If you’re an anime fan, you know exactly where this is going. There is a common perception when Japanese anime is brought up, whether in casual conversation or with various authority figures; according to their expert opinion, anime is either tentacle pornography or children’s cartoons. Needless to say, this is not the case, so it’s time for a quick exploration of the broad and nebulous category of entertainment we call “anime.”

To those of you who know the medium and are aware of the gauntlet that is being thrown down here, let there be no doubt: we could discuss why we watch anime and why people should not be afraid to watch anime for years at a time. In the interest of both time and patience, I’m splitting this into multiple parts. First, what is anime,  followed by an exploration of its individual genres, and why you should give each of them a chance.

Pay attention to the key phrase of “multiple genres.” Anime is difficult to define as it does not qualify as a single genre in and of itself. At its broadest definition, anime could be described as animation coming out of Japan. It comes in several different flavors, including:

  • Shonen: Geared toward a young male audience, this is your action packed, fast paced series full of larger-than-life heroes regularly doing the impossible. Notable series include: Dragonball Z, Fairy Tail, Attack on Titan, Yu Yu Hakusho.
  • Seinen: Ready to watch a psychological thriller, or a philosophical series full of cerebral concepts and realistic portrayals of violence, all aimed toward adult men? Welcome to Seinen! Notable Examples include: Hellsing, Battle Royale, Lupin III.
  • Shoujo: It’s time for romance and adventure! Generally made for young girls, these adventures tend to straddle the line between action and romance.  Examples include: Ouran High School Host Club, Shugo Chara, Fruits Basket.
  • Josei: More refined and sophisticated anime meant for adult women. Examples Include: Paradise Kiss, Honey and Clover, Princess Jellyfish

Of course, it should be pointed out that tentacle porn does exist in the realm of anime. Often found in the 18+ racks at video stores and the DVD collections of people willing to seek out “specialty product” for their “personal needs.” This of course, brings us to:

  • Ecchi: Not necessarily pornographic in nature, but definitely perverted, these series tend to have a very specific focus on sexuality. Several series that tend to be placed in the above categories are known for pandering to a specific kind of audience, leaving them squarely in the Ecchi category.
  • Hentai: 18+, full stop, don’t let the kids near it. Welcome to the land of tentacle pornography and sexual organs of extremely unusual proportions.

That said, hentai has never been shown on public television outside of an incident or two in South America. In a classic case of “too dumb to live,” some idiot got their hands on some extremely questionable animation that probably had images of tentacle demons doing terrible things, and decided that since it was animated it had to be a children’s cartoon. Hilarity ensued, and he was immediately fired.

With that in mind, lets discuss something a little more appropriate for children:

NEXT UP: Shonen Anime [Coming soon]

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