Anime. Toon porn
That was my haiku to the anime industry. It pretty much sums up what I'm about to talk about in the following long long article (i.e. "guiding you through the realm of anime"), so you can go back to looking up hentai stuff now if you'd like. You've already got the gist of it. For those of you who aren't pussies, or who have just erupted your love volcano after checking out fan-drawn pics of the Dirty Pair getting it on with Sailor Moon and Ayanami Rei, and you now need a ten minute break, read on!
Basically "anime" to the Westerner means "animation made in Japan (with lots of help from third world animation studios in order to pump out the millions of drawings needed to make all those tentacle monsters come alive)". Anime comes in three different varieties; Theatrical Anime (with huuuuuuge budgets and eye-candy visuals), Original Video Anime (OVAs, with decent budgets and a bit more time to tell their story as the plot is usually separated out into many half hour releases), and TV Anime (with budgets for one long season that maybe, just maybe, equal a third of the monies of one 90 minute theatrical release... aka the crap end of the anime production line). Each form of anime has its plusses and negatives though. TV anime may have a pretty small budget (which usually means low frame rates per second and sometimes rushed production time through cheap Korean studios in which half of the character art is off model or doesn't even look non-retarded) when compared to OVAs and movies, but their ability to flesh out a story in anything from a 13 to 52 episode season can't be beat. And the problem with Movie anime is, if you get a movie with lush visuals but craptastic storytelling, you feel like you've been royally screwed over by a really big wasted effort. And then you have OVAs where they have good frame rates and high end art by the top studios, but you have to wait 5 years for the completion of a 7 episode series. You just can't win. It's like getting sucked off by a cheap whore with sharp teeth. Plusses and negatives.
The best part of TV and OVA anime storylines is the fullness of their plots. Where as US TV shows and stuff are usually nothing more than fragmented episodes where the plot is always over and the status quo is always back in place by the closing credits, anime usually employs one long storyline per season. Where the beginning, middle and grand finale all take place over the course of 13 to 52 episodes. The exception to the "shitty US TV show" rule was Buffy the Vampire Slayer with its one long story-arc that culminated into the final battle with the baddie in the season finale. My God did I love Buffy.
Beyond that though, anime is broken up into a shitload of GENRES (a good portion of which I won't even be able to get to in this article, you'll have to wait for the ULTIMATE Guide for the rest), and each genre (no matter how bizarre or seriously fucked up they sound) has at the very least dozens upon dozens of anime titles that fall into its definitive category. To give you a quick example, Lesbian Magical Schoolgirl Tentacle Rape is a very healthy genre with 3 shows in its category that are in production right now... Not that I'm following them or anything... Each genre of anime has something like five to fifteen subcategories, with some of those having even more subcategories. Very confusing, and definitely very disturbing. You'll see what I mean in a second, for right now it is time to tackle the List of Anime Genres (and yes, most of the shit listed below can indeed be part of more than one genre. Like with American TV Shows. Sledge Hammer! can be classified as a comedy, a police show, and God's own personal entertainment).... In no particular order, except which ones randomly popped into my head as I stream-of-conciousnessly wrote this:
GIANT ROBOT ANIME
Wow, I started with a big one here. What sets Giant Robot anime apart from other robot anime stuff is the fact that the robots in it are in fact quite large. Large enough to have a kid (a teenage boy who's never even seen a giant robot before, let alone piloted one before inexplicably being forced to get in the cockpit on one fateful day when an alien attack chases him to it) get in it. The giant robot piloted by the inexperienced (yet genius) kid can, but doesn't have to, transform into other shapes and weapons. The Valkyrie Fighter in Macross is a good example of transforming mecha, being able to change from a robot to a plane to a half-boy half-girl horse ("Mecha" being anything mechanical in anime... Seriously, if you don't even know that you're not only a geek for liking anime, but you're a stupid geek). But of course transforming mecha really isn't necessary. The fact that there are giant robots with giant guns in a show should be good enough for you (think Gundam, Patlabor, Gunbuster or the Big O. They look fine and probably kick more ass than a Valkyrie in "plane mode"). Now, as an addendum to the piloted giant robot genre, there is also an unpiloted genre. Stuff like Giant Robo and Tetsujin 28... These giant robots might have a teenage punk fighting along side them, and screaming orders into a wristwatch, but the robots are pretty much fitted with a sort of artificial intelligence. They could crush their annoying "masters" if they so chose.
Also, the giant robots don't even have to be mechanical robots at all in order fit in this category. Think Evangelion, Argentosoma or RahXephon. Those things are all organic (sort of) monsters that have been captured or cloned from the aliens/bad guys and turned into tools for justice. The point is that Giant Robot Anime just has to have giants that at least look something like robots. I guess you could make Giant Humanoid Anime a sub-genre, but I won't, so fuck off.
