Imagine you’re doing some online clothes shopping and you think you could use some new hoodies. Imagine then somewhere that was selling aesthetic Japanese hoodies, what first comes to mind when you think of that? For most readers, the most likely answer was Japanese anime art, and it’s not hard to see why. It has become an enduring symbol of Japanese art and culture, but why? What’s the appeal?
Japanese anime uses a kind of timeless drawing and animation style that has remained consistent through the many decades that they have been created. Whether it’s on paper in its original Manga form, or animated into the TV series and movies that give “Anime” its name as a genre, the styles are remarkably consistent over the years. Facial expressions, body shapes, hair, clothing, posture and more. It has become a new kind of tradition that people of all ages now appreciate.
With Japanese anime designs typically comes bold, striking and vivid colors. There’s also often a great deal of contrast between fiery reds and oranges with cooler blue tones. Even the more toned down and “monochrome” anime art still comes in a distinct and prominent hue. The colors evoke different feelings in those who see them, some being moved by the action or emotion being displayed, and others feeling a sense of nostalgia for times past.
Above we mentioned how Japanese anime styles have been consistent over time where other animation houses like Disney have continuously evolved and shifted even their most fundamental concepts. This is also part of what makes Japanese anime so unique in its style. People who see it can’t help but be captivated by how different it is from other things they see. It helps one to reflect their own sense of individuality.
While the anime style may be consistent in many ways, the sheer number of different characters, costumes, hairstyles, backgrounds and more create a world with an incredible amount of variety. When it comes to choosing designs for hoodies or other clothing, for example, Japanese anime offers a veritable treasure trove of choice. It’s unlikely that any two items of such clothing would truly be the same.
Manga and subsequent Japanese anime may be relatively new in the world of art as we know it, but it actually has a long heritage going back to ancient art in Japan. Brigette Koyama-Richard, author of One Thousand Years of Manga points out that “[Japanese anime] draws on the same centuries-old artistic traditions that form the basis of manga.” This adds a level of depth to that artwork that broadens its appeal across different cultures and demographics.
Rich and Complex Stories
Besides the sheer variety of different looks in anime characters, there is an equal or even greater amount of variety when it comes to their backgrounds and stories. The richness and complexity of Japanese anime stories and worlds make it yet more appealing as it allows more people to closely identify with the stories. They find meaning and escape; a connection to the lives and events of fictional characters that somehow relate to their own in some way.
On the surface, the designs can appear wild and purely drawn for aesthetic reasons, but underneath each drawing is a unique character type, a cultural trope and perhaps even some kind of Japanese “inside joke” that only true fans will appreciate.
And so, the broad and lasting appeal of Japanese anime starts to become clear.