anime

To be politically correct, anime are animation products with grassroots in Japan.  By definition, anime can be drawn by free-hand or animated via computer as long as it originates in Japan.

Anime enthusiasts, like myself, rarely follow the rules though.  To me, as well as to many other anime fans, anime is defined by the signature fantasy characters with those huge expressive eyes doing the things that only anime can do like sporting gigantic drops of sweat or sometimes even blood, brandishing a weapon from nowhere or a male figure getting a nosebleed because he is in love.  It’s those special touches that constitute anime to me.

Is Japanese anime better than American anime though?  Authentic or not, American anime is pretty impressive.  Then again, so is Japanese anime.  With the distinct lines and artistic strokes that make up the composing of the characters, the main thing that makes an excellent anime, in my book, is that the character comes to live with emotion, personality and soul.  I have witnessed that from both Japanese and Americans.

So, what’s the difference of anime in America an anime in Japan?  For one, most Americans grew up watching cartoons but not necessarily anime.  Disney films and cartoon carnival were the norm for the older generations.  Pokémon paved the way for anime in America but still, there just isn’t that strong rooting as there is in Japan.

In Japan, anime is watched by young and old alike on a regular basis.  It has become a big part of their culture and is available in mass form on video, movies, theater, comics (called manga) and video games.  While an American might go out to watch an action movie or tune in to a drama on television, the Japanese are apt to be watching these varieties as anime productions.

Story content differs too.  In America, it is the norm in cartoons and anime to have a good and evil story line.  Though the plot may twist and turn and get downright wicked, generally, good trumps evil.  But Japanese anime plots do not follow that norm.

Shinto, a disorganized religion, is prevalent in many Japanese anime productions.  Rather than promoting a good and evil overtone, it is more about legends, gods and often about subjects Americans consider taboo as well.

Anime is indeed more infiltrated in Japan, but does that mean that it’s better?  The answer is a matter of opinion, of course.  Much of how good an anime production turns out is determined by the artists behind the characters, the writers and the producers.  And…there are some greats.  Ben 10, Calamity Jane and Alien Force are American made anime hits.  Since 2007, the American Anime Awards have acknowledged the best of the best in the American anime world.

Americans are earning their places in anime, that’s for sure.  Can they reach beyond their cultural programing of the good versus evil plot to embrace the Japanese style anime productions?  Absolutely.  And, there is quite a Western World following of anime so to say that it’s not part of the American culture is another ineffective strike in my opinion.

The question still remains.  Whose anime is the best, American or Japanese?  For an avid anime fan like myself, the answer remains the same, the beauty is in the eyes of the beholder and is evident in the creation rather than the creator.

hollooween

What are you be for Halloween?  Being admittedly obsessed with anime, you can probably guess what I’m going to be.  Dressing up as an anime is super fun and simple to do.  You may want to join me in my transformation from fan to fantasy in just a few easy steps.

Hum…which character to be?  If you are familiar with anime, you know the possibilities are endless.   Naruto is a popular choice for guys.  Mahouka Koukou no Rettousei and Nagi no Asukara are fun for the girls.

Lizzie from Black Butler is another great pick.  Grab a Victorian dress, dawn blonde pony tails, white knee socks and a pair of black (or white) Mary Jane shoes and you’re good to go. Kousaku Hata is easy enough to pull off too.  One black or dark blue dress suit, white or grey button-down shirt and a tie makes for the appropriate attire.  Add the signature hair-do or buy the wig and, ta-dah!

You can choose your favourite anime character or, you can do as I am, and go as the one you look the most like which is Ridoru Ichinose Haru.  I’m not so sure I see the resemblance but that’s what I’m always told so, I’ll go with it.  I love “Riddle Story of Devil” so, how can I go wrong?

If you’re like me and aren’t into making a costume totally from scratch, but don’t want to spring for the price of purchasing the whole kit and kaboodle, you can opt for buying just a piece or two.  I am ordering the wig and putting the rest together myself.  Purchasing just one piece of the costume from a cosplay shop can often make the difference of being recognizable…or not.

