Look, I’ll be the first to admit that anime is weird enough to be a little off kilter, all things considered. Like, there was a reason why it was such a niche thing back in the day, which people didn’t really like indulging in. When compared to other shows that were airing at the time, animated or otherwise, it was just so different and unique. That meant it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea. But did that mean it wasn’t worth investing your time in? No!
Anime probably seems so weird to non-anime fans because of how intense it can get, despite it being an animated medium. Like, traditionally, that is seen as something for children to enjoy, and not adults. This makes no sense, considering ‘Disney Adults’ is a literal term we’ve heard before. But anime tends to be a little more serious because, well, it’s a serious medium. It’s interesting because it doesn’t seem to be like anything else out right now.
It’s why western animation now is so inspired by it as well. Anime has taken over in a big kind of way. From shows like Avatar: The Last Airbender to Steven’s Universe, it’s very easy to see how ‘weird’ anime has impacted the animation scene as a whole. It has taken something that was viewed as an outlier and made it the blueprint.
But why anime, of all things? Surely there is more animation style out there to take inspiration from. But none have become quite as pervasive as anime in recent times. With the advent of social media and the success of more mature anime, it has become a worldwide phenomenon. And here is why being weird propelled it further.
Anime: From Weird To Wonderful!
Anime didn’t start out being this varied and diverse animation style. It was pretty much all children’s show, much like most cartoons in the west. However, it had potential, which is what creators tapped into. With more and more serious manga coming out, there were avenues to adapt these stories.
Something that anime excelled in was telling a story. Its method of having an overarching narrative built to a climax, rather than the monster of the week episodes, was so refreshing in a sea of sketch comedy cartoons.
Anime, even when designed for children, didn’t treat them as immature. Digimon dealt with serious topics like death and, yet, was insanely popular with kids across the world. It’s that mix of mature themes and childish whimsy that makes anime so wonderfully unique.
How Anime Has Inspired A Generation Of Artists:
Because how anime challenged animation norms back in the day, it paved the way for so many new ideas and premises born by new artists. You could see this influence as early as the 2000s when cartoons like Megas XLR were pulling from the popular mecha anime genre thanks to shows like Mobile Suit Gundam and Macross Frontier.
The Teen Titans show also had a very distinct style that could easily be related to anime. It was dynamic in a way only anime could be, and even its theme song reflected that inspiration, being sung by Puffy AmiYumi, a Japanese duo.
I mentioned Steven’s Universe before, but that’s because it is blatantly inspired by the magical girl anime of the 90s. I’m talking Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura, and the works. Though, it isn’t the only one. Adventure Time also alluded to Usagi Tsukino in its episodes through easter eggs scattered throughout the show.
Maybe anime was weird at one point. And hell, it still is. But that weirdness is exactly what makes anime so special and fun. There is nothing else like it.