So I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while now, because some friends and other anime reviews I know all have different opinions about this…
My answer is yes. It is.
Now, let me explain in a pointlessly long and detailed format.
First of all, what is Anime?
Well, the Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines anime as: “a style of animation originating in Japan that is characterized by stark colorful graphics depicting vibrant characters in action-filled plots often with fantastic or futuristic themes.”
Examples are… Naruto, Dragon Ball Z, and basically everything you see nowadays.
But it’s important to note that the name ‘anime’ was created as a slang for the word ‘animation.’ This is because the Japanese alphabet pronounces ‘animation’ and ‘enimeishan,’ and they would in turn pronounce ‘anime’ and ‘enime.’ (The ‘e’ in this case is the ‘e’ from let, and not tree.) Hence, the word ‘anime’ has been separated into a new word from ‘animation.’
So it should just be a shorter way of saying animation. However, as anime developed, Japan created its own style of animation away from the examples of Disney and such, and has defined anime uniquely. So therefore we can say that now, anime is a unique style of animation.
So what are the characteristics of anime?
Well, one the most iconic thing that defines anime is the anime character’s eyes.
As you can see from the example above, the most distinguishing feature about these ‘anime eyes’ is that they’re often huge and colorful.
Other times, the size of the eyes is not emphasized too much so that they do not feel unnatural.
As you can see from this example, Zabuza’s eyes aren’t exactly big enough to be considered unnatural, but you know that this is an anime, because of other factors. Factors like the art style having a unique look is one of them.
So is it art style? Does that define anime?
Not exactly. Obviously, Legend of Korra has that art style that looks like an anime, and would qualify as such. However to those of you who still are telling me: ‘Oh but it’s not made in Japan so it’s not anime. Oh but it’s not drawn by Japanese people.’ Let me finish.
The art style is of the things that define anime. However, it doesn’t always apply. What if I told you that this was an anime?
This obeys some of the art style’s rules sure, like the ‘anime eyes,’ but there’s obviously something about it that shouts “I’M NOT ANIME!!!” It looks more like something from Cartoon Network. Factors like the drawing style not having smooth lines, like the fact that the characters are very… Rigid-looking immediately would have told you that this is not an anime. Which surprise, it actually is.
So we can say that the drawing style is not exactly what defines an anime, rather our stereotypical view of what an anime should look like.
Ok then, but then I’ll just say anime qualifies as anime if they’re made and produced in Japan.
Oh, so you’re going there do you? You really think I don’t have more proof?
Well, if you’re going to say that anime only qualifies as anime when it is created and produced in Japan, then how do you explain RWBY?
That’s right. I’m willing to say that Monty Oum’s RWBY qualifies as an anime. Why? Because of the art style obviously, and secondly, the fact that it’s being shown on crunchyroll.com, an ANIME AND MANGA EXCLUSIVE STREAMING SITE. This proves my point that even pay to stream services has acknowledged that something not made my a Japanese person, not produced in Japan has been accepted as an anime.
And guess what? Japan even has it’s own Japanese dub cast for RWBY.
So if something that was made that is:
- Not created by a Japanese person.
- Not produced in Japan.
Can be qualified as an anime, then surely Legend of Korra qualifies!
To sum up, the only real thing that separates anime from animation is the drawing style. However, I’d say that if something that was made in Japan does not posses the stereotypical anime styles, it still qualifies as anime, as it was created in Japan. However, anything that is created outside of Japan that has an anime drawing style can be counted as anime.