No Right Answer: Is Avatar an Anime?

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I have a question to piggyback on my original debate:

If a show like Futurama or South Park do an homage to anime by changing the art style or tone, and everyone can identify that as "spoofing or homaging an anime," how in the hell is that possible unless anime has a clear style? If the definition of anime as "only coming from Japan" is what people want to cling to for dear life, then by that logic it is physically impossible for spoofs or homages to exist. But they do. So we're living in a world of paradoxes as a result.

My original question of "is Avatar an anime" is still fair as long as we can point to cases where western animation have clearly spoofed an identifiable style.

Pickapok:

Laggyteabag:

Buuuuuuuuuuuuuut if we are going on technicalities, The Legend of Korra: Book 2 - Spirits, episodes 1-7 are by definition, an anime. These episodes are not animated by Studio Mir, but are actually animated by Studio Perriot (Located in Tokyo, Japan) of Naruto and Bleach fame. That makes this half a season anime but but the other half of Book 2 as well as Books 1,3 and 4 a cartoon.

It we are going by technicalities, that's wrong. Where the series is animated doesn't matter. What matters is where the series is produced. Avatar was produced by Nickelodeon, an American company.

I'm kinda just going by the Wikipedia definition which states that "Anime are Japanese animated productions usually featuring hand-drawn or computer animation."

I took that as "If it is animated in Japan, it is an anime", but frankly I just kinda went with it seeing as it was the first definition that I came across, and I am lazy like that. I could very well be wrong about that, but in my defense, the actual definition of what an anime actually is seems to vary depending on where you look.

SNCommand:

coheedswicked:
I really like Chris's pizza analogy. If it has all the elements of a pizza it's a pizza whether it's made in Italy or not.

However there are some things where region does matter, like Champagne, it is a sparkling white wine from the Champagne region of France. Sparkling white wine from anywhere else is just called sparkling white wine.

So this begs the question is anime pizza or champagne? Next weeks debate?

The funny thing about the champagne analogy is that while you're correct that the only true champagne comes from champagne, almost everyone calls it champagne wherever it might come from, because if it looks like champagne, smells like champagne, and tastes like champagne, most people will generally call it for champagne

Which is what makes it the perfect analogy. Any casual passerby would take one look at the animation style and say "hey look an anime" much the same way someone would look at a sparkling white and say "hey look champagne".

If met with the response from an anime snob: "actually it's not an anime because it's not actually from Japan" the casual viewer would say something like "ok" or "whatever" much like if they were met with the response from a wine snob "actually it's not from Champagne so it's not Champagne".

It is the same.

Chris Pranger:
I have a question to piggyback on my original debate:

If a show like Futurama or South Park do an homage to anime by changing the art style or tone, and everyone can identify that as "spoofing or homaging an anime," how in the hell is that possible unless anime has a clear style?

Stereotypes.

It's like spoofing "hollywood movies" through a parody of a Michael Bay-esque CGI-heavy summer blockbuster sci-fi.

Or spoofing "YA literature" through a teenage girl's struggles in a dystopian world ran by a dictatorical high school allegory.

Or parodying "video games" through a modern military shooter with a gruff, stubbled white dude protagonist.

Certain more casual audience members might think that these are defining, obligatory attributes of their whole respective labels, but what they are actually spooding are specific genres, that happen to be more popular than the others inside their label, and with more mainstream recognition.

In the case of anime, it's the genre of shonen "battle manga" adaptations. Naruto, Bleach, Drangon Ball, etc. These all are based on manga running in the same magazine, Shonen Jump, intentionally fitting into the same very specific style, that is not at all similar to an anime horror, or an anime space opera.

It's the same reason Futurama, Simpsons, and Family guy are known as American cartoons even though a majority of the production is made in South Korea:
It's made for an American audience.

Anime is made for a Japanese market, that's where it gets it's primary funding from and that's the market the investors are targeting when they fund the show.

Awhile ago they made the old Batman cartoons in Japan because it was cheaper, they have a distinct style but they're still American cartoons since it was made for an American audience.

