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{ The Science Fiction of Anime }

Believe those who are seeking the truth. Doubt those who find it. ~Andre Gide


I am not any sort of expert on Anime but I have had a bit of interaction with the Anime fans and the genre over the years. Here is my thoughts about SF and Anime.


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The Science Fiction and Fantasy of Anime: Robots, Aliens, Talking Animals, Oh My!

-by Bobbie DuFault

What you might ask does Science Fiction and Fantasy have in common with Anime?

Science Fiction, hard or soft, tends to be most often set in the future and speculating on what might happen in that future. Science Fiction tends to be based on current or projected scientific technological developments Fantasy has been defined as “a type of fiction in which the rules of the world are different; animals talk, magic works, and strange creatures exist”. Science Fiction may overlap some fantasy ideas in as much as the aliens may look like bugs or animals, the world is fictional, fantastical, the rules of science may not apply the same way one would expect and magic may exist. The word anime is a transliteration of the English word animation; as such it can include elements from various genres. There are elements and themes reoccurring in Anime that meet the general definitions of Science Fiction and of Fantasy.

Japanese Anime differs from its American counterparts in that it is written for all age levels in fact it may be for a much older age group than similar animations that are done in America. Usually when you view animations (cartoons) made for Americans they are dummied down for children or they are poorly done, simplistic forms such as found in The Simpson’s or South Park.

Anime in America started with Astro Boy who has now gone through 3 iterations and continued into the 1960’s with “cartoons” such as Gigantor. There is a definite correlation between these big super robots that think for themselves and have bad guy counterparts with Science Fiction such as found in Battlestar Galactica where the robots are free thinking mean bad guys bent on destroying humans or with Fred Saberhagen’s Berserker Robots who also want to see the destruction of humankind. These big mechanical creatures to the Anime aficionados might be known as “Mecha” and to the non-initiated they are definitely Science Fiction.

Mecha actually applies to more than just the giant robots. The word is derived from the word mechanical so included in its definition might be power suits such as found in the movie Aliens the mobile suits in Mobile Suit Gundam or in the power suits worn by the Bubblegum Crisis girls. Further we might apply the term Mecha to spaceships found in Cowboy Bebop or Star Blazers and the cyborg bodies in Ghost in a Shell, Robocop, Terminator or BladeRunner. In some Mecha such as Dangaioh we find both elements of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Dangaioh is another big robot, this one controlled by a group of 4 young people who have various ESP abilities. It could also be said that the bug like creatures wearing the fantastical armor in the movie Independence Day were as much fantasy creatures as they were Science Fiction.

Fantasy, Science Fiction and Anime are all bound together by their own definitions. It is often just the media that separates them. More Science Fiction and Fantasy are found in books than in movies, more Anime is found in film media and in Manga, which itself is a form of illustrated book. This can lead us to two obvious conclusions, the first being that people are just not aware of how the genre overlaps and the second being the difference in Media keeping the genre separate.