No Right Answer: Is Avatar an Anime?

hawk533

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Entitled said:
When someone creates a work of art, that has decades of personal socialization, and centuries of cultural tradition, behind it. You can't just take a look at the way art is produced on the other side of the globe, decide to really like it, and claim to be a prime example of continuing it. You can IMITATE it, and there is nothing wrong with that, but that's how new genres form: by partially attempting to imitate another, but also adding your own conscious and subconscious cultural heritage to it.
So are you telling me that Eminem isn't a rap artist, because he's not black and didn't deeply understand black culture? And is Darius Rucker (former lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish) not a country singer (despite winning a New Artist Award from the Country Music Association) because he originally headed a rock band?

Cultures change and definitions have to change with them. Anime once was all animation that came from Japan, because all Japanese animation had a similar style and a shared culture. But as people have pointed out, there are many Japan-produced cartoons that are using western animation styles. And there are many US-produced cartoons using Japanese animation styles.

If you say all Japan-produced cartoons are anime, then what happens 100 years in the future? Would Japan-produced cartoons look anything like their cartoons from the 60s? And if they didn't, would they all still be lumped under the term "anime"? There would be no semantic benefit in doing that.
 

Rowan93

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I like that the people with the correct definition of anime have such overwhelming numerical superiority here. And considering how many of the remainder aren't even expressing an opinion beyond "why are we fighting about this?", I think we've basically got consensus. Minus the people who don't know how loan words work or think a medium with a plethora of genres and styles is best described by defining it as a genre or style.

Now, obviously the real thing we're referring to is based on culture and not geographic borders, so there could hypothetically be non-Japanese works that could be called anime, and certainly the border between "influenced by Japanese culture" and "a product of Japanese culture" is a fuzzy one, but that fuzzy line isn't even being approached by the "is this cartoon an anime?" candidates that we see today.
 

hawk533

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And for those trying to use the Champagne only being from the Champagne region of France, realize this. The reason region of origin is used to define certain styles of wine is that there are certain immutable things about regions of the world. Things like soil composition, rainfall patterns, amount of sun, temperature fluctuation, wild yeast varietals and humidity that are specific to certain regions and can't be exported. These change the characteristics of the wine produced from grapes grown in these regions.

Culture is far more mutable. I can bring 100 Japanese artists to California and have them produce the exact same animation they would produce in Japan. As others have pointed out, some "anime" is actually animated in Korea. Using region of origin to distinguish something created entirely in a human's mind is not useful.
 

Entitled

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hawk533 said:
So are you telling me that Eminem isn't a rap artist, because he's not black and didn't deeply understand black culture? And is Darius Rucker (former lead singer of Hootie and the Blowfish) not a country singer (despite winning a New Artist Award from the Country Music Association) because he originally headed a rock band?
Music genres are based on subculture, not just culture. A so-called "Rock culture" is not any more ingrained than "geek culture" or "evangelical culture" or "university culture".

I'm not saying that every community and every genre ever made is unreachable by outsiders, but there are some where the initial, by definition national-shared-consciousness-based execution, can't be simply assumed and trying to do so will result in the formation of a secondary style.

hawk533 said:
Cultures change and definitions have to change with them. Anime once was all animation that came from Japan, because all Japanese animation had a similar style and a shared culture. But as people have pointed out, there are many Japan-produced cartoons that are using western animation styles. And there are many US-produced cartoons using Japanese animation styles.
Except that they are not really. They are using vague approximations of what the foreign styles look to them, but the end result will end up carrying a lot of their own styles too.

Avatar looks barely different from 90's Disney renessaince cartoons. Since then, most western TV shows went the "bright, abstract, non-human" way, so out of contemporary animation, anime is it's closest comparison, just because that also has proportional 2D humanoids, but in it's details, it's still animated through the western principle of verisimilitude rather than through the art philosophy of wabi-sabi.

