What’s up with today’s obsession with anime? One thing’s for sure: They’re not your grandma’s cartoons. If you’d like to explore this wide and wonderful world, here’s what you need to get started.

Over the years, this trend isn’t letting up. Instead, it keeps getting bigger and bigger. People like these cartoons for different reasons; be it the artwork and style the creators give to the characters and their surroundings. It could also be the story behind the artwork. Whatever the reason, anime has become an obsession with people around the world.

What is Anime?

Put simply, “anime” is based on the Japanese pronunciation of the word for animation. It also refers to a style made popular in Japan by the artist Osamu Tezuka in the 1960s. He was inspired by the work of Walt Disney’s studios but simplified it to reduce costs and frame rates.

Tezuka’s first work, Three Tales, aired in 1960. Other popular works included Astro Boy, Black Jack, Princess Knight, Phoenix, Buddha, and Kimba the White Lion. His work was inspired by films and literature from the West but infused with his native Japanese culture.

On this day in 1928, Osamu Tezuka, often referred to as "the godfather of manga," was born. Happy 89th birthday…

Posted by Stone Bridge Press on Friday, November 3, 2017

US studios like Disney spent lavishly to make their characters’ movements look realistic. Meanwhile, Japanese studios needed to keep costs down. Disney’s first animated full-length movie, Snow White, had a frame rate of 20 frames per second.

In Japan, studios put the spotlight on high-quality artwork while using “cheats” to keep movement convincing.

“Cheats” include fast-moving backgrounds with a character frozen in action and scenes where only the characters’ mouths move while speaking. Other cheats include static crowd scenes, reusing frame sequences, “speed lines” for motion, and shimmering eyes to convey feeling.

In addition, the characters are drawn with clean, minimalist lines to keep thing simple.

Five Things to Know About Anime

Gurren lagann cast

So, what exactly is anime? Is there a set of criteria artists and directors have to follow? Or do they just wing it? Perhaps it’s a little of both.

1. Anime Embraces Many Genres

This art form falls into many genres, including romance, fantasy, sci-fi, and horror. Not only are there these genres but there are sub-genres as well! So much to choose from.

But first, let’s start with the main categories, which mostly relate to age.

  • Kodomomuke: A variety of themes and characters aimed at young children.
  • Shonen: Action-adventure plots for teen and tweenage boys ages 10-15. They usually star a male hero.
  • Shojo: For tween and teenage girls ages 10-18 with action and adventure but also focused on romance and friendship. The main character’s usually female.
  • Seinen: For young men, ages 15-24, often with more violent and sexual themes.
  • Josei: For adult women with tales about romance or daily life.

But there are also many themes within these larger categories. One fan has identified over 40 genres, as discussed in the video below.

2. Anime features Characters with Unique Personalities and Traits

Whether you’re a seasoned fan or a noob, there’s one thing you’ll find … These characters’ over-the-top personalities are the stuff of melodrama and soap operas. Whether they’re on a quest, in love with love, or propelled to violence, they’ll never leave you bored. And chances are, you’ll find a character that you connect with.

3. Some Animes Are Complex and Produced on a Grand Scale

Depending on the series, some shows are only 12 episodes long. Others can be quite long. One Piece has over 580 episodes and Naruto Shippuden has 500.  With a lot of episodes to work with the writers have more time to develop their characters and story arc. Unfortunately, some series have a lot of ‘filler’ episodes to move the story along. The original Sailor Moon is one widely-known example.

4. Viewers Expect Attention-Grabbing Openings and Endings

These usually make or break a series. If a series doesn’t have a catchy opening or ending song/music, then all bets are off. They allow you to get to know an anime before it actually starts and what will set the tone of the show. Not only that, but we are given some of the best musical pieces given to us from Japan. Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo Opening 2, to begin with:

and here’s the stylish ending from Erased:

5. Anime Embraces a Wide Range of Art and Animation Styles

Anime has a distinctive style in terms of the artwork and the animation. The characters tend to have immense eyes, spiky hair, and small noses, mouths, and chins. But there’s also an array of diverse visual styles within this art form. For example, Naoshi Arakawa’s Your Lie in April often employs a dreamy, ethereal style.