Avatar is an American cartoon since it was made for an American audience.

Sure it's not a perfect definition, and you can always debate exactly which market they had in mind when making it, but it works.

Chris Pranger:
I have a question to piggyback on my original debate:

If a show like Futurama or South Park do an homage to anime by changing the art style or tone, and everyone can identify that as "spoofing or homaging an anime," how in the hell is that possible unless anime has a clear style? If the definition of anime as "only coming from Japan" is what people want to cling to for dear life, then by that logic it is physically impossible for spoofs or homages to exist. But they do. So we're living in a world of paradoxes as a result.

My original question of "is Avatar an anime" is still fair as long as we can point to cases where western animation have clearly spoofed an identifiable style.

Then what would Japanese cartoons that exist outside of that style be identified as?

You could easily parody American movie trailers since a majority follow the same exact style, but that style doesn't define what movie trailers are.

I'm not exactly sure on how to define anime, but I just know when something is done in an Eastern style of art and storytelling.

The main thing for me is that I have felt that, because anime is culturally centered in a different country and odd, the fans of these shows became outcasts for a while. When they had to defend anime from people who weren't familiar with it, they started with why they like it more than what their country had to offer. Then the argument became anime had a superior style, and, for some people, anime is the best is animation (that usually centers around Japan).

So, I see the need to say Avatar the Last Airbender is an anime is based on the idea that no good animation can come from anywhere else. American cartoons are the worst. European cartoons don't exist anymore. So if an animated series that is good exists, then it must be anime. It might just be the circles that I've run into on the internet before, but that's what it is to me.

Chris Pranger:

2cool4u:
I haven't watched the video, but I know this weird trick that can answer the question with scientific certainty! But what is this weird trick, I hear you ask? It's quite simple, I say. It only consists in answering a simple question, whether a certain work of animation is made in Japan or not. Easy as pie, you say! So, without further ado, let's put it to work.

Is Avatar made in Japan? No.

Therefore it's not an anime.

There, I answered your deep philosophical question that gripped your mind for centuries. Now go find a job, you nerd.

We...all have jobs? And just do this show as a hobby? So...done? I guess?

Burn! He called us nerds! A guy posting troll insults to a discussion about a children's cartoon on a gaming and geek culture website called us nerds!

I'm going to go cry into my 401k that's doing quite well at my day job. Chris, you cry at Nintendo (where you work) and that should do it.

Pickapok:
First of all, anime is both singular and plural. "Animes" is not a word. [/qoute] Ok, thanks for the information. While I do greatly enjoy some anime, I'm not really a fan as such. I'll like any style of animation if the story is good enough. Though I have had a few experiences where the artwork ruined my enjoyment due to its distracting nature.

Secondly, just because something is animated in Korea does not make it Korean. An anime animated in Korea is still produced by a Japanese company therefore it is Japanese. What you are suggesting is akin to saying that Nike makes Chinese shoes because the shoes are made in China.

Producing the animation, the art, is pretty different from some sweatshop cobbling together a pre-designed product. This would be like if an American company wanted to make a show using Picasso-esque art and asked Picasso to do so back when he was still alive and then people claiming that it isn't really Picasso artistry because an American company paid for it. That'd be silly.

And lastly I protest any definition that labels anime as a "style."

Protest all you want, but dictionaries are still law as far as I'm concerned.

[quote]"2. a distinctive appearance, typically determined by the principles according to which something is designed."

You cannot point to any individual anime and say, definitively, that it exemplifies the anime "style" because anime has just as many if not more unique artistic styles in anime and manga as there are in western cartoons and comics. To say otherwise would express a profound ignorance in the sheer variety of anime on the market. You will never have somebody confuse Legend of the Galactic Heroes for Code Geass.

Not entirely true, while you can cite some anime that wouldn't traditionally be considered as conforming to anime's traditional art form, there is a traditional art form that is a dead ringer for most Anime. Think of it like anime as a form being a very large circle with certain anime styles being contained within it that are dead ringers for it.

