The Essence of Anime
Carl Gustav Horn · From fps #2 · May 1, 2005 | As a general rule, anime can be simply defined as animation whose principal creators are Japanese, and which is produced through Japanese studios. It's Japanese animation—to coin a mint-fresh phrase.
This should be obvious; when it comes to live-action film, for example, we don't have so much of a problem saying that Japanese live-action movies can be considered in a separate category from, say, Korean, American, or French live-action movies. "The language of cinema is universal," the trailer says—and there are no necessary barriers to people enjoying other cultures' films, or for film creators to communicate with, and influence each other. Nevertheless, as Samuel L. Jackson would put it, "But you are aware that there's these things called 'cultures,' and that they're different."
Different as anime are from each other, or different as anime creators are, or different even as the same creator's work may be from another (Hols vs. My Neighbors the Yamadas, Royal Space Force vs. Mahoromatic, Roujin Z vs. Blood), anime's identity yet comes from within a different common culture—not only the broadly different general culture of Japan, which gives rise to different aesthetic notions, but the specifically different subculture of filmmaking—practices, techniques, budgets—within the anime industry.
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You'll find it and many other articles in the May 2005 issue of fps, available as a free download.