of their relationships along with a healthy dosage of drama. Some of the romance animes tug at your heartstrings while some just don’t hit the mark. What’s great is that there aren’t just romance animes with heterosexual pairings, there’s also Shounen Ai and Shoujo Ai which focuses on homosexual pairings, thus making the genre more inclusive.
Mecha is another highly popular genre of anime including wonderful shows like Neon Genesis Evangelion, Code Geass and the Gundam series. Shows of this genre typically include battles between giant mechanical robots controlled by humans inside them. The Gundam series can always be counted on to showcase the tale of war, loss and politics. The Code Geass series is about a youth called Lelouch vi Brittania who plots to overthrow his father’s empire, ‘The Holy Empire of Brittania’ which has taken over most of the world including Japan. The empire uses powerful and destructive robots called ‘Knightmares‘ to keep them under control but Lelouch, the black prince has the ambition and the power of Geass(magic powers), to stand up against it and build a world based on his ideals.
Phew, got a little carried away there…
Onto fantasy, another beloved genre world-wide. There is an untold amount of shows in this genre, but some that stand out are: The Promised Neverland, Attack on Titan, Death Note and Tokyo Ghoul etc. These shows all have the element of horror and have grey characters. Not quite good or bad, but a great balance of the two, making the show and characters feel a little more realistic. These shows are a perfect mix of dark fantasies, fiction, psychological thriller, mystery, action and a little bit of horror. All these together spice up the plot and make the show more appealing to the audience. They have a complex cast of characters, a central conflict, a power structure and a well-developed setting which heightens the show’s feel by leaps and bounds, making it far more immersive than it would be without these five elements.
And last, but not at all the least, we have music. Music enhances the overall feel of a series and gives the scenes more depth. When a show is given a unique score it adds so much more personality to it and adds to its allure. Some tracks in anime do their job and do it well but that’s just it, they don’t quite stand out. Even if it suits the show thematically, it just doesn’t give the same flair to it as adding a genre of music which you typically wouldn’t associate with a certain type of show. For instance, take the use of bagpipes in FairyTail or using lofi hip-hop in Samurai Champloo which completely changes our association of a genre of music to that sort of show. Music isn’t always at the forefront of a show, sometimes it works to blend in with the scene and support it while bringing out the buried emotions of the characters, raising the overall feel and atmosphere of the show.
All these factors work together and make the show visually and plot-wise, more engaging. So anime is not just cartoon for young kids, it is simply a different style of animation and art than what we may usually see.
I do not own any of the images in this article.