Chris Pranger:
If a show like Futurama or South Park do an homage to anime by changing the art style or tone, and everyone can identify that as "spoofing or homaging an anime," how in the hell is that possible unless anime has a clear style? If the definition of anime as "only coming from Japan" is what people want to cling to for dear life, then by that logic it is physically impossible for spoofs or homages to exist. But they do. So we're living in a world of paradoxes as a result.

When I think about, the anime spoof South Park did is likely one a lot of young anime watching kids today wouldn't get, since it's spoofing the period of anime when characters were super buff. It was very much in the style of Fist of the North Star and Street Fighter 2 The Movie, and current anime really doesn't look like that anymore (unfortunately).

There's always going to be a popular style of presentation in any media. Anime itself went through a massive cyberpunk phase back in the 80's and early 90's.

I gave up in another thread with this discussion, was actually about Cowboy Bebop being a MTV-toon, and started to call everything animation. Doesn't matter if from USA, France, Russia or Japan. Sometimes i'm more precise for a Series with an age rating and genre.

Firefilm:
discussion about a children's cartoon

I take offence to this, Avatar was clearly a teenage cartoon. Hell, Korra can actually be considered young adult material.

Lightknight:
Not entirely true, while you can cite some anime that wouldn't traditionally be considered as conforming to anime's traditional art form, there is a traditional art form that is a dead ringer for most Anime. Think of it like anime as a form being a very large circle with certain anime styles being contained within it that are dead ringers for it.

What is and isn't "traditional" has nothing to do with it and you haven't even managed to refute my points. In this post you yourself admit that there are anime that fall outside what the American pop culture thinks of in terms of stereotypical anime artistic design. If anything, that bolsters my point further in saying that anime is not defined by a specific style.

Anime is not a style, it denotes country of origin and (as somebody else noted above) intended market. Shows like Wakfu and The Boondocks may have the "look" of anime according to how Ameican pop culture perceives it, but they are still not anime. Wakfu was produced in France for French audiences and therefore is a western cartoon, as is The Boondocks which was produced in North America for North American audiences.

Although if you like Wakfu, that still makes you a "oui"aboo! :D

I'm on the fence about this as well!!!
So, why didn't you award points? Now I *still* don't know!

Anyway, that is moot, because of the Rurouni Kenshin DVD displayed!!!
Already saw the second live action Ruro-Ken movie from august(ish)?
Think I'll check that one out tomorrow ;)

Anime comes from Japanimation, which is Japanese Animation. This is not that, this is mock anime.

Also a story with a group of youths on an adventure does not an anime make, you have tons of those in western culture as well.

Avatar is a good show, it is well animated, it is not an anime. Just because other people mistake it so does not make it so, the ignorance of others does not help in classifying something.

Pickapok:
Where the series is animated doesn't matter. What matters is where the series is produced.

Says who?

Pickapok:

Lightknight:
Not entirely true, while you can cite some anime that wouldn't traditionally be considered as conforming to anime's traditional art form, there is a traditional art form that is a dead ringer for most Anime. Think of it like anime as a form being a very large circle with certain anime styles being contained within it that are dead ringers for it.

What is and isn't "traditional" has nothing to do with it and you haven't even managed to refute my points. In this post you yourself admit that there are anime that fall outside what the American pop culture thinks of in terms of stereotypical anime artistic design. If anything, that bolsters my point further in saying that anime is not defined by a specific style.

It doesn't matter. If there are styles that are specifically associated with anime, and you know the ones (large eyes, small nose, for example, classic Anime), then those are styles you can identify as anime.

That's really all you need. It is irrelevant if there are non-traditionally styled anime that don't fit the regular mold but are still considered anime. Not when we're having discussions about shows that do fit that criteria.

