Classifying Japanese Animation

Anime is one of the most popular forms of animation in the world today. Who would forget Voltes V of the early 70s?

Contributed to Bulatlat
Vol. VII, No. 12 April 29-May 5, 2007

Anime is one of the most popular forms of animation in the world today. Who would forget Voltes V of the early 70s? Voltes V marked the entry of anime in the Philippines. But when former Pres. Ferdinand Marcos declared Martal Law, he banned Japanese anime citing its violent content. But when People Power 1 toppled the dictatorship, Japanese anime made a comeback. Voltes V, the theme song of which was made popular again by Bubble Gang, was revived during the latter part of the 1990s. For years anime captivated the minds and hearts of every person, of every age. Cartoon characters with round eyes, and plots, whether comedy or drama, have been as much a part of this generation’s childhood as Pop Eye, Tweety Bird, and the Flintstones were a part of our parents’ childhood. But what is this anime?

Anime is the shortened term for Japanese animation. This form of animation has been present for the past fifty or so years, and until now, it is evolving to keep its loyal fans and to continue attracting a new generation as well. Anime aficionados are also known as “otaku” fans. These aficionados are well-aware of the genres of the shows.

Anime has many genres of which seven are the most common. An anime may contain one or a combination of these genres. The most common anime genres are as follows: fantasy, drama, adventure, science fiction, sports, adaptation and mature.

The first class of Japanese animation is fantasy. This genre is one of the most popular and the most common among the seven classes mentioned. This genre involves characters that use magical powers and items, mystical places, mythical and weird creatures, and out of this earth evil villains. Examples of this genre are “Slayers” and “Rune Soldier.” This genre does not have any age limit and anyone can watch these shows.

The second class of anime is drama. This anime involves plots that can be relevant in a teenager’s life. This genre tackles subjects that a teenager commonly encounters. These include peer pressure, love, jealousy, and the like. This kind of anime also shows a typical person living a typical life. Examples of this kind of anime are “Boys Be, His and Her Consequences,” and the ever popular “GTO (Great Teacher Onizuka).”

The third genre is science fiction. This genre involves a lot of violence and some plots that are not suitable for very young audiences. Children watching this genre need parental guidance or adult supervision. Also, this genre’s trademark is the use of technology. Such technology can be seen in the form of machines also known as “Mecha”. Mechas are huge robots capable of destroying everything that strays in its path. This can be seen in the hit series “Gundam” which has many stories and plots. At the same time, the stories revolve around the violent side of the world and are all about war. Science fiction anime uses the latest weapons technology like stealth fighter planes, night vision goggle, and the like. Examples of this genre are “Full Metal Panic”, “Neon Genesis Evangelion”, and “.hack//SIGN”.

The fourth genre is adaptation. Anime of this genre are usually based on famous books, myths, and legends. Examples are “The Saiyuki Trilogy (Gensomaden Saiyuki, Saiyuki Reload, Saiyuki Reload Gunlock)” which uses the Chinese legend of a monk who goes on a journey to the west with three cohorts. Another is from Alexandre Dumas’ French classic “The Count of Monte Cristo”. “Princess Sarah”, one of the oldest anime is an adaptation of “The Little Princess”. Even the story of “Rurouni Kenshin” is based from the history of early dynasties of Japan, especially on the Meiji Era. This genre is suitable to all audiences. However, if the storyline turns out to be violent, adult supervision is recommended.

The fifth is sports. This genre of anime revolves around the story of characters in a team whether in racing, basketball, or soccer. This genre is not too violent compared to other genres. Examples of this kind of anime are “Captain Tsubasa”, “Hungry Heart”, “Initial D”, “Prince of Tennis”, “Dear Boys”, and “Slam Dunk”. This genre of anime is best for people who are inclined to or interested in sports.

The sixth is adventure. Being the most prevailing form of anime, it has combined genres that are found in other anime shows. Majority of today’s anime are adventure-based whether fantasy, action, adaptations, sports, etc. The plots involve a person or a party going around the world saving it from sheer destruction. The characters are sometimes dressed in an adventurer’s clothing that either resembles their role or the place where they came from. Examples of these anime are “Get Backers”, “Star Ocean EX”, “Record of Lodoss War”, “Flame of Recca”, “Yu-Yu Hakusho”, and “DNAngel”.

The last of the seven genres is the mature. This genre is the so-called “strictly for adults” due to the fact that this genre either has too much violence and gore content, or it has sexually-explicit content. This genre is oftentimes shown in the late or wee hours of the night. The most common mature-genre anime is “Hentai”. This form of anime should not be watched by minors.

In watching Japanese animation, viewers learn both positive and negative values. There are some animations that promote the values of friendship, teamwork, concern for others, love, brotherhood and the like; at the same time, viewers can also learn negative values from these forms of entertainment. Examples of these negative values that one can learn are hatred, the vice of vengeance, lust (in mature anime), greed, etc. Japanese animations create a loyal following. Since the day viewers first watched their first anime, they began to crave for more.

Anime has more genres other than the seven mentioned above. The genres can either be productive or destructive, depending on its impact on the viewer. But because it generates a loyal following, TV networks will continue to show anime and the number of aficionados will continue to increase. Anime is here to stay unless it is again banned by government edict. As TV networks are ratings-driven, viewers play a crucial role in the evolution of anime. In the end, the viewers themselves will mold the anime of tomorrow. (

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