In terms of narrative, like others have already said, it's a hodgepodge of asian cultural elements, largely from China. American writers can write about what Asia feels like to them, but it will be distinct from what it feels like to Japanese people, and vice versa.

hawk533 said:
If you say all Japan-produced cartoons are anime, then what happens 100 years in the future? Would Japan-produced cartoons look anything like their cartoons from the 60s? And if they didn't, would they all still be lumped under the term "anime"? There would be no semantic benefit in doing that.
We have plenty of regional art categories, that were also limited to a time frame. "Russian romanticism". "The Italian Renessaince". "Victorian literature".

Maybe 100 years from now, art historians will talk about categories like "Millenial Anime", or maybe "Post-Evangelion Anime", and make it separate both from "Post-WWIII-Anime" and "Western-Animesque Shonen".

Or maybe it won't.

hawk533 said:
Culture is far more mutable. I can bring 100 Japanese artists to California and have them produce the exact same animation they would produce in Japan. As others have pointed out, some "anime" is actually animated in Korea. Using region of origin to distinguish something created entirely in a human's mind is not useful.
It's not the physical location of the people who have drawn the in-between frames that matters, but the decision making process of the publishing studio and the lead designers/writers.

Korea has lots of grunt workers recently, they do anything from The Simpsons to Sword Art Online, but these two still have a gap between their cultural background.

By the way, on the long term it DOES matter where the artist is from. For example it has been observed that Japanese-born people tend to draw Japanese faces in a raceless state, American-born Japanese people draw their own faces with markers of asian ethnicity, just like American people would.

Youth socialization matters A LOT in subconscious attitudes about how to draw humans, not to mention ow to tell stories.
 

hawk533

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Entitled said:
Maybe 100 years from now, art historians will talk about categories like "Millenial Anime", or maybe "Post-Evangelion Anime", and make it separate both from "Post-WWIII-Anime" and "Western-Animesque Shonen".
Looking forward to see how the use of nano-weapons on Japan in WWIII influences Post-WWIII-Anime :)

I think I can agree with you that Avatar is not quite anime, since it borrows more from Chinese culture than Japanese. Incidentally, is there a Chinese animation culture? Just curious.

I do have to ask if RWBY could be considered anime? It's apparently being brought to Japan for broadcast, so it must meet some standards of Japanese culture. It definitely looks more like traditional anime than Avatar does to me.
 

Entitled

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hawk533 said:
Incidentally, is there a Chinese animation culture? Just curious.
As far as I can tell, they prefer CG, and don't really have the budget to fund an industry based on that, so it will be some time before Chinese animation can be funded from a wealthy middle class geek subculture's pocket. If Manhua is any indication, it would be more similar to anime in it's technical details, but with a similarly different art philosophy (in an entirely other direction).

hawk533 said:
I do have to ask if RWBY could be considered anime? It's apparently being brought to Japan for broadcast, so it must meet some standards of Japanese culture. It definitely looks more like traditional anime than Avatar does to me.
My Little Pony is also brought to Japan for broadcast, that doesn't mean much. As far as I can tell, western Japanesque works tend to be relatively unpopular in Japan. Japanese otaku didn't pay much attention to Katawa Shoujo either, even after it was translated.
 

Ikajo

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Let's us look at it this way. There are two versions of the movie "The Girl with a dragon tattoo". One is Swedish and one is American. Both of the movies were filmed in Sweden. But anyone who sees them would agree that there are some very blatant differences between these two movies. This despite the fact that they have the same source material. Reason?
Cultural differences. While Sweden and USA share a lot of culture, there are something's that's very different. This becomes easily visible when comparing these two movies. From the casting choices to the overall atmosphere. Why? Again, because of differences in culture and society.
No matter how interested you are in Swedish culture, society and history, without actually living in Sweden you wont be able to truly grasp these things. The Swedish mentality, our views on certain things and the actual impact of growing up in Sweden. These are things that are not possible to replicate. This is made very obvious by these two movies. Which share the same source. (Though in Sweden it's called "Men who hates women", also something to consider perhaps?)

If such big differences in culture is prominent in two western countries. How much difference wont you find in between western culture and eastern culture? Movies from Hollywood is very different from movies made in Sweden. So of course there is a difference between cartoons from USA and anime from Japan. The reason we've named them differently is to point towards this difference that's very prominent.