Anime is Japanese for Animation. It usually implies that it is made in Japan, but is also used to mean an art style. So if the former definition, Avatar is not anime. If the latter, it is. Both definitions are accepted as valid by different sources, so Avatar both is and isn't anime. :D

Now that we've cleared that up, are Farcry and Bioshock games First Person Shooters? :p

Chris Pranger:
I have a question to piggyback on my original debate:

If a show like Futurama or South Park do an homage to anime by changing the art style or tone, and everyone can identify that as "spoofing or homaging an anime," how in the hell is that possible unless anime has a clear style?

That is a really great point. Clearly, people recognize anime-styled art. The last airbender's animation was literally made by anime studios... so....

If the definition of anime as "only coming from Japan" is what people want to cling to for dear life, then by that logic it is physically impossible for spoofs or homages to exist. But they do. So we're living in a world of paradoxes as a result.

I think Japan just called all animation that happened anime and didn't realize just how unique their art was from the rest of the world. When we saw it, we said, "What is this distinctive style good sir?!" And they said, "Uh, duh, Anime of course." And so the style became known as it and people are now bent out of shape that we actually define it as a style when it is clearly recognizable.

Lightknight:

If there are styles that are specifically associated with anime, and you know the ones (large eyes, small nose, for example, classic Anime), then those are styles you can identify as anime.

That's not how logic works. Just because you associate x with y, doesn't mean that y can be used to define x.

Just because comic books are associated with onomatopoeia, doesn't mean that everything with onomatopoeia in it, is a comic book.
Just because Disney animated movies are associated with singing pieces, doesn't mean that every show with singing in it is Disney animation.

Lightknight:

It is irrelevant if there are non-traditionally styled anime that don't fit the regular mold but are still considered anime. Not when we're having discussions about shows that do fit that criteria.

It *is* relevant, if you are trying to claim that this criteria is what defines anime. If large eyes and small nose make an anime, then Powerpuff Girls is an anime, but Monster, or Legend of the Galactic Heroes, are by definition, NOT ANIME.

Just by claiming that they can be "non-traditionally styled anime", you are conceding that there is an overriding definition above animation style that makes something anime, and if this is the case, that factor can just as easily define what is not anime.

Lightknight:

Pickapok:
Where the series is animated doesn't matter. What matters is where the series is produced.

Says who?

Literally nearly everyone else in this thread and across the internet. It is the widely accepted definition and sole determinant in what is or isn't anime. A single hard fact that doesn't rely on differing interpretations on what is or is not in the "style" of anime.

Your second point loses it's strength without your first.

Lightknight:
That is a really great point. Clearly, people recognize anime-styled art. The last airbender's animation was literally made by anime studios... so....

I think Japan just called all animation that happened anime and didn't realize just how unique their art was from the rest of the world. When we saw it, we said, "What is this distinctive style good sir?!" And they said, "Uh, duh, Anime of course." And so the style became known as it and people are now bent out of shape that we actually define it as a style when it is clearly recognizable.

Like I said before, saying that a show is anime because it was animated by Japanese studios is like saying that Nikes are Chinese shoes because they were made in China.

And while Japan does refer to all animation as anime, we are not talking about how Japan classifies animation. We are talking about how the western world classifies it.

Once again, anime is not a singular distinctive style. Azumanga Daioh looks different from Luck Star looks different from Haruhi Suzumiya.

Chris Pranger:
I have a question to piggyback on my original debate:

If a show like Futurama or South Park do an homage to anime by changing the art style or tone, and everyone can identify that as "spoofing or homaging an anime," how in the hell is that possible unless anime has a clear style? If the definition of anime as "only coming from Japan" is what people want to cling to for dear life, then by that logic it is physically impossible for spoofs or homages to exist. But they do. So we're living in a world of paradoxes as a result.

My original question of "is Avatar an anime" is still fair as long as we can point to cases where western animation have clearly spoofed an identifiable style.

I think the best answer for this is that when western shows pay homage to anime, they do it in broad strokes. They take a look at the general scope of anime and compile a hodgepodge of common tropes and traits, throwing together elements that the non-initiated westerner would recognize as anime and running with it. Sometimes, like with South Park, they pick a specific style to spoof like Pokemon in Chinpokomon and shows like Fist of the North Star or JoJo in Good Times With Weapons. People recognize it as homage either through the lens of western pop culture stereotypes or through specific references that people who are in to anime would pick up on.