Double your fun by dressing up along with your boyfriend or girlfriend as a couple like Kurosaki Ichigo & Kuchiki Rukia or Uzumaki Naruto & Hyuga Hinata.  Mates can go as GetBackers or Oz and Raven in “Pandora Hearts”.  A group of girls can simply dress as anime school girls or a group of guys can be villains.

The best thing about being an anime for Halloween is that you can make your cosplay as detailed or as simple as you please.  Just like in anime itself, there are no rules or regulations.  The objective is just to have loads of fun.

If you really want to go over the top, why not throw an Anime Halloween party?  Send out invitations requesting that your guests dress in their favourite anime character.  You can even specify a certain movie or game the characters are to be from if you want to.

Decorate the party location with theme posters, action figures, backdrops and hanging paper lanterns.  Let candles and coloured twinkle lights add a mysterious air to the scene.  For activities, try masquerade cosplay where guests take turns acting out their character.  Anime film marathons are entertaining too.  Of course, Japanese snacks are in order for anime party snacks.

Anime is too much fun to leave off your Halloween list.  No matter if you dress the part or throw a full blown anime bash, be sure to include it somewhere in the festivities.  I know I am!

South Korea is known for great BBQ around the world, particularly in the US. (Have you been to Los Angeles?) How trite. That is not the only thing this venerable country does well. They make wonderful cosmetics and beauty products, and perhaps less well known, toilets. They import and export like any modern society, but provide a range of bathroom fixtures for domestic use. I don’t think they expect to compete with Kohler, American Standard, and Grohe, not to mention Japan’s TOTO. I know that toilets are not what you think right away when the word “South Korean” comes into your mind. However, there are manufacturers and supplier for this industry generating significant local revenue.

Like any country, developed or not, bathrooms, public and private, are quite various—from the primitive to the most advanced. Sometimes the situation produces culture shock. This is certainly true in parts of Africa, Russia, China, and the Middle East. In Korea, clogging is a problem that has caused attention among tourists and therefore fixture designers who are working on it and some of the best flushing toilet models in the world are coming out of Korean manufacturers. The old units can’t handle too much paper and adjacent garbage bins are sitting full to the brim. Perhaps this is why you will see plenty of janitors in public places. I know you are now thinking squatters, so just know that they are getting fewer and far between. If you don’t know what it is, don’t ask!

Rapid modernization is changing this dated picture and technology is now keeping pace. Better quality performance is assured when you renovate and replace old units. They now make electronic seats and bidets that meet changing standards and tastes. The cultural shift like this has been most welcome. The new shower toilet is a case in point. It sprays warm water due to a built-in heating system. This is considered the top of the line when it comes to personal hygiene. It can air dry and deodorize, and you can adjust the nozzle pressure. No more paper! Plus they are self-diagnostic and won’t break down.

If you are relocating and perhaps planning on residing in Seoul for family purposes or a new job, it is not out of the question to expect the new models in your home or rented condo. If you are a high roller, you can be pretty well assured. At this point, you might not have even seen this kind of self-cleaning system before, so you are in for a treat. You might even get wireless remote and a choice of aerated, pulsating, or oscillating power wash. They are like an electronic genie working at your command.

South Koreans pride themselves on keeping up with the technological revolution and given what came before, the impact has been vast. The citizenry is proud of its modernization. Urban areas are bustling and sophisticated. Western values are everywhere due to the spread of modern media. Okay, they do also make toilets for plebeians as they do elsewhere who are content with the old ways and don’t wish to pay a fortune. But if you are looking for love in South Korean places, you’ve got it.

If you don’t know what anime is, you are really behind the times for your generation. That would include the last five! If you are older, and not wiser, and are reading this blog, you must want to know more. You have heard of it but maybe haven’t a clue.

Anime has been around for a very long time (over a century) but is super popular with youth now for its free-flowing innovative spirit in the world of animation. At least, I hope you know it is a Japanese invention involving hand-drawn and computer artistry. It’s very colorful, is loaded with fun characters and is known for fantastic themes. You can’t beat it for imagination and the creative use of settings and special effects. Of course, it has changed along with new generations of artists, but it remains a staple of the Japanese film industry. There are jillions of production companies. In fact, most young animators would do nothing but anime.

