Some people mistakenly liken the childish cartoons of yesteryear to modern Japanese anime, but the comparison couldn’t be more misleading. Whereas traditional cartoons are typically geared toward kids, anime is expressly produced for adult consumption. That means viewers can expect genuine character development and compelling storylines that unfold over the course of multiple episodes. A similar distinction was highlighted by writers at The Today Show, who also promoted the fact that the anime industry was advancing thanks to more diversity.
Fortunately, more and more Americans have recognized the inherent value that anime brings to the table. Mark Trainer at Share America published an article devoted exclusively to how popular anime has become in America. “In the last two decades, Americans’ appetite for anime and manga – Japanese cartoons and comic books – has grown exponentially,” he explained. “Attracting fans of all ages and leaving an incredible mark on American culture.” Anime’s influence can even be traced to iconic films such as The Matrix starring Keanu Reeves and Laurence Fishburne. It’s difficult to dispute evidence like that regardless of personal opinion.
Suffice it to say that anime doesn’t have the same social stigma that characterized its earliest days in the US. To the contrary, imported Japanese anime has probably never seen better days while its domestic counterparts (i.e., American cartoons) have declined precipitously from an adult viewership perspective.
Ehenneden Idehen-Amadasun at The Odyssey also described the rise in popularity and clearly doesn’t anticipate that to change anytime soon. That’s excellent news for anyone who might consider dabbling in anime themselves.
So what does it take to become a bona fide anime fan? According to Rachael Lefler at Reel Rundown, there are six major considerations for those individuals who want to become an ‘Otaku,’ which is roughly the Japanese equivalent to the English words ‘nerd’ or ‘geek.’ She introduces readers to everything from watching the shows and recognizing superior cosplay to understanding Japanese culture and exposure to derivative works such as music and video games. Needless to say, becoming a true fan takes some serious time and effort, but that’s definitely part of the fun.
Watching the shows is obviously the first step and it’s usually the easiest aside from reading about them. Those without much previous experience should begin with popular titles. Sailor Moon, Naruto, and Dragon Ball Z are all prime examples. In fact, many readers have likely seen a few already and/or have at least heard of them. It should be clear, however, that while those initial recommendations can make excellent starting points–they, too, quickly become highly-sophisticated plots.
Entire essays have been composed to thoroughly explain the advantages of Super Saiyan God Goku, the main protagonist of Dragon Ball Z. There’s no shortage of committed fans able and willing to help kindred spirits take their knowledge to the next level. That’s the benefit of having such a devoted community of followers and advocates.
Another sound strategy is becoming familiar with the terminology specific to anime culture. While it’s definitely possible to learn anime’s unique vernacular through gradual exposure, there’s a lot to gain by being more proactive. It’s often easiest to start small and build slowly. Megan Peters at Comicbook did novices a favor when she defined ten words every anime fan should know. Many of the terms have the added benefit of being relevant to anime fans themselves because they are utilized by people to describe fandom.
Why is that important? Because nobody wants to become a fan notorious for the wrong things. In reality, the biggest takeaway is that exploration should be undertaken for the right reasons. Adopting anime for the sake of popularity is not one of them. That is a recipe for disaster. Take the time to watch a variety of syndicated anime and don’t be discouraged if you don’t legitimately favor some of the most popular examples.