The basic plot to Giant Robot Anime is this: Bad guys/aliens attack our wussy protagonist's house/city/world. Wuss boy (or lesbian girl, but never a fully straight girl) stumbles upon a giant robot that is more than likely his side's secret weapon. Wuss boy then gets into the giant robot and kills lots of baddies despite the fact that he is a total pussy and a pacifist who hates war. Somehow he is convinced to help the military (what's left of it) kill off the rest of the baddies and he learns to become the ultimate badass killing machine in the universe. Variations of this plotline of course can and do occur. The protagonist can start out as a pilot (or potential pilot) from the beginning, but if they already are a pilot then they're not a very good one. They have to then prove their untapped mettle by killing lots of badguys in a fighting move that they never knew that they knew, or by accident, it doesn't matter. What matters is that their bloodlust is then loosed and their quest for vengeance or proof that they're not a total pussy begins from there. Then they learn to become the ultimate badass killing machine in the universe.
Just a note, 90% of ALL anime has a giant robot in it somewhere. Keep your eyes peeled!
The harem anime genre has quite a few sub-genres too. You can have comedy-harem, sweet and sticky romance-harem, or even tortured soul drama-harem. The main thing you need to be a harem show is LOTS of hot/cute chicks to all fall for the same loser guy. And yes, the main male character MUST be a complete choad. He must make Steve Urkel look like David Hassel... Wait, that's actually worse. He must make Saved By The Bell's Screech look like Clint Eastwood. I don't know why, but my guess is that the overwhelming majority of Japanese males are complete and total losers themselves who need a magnifying glass in order to whack off. The complete pussies in the Harem shows who find themselves at the center of attention amid a myriad of busty women must be as pathetic as their target audience in order to (A) make them feel somewhat manly in order for them to buy the advertisers' crap that the show's selling or (B) get their hopes up a half an hour each week in order to delude them from thinking that they really aren't going to die alone so that they don't pull a Suicide Circle and jump 50 men at a time onto the tracks of the Northbound Shinjuku Express. It must be the animators' way of giving something back to the community. Who knows, there might even be a law on the books that says that "any animator who helps contribute to the train-pasting death of a confused, lonely and/or utterly pathetic salary worker will hereby have to scrape their remains off of the tracks himself. Arrigatou."
The basic plot of any Harem anime is this: Lonely loser (usually in his mid to late teens, but possible early twenties) who's never even kissed a girl, let alone seen a real-life naked titty, falls head first into the hearts of anywhere from 2 to 100 very attractive women who all have absolutely no taste in men at all. This faux-love that the women experience usually comes from a misunderstanding (they for some reason think that the loser isn't a total loser due to the fact that he accidentally does something brave, chivalrous or simply non-lame when nobody but the mistaken girl can see him. Thus her crush begins when she thinks that there is more to the pussy than what he shows the rest of the world and she thinks they share a secret. Also, there is always one girl who fully knows and understands the protagonist and loves him more than the other girls who only love him because of that one non-stupid thing he accidentally did. It is always obvious from the beginning who this "true love" girl is, and that the loser will end up with her.
Kimagure Orange Road is a Harem show done right (some may argue that only two girls don't make a harem they make a "love triangle", but it follows all the rules for this genre and so it does indeed qualify, so blow me). The "true love" chick is hot, and her reasons for liking the main loser character are pretty genuine. Plus the show doesn't get bogged down with choices for the protagonist. He's got two choices, one annoying ugly girl and one hot, warm and tender girl. The supporting cast helps make interesting plot developments possible too and allows the main character to be caught in Three's Company-styled misunderstandings all the time. Pretty good, non-painful entertainment. Negima is a harem show done absolutely fucking wrong. Wrong wrong wrong. First of all, the loser main character is something like 12 years old. Strike one. The main character is made a teacher at an all girls school and made to live with two of the cuties in his class. A retarded strike two. There are 30+ cute girls in Negima's harem. Overkill. Strike three. Granted, not all the chicks actually like Negima, but I guarantee you that they all eventually will. I know this because the Japanese blue-balled writers wish that they were a twelve year-old wimpy teacher who's class consisted of nothing but hot high school girls who wanted to jump their bones.
The sad thing about these harem shows is that nothing ever happens in them. The obvious choice for the lame boy is never made until the final episode and then he and his "one true love" only kiss at most. They spend months, if not years, pining for eachother and wishing to be in eachother's arms, but the guy is such a complete shank rag that the most he can do is lightly peck the girl on the cheek right before the final credits. If these shows were American you know that no matter how pathetic the guy was he'd end up bagging the "true love" chick about halfway through the season, then realize that sex is really only great if you have a different partner every time you do it, and make it his quest to then knock up the rest of the harem surrounding and smothering him.