Other artists employ bold lines and bright colors. And while anime’s known for huge eyes and neon hair, both Arakawa and Hayao Miyazaki’s characters have more realistic hair colors and proportions.

“Dubbed Anime” vs “Subbed Anime”

When you buy or rent anime movies and TV show episodes, you may be asked if you want it “dubbed” or “subbed.” But what’s the difference? Subbed means that your video is going to come in its original language — usually Japanese — and have subtitles so you can understand what the characters are saying.  According to tvtropes.org

Subtitling has many advantages: It allows for an extremely accurate translation, including quirks of the original language that play a role in the plot, while allowing you to hear the original actors’ performances.

Dubbed anime means the original dialog’s been dubbed over with dialog in your language. In the US, that’s usually English. The footage often feels off because the words and facial movements often don’t match. Syncing the audio to the video also often means a lot gets lost in the translation.

So which is better, dubbed or subbed? It depends on who you ask.

so you mean … i prefer

My Top 10 Best Animes Countdown

It is hard to actually pick which works are the best, since I love so many of them. There are lists upon lists dedicated to this. In this world, nothing is impossible. Millions of fans around the world dive into putting these lists together.

Here’s a list with my 10 personal favorites.

10. One Piece

Shaimae El Yadari

Posted by One Piece on Tuesday, October 4, 2016

This series by Eiichiro Oda has tons of episodes. The main character, Luffy grabs your attention and is bound determined to give you a meaningful life lesson. He’s all about accomplishing his goals and that if you decide to do something you should go all in 100%.

9. One Punch Man

Produced by One, this webcomic and TV series features a main character who can win a fight with one punch. Hence the name. However, this show follows the character through a journey of self-discovery. It’s all about a superhero who wants to find out if his training was worth it. Will he ever find that stronger enemy? Will he feel the thrill of the fight and the adrenaline that accompanies it? Watch the show to find out!

8. Inuyasha

This show, based on the books written and illustrated by Rumiko Takahashi, is one of my all time favorite animes! It is about Kagome, an ordinary girl from Tokyo. One day she accidentally finds a portal that leads her to medieval Japan, where she meets the half-demon Inuyasha. During the course of the show they have to find the shards of a crystal jewel to defeat their enemy, the demon Naraku. There’s a good mix of romance, comedy, action, adventure, and more. Many consider this a classic, and it’ll always make my list.

7. Soul Eater

This story’s a little different from what we’re used to. Written and illustrated by Atsushi Ōkubo, the plot is centered on the Shibusen, a school for “Weapons and Masters.” Basically, the characters in the show are born with the ability to transform into a weapon… And not just any weapon either. Watch to find out why!

6. Tokyo Ghoul

Ah yes, this gory dark fantasy by Sui Ishida seems to make everyone’s list, not just mine. It’s a bit on the gory side, but who can complain about that if you’re into it? It is about Kaneki, a boy who almost got killed, but then transformed into a half-ghoul, half-human hybrid. This forces him to adapt to the world of ghouls in order to survive.

5. Cowboy Bebop

This classic from the 1990s was directed by Shinichirō Watanabe. What would happen if all your favorite, classic movies were rolled into one show? You’d get Cowboy Bebop. It’s a space-western mixed with creature-feature, gothic horror, black comedy, crime, romance, action, tragedy, and more. Don’t believe me? Go watch!

4. Fullmetal Alchemist

As one of the most popular animes in Japan and America, who could pass this up? Written and illustrated by Hiromu Arakawa, the storyline revolves around Edward and Alphonse Elric. The two young boys try to bring their mother back from the dead through alchemy with dire consequences. Now, they must find the one thing that can save them.

3. Dragon Ball Z

If this isn’t on your list then you’re crazy! Nah, just kidding. But seriously, I watched this classic by Akira Toriyama from the very beginning back in 1996. I was enamored with the fact that Goku, the main character, was from a different planet. He and his friends have to defend the Earth from foes from other planets, robots, and more. It is the continuation of Dragon Ball and has been popular among children, teens and adults alike.

2. Naruto Shippūden

Ninjas. What more can I say? Since its conception, Naruto has been a popular anime. Masashi Kishimoto’s series, with exactly 500 episodes, is about Naruto Uzumaki. He’s loud, hyperactive, and wants to be Hokage to pay homage to all the leaders and ninjas in his village. This series has a great storyline, is unpredictable, and… Ninjas! Enough said.

