(Source)

It’s a commonly held belief that anime is just for kids, and if you have ever scrolled through the anime section on Netflix, you’d probably be forgiven for that assumption. Many of the more mainstream shows, like Dragonball Z, Pokemon, Digimon and many others, are cartoons for kids. However, just as some western cartoons are not designed for kids (think BoJack Horseman, Family Guy, Rick, and Morty), not every anime is either. Below are a few reasons why you should give anime some further consideration in your viewing schedule.

Culture

Anime is so much more than a simple cartoon show or film. Because it is a Japanese creation, its roots trace back to the ancient theatre forms of Noh and Kabuki. That’s not to say that every anime show is a theatrical masterpiece, but it helps to explain the exaggerated characters and stylised drama. Both are musical dramas and use elaborate costumes and makeup. However, Noh theatre uses masks exclusively (much like Greek theatre) and has minimal set and props, meaning that the story is told through physical expression. Noh Theatre also focuses primarily on the supernatural, particularly themes involved spiritual beings who have been transformed into humans. Noh dates back to the 14th Century and Kabuki to the 15th Century, meaning that the elements of these art forms are rooted deep within Japanese culture, and can be seen today in many of the anime shows available.

Genre

Anime is typically seen as a genre in itself, but this is a remarkably broad term to use. There are so many genres within this art form just as there are within western cinema. Many people will be familiar with the usual Saturday morning offerings available for children, but many of the films deal with more complex issues too. Series such as Rio Rainbow Gate anime offers a simple storyline and easy watch, much as many western shows do. But there are also excellent children’s films like My Neighbour Totoro which focuses more on the visual story and immersive quality of cinema than relying on cheap action to draw you in. Then there are slightly more adult offerings like Spirited Away, which is widely acclaimed as one of the greatest films ever made and is a fantastic coming of age film with supernatural elements.

Content

Much of the popular anime is based around supernatural and sci-fi elements. However, when you start to delve deeper into the more ‘serious’ offerings with complex storylines which are aimed at a more mature audience, they really start to come alive. Issues of race, gender, sexuality, and many others are all tackled with remarkable openness. The methods of imparting the story might not sit as easily with a western audience due to the difference in cultural influence, but the more you watch, the more you will understand and enjoy. The violence in the action can be quite brutal, but the moments without action are slow, carefully timed, and really show their roots in the deliberate slowness of the traditional Japanese art forms.

Though anime may not be for everyone, there is definitely more depth to it than simple kids cartoons. Take the time to explore the many genres within anime, and you may find yourself becoming a devoted fan.