Children and adults are all big fans. It is not surprising that I, a grown up, like anime-themed merchandise such as coin purses, wallets, key chains, stuffed animals, etc. There are lots of characters and stories from which to choose. I could fill a book, not just a blog. I will limit myself to describing my favorite vinyl neon-color backpack covered with some pretty delightful cartoons. The anime look is unique and any aficionado will spot it right away. I think I must tote my backpack to signal my allegiance to the art form so other fellow travelers will know they are with an avid ally, who will soon be a friend. I must be someone they would want to know, or at least talk to.

If you think you might want one of these gems, try on line, but I hate to give my secrets away. I kind of like the individuality of having something uniquely my own. Most of the cool backpacks I’ve seen are fabricated in Japan as you would expect. No rip offs or fakes. You get the real thing when it comes by oriental post. (You will know when you track your package if it is bogus or not.)

Why do I want to label myself? Why does anyone about anything? I think we are all very proud of our special interests and hobbies and want to share them with the world. It’s like wearing a Pittsburgh Steelers sweatshirt or a Los Angeles Dodgers baseball cap. Most people label themselves publicly, at least when in casual attire. I actually think the backpack idea is more subtle. Having a team pennant waving in the breeze from your car is a lot more in your face.

So, backpack in tow, here I come world to tell you all about the wonders of anime. Stop me and I will explain why I like it. Engage me to learn something new. Find out the inside story of those cute little faces done in the best graphic style. Get with the program whoever you are and let’s spread the word.

Anime is everywhere.  You see anime on the telly, in movies and all over the internet, those vibrant characters with huge eyes and exaggerated features that look like they stepped out of a fantasy right onto the page.  They’re adorable and addicting too (trust me).  But what exactly what is Anime anyway?

There’s no one solid answer as there are different interpretations of what anime really is.  The word ‘anime’ in Japanese simply means animation or cartoon.  In the Western world, though, it refers to hand-drawn or computer generated Japanese animation in particular, especially the kind with the distinct fantasy characters that have become so popular.  Not all anime is human either.  Some are spirits, demons, robots and animals and some are even a wild combination of things like part horse and part human.  Anything goes when it comes to Anime.  There are no rules.

Emotions are often portrayed in anime by way of dramatic expressions like big drops of sweat pouring off of them or worry lines plastered across their foreheads.  You never know what might happen next. A female anime character is likely to grab and use a weapon when prompted.   A male may sport a very bloody nose indicating a love interest.

Anime graphics are usually of excellent quality, drawn with distinct skillful lines and lots of soul.  In general, there are diverse camera angles and creative measure of film making that are widely used but not a lot of animated movement of the characters themselves.  The scenery or objects in the setting are usually very detailed and intriguing.

There are a number of styles of productions including theater, video, online and television.  It’s easy to get engulfed in the Japanese animations and many do.  There are anime productions that a broad group of viewers enjoy and then there are niches that a select few hold an interest in.

You’ll find children’s anime, much like what the Western culture calls cartoons.  There are drama anime productions with storylines that bring out the emotional and spiritual sides of the characters and often are a fine cross of fiction, fantasy and real life.  Another quite popular form of anime is porn.

Anime was made public in Japan around 1917 but didn’t really catch on in the rest of the world until the 1960’s.  It was in the 1980’s, however, that it began to take hold, steadily growing into the near-cult it is today.

Pokémon is a fine example of anime that has swooped the Western world.  Not only is there a popular cartoon television series but also video games, movies and even collectable cards.  Young and old alike love Pokémon.

Anime is sometimes categorized in genre, much like Western world movies, such as drama, action/adventure, science fiction, horror, game-based and progressive-style films.  The genres appeal to such groups as young boys, young girls, children in general, women, men and adults in general.  As far as themes, you will see such categories as “Bishoio or, beautiful girls, Bishonen which feature a feminine pretty boy, Sentai is generally about fighting and Hentaii are sexually based productions.

Whether you are looking for clip art, checking into animation programs, seeking a movie to watch or randomly surfing the net, you are going to run into anime.  Chances are that if you watch a variety of the Japanese art forms, you will find one (or more) that suits your fancy just like I did.  There is truly something for everyone when it comes to anime.