What Is Anime?
Emru Townsend · From fps #2 · May 1, 2005 | The question of what is or isn't anime shouldn't be important. While we categorize other forms of animation—Golden Age, full, limited, stop-motion, clay—we don't worry too much about overlaps between those categories, nor do we worry too much if something doesn't fit where we expect it to.

And yet anime has long had an undercurrent of exclusion in North America. A good part of that comes from the underground nature of its early fan base. Entering as it did through the portals of science-fiction fandom (and, to a lesser degree, cult movie fandom), otherness was a prized trait. But otherness carries with it two related aspects: exclusion and assumed superiority. It wasn't (and, it sometimes seems, still isn't) that uncommon to hear people blithely state that anime is inherently superior to American animation, Disney animation, or Saturday-morning cartoons—whatever the speaker's aesthetic and thematic fulcrum happened to be.

Such blanket statements invite questioning, and of course people did just that. For instance, while the Japanese word anime refers to animation, it's used in the English-speaking world to denote Japanese animation. But what does that mean?

Want to read the rest of this feature?

You'll find it and many other articles in the May 2005 issue of fps, available as a free download.
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