Actually, you've never noticed you make a difference between the land of origin when talking about movies? If you say "movie" most people would think "Hollywood". If you talk about a movie from another country you have to specify, a "French Movie", a British, Finnish, Swedish, Korean and so on. Doesn't that tell you something?
 

Nouw

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Scott Mcloud has done a few great analysis's on the differences between manga and western comics. Granted this is about their animated counterpart mediums but it'd be interesting to see a discussion about this topic that goes beyond where it was made or who it was made for.
 

Ikajo

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Nouw said:
Scott McCloud has done a few great analysis's on the differences between manga and western comics. Granted this is about their animated counterpart mediums but it'd be interesting to see a discussion about this topic that goes beyond where it was made or who it was made for.
I tried to find these analysis without success. You think you could link to them or quote them?
 

kouriichi

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Long story short:

No.

If it looks like a duck, smells like a duck, and waddles like a duck, it could still be a goose. And if it looks like a goose, smells like a goose, and waddles like a goose, it could still be a swan.

In this case, Avatar is an american animation with an eastern art style. Both are animations, but only one of them is japanese in design. Just as how Manga and Manhwa are different. If i shows you an image of "Girl's of Wild's" and an image of "Shokugeki no Sōma" (both very awesome series that i highly recommend), you could easily think they are both "Manga". But Girl's of Wild's is a Manhwa. Even if their presentation is similar at a first glance, they are wildly different when you begin to notice the finer details.

I will be transparent and say im not a fan of the Avatar series. I dont hate it, but its certainly not my taste. But im also not a fan of One Piece, Bleach, FMA or SAO. I dont want anyone to say, "Its not anime to you because you dont like it", its simply not anime because its not anime. MEGAS XLR is not an anime, despite pulling everything Avatar does. And Panty And Stocking is not American Animation, despite begin designed from the ground to up to appeal to american audiences.

Its similar to anime, but its not anime. Its not an insult to the series, and honestly many of my favorite shows are american animations (everything Mike Judge has made for starters...). But if you look at what anime is, and what Avatar is, they are still in two separate categories. Avatar falls into the same category as Teen Titans, MEGAS XLR or The Boondocks. Anime inspired animations, produced in a western country.
 

Bocaj2000

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Scars Unseen said:
Bocaj2000 said:
Anime = animation
Manga = comic

In Japan, Spongebob is called an anime.

These are all facts.

So why do we attribute Avatar as being one? Because it displays SHONEN elements, not anime elements. Semantics mean everything. If we must label this franchise, I'd call it a western shonen, which is a subgenre of shonen anime.

Did that answer anything?
Small nitpick: you can't have a sub-genre of shounen because shounen isn't a genre; it's a demographic, like seinen or shoujo.
Good catch! I was in a hurry and wasn't really thinking. Thanks for clarifying! ^-^
 

red255

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I've heard arguements. yours...aren't the typical arguements I've heard. In American English (dunno what you are from) Anime means 'cartoon from Japan' whereas in Japan anime means cartoon, people have tried to say in Japan Avatar WOULD be an anime, but unless you are speaking japanesse thats moot.

Its also NOT a NEW genre. there have been 'american animes' back since Exosquad. probably earlier. Not going to say exosquad was the first.

Now if its 'american anime' is it not 'anime' and the answer is no because in American english. (and this is canadian which is american anime because north AMERICA, and also NAFTA)... Anime is SHORT for Japanesse animation.

and Japan just doesn't make the distinction where its cartoons come from.

if you had gotten into the arguement that its ...made in large parts by Japanesse studios. we could have had a debate.

But the reason why its american is because its MADE for american censorship audience by writers with AMERICAN backgrounds.

In Japan theres a whole different process for a whole different crowd.

