By Debayan Das:
If you have grown up singing to the tunes of the Pokémon theme song or tried to imitate Goku in every possible way imaginable, then Congrats! You have watched the right television shows during your childhood. And if you are still on that track, unable to part with your favourite collection of ‘tazos’ or Duel Master Cards or even the Pokémon Red Emulators, then you, my friend, is what we call an ‘Otaku’ – completely bonkers about anime and manga.
And if you have landed here accidentally then briefly – Japanese hand-draw or computerised animations are called ‘Anime’ while manga refers to a unique style of art that’s peculiar to Japanese comics. A majority of the 90s Indian kids had grown up watching Cartoon Network and were quite surprised with the sudden freshness of content when the channel started telecasting popular anime shows like Pokémon, Dragonball Z, and Naruto. This opened up a new world for these toon addicts to explore as such visual content wasn’t easily available to most (with Animax – a channel dedicated to providing real anime exposure – unavailable in most Indian TVs back in the days of cable connections).
In Japan, anime is like a cult. It is as commonplace and celebrated as Bollywood is in India. People from all age groups take this form of art quite seriously, and characters and genres have their dedicated fan following.
However, in India, anime is still a foreign concept. One of the most common misconceptions is confusing ‘cartoons’ and ‘anime’ which are two different styles of animation altogether. While cartoons and anime are both caricature sketches that are in turn animated, the latter has a very distinct style of art using specific visual elements for its characters. Anime originated in Japan and is aimed not just for humour (unlike cartoons) but quite often branch into stories that deal with serious issues, adventures, romance or anything else for that matter. A majority of the animes are based on manga comics which were not easily available in India until online shopping companies started selling anime DVDs and manga comics from other parts of the world.
However, it would be wrong to say that the anime culture isn’t developing in India. Growing fan clubs; online social media groups are providing great platforms to share and gather information; stores are printing anime clothes, cups, gifts and other merchandise for shopping in several areas. Though not in every city, Comic Cons are being organized and promoted as well. Awareness is increasing, but slowly.
But what’s so special about Anime? Isn’t it just another type of cartoon? Well, that’s something you can and should decide for yourself! Try out some of the recommended classics from the list below and you will realize that it’s more than just a show – it’s a feeling!