Is anime simply just ‘a cartoon made in Japan’

Lets do some imaginative work here. Imagine that the creators of D-Gray Man want to make a sequel. Let’s call this new anime ‘D-Gray Man Shippuden’. So the production team get together, hire all their old voice actors and get everything ready until BOOM! Their studio gets hit by an earthquake and all their equipment gets destroyed (this is not entirely unbelievable. There’s meant to be a giant earthquake about to hit Tokyo soon, at least according to Bones). So D-Gray Man Shippuden can’t be made.

But wait! Step in a Russian billionaire. Russia is a great place for billionaires. This guy is an otaku who is quite a fan of the D-Gray man manga. He heard of the terrible news and decided he really wanted to see the later chapters animated. So what does he do? Why, the only logical option is to build his own studio in Russia and hire the company to come over and animate the new season. Of course he owns the rights and gets a percentage of the profits but the anime is still in Japanese and gets aired of Japanese television in it’s old time slot. But this doesn’t get listed as an anime as it wasn’t made in Japan.

Something seems wrong here doesn’t it. Lets take a few more examples: The latest CLAMP manga gets animated by a french company because they offered them more money. CLAMP is pretty much definitive anime and yet this also wouldn’t count. Or how about South Parks studio moves over to Japan for a new season (or even better, the creators of Avatar move to Japan to create a new show with the exact same animation style). Do these suddenly count as anime? It’s not animation style either, otherwise Kaiba’s claim to be an anime gets changed to just being a funky Dr.Seass style cartoon.

So where does the wall end?


10 Responses to “Is anime simply just ‘a cartoon made in Japan’”

  1. 28 June 2009 at 11:30 pm

    I don’t think defining something as anime simply means its animation was produced in Japan; I think the main definition is that it was made for a Japanese audience (perhaps the original concepts behind the stories came from Japanese people too). A lot of anime studios have some parts of their animation produced in Korea or other Asian countries, so I don’t think it matters where the animation was made to call something anime; what matters is that the target audience is Japanese and the ideals and culture behind the anime’s story is Japanese.

  2. 2 Thndrwtch!
    28 June 2009 at 11:40 pm

    Well, in my humble opinion, as long as the elements (aesthetic and non-aesthetic), culture and the concepts are preserved, they will still be known as ANIMEs. It doesn’t really matter where are they produced.

  3. 28 June 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t Hellsing FAR more popular abroad than it is in Japan? I think Baccano also didn’t do very well. I’m pretty sure there are other better examples of anime made to appeal to a western audience. And anime’s popularity abroad shows how it is most definitely not confined to appeal to just the Japanese.

  4. 29 June 2009 at 4:23 pm

    Uh, what? I don’t agree with this at all. Anime is just Japanese for animation. That’s all it is. It’s just Japan’s stupid way of shortening things to sound cool. If it’s made or brough into Japan and it’s animation then called anime. South Park is anime. Avatar is anime.

    Now if you’re talking about the style distinct to Japanese animation that is a different story.

  5. 30 June 2009 at 1:15 am

    Anime is whatever is listed on ANN, MAL and other such sites. What I’m suggesting is when do these sites start to list other stuff and when do they draw the line.

  6. 6 kadian1364
    30 June 2009 at 1:29 am

    Koji Oe is right in that the Japanese call all animation ‘anime’, so things like Pixar films, South Park, etc. would be called that in Japan. But I think there’s a specific definition we mean when we say ‘anime’ outside of the Land of the Rising Sun. Firstly, you can’t look at aesthetics, or customs, or typical kinds of stories to define anime, because someone will always be able to point to half a dozen exceptions. It’s all about the original language.

    Being produced in Japanese language, with Japanese actors, credits, writers, and producers all point to the same thing: it was made for the Japanese audience first and foremost. It’s hardly important if Hellsing or Cowboy Bebop are more popular in the west, or if it was animated in some studio in Korea or Russia, it was Japanese first, and that’s how I classify anime.

  7. 30 June 2009 at 1:54 am

    So according to you Afro Samurai isn’t an anime?

    Not an accusation but a question. I’ve yet to see a place that doesn’t list Afro Samurai as an anime

  8. 8 Mysterious Anon
    28 February 2010 at 7:29 am

    Like others mentioned in the posts above me, anime = the Japanese word for animation or cartoons. Things like Spongebob and Family guy are called anime over there. I realize that in slang it’s more used to describe a style, but when you get right down to it it’s like me calling Winx Club animazione because it’s Italian.
    I don’t look at the shows on Cartoon Network and think “anime!”, but technically that is another word for what they are.

    The Japanese don’t view the definition as some huge mystery, so I don’t really see why everyone else should.

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