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The stereotype image of Japanese anime and manga has lately gotten worse.

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The stereotype image of Japanese anime and manga has lately gotten worse. Once upon a time, for those who knew, Japanese animation meant KIMBA THE WHITE LION, or BATTLE OF THE PLANETS, and SPEED RACER. It meant (to us who were kids at the time) some of the best and most addictive shows on TV, animated or otherwise. Once upon a time, a TV reporter would report on the sales of transforming robot toys in Japan, and not even mention the animated TV shows that spawned them. Now, TV has picked up anime. Now, the WWW is filled with anime pages. Now, reporters show us sensational footage of anime fans in anime-postered seclusion, apparent victims of a new mental disease from Japan. And what is the new stereotype of anime in this suddenly anime-aware age? Things have gone beyond the "big-eyes and big-hair" stereotypes. For today's pigeonhole, try the phrase "big-breasted women, mechs, and lots of gore," and see if that doesn't sound familiar. For example, look at CNN: "...the standard for the cartoon genre in Japan ... usually involves a series of blood-and-guts battle scenes in futuristic space settings." Battles in space? Sure, some anime have that-but the majority don't. Even beyond big-chested women is the implication of sex. Take a US mailorder catalog characterizing RANMA 1/2: they called it a "sex comedy." ...read more.


Bluntly put, action/adventure/sports doesn't necessarily mean blood-n-guts. Often, it simply means tension at a crucial moment in a ballgame, or scenes of our hero (or heroine) hitting a golf ball. These scenes have all the gore of a tennis match. The other category should give more pause. Romance as a category is fairly understandable, but character growth? One might ask what that really means. Let's look at FUSHIGI YUUGI. This manga and anime, whose target audience appears to be junior high school girls, follows the adventures of a normal schoolgirl named Miaka who winds up in a magical version of ancient China. Sure, she has adventures, meets deadly enemies, and even makes out with her boyfriend (quite a bit in fact). But the climax of this series, as steeped in grandiose good-evil battle action as it is, is one of the heart and soul. Our heroine, once a student overwhelmed with school worries and fears, has found more important things in life. She has found that caring for others and being cared for by others are stronger than adversity. She has found that she has the strength and ability to make a difference-as long as she doesn't give up. These realizations-more convictions, really-are what gives her the strength to conquer evil and (yes) save the world. ...read more.


Aren't these aspects of the universal story of human progression and human personal growth? Most people, at some point or other, wonder who they are. Some of us get lost sometimes, putting up masks of one sort of other, covering up the most vulnerable feelings within. And some of us forget the mask isn't us at all. We make mistakes, we hurt others, we fail our own expectations. Yet throughout history, the happiest-truly happy-have been those who have had the courage to shed the mask and look within; they have tried to live true to the vulnerable ideals from deep down; they strove to accept their mistakes and learn from them. They dared to care, dared to strive, and dared to never give up. This story, this message, is hardly rare in the manga/anime world. Look closely-you'll see this story is repeated over and over and over. So much so we can add this to our stereotype list: big eyes, big hair, big busts, big machines, blood-n-guts-and deep, personal, spiritual growth. The other stereotypes are often there too, and yes, they can be enjoyable and entertaining, or they can be overdone and irritating. But to look only at those-to talk about only those, to promote only those-is to cling to the shallow picture. For many who know manga and anime beyond the stereotype, there is that common but little-recognized element that draws us in too, something somehow profound that reminds us of more important things. ...read more.

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