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Synonyms: Japanese animation
See also: Manga, OAV, ONA
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Anime is the Japanese word for animation. As a loanword, it often refers to animated video sources created in Japan. These may be available in stores as official versions once licensed for distribution in a given country, or may be fansubbed (or occasionally even fandubbed) and distributed informally among fans.

Anime sources often have a distinct aesthetic, and set of signifiers that are, literally, foreign to English-language media. In comedy anime, for example, a large sweat drop may appear on a character to signify not that they are sweating, but that they are uncomfortable or embarrassed. Anime fans are proficient in reading these symbols, but this may be a barrier to understanding for those new to the medium.

Anime, and other Japanese media sources (i.e., Manga, Toku) are broadly divided into either shounen or shoujo, categories that very roughly correspond to "for boys" and "for girls", and which have their own distinct traditions and tropes. (Manga are also divided into seinen and josei genres, which are aimed at adult men and women respectively, but these series are rarely adapted as anime or translated into English.)

Anime Fandom

Anime and Manga

Anime and manga fandom tend to greatly overlap, especially since many anime are close adaptations of manga stories. Fans will occasionally use the term "animanga" instead of just anime or manga, showing the close association between the two mediums. Many fannish practices, such as Japanese word usage, are shared between anime and manga fans.

Japanese Word Usage

Anime fans and anime fandom often use Japanese-language terms for fannish concepts, some of which correspond neatly with concepts, terms, and categories familiar to members of Western media fandom, others that are subtly different or totally unfamiliar. For example, "yaoi" may correspond roughly to "slash", but has its own history, aesthetic, popular tropes, rules, cliches and traditions. Though there is a significant amount of overlap between people who enjoy yaoi and people who enjoy slash, the differences between the two are pronounced enough that many fans prefer one or the other genre exclusively. Many other institutions of anime (and manga) fandom exist in the same separate-but-parallel fashion with regard to Western media fandom.

Subtitled or Dubbed

Some anime fans feel very strongly about how they view anime, such as whether the show is dubbed into their native language, or whether the show is still in Japanese with subtitles. The fans who feel strongly on this issue usually prefer subtitles.

The preference for subtitles is founded in the history of dubs being poorly done. Especially with early dubbing, English dubs commonly changed or censored dialog, censored or cut scenes or cut entire episodes, and had poor voice-acting with the Japanese names and terms being badly pronounced. Certain productions, particularly the "free adaptations" of writer/producer Carl Macek, sought to eliminate references to Japanese culture. Additionally, some Japanese terms are difficult to translate and don't work well in other languages.

This poor dubbing continues today, and some companies receive a lot of criticism from fans for the changes made to shows. One of the most drastic examples of this was 4Kids Entertainment's 2004 English release of One Piece, one of the most popular anime shows. One Piece underwent heavy editing including changing a chain-smoking character's cigarettes into lollipops, and cutting the first 143 episodes down to 104. An ongoing internet meme is "what if 4kids licensed (miscellaneous anime)" depicting drastic and comical changes made to an anime series, and this simultaneously reveals fears some fans have regarding anime being licensed and dubbed.

Some companies are learning from fan reaction and attempting to remain truer to the original material. Official DVD releases with the original Japanese voices with subtitles are becoming more common to appeal to fans who prefer subtitles.

Early (Western) Anime Print Zines

Meta/Further Reading