When we hear “anime” the first thing that pops into our heads is Japanese animation- the root of the word being an abbreviation pronunciation of the Japanese word for “animation”.
Outside of Japan, it references the varied yet distinct style of animation characterized featuring content that are just as diverse as Japanese comics (manga).
Although Japan has a monopoly over all things anime, recent shifts in the global culture have allowed anime to transcend even more borders as content is not only translated for western audiences but new non-Japanese studios have emerged that are slowly redefining our definition of anime. Once captive audiences are now becoming content creators and this my friends, is a great thing!
At first we saw Korean and American studios creating cartoons clearly inspired by old school anime but also integrating their own voices in storytelling. some examples would be the Korean “Oseam” which is reminiscent of the best Japanese anime drama movies
– and of course there is the critically acclaimed and award winning series Avatar: the last Airbender- a household favourite!
Fast forward to 2017 and we see what is being touted as probably one of the most popular anime produced outside of Japan in recent years- The King’s Avatar (全职高手) based on the novel of the same title has been sweeping the world but coming from China. The series just finished it’s first season and it is already a big hit even in Japan so much that there are plans to localize it.. yes.. localize a Chinese anime in Japan. The show takes place in modern times and is focused on an fantasy game similar to SAO and Log Horizon but with an e-sports flair. There is 2nd season and even a live action movie in the works.
Another series that caught my attention is Quan Zhi Fa Shi (Full-Time Magister). It’s a fun take on your typical school life anime since it adds magic to the mix. and again, it is a great example of how anime from other countries can compete as far as catchy and memorable stories.
There will be debates that pop up regarding the authenticity of the anime, and as purists might argue that the spirit or vibe of these newly emerging anime. Some might argue that the style and art direction is not anime enough. I’ve already heard people trashing some titles mainly because the language used is not the typical Japanese, Korean or even English that viewers are so used to listening to- and although I agree that it does take a bit getting used to I have focused more on story and character development than how the anime sounds.
Needless to say, China is a market that most companies would love to get into. That we are seeing some fantastic content being produced from China is a sign of the popularity of Anime style shows there and a possible glimpse of things to come in the next few years. Whether it be by way of Anime or even live action, it is an exciting time to be an Anime fan!
In the end the new anime that are being produced globally is a good thing. It allows the infusion of different cultures into the fabric of what is a traditionally Japan-centric art form. I for one am always on the look out for good anime and am willing to try out any title suggested by friends (in this case Thank You Evans for King’s Avatar).
What is your take on this? Do you have any non-Japanese anime to recommend?