Yeah, the reason that girls fall for the main character are usually pretty imaginative (as with Tenchi Muyo, Shuffle! and Vandread), but sometimes get reeeeeeally "who the fuck thought that shit up" (as with Maburaho, Ai Yori Aoishi, Please Teacher/Twins, Hand Maid May and Love Hina, where they just have tons of chicks fall for the loser for absolutely no reason other than "Well, he's a nice loser, and I'm a hot, talented and happening girl with big tits with no other options available to me"... Pure BS Japanese male fantasy). Whatever. My point... Ummm, well the idea is ridiculously overused, but sometimes something fresh can still come of it.
ROBOT GIRLFRIEND ANIME
You would be tire-iron-to-the-face surprised how often this one is used: Chobits, Boku no Marie, Mahoromatic, Nuku Nuku, Hand Maid May (which is actually a HAREM robot girlfriend show... Yikes!) and to a lesser extent shows like Kiddy Grade and Gunslinger Girl. The list does go on and on but my brain hurts. The Robot Girlfriend genre is even scarier than the whole Harem concept in that it makes hard-up Japanese men think that they can really make the perfect women and she will love them unconditionally because that was her programming. While this thinking does keep the freakishly loserish off the streets and in their parents' basements trying to mold the perfect robotic vagina for their fake girlfriend, the underlying idea behind this category is really scary. If anything is going to make men think of women as possessions it's the idea that man can build a woman to worship him. It's like Spielberg's A.I. They say that the robot kid's love is real, but it's not real love... It's just a computer simulation of what love is. It's like programming that Deep Blue chess computer to say "I love looking into your eyes, master" whenever it wins a match. Is that love? It's creepy is what it is. Like when Anakin was trying to woo Padme in Episode II. He was all "crazy stalker guy"... As far as my various restraining orders go, that kind of creepy attitude ain't love.
Sometimes the robots have real souls in them (don't ask, just remember it's anime), and that's kind of less creepy. In fact sometimes it can be cool when it raises some pretty deep questions (like Ghost in the Shell and Mahoromatic). And stuff like Kiddy Grade falls into the Robot Girlfriend genre too even though none of the female robot leads are anybody's girlfriend, but that's only because they're pseudo lesbians. That makes anything alright.
SPORTS DRAMA ANIME
I was surprised at how many series fell into this category. Honestly, when you think about anime you usually think "giant robots" and "tentacles having sex with high school girls." You rarely think "soccer" or "racquetball." In the Sports Dorama category you will find such classics like Yawara and Mach Go Go Go (aka Speed Racer, you mongo), and some decent newer ones with just the right amount of "right stuff" to em, like Battle Athletes, Hajime no Ippo, Kaleido Star and Prince of Tennis. The basic plot of Sports Dramas pretty much follows Rocky 1, 2, 3, and 4. The protagonist doesn't realize he/she has the potential to be great. Something happens to spark the fire within him/her. He/she rises to the top after much training and wipes the floor with his/her rival. Big American dance party!
Sports Dramas are a pretty fun break from the average Harem show. Though where Harem shows tend to try to relate to the libidos of horny Japanese men, Sports Dramas connect with anybody who ever wanted to better himself as a person. Competition in a sporting event is a universal ambition. I mean, who doesn't watch the Olympics and wish that they could run that fast, lift that much weight, or beat the shit out of another competitor legally? Sure, you know beyond a shadow of a doubt who's going to win in the end of a Sports Drama anime (honestly, I can't remember one Bad News Bears ending in any show I've yet to see), but it's the journey that you take with the star athlete that makes this genre shine. And the impossible feats that the hero produces usually don't even make you cringe, they make you cheer! Like when an athlete has them raise the bar in the high jump competition to 6 inches higher than the world record and they just barely clear it because they knew that they could do it... Man, I'm on my feet hooting and hollering for her spunky ass! You go, Akari! You rock my world. The underdog always wins.
HIGH SCHOOL DRAMA ANIME
Whoa, this is a biggie. The so called "slice o' life" shows that the young uns seem to be so crazy about nowadays. Well, the "slice o' life" isn't what all of them are about, but most focus solely on an individual high school student (usually an over-the-toply dramatic female lead) and her small circle of friends (most of the time she has just a single die hard friend and maybe some acquaintances who would sell her out for a wink from the most popular bitchy girl at school). The drama always involves a boy (or in those rare cases where a boy is the lead, a girl is the cause of the dorama). The lowly protagonist has deep unrequited feelings for a certain sempai, and suffers silently through high school life while she watches from afar and tries to build up the confidence to confess her feelings of love. Through the course of the show there will be: (A) A major humiliating experience in which the protagonist's reputation is reduced to even lower on the high school food chain than that freak who cosplays as Minky Momo in his free time; (B) An attempted harrassment, mugging or rape in which the chief love interest will save the unpopular heroine from dickhead punks who were just trying to get a piece; (C) Another quiet and unassuming classmate of the protagonist who had been watching her from the sidelines just like she had been watching her dreamboat, will finally profess his love for the protagonist only after the protagonist got royally and ashamedly shot down by her original lust object; or (D) All of the above. Hana Yori Dango is like the epitome of the High School Drama anime. It like takes everything I've talked about above and then like amplifies them by the power of 10. Which is a lot. It's like the original author hates nice girls and just wants them all to suffer. BURRRRN!!!!