In Japan, you got a show made by usually a source material like a manga (or LN or VN) and its writen by some guy.

in AMERICA you got a show and its got different writers for different episodes.

its a different style.

and I don't have to explain the censorship board.

and the reason people get upset is because its insulting to anime. not because anime is an insult.

the only reason people are down on anime who aren't old and stupid is because subtitles.
 

lord.jeff

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Like most words anime is allowed multiple definitions but personally I find anime is more useful of a term when refering to a style because if I need to refer to Japanese animation I say "Japanese animation" the same short wording doesn't exist for the style of anime.
 

Zeruss

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I think these videos help in formulating, and exploring, the question a tad better.

The first one is from Idea Channel, which serves more as an opener to the question itself, though it sides with the opinion that differentiating 'anime' from 'other' animation is kind of pointless.

In the end it *somewhat* concludes that Avatar is anime, but in quite a broad usage of the term.


~

The second one, by DigiBro, is more specific and does make a difference between anime and other animated products, simply by taking into account cultural influences, original context and its intended audience.

It mentions, however, all the previous nuances of making said distinction, such as almost all mass-animated products being animated in Asian studios, the shared stylistic choices and the cross-cultural references/influences that pretty much all animations share nowadays.


~

I tend to agree with the points brought up in both videos, specially the second one, and in the end I know it's just for technicality's sake--A good animated product is good no matter where it was produced, what it is labeled as or what style it uses.

Still, an animation's cultural context does make it different and unique from others out there, and this holds true for *all* things created by humanity in general; if it weren't then the Japanese government wouldn't consider anime as a cultural export and protect it as one (as it currently does)--However, the more influences animation shares and cross-references it makes, the less the line is defined between 'anime' and 'western animation'...

...Which is great in the long run! Both animation spheres can learn from each other and take the craft to new horizons, such as 'Avatar' has done with its stylistic, narrative and thematic choices :D
 

Nouw

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Ikajo said:
Nouw said:
Scott McCloud has done a few great analysis's on the differences between manga and western comics. Granted this is about their animated counterpart mediums but it'd be interesting to see a discussion about this topic that goes beyond where it was made or who it was made for.
I tried to find these analysis without success. You think you could link to them or quote them?
They're in his books Understanding Comics and Making Comics. They should be in your local libraries's system or you can just buy them; they're really insightful reads if you enjoy reading comics, manga, or whatever. If that's not an option for you, just send me a PM.
 

Dreiko_v1legacy

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Lol he got that the exact opposite way.


I'm not opposed to Avatar being called an anime cause it's an insult to be called anime. I'm opposed to it cause it's an insult TO anime to call the Avatar anime. It is a very shallow interpretation of the contents of the genre and just takes a skin-deep approach to it. There's more than just an art style that's needed for something to be anime. You need a whole lot of "Japanesy" elements too. Without those, what you have is an anime-like cartoon. The teen titans were MUCH closer at being anime than Avatar.
 

Signa

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I'm starting to watch Avatar again, and I can say with certainty, but with no presentable argument that Avatar is not an anime. It's a Nick cartoon at its core.

This discussion requires defining a lot of intangibles, and I'm not skilled enough to define them. So, at the very least, giving Avatar "anime" status can do nothing but hurt its perception from viewers that avoid anime. Calling it an animated kids show keeps it on the right level to be evaluated.
 

Kittyhawk

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Answer: Yes and no.

Yes, because anime is short for animation, no matter where its from. And also because Korra is an awesome fun and well written series, that can teach traditional japanese anime a lot.

No, because core fans might discredit it due to where it was made, rather than its content. Most people won't care as whats fun is fun. With the globalization of anime as a niche medium, and more smaller projects being made, I'd say that location matters less as time passes.

I guess its yes, then.
 

raikagetaicho

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People the word "anime" in japan means animation, we took that world because it sounds better that japanimation(i think was that)to describe the tezuka inspaire style(big eyes simple face), in fact some works that by tradicionalt definition are anime if i show it you wouldn't think is anime. Like this: http://kissanime.com/Anime/Sushi-Ninja-Sub/Episode-001?id=83401 or this:http://kissanime.com/Anime/Inferno-Cop. so like politic this is something that literaly doens't have a rigth answer.(personaly i think it doesn't the storie telling is still more american and is still more episodic than animes like mikami o ranma 1/2).