It is almost shocking to realize that anime is actually a popular thing today.
Sure, so many people still unfairly reject this entertainment medium. But at the end of the day, anime has begun to proliferate widely, to the point where the art has garnered a strong and fervent fan base here in Uganda.
So what is it? Well, the simple answer is this: Anime are Japanese cartoons—and no, the plural of anime is not ‘animes’. Now if some of you are diehard anime fans, you probably just kicked your collective shoes across the road. To most anime fans today, it is a cardinal sin to call any anime a cartoon. Try it at your own peril.
But in truth, that is all there is to anime. Those brightly colored shows and movies we download from KissAnime are, at their core, Japanese cartoons.
But is that all there is to it? Is anime just cartoons? Well, No. Anime are JAPANESE cartoons. That ‘Japanese’ bit matters. And honestly, that is the only reason why we love anime so much. The shows we watch are a distillation of everything Japanese.
Every anime you have ever glimpsed is saturated with Japanese tradition and culture. From the colors to the food, the speech patterns and colloquialisms, the comic gags and the hand gestures, anime is a study in all things Japanese; an art form informed and molded by the myths and legends of a land so historically rich and bizarre that it almost feels magical.
Meanwhile, anime fans have an huge obsession for subtitled shows. We don’t reject English-voiced anime because we simply love reading subtitles—I don’t think anyone in the world likes reading subtitles.
We embrace subtitled anime because those Japanese voices—strong and guttural in some cases, tender and soothing in others—add a sense of authenticity.
Some anime are so fluid and fast moving in their execution that keeping up with the subtitles can become a difficult nightmare, if not impossible. But we put up with it because even the best English voices tend to strip the authenticity away.
So, what is anime? Anime is Japan. It is a beacon of all the things, wonderful and ugly, that Japan stands for.
And trust me when I say that there are some truly ugly things. If you are looking to escape, to disappear to a place you’ve never been, to immerse your senses in a world as wondrous as it is frightening, give anime a try.