Mad for Anime

Do you get the Anime craze? Not everyone does, but it’s a powerful and appealing subculture. So, I decided to ask my 16-year-old friend Faith D’Isa to represent us at the recent Anime expo in New York. Here’s her report:

Bet you wouldn’t let your child venture out at ten years old with no way of contact to go out into the wild and catch mysterious, innumerable creatures to fight with. Seem preposterous? Not in the world of Pokémon. At first, any parent would take this as a bad influence; however, anime and its literary counterpart, manga, have become large parts of many young people’s lives.

Japanese “anime”, a word that derives from the English word for animation, because it’s just that; anime is merely a Japanese interpretation of American cartoons. What differs mainly in the two is the art style. In anime, your hero and heroine could be a boy and girl with large, purple and green eyes and hair that defies at least three laws of physics, as opposed to your American stereotypes of a sponge living in a pineapple. The question one needs to ask is whether or not these Japanese cartoons have become so popular because of the look…or the content content.

In Japan and other countries, the media companies have realized the amount of influence that cartoons have over younger generations, and the influence those generations have when they grow up. Starting in the 80’s and 90’s, companies began injecting subliminal, political and moral lessons into the cartoons; this is prevalent in anime, especially in the past two decades. The unseen narrator, acting as a conscience figure to many of the characters, is always there to remind everyone that, for example, sharing is for the better, or cheaters never win. This intellectual aspect of cartoons is big reason for parents should want their children to watch cartoons. The bond between children and parents in this culture became evident to me when I attended the New York Anime Festival.

The New York Anime Festival is one of the largest “conventions” for Anime fans. Now in its 4th year, the con, usually shortened to NYAF now has a “Kids Day”; children got in to the show for free, as long as they were with a paying adult, providing a bonding experience around these seemingly peculiar (at least to Western eyes) cartoons.

And it’s a world with its own celebrities. A voice and art panel with a voice actress, Veronica Taylor (who is best known for her portrayal as Ash in the mega-hit Pokemon) made me see the bonds that family can grow through these shows. As Ms. Taylor was exiting the panel room, being bombarded for autographs, the first thing she said was “Everyone, wait one second! I’ll get to all of you in a minute…I just need to text my daughter and tell her where I am.” Even a famous actress took her daughter, who though she was closer to my age than anything, who grew up with this as a major part of her life.

Flashy colors, cute characters, funny scenes and fast-paced action are obvious attractions that the Japanese have used to send out vibes to the youth of the world through anime. These are obvious turn-ons to children, but to their parents, the attraction may not be as immediate and as devoted. However, if your children have any sort of interest in these shows, be open to it with them! The art may seem unorthodox, and the themes not your favorite, but having something intelligent to watch with your child will always seem to help in the long run.

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