Jack Scheibelein

As someone who has been watching Japanese anime for almost eight years at this point, it is incredible to see just how large of a phenomenon anime has really become. Funimation, which has become one of the largest localization companies working in anime, was bought out by Sony in 2017, and Netflix has begun investing heavily in its anime-related content.

However, it also seems that, despite the massive amount of growth the anime community has seen over the past decade, there are still a lot of things people either have not heard about or do not yet understand. Being a good tour guide, I want to make sure that everyone can explore the wonderful world of anime with a little more knowledge. So here are a couple of common misconceptions that people still have about anime.

1. Anime is for kids.

It is true that a lot of animated media is aimed more so at children than adults — especially in the Western Hemisphere. Companies like Disney and Pixar make their films pretty much exclusively for kids. However, this does not mean that all animated media is for kids, especially in Japan. In fact, a lot of Japanese anime is actually aimed more at adults, and not just in the Family Guy type of way.

A good example of this would be “Attack on Titan,” a show about a world in which humanity has been locked inside walls due to the presence of titans — creatures that feast on humans for entertainment more than anything else. This show explores a lot of interesting concepts such as totalitarian governments and what it means to be human.

Now, this is not to say that those ideas could not be present in shows aimed at kids, but generally speaking, those ideas are a bit more complicated and are usually explored in works that go more in-depth.

Another good example would be “Pyscho-Pass,” which tells the story of a futuristic Japan whose criminal justice system is based on a system known as Sybil, which gives all citizens a number based on how likely they are to commit a crime. Again, still an anime, but one that is much more likely to appeal to adults than to kids.

2. Anime is all guys screaming and fighting.

Series like “Dragon Ball,” “Naruto” and “One Piece” have had a large impact on anime as a medium. They are still some of the most popular series to ever come out, even with many newer series also gaining a lot of notoriety. Their success, though, has come with a price. It has created a stereotype of anime as a whole consisting of Shonen archetypes — mainly composed of big muscular dudes screaming and fighting each other.

While these series are undoubtedly a part of what makes anime as a medium unique and interesting, they are by no means all of what anime is. “Attack on Titan” and “Pyscho-Pass” are two interesting series, but there are a ton more.

Take, for instance, “From the New World,” another dystopian thriller about the world after a nuclear war, where most of the remaining humans who survived have unlocked the ability to use telekinesis. It follows a group of kids and their coming of age story, learning not only more about themselves, but the dark secrets of the society they live in. While its animation may be weak in a lot of respects, its storytelling is immaculate and neatly covers different sections of the main characters’ lives as they grow up and learn more about their town Kamisu 66.

Trying to argue that all of anime is the same as “Dragon Ball” or “Naruto” is a bit like saying that all of American television can be encapsulated by “The Walking Dead” or “Game of Thrones” or that e-sports can be boiled down to “League of Legends” or “Super Smash Bros.” Anime is one of the most diverse mediums of entertainment that exists today, and to ignore that just because a lot of people gravitate more towards action series would be short-sided.

Anime is a growing medium filled with unique and imaginative stories. Despite the misconceptions that people have about it, anime is still something worth exploring. As a Tour Guide, I hope to show off much more of what this wonderful community has to offer.

Jack Scheibelein is a sophomore majoring in English. He can be reached at sgx199@vols.utk.edu.

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