K.ur:

Firefilm:
discussion about a children's cartoon

I take offence to this, Avatar was clearly a teenage cartoon. Hell, Korra can actually be considered young adult material.

I would say it's watchable by the same target audience as Star Wars, which includes almost the entire family

I doubt many people would call this as only for kids unless they're of the mindset that cartoon=for kids automatically

SNCommand:
I would say it's watchable by the same target audience as Star Wars, which includes almost the entire family. I doubt many people would call this as only for kids unless they're of the mindset that cartoon=for kids automatically

I think, in most cases you can go by the age range of the main-characters and in both, TLA and LoK, that is pretty far. Team Boomaraang goes from 11(Aang) to 16(Zuko) years but has most episodes adult Helpers (if you deny that Iroh was a main-character, i will find you). Korra has similar big range with there support cast, hell the last season is even almost completely Adults.

But then there are big exceptions. Superman was always an adult, but for most of his run(s) meant for children. Many adventure-type stories and fantasies have all grown up cast but are written for a young audience.

On topic. It all comes down to how specific you use the definition and in what location. Anime in japan is just the shortform of Animation. Disney, Warner Brothers and Dreamworks are all anime studios to them. Though that starts to change, too. With the "Hollywood"-ezicing of the Japan media, in that they start to see money in exporting even TV productions and learn how the world identifies Japan culturally (seemingly thats a new thing for them).

Note: I'm a russian in germany. My early childhood had Nu Pagadi beside Ducktales. Later in germany i saw some france and german animation series too.

Hmmmh. Well, I'd say that the tone makes an anime. We've got Moomin (the cartoon, the only one of which I care about), which is based on a Finnish writer Tove Jansson's work, and the production crew featured Finnish people, but it was made -in- Japan, by a cadre of Japanese animators. I don't think it's really an anime. People say it is, and it fits the description of the term, but really, what I think is anime, is One Piece, it is Dragon Ball, it is Ouran High School Host Club etc. It's all about the tone. Avatar... Doesn't really make me feel the same way as the others I mentioned earlier.

CAPTCHA: "Describe this brand with any word(s)" Hah. Right on topic.

Anime is more than just a visual style and country of origin, it's also a format. A show that is developed in Japan has a very different sense of pace than a western show. That goes for episodic western series as well. Anime is often heavily serialized (there ARE exceptions to this rule), and so it often has a slower pace, also a benefit due to less commercial breaks. An episode of Dragonball, even Kai, could have a lot less happen in its twenty one minute runtime than an episode of Avatar.

There's also the fact that a ton of anime is dialogue driven, and that can have a major effect on the flow of a story.

Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra are great series and they have an anime styles to their character designs and animation.. as well as having similar themse usually only found in anime but since their american shows, created by people in the US, they're not anime.. they may be animated in Asia, but neither Avatar: The Last Airbender nor Legend of Korra are truly anime.... anime is a cartoon from Japan and that's the bottom line

I thought I had a reasonable grasp of what an anime was. After reading the posts in this thread I have absolutely no idea! As many difering opinions as there are people, you'd think something like this would be pretty straight forward.

NoX 9:
I thought I had a reasonable grasp of what an anime was. After reading the posts in this thread I have absolutely no idea! As many difering opinions as there are people, you'd think something like this would be pretty straight forward.

More interestingly, we can't even decide WHY it is so important.

Apparently, snobbish anime fans want to distance themselves from dirty gaijin cartoons, while snobbish Avatar fans want to distance themselves from dirty Japanese cartoons, also, pretentious Avatar fans try to steal the prestige of the Anime label for themselves, and pretentious anime fans try to claim the glory that is Avatar, as their own.

Entitled:

NoX 9:
I thought I had a reasonable grasp of what an anime was. After reading the posts in this thread I have absolutely no idea! As many difering opinions as there are people, you'd think something like this would be pretty straight forward.