1. Sailor Moon

As a young teen this was BY FAR the best I’d ever watched. We all remember our firsts, right? Well, this one was mine. I’ve seen every episode, own all the DVDs and movies. Not to mention all the collectibles I have. Created by Naoko Takeuchi, this series is all about girl power. (Kind of like the Spice Girls but cooler.) It follows the life of Usagi Tsukino, a reincarnated moon princess.

Luna, her trusty guardian, gives her a brooch that allows her to transform into Sailor Moon. “I am Sailor Moon, the champion of justice, I will right wrongs and triumph over evil…and that means you!” There are so many great quotes from this anime. Not to mention, there’s romance, action and a great storyline. Follow Sailor Moon and her Sailor Guardians on their journey to discover who the moon princess is.

Anime Events

I’m an Anime Freak, You’re an Anime Freak, Welcome to the Club. If you’re obsessed, you’re probably a freak. If you want to dress up as your favorite characters, you can do that, too. It’s called cosplaying. You can meet your fellow fans at conventions like MarsCon, ConQuesT, and ComicCon. For a complete list of events around the world, visit the Anime Cons site.

I definitely would recommend looking for an event near you, because these gatherings are fun to go to! You’ll see lots of others dressing up and acting like their character egos. You’ll also find lots of fun stage shows where Con-goers can compete for best costumes, best performances, and more. Being an anime freak, or “otaku,” is fun and harmless, plus you’ll meet lots of great people along the way.

A note about the word Otaku: while it is used conversationally and as a badge of honor by some, this word is actually derogatory. In Japan, it means an extreme obsession with Anime, to the detriment of social skills.

Anime Expo

If you can only go to one of these events each year, make it the Anime Expo in Los Angeles.

Reminder! Next pricing tier for 4-day badges will be $90* on January 3, 2018! Get your badge today → http://bit.ly/AXReg *Price does not include Eventbrite/shipping/handling fees.

Posted by Anime Expo® on Friday, December 29, 2017

According to their Facebook page, the Anime Expo is the largest anime and manga convention in North America.

Cosplayer at an Anime Expo.

Image: Anime Expo 2010 via Facebook.

Held for four days over July fourth weekend each year, the Expo offers lots of fun and exciting events. These include a masquerade, music video contest, concerts, and even a fashion show. No wonder this is the highlight of many a fan’s year.

Finding the Best Anime Videos

Persona 4 Release for the PS3

Don’t have access to all the anime videos you want? There are places you can watch anime online. With the advances in technology, it’s easier to find anime online.

1. Crunchyroll

Crunchyroll is one of the top online destinations for anime videos. Not only can you watch through this site, you can shop, read manga, join forums, and catch up on the latest news. Crunchyroll also has apps for a broad array of platforms. These include iPhone, iPad, Android, Kindle, Windows Phone, Playstation®3, Playstation®4, Playstation®Vita, Xbox LIVE® on Xbox 360 and Xbox One, AppleTV, Roku, Nintendo WiiU, Internet-enabled TVs, set-top boxes, and more.

2. Netflix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu

Although the big streaming platforms have limited offerings, NetFlix, Amazon Prime, and Hulu are great places to start. If you’re just starting to get into this exciting genre, they’ll likely have the classics you’re looking for. So why not enjoy your Pokemon, Naruto, Cowboy Bebop, or Ghost in the Shell before venturing out?

3. Chia Anime

Chia Anime‘s video service partners with studios, networks, and websites to offer popular programs to users … Often within an hour of the shows’ first broadcasts in Japan. The service is free and supported by advertising, and the videos are 100 percent legit.

4. Funimation

Funimation is a great place to stream anime videos. As with Crunchyroll, you can shop for fun stuff. Funimation supports the creators by providing an audience for their brands as well as giving fans great anime to watch.

5. Anime Freak

Anime Freak is a website that collects links to videos you can watch for free. Here, you can browse by title or by genre, or you can look for the latest releases. Since the site doesn’t host the videos, clicking the links takes you to another site.

What happened to Anime Haven?

