Anime Reel – Anime & Manga TV News

Thursday Talking Point: Is American Anime Possible?

Posted on: December 3, 2009

David asks: Would anime produced by an American company be considered anime (in our sense of the word)?

Dom thinks: Put simply, yes. It’s a bit more complicated than that, but what this question boils down to is what the generally accepted definition of “anime” is, and what being a producer means.

Anime, in its generally accepted definition, means animation that comes from Japan. This is a pretty loose definition, especially when you consider how much of the animation gruntwork comes from outsourced studios in Korea and China, where the work is much cheaper. This situation isn’t unique to anime by any stretch of the imagination – check out the credits of The Simpsons some time and look at the names of the rank and file. Does that make anime any less Japanese, or The Simpsons any less American? No, because what defines a show is its creative team, not the staff.

What FUNimation plans on doing with its new Original Entertainment division is giving anime studios in Japan various projects based on non-Japanese properties. As producer, they’ll most likely be providing the licensing rights, some money, and a tiny bit of creative input – but most of the work will be done by the Japanese studio.  This is similar to what happened with  Witchblade, and what’s happening now with the Marvel anime from Madhouse. Even though the concepts and the money are from America, all of these are definitely Japanese anime.

If FUNimation intended on taking over things like animation or writing duties, we’d be talking about an entirely different monkey, but as it is, what they’ll be funding will definitely be anime.

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6 Responses to "Thursday Talking Point: Is American Anime Possible?"

My only thought: Will it be any good!?

If it’s any good, then I won’t mind all the semantics one bit.

I once started a topic over at MAL about this: http://myanimelist.net/forum/?topicid=108048&show=0

Basically, I wondered “What if an American studio (or group of otaku) wanted to make an anime? What could they do for it to be considered anime, if at all?” I think Funimation’s got the right idea here (!), actually. Really it’s cheating, taking American stuff, shipping it off to be made in Japan, and so calling it anime. But that’s pretty much the only way an American writer/team could make a generally-accepted anime. Although, I do see problems arising from stuff like cultural differences and Values Dissidence. Whoever’s pitching these concepts should at least be a fan of Japanese anime. If not, it’s likely whatever show(s) are made will fail epically in Japan, and Funimation will (maybe wrongly) think it’ll fail when brought back to America; this may lead to an abandonment of the entire project, which is a sad thought really. It shows promise; I’ll keep an eye on it, see how it turns out.

I dunno, I have full faith in american ideas becoming “anime” Look at Avatar: The Last Airbender. A very good example of an american made series, following a very anime formula, and *gasp* having a (mostly) coherent storyline instead of random episodes.

That last part is the thing that differentiates anime from american cartoons for the most part, to me. Anime has a coherent storyline, with a beginning, middle and end, with maybe some filler for character development, or to give the original creative work time to get ahead (naruto/bleach). Instead of most episodes standing basically independent of each other, anime is more like reading a novel, cut up into pieces, while cartoons are like reading a bunch of different short stories that share the same characters, but resolve the primary problem every episode, with a (sometimes) overarching story that is resolved in a season finale, but hardly touched on seriously during the actual season.

In short: I think Funimation has a good chance of making it work, but that’s the thing, it IS a chance, and there are a lot of pitfalls, so better grab a vine, or jump on some closed alligator snouts, or else they’ll fail.

The problem with that definition of anime is that there’re plenty of series with NO coherent storyline. What I’m talking about is mainly seen in slice-of-life series, which have a tendency to be episodic. Especially if they’re based on a 4koma.

Oh, and Gravatars don’t seem to be working.

I have to say America has a chance, we just need to get into gear. Many company’s are already putting animes like Naruto Ship on Disney and then Ani-Monday on sifi and well adult swim Failed with king of the hill but still show Bleach. Its only a matter of time before people learn to make Anime and not Cartoons. (I agree Avatar the last air bender is worthy of the name anime.)

Avatar is quite nice….

but I consider anime as an art, which originates from japan…. just like manga, it’s an art, but american made manga like http://www.megatokyo.com are to considered manga too.

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