There might be some alterations to the (A) through (C) choices, but you usually get (D) in these kinds of shows. The heroine might write a love letter to her schoolgirl crush sempai, which gets intercepted by the class beeyatch, who then reads it out loud to the homeroom class. This makes the heroine get upset and despair over how shitty her life has become, blinding her to the caring eyes of her classmate who loves her, add-Japanese-name-here. It also causes her to run away in the middle of the night/in the middle of a rainstorm and bump into some bad dudes in a back alley somewhere. They then try to rape her (or just, you know, show her a good time) but luckily for our homely heroine the object of her hormonally charged attachment just happens to be walking by in the dark alley too because he's a cool loner. He kicks the punks' asses and begins to notice the heroine too. But his love for her isn't as deep as the quiet classmate who's ALWAYS loved our heroine, and therefore the relationship is doomed from the start. But some sort of happiness prevails in the end and our protagonista will end up either a lesbian with her one best friend who's stuck with her the whole time, or she'll finally see that the quiet guy who's loved her from afar, just like she used to love her dream guy from afar, is the one for her. Get out your hankies.
Christ! I hope you have a few decades to kill in order to wait for a Fighting anime to finish. Dragon Ball Z, One Piece, YuYu Hakushu, Naruto, etc. etc.... They all go on FOREVER. And it's always the same plot (and mostly the same characters): A loner with powers that he hasn't even begun to tap into, meets up with other powerful comrades, one by one, and together they dispatch their own brand of justice onto dickheads the world/universe over. That's it. One season (52 episodes) of these shows could just revolve around ONE fight with a bad guy who starts out more powerful than all the good guys combined, but who's buttocks is totally whipped after the heroes return stronger than they were before. The bad guy always has minions of his own, each of whom is comparable to one of the main character's buddies in strength and attitude. The minions and buddies will usually start to match up and fight halfway through the season, leading up to the main hero's confrontation with the big bad. Fighting anime consists of looooooooots of taunting. Taunting and explanations that usually take up dozens of episodes during every main battle. Sometimes it might take an entire 30 minutes for one punch to be thrown or one character to "power up" enough to even think of throwing a punch. The best way to watch a Fighting anime is in season collections with your finger on the fast forward button. And relax, if you think you've gone too far and passed an important move in the ultimate final battle, they'll show it three more times. You're good.
I am truly, madly, deeply amazed at how original most of these genres actually are. I'll bet you've never even heard of a good portion of them before coming to this page. But then, something comes along to prove that the Japanese can plagarize ideas just as well as us Westerners. Thus, I present to you Fantasy themed anime. Record of Lodoss War, Bastard!, Berserk, Slayers ... Pretty much ripped off directly from from the musty pages of a J.R.R. Tolkein novel. There are elves, dark elves, dwarves, wizards, knights, thieves, holy objects, all powerful dark lords, endless armies of ugly ass creatures, continental wars... You get the idea. Now, I'm not saying that these shows suxor my dixor, far from it. Just that they dumped originality down the shitter for the sake of their story's setting. Sure, sometimes the Japanese mix their fantasy settings with other genres for a Reeses Peanut Butter Cup effect (like Escaflowne merged Fantasy and Giant Robots, and El Hazard blended together Back to the Future with Willow..... Hey, I liked Willow, asshole), but still, Elvish Fantasy wasn't originally a Japanese thang.... Like tentacles were. Whatever though. What's good is good.
Another big sub-genre of Fantasy anime is the ever lovable Girl Transported To Magical Land storylines. It probably should be a listing onto itself, but (as stated before, and probably many times in the future) I'm lazy. Anyway, an average (maybe a bit brainy or athletic, but never gorgeous) Japanese girl (or girls) is (are) transported to a far away place where magic is usually the order of the day, and giant, fantasy creatures try to eat them before they come under the protection of a handsome savior who teaches them all that they need to know about this new place, mocks them for not knowing anything about the world before then, and then falls in love with them (or dies, or must stay behind when the girl goes back home). Usually bittersweet endings occur in this sub-genre. 12 Kingdoms, Magic Knights Rayearth, Fushigi Yuugi (shudder!) and Escaflowne fall neatly into this category, as do HUNDREDS of others. Let's move on though, shall we? Let's just was FY out of our minds. Please.