You may keep hearing about Anime Haven, because the site is hugely popular for its massive collection of videos. But where the heck is it? Unfortunately, not all of those videos are legal for them to share with us. Because of this, the site often changes URLs. If you do a search for Anime Haven, the address for the latest site will turn up. These often look the same but have slightly different names and domains. Similarly dodgy sites include Kiss Anime and Kiss Cartoons.

But it’s better to watch your favorite shows on the many legal sources available, like the ones listed above. After all… The ads, purchase and rental fees, and streaming service fees are how these studios pay the bills.

The 10 Best Anime Movies

If you’d like to watch something that’s longer than 20 minutes, there are lots of great movies out there, too. Some of them are great and some of them we don’t even want to think about.

However, finding the good within all the bad can be hard.These movies come in a lot of styles and story-lines. When Hollywood gets a hold of some of our favorites, it is hard not to cringe when they don’t turn out right. I’m sure you’ve all seen the Netflix original of Death Note right? Then there’s the live-action version of Ghost in the Shell. Personally, I haven’t seen it and am not sure if I want to.

Nonetheless, here are 10 anime movies that are widely seen as the best of their kind.

10. Metropolis (2001), Katsuhiro Ôtomo. A child named Kenichi befriends a robot who was built to run their city. The movie’s named after Fritz Lang’s sci-fi classic, but inspired by something else entirely… What a child thought the movie was about after seeing photos of it in a magazine.

Nausicaä: Valley of the Wind (1984), Hayao Miyazaki. A brave princess in a post-apocalyptic world fights to defend her kingdom and restore humankind’s balance with nature.

8. Grave of the Fireflies (1988), Isao Takahata: A brother and sister struggle to survive alone in the countryside after the US bombs Japan during World War II.

7. Vampire Hunter D (1985), Toyoo Ashida. A post-apocalyptic movie about nuclear armageddon that was filmed in the 1980s with vampires! Okay, so they’re not zombies. But what’s not to like?

6. Ghost in the Shell (1995), Mamoru Oshii. Motoko Kusanagi commands a special ops task force in a future world and must track down a hacker. Subsumed in a claustrophobic manmade world, she begins to question her own humanity.

5. Ninja Scroll (1993), Yoshiaki Kawajiri and Kevin Seymour. Short on brains, long on brawn and beauty, this stunningly gorgeous film will entrance you.

4. Summer Wars (2009), Mamoru Hosada. While trying to impress his teenage crush, geeky Kenji must save the world from military AI gone rogue.

3. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006), Mamoru Hosoda. A teenage girl finds she can travel through time and has a blast. Then she learns there are consequences in this thoughtful but light-hearted tale.

2. Tokyo Godfathers (2003), Satoshi Kon. Three Men and a Baby meets It’s a Wonderful Life as three homeless friends find an abandoned baby on Christmas Eve.

1. Spirited Away (2002), Hayao Miyazaki. Young Chihiro gets trapped in the spirit world while trying to break the spell that’s turned her parents into pigs… And reunites with a special magical friend.

Anime Wallpaper and Memes

If you love anime and have a computer or laptop, you’ve likely decorated it with wallpaper from your favorite shows. Anime wallpaper comes in all shapes, designs and colors. Not to mention, there are themes we generally pick them from. Whether they have cute, busty anime girls on them, or star the cast of our favorite anime show, these wallpapers are everywhere.

Posted by Free Phone Wallpapers on Sunday, December 3, 2017

Where to find Anime Wallpaper for Your Desktop

Want to see collections of anime wallpapers so you can deck out your desktop, tablet, or phone? Here’s a sampling of the top collections.

  • Alphacoders: 132,957 anime wallpapers and counting.
  • WallpapersCraft: High resolution (1920×1080 pixels) wallpapers from your favorite shows.
  • Anime Wallpapers: Wallpapers, plus a forum on making anime wallpapers, games, chat rooms, a forum, and more.
  • Anime Haven: This fansite also has an impressive collection of anime wallpapers.
  • Microsoft: Believe it or not, they offer a collection of desktop themes for Windows with your favorite titles.
  • For Macs and iOS, you can also find themes on iTunes. Android users can search on Google Play.

Making, Enjoying, and Sharing Anime Memes

Want to make some anime memes? All you need is an image, a funny or deep thought that comes to mind, and an image editing program.