More interestingly, we can't even decide WHY it is so important.

Apparently, snobbish anime fans want to distance themselves from dirty gaijin cartoons, while snobbish Avatar fans want to distance themselves from dirty Japanese cartoons, also, pretentious Avatar fans try to steal the prestige of the Anime label for themselves, and pretentious anime fans try to claim the glory that is Avatar, as their own.

Me, I'm just nitpicking. There is a clear distinction between cartoons and anime. I have a great appreciation for both but think it's important to keep the two distinct.

No its not. Why? Because none of us want to have to start using the term japanimation again.

Who cares?
Is it a great show? Hell yeah!
Does it being an anime or not make it better or worse? No.
Does it matter? Nope.

Just watch Avatar. It's a great show. Yes, it has some definite anime influences. Yes, it is influenced heavily by Eastern culture. But classifying it as anime or not doesn't really matter.

That being said, I can respect the idea that someone looking at it without knowing anything about it would call it anime.

Entitled:

NoX 9:
I thought I had a reasonable grasp of what an anime was. After reading the posts in this thread I have absolutely no idea! As many difering opinions as there are people, you'd think something like this would be pretty straight forward.

More interestingly, we can't even decide WHY it is so important.

Apparently, snobbish anime fans want to distance themselves from dirty gaijin cartoons, while snobbish Avatar fans want to distance themselves from dirty Japanese cartoons, also, pretentious Avatar fans try to steal the prestige of the Anime label for themselves, and pretentious anime fans try to claim the glory that is Avatar, as their own.

Because it's really rare a person liking both anime and avatar right? -.- (and liking anime because it's anime is odd since just like movies, there's tons of crap and good shows from many diferent genres).

No, Avatar is not an anime, it doesn't matter much, but it's not.

Hell, I'll solve this:
Are the Avatar series produced in Japan? NO!
DO they only look like it as an homage to the artistic style of many anime? YES!
End of debate!

Seeing as how anime is merely the Japanese word for cartoon and does not in any way, shape, or form dictate categorization beyond that...Yes, it is.

Avatar is an anime. Dexter's Laboratory is an anime. Hell, arguably Pixar movies are anime.

Anime doesn't mean Japanese cartoon, it's just their word for cartoon. That'd be like asking "Is Attack on Titan animated?" Yes, of course it is. It's a cartoon, isn't it?

Strain42:
Anime doesn't mean Japanese cartoon, it's just their word for cartoon. That'd be like asking "Is Attack on Titan animated?" Yes, of course it is. It's a cartoon, isn't it?

Be cautious, internationalism isn't always welcome here. It is really difficult for "Elites" to accept that a thing had already a definition before it build up said "Elites" outside that things origin country/culture. Especially if it was a looked down niche, which likes to produce die-hard fans. And now with that niche coming into that foreign countries mainstream, this "Elites" claim the right of definition.

Good and right, if they know what they talk about. But, for example, mistranslations and misunderstandings can happen. And if they are too stubborn to correct themself, you know they're the wrong people.

Entitled:

NoX 9:
I thought I had a reasonable grasp of what an anime was. After reading the posts in this thread I have absolutely no idea! As many difering opinions as there are people, you'd think something like this would be pretty straight forward.

More interestingly, we can't even decide WHY it is so important.

Apparently, snobbish anime fans want to distance themselves from dirty gaijin cartoons, while snobbish Avatar fans want to distance themselves from dirty Japanese cartoons, also, pretentious Avatar fans try to steal the prestige of the Anime label for themselves, and pretentious anime fans try to claim the glory that is Avatar, as their own.

Me, I'm just being practical. Every definition of anime I've heard that would allow the inclusion of Avatar would also either include practically every animated work ever created anywhere or exclude entire swaths of animated works actually made in Japan. Thus I dismiss those definitions as being used by people with little exposure to Japanese animation outside of popular shounen action series.

EDIT: or by Japanese people speaking their native language, as was pointed out below.

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