Every single field or specialty has its own layered expressions that become something of a coded language to those involved. The more time spent exploring and interacting in those worlds, the more language, terminology, and actions used will become second nature. Remembering my first time diving into anime, it was something of a culture shock coming across different types of things ingrained in both fact and fiction that I kind treat like an everyday occurrence now. No matter how much I try to forget or ponder it, the ideas and concepts were once nothing more than foreign to me.
Um, What Does That Mean?
Before I started my journey into anime, I knew very little Japanese. Aside from common greetings and sayings, that was about the extent of it. It wasn’t until I started getting more involved in different series where only fansubs were applicable that most things started to click. Knowing there are jokes on the internet with overzealous translator notes showing up to describe the obvious within context (I.E: keikaku means plan), it is one of those fond and funny moments that made fall in love with the medium and trying to learn the language. Of course, as I did begin to learn a little Japanese and a better understanding of what some words meant, it overall changed my outlook on how language is used in general. Take the word “otaku” for example. Where the word is deemed negative, it is unsparingly attributed to anime fans by natives and foreigners alike. However, simply, it is just used to refer to an over passionate fan of any area. You can have “densha otaku” (those interested in trains) or even “pasocon otaku” (those interested in computers/computer hardware). Not having an interest in some fields, going through and watching different anime series that zeroed in on them, I gained a very special type of appreciation that can’t be summed up into words and help expanded a world I hardly knew existed. Still nowhere as proficient as I want to be, I do believe that anime and wanting to experience the content like the natives did spur on my engagement to formally learn the language. Also, have to thank some of my teachers for having to put up with my terrible pronunciation and identification skills over the many years. Couldn’t have done much without them.
The Terrible And Sometimes Tolerable Tropes
Where animation marketed toward children is known for ratcheting up the crazy when it comes to providing entertainment, anime has no problem of going to the same lengths. While it didn’t take me long to reconcile some of the things involved with the medium, the common tropes and….let’s just say “unique” trappings that came with them can be jarring for newcomers to wrap their mind around. One, in particular, I had trouble with the innocence girl proclaiming she can’t be bride after seen naked or in underwear, usually by the main character. Taking some time to get used to such situations, I actually grew to like them not for the comedic value (since they are rarely funny), but cornerstones of what makes anime what it is. Where some fans do get miffed by things like the other side of fanservice and overpowered heroes/heroines, I can appreciate some of those offenses, especially if the series in mind does it in a creative fashion. Or just plain acknowledges and embraces what is.
The Growing Pains Of Localization
Having to give thanks to companies over the years for bringing anime overseas to be enjoyed, the localization process of many works has to be one of the most unfortunate side effects of that happening. With the early 80’s and 90’s exposing a foreign audience to this wacky and stylized art form, it is a shame and something of a laughable exercise in futility of how far some series went in order to hide the “Japanese” nature. Pokemon is one infamous example: Brock, one of Ash’s many companions was also a pretty good cook. Too bad he was also a conman that was into fooling kids in the English dub that he was cooking jelly-filled doughnuts instead of rice balls. Having been exposed to a bunch of different culture experiences at the time, 7 year old me was certainly not fooled. With Pokemon not being the only causality, the stuff localization was supposed to make better (and understandable) somehow made it worse. Sailor Moon is also another great example. Featuring Haruka Tenoh and Michiru Kaioh, also known as Sailor Uranus and Neptune, the two were in a more intimate relationship than TV could handle at the time. Confusing intimate with downright insane, the American script changed the relationship to cousins. Of course, not doing good enough to cover what was going on, incest must have been a better idea. Good job! Still having to give credit to many holders for going back and reexamining the work they did and even giving us unedited versions of shows they were in charge with, it is still regrettable that things like this still go happen. I see why people hate censorship…
As much as I can look back at some of these bullet points and others to call them old hat for the amount of content that I have consumed now, it is still nice taking a trip down memory lane to recall my initial thoughts. With one of the best ways to step into a culture is through media, I do believe that anime in itself has been and will continue to be one of the most interesting and weirdest that can be measured. What were some things that first baffled you or like/dislike about anime? Anything you wish to see different?
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