… Come to think of it, you don’t even need an image editing program unless you want to do animated GIFs like the one above. You can simply upload the image to IMGUR.com, type the text you want with their online tool, and save.

Where to Find the Memes

  • Animememes!: This group on Reddit is dedicated to sharing anime-related memes. They also have members vote for the best ones each year.
  • Anime Cruzers: This Facebook page has a large collection. Facebook also has lots of groups for people who want to share memes they’ve made.
  • Best Anime Memes: Lots of great images get pinned to this Pinterest board. You can post some too.
  • Anime Memes and Anime Memes Daily: Follow these Twitter feeds for the latest memes.
  • #Anime: To find and share the latest anime memes on Instagram, use the #Anime hashtag. There’s also Anime, Anime.IG.Official, and Cosplay.World_.

Anime Drawings

With our love of anime comes the tributes to them in the form of artwork. A lot of people in the world are artists and tend to draw their favorite characters through the form of fan-art. This is considered the biggest form of flattery to their favorite shows.

Completed Sesshoumaru. #sesshoumaru #inuyasha #anime #fanart #art #animefanart

Posted by Omi at Tennin House on Monday, August 7, 2017

A good place to start when looking for anime and fan art is Deviant Art. Meanwhile, Facebook’s Anime Fan Art page encourages people to send in fan art and promises to share it and credit the artist.

How to Draw Anime.

But what about drawing anime? Some of us are naturally gifted and able to draw them, no problem. Meanwhile, others may not know where to begin. This is where the use of books, YouTube, and Google come into play. Luckily for us, there are lots of online tutorials.

YouTube features a lot of channels that do tutorials on how to draw anime. Here’s a video on how to draw an anime girl. It’s by Sophie Chan, author of several how-to tutorials (to buy on Amazon, click here).

These artists start you off with the basics and work all the way up to full body poses and scenes. Here are some artists to follow on YouTube who can get you up to speed.

  1. Mark Crilley – Creator of Brody’s Ghost
  2. Mistiqarts – manga teacher
  3. Rambutan Illustration – German manga artist

There is even a How to Draw Anime//Manga book series. Within each book you are taught the basics of drawing – head, eyes, faces, body poses, anime girls, and more. If you practice long enough you can go from amateur to amazing artist in no time!

There is even a How to Draw Anime//Manga book series. Within each book you are taught the basics of drawing – head, eyes, faces, body poses, anime girls, and more. If you practice long enough you can go from amateur to amazing artist in no time!

Posted by How To Draw Anime on Thursday, November 30, 2017

To Find More Anime Tutorials, Search Google

Google is always a source of information no matter what you type in. By typing in ‘how to draw anime’ the first thing that pops up is WikiHow and how to draw a cute little character in a step-by-step process. No matter how you learn how to draw anime, the process should be fun and creative. You can design your own characters, draw fan-art of your favorite shows and characters and post them to your social media for all to see. Whichever you do, have fun doing it!

My Anime List

My Anime List, calls itself “the world’s largest anime and manga database and community,” and with good reason.

The site lets you create lists to keep track of what you’ve watched and read … And what you plan on watching and reading in the future. In addition, you can get news and connect with millions of anime fans from all over the world.

Anime News Network

Anime News Network is an anime industry news website that reports on the status of anime, manga, video games and Japanese popular music. The site also broadens out into other related cultures within North America, Australia, and Japan. The site also contains a question and answer column regularly called “Hey Answerman” as well as a review column called “Shelf Life.” Finally, there’s a column about out-of-date media called “Buried Treasure.”

Any anime fan who keeps up with news about their favorite show, manga, game, or collectibles comes to this website. On here you will find videos, forums to join for discussion, a section dedicated to new anime, and more. Registration is free and can be done using your Facebook account or a viable email address.

Through the Rabbit Hole

There is so much anime out there that it is hard to cover it all in here. I’m sure there was something I missed or left out. The idea is that anime is awesome and there are so many ways to enjoy it. Not only is it by watching your favorite shows and movies, but to cosplay as those characters.

Go to cons and socialize with others who love anime just as much as you do. Anime brings people together! The question now is: Which one are you going to binge watch today?

Featured image: Fan art for One Piece by Net Sama via Flickr .