Anime 101:Part 2: Genres

Much like any other medium, the world of anime is full of a variety I’m content designed this is most tastes. Like film., anime is divided into subcategories called genres. This division while blurred at times around the discerning viewer the ability to select their general content and even specialize in one particular genre. For example , those of us who grew up watching Adult Swim may be partial to action anime like Bleach or Fullmetal Alchemist while others may be more enticed by more psychological anime such as  Higurashi no Naku Koro ni or Stein’s Gate. While these differences do divide the anime community at large their presence is a sign of a lively and robust lexicon of entertaining content.

In this installment of Anime 101 I will be going into detail in regard to the different genres of anime ,their interconnected themes and their cultural significance. It is my firm belief that understanding a genre is key to broadening ones horizons as an anime viewer. I hope that, by explaining each genre in detail, I can inspire others to explore outside of their comfort zone. In my experience, this is the best way to become a well-rounded consumer of the medium.

The most basic genre of them all supernatural

One of the most basic understandings in the anime community is that the supernatural genre is among the most widely varied and and renowned sectors of the anime world. This is no mistake as Japan is known for it’s belief in mysticism and the superstitious nature of its people. Whether you’re watching  the hilarious and heartwarming moments of Rosario to Vampire or the mentally scarring scenes of Madoka Magica chances are do you have seen the use of many paranormal and culturally specific entities. From yokai to Shiki and even Ouija and the occult there’s no denying that there is a strong connection between Japanese animation and the spiritual beliefs of its authors. In a way, these beliefs are universal transcending both continent and culture to become one of the most popular staples of the anime industry.

While it is often paired with other genres the supernatural is woven enter many series acting as an interconnected thread to add mystique, elements of horror and suspense . While the application of supernatural elements can range anywhere from the arcane to the scientific this  genre is not without its shortcomings. Many tropes such as the sudden realization of power or paranormal ability, gaining power through magical means, and the contract with an entity are common here. The same can be said for the presence of Mana or spiritual energies like ki ,chi or chakra  as well as the years of willpower and the elements where magic is present.  While these can be employed in a variety of interesting ways there are most commonly bound to the same basic rules no matter the setting in which they are present.  

To demonstrate the overuse  of this I have 3 rules the may be applied here in:

Mana or spiritual energies are produced by the body and as such have a finite limit.  This is demonstrated most effectively are shows like Dragon Ball Z or Fairy Tail.

These energies are prone to sudden increases which are often directly proportional to there wielders emotional state or imminent peril. This is best demonstrated in the context of shows like Bleach and Blue Exorcist where in the main character often loses control of his or her power in times of great stress.

Last but not least, these powers are almost always tied to the user’s life force and the over exertion of said powers is tantamount to their incapacitation or knockout. This is the best thing exemplified through Naruto or YuYu Hakusho.

While these tropes are overused they are nonetheless relevant to the genre. Their function as mainstays in this context cannot be overlooked. At their core, these are the very things the first attract a lot of new viewers. However, it is the depth brought on by other genres that keeps them enthralled.

Romance: the drama of relationships

As in most other mediums drama is a large part of anime. In particular, fans often become enthralled by stories of romance. Unfortunately, more often than not, the anime romance is spun as a plot woven from pointless nude scenes and comedic misunderstandings.  The reliance on fanservice and subsequently the lack of interpersonal drama makes many anime that claim to be romantic rather crude and unoriginal. In addition, the moments that are integral to romance such as character bonding and the first kiss are often rushed due to the constraints of screen time.

Anime like Love Hina are guilty of this and are often considered harem series even though the main character is only focused on a single person. This mistake is easy to make due to the forced love triangles that seem to be added by series creators to spice things up. But, contradictory to popular belief, these forced relationships take away from the overall dynamic of any romantic involvement. Instead we are forced to watch characters fly to emotionally charged jealous rages that only serve to reinforce the childishness of this antiquated style of drama.

There are a few, such as Clannad and Angel Beats, that show the human element of romance. However these are exceedingly rare and very few go beyond the first kiss. This leaves people who are interested in romance feeling a bit unfulfilled as we are often denied the opportunity to go beyond the beginning stages of love. It is often do to this lack of substance the genre is interspersed with others in order to fill in the gaps.

Please note: I will not be going into detail on subgenres like harem anime until a later date.

Action anime: the popularity of violence

Action anime is a sector of anime that focuses on the most basic human propensity for violence. Here fans can find epic battles, sword fights, blood and gore. Most of us grew up on this style of anime and as such I do not feel that it needs to be touched on as intensively as the others.  here we find the basic  morality struggle of good versus evil and we want to see whatever protagonist  overcome the constraint of this plot type.. Most major anime use action to make a piece more intense. However overuse of action often draws viewers away from the main plot.

These are a few of the genres present an anime. I will continue this discussion in my  next post as I  find it easier for readers to remember shorter posts. thank you for joining me for today’s anime 101 article. I hope to provide the next one very soon. Until then please like, comment and subscribe to this blog for updates on regular posts.


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