April 1, 2012
Posted In: Anime | Blogfest

A is for Anime

You know, huge eyes, hair that looks like the character was hit by lightning, and flagrant nudity. 
Anime has become increasingly popular in Western culture ever since the 1960’s with Speed Racer and Robotech in the 1980’s. In the 1990’s Sailor Moon brought a wave of females into anime fandom.
Dragon Ball Z, Pokemon, Naruto. There’s no end to the monster-of-the week shows.
Then there’s Death Note, Bleach, and Vampire Knight for an older age group.
In this blog post I’m hoping to provide some insight as to why American and Japanese cartoons can be so stylistically different when both generally evolved from the same medium (comics).
Big Eyes: Originally invented by Dr. Osamu Tezuka in Astroboy.  (Dr. Osamu Tezuk is the “Walt Disney” of Japanese animation.)  
 Spiky hair: Evolved from sharp lines used in Japanese animation verses Western animators who tend to draw with smooth and curved lines. (Don’t have a source for this, but I believe it has to do with the fact that Kanji and many Japanese characters are drawn with sharp, straight lines.)
European Japanese: During the Meiji period (1868-1912) Japan ended two centuries of isolation from the rest of the world by discarding many of its traditional ways. Anything modern was automatically “in” and anything Western was definitely modern. (This is where you get blonde Japanese characters.)
It’s not soft porn, it’s “fanservice”
Nudity:  The Japanese don’t regard animation as a “children only” playground and so there’s a lot more bare breasts and panty shots in anime than the normal American cartoon. This is also due to a cultural difference stemming from the beginning of the world. (Literally.)

In Western culture there was Adam and Eve. In Genesis they sew fig leaves together to cover their nakedness because God saw it as a sin.

In the Shinto creation story there was Isanagi and Izanami, who gave birth to the Sun Goddess, Amaterasu and her brother Susanoo. After being offended by Susanoo’s rude behavior, Amaterasu shut herself in a cave, depriving the world of light. Fortunately, the goddess Uzume put on a strip tease outside the cave which caused the other gods to create a raucous. Curious to see what was going on, Amaterasu peeked out of the cave, which was just enough to let the sun back out to the world.
One culture starts civilization by covering the genitalia; the other restores light and life by displaying them.



  1. Jackie

    Thanks for the breakdown on these! My boys like Pokemon, Dragon Ball Z, and Yu-Gi-Oh. Especially the cards… oh the cards!!! There are so many.

  2. S.P. Bowers

    I remember sailor moon. Good times. Interesting post, I enjoyed reading it!

  3. Brinda

    This is a great post because I've just learned so much. My son draws quite a bit of anime. He's very artistic and has watched these anime cartoons and played the video games since childhood. I had no idea WHY the characters were drawn so different from American comics. LOVE this post.

  4. Weaver

    I've got a son who's really into anime art. I used to tease him when he was little and so captivated by Pokemon by saying I wonder how much more he's enjoy it if the animation was any good. It's grown on me since then. =D

  5. Botanist

    Fascinating facts, Kimberlee!

  6. Jaycee DeLorenzo

    Very cool! I've actually seen a lot of these and am interested in learning more!

    Happy A-Zing!

    My A-Z!

  7. SharleneT

    Hello, Fellow Challenger, from #424-Rockin'Chair Reflections! And, yet, my mother was always making me put my dress back on! What was that all about? I missed the Anime craze and have just watched it evolve. I do love the artwork, though. Very beautiful and well-done. So, no, Hanna Barbera.

  8. Dani

    I love the start of your A to Z Challenge. Even though the hair looks lightning-stricken, I'd love to have my hair that way for a few evenings out and have it look perfect.

  9. Karen Jones Gowen

    Ah ANIME! I have kids who are great fans!

    I'm here to say hi and welcome you to the Challenge!


  10. vic caswell

    HAHAHAHAHHAAAA!!!! love the explanation of the cultural differences and nudity. i had no idea! i've always been a fan of large eyes, although the closest i've come to watching anime is AVATAR the last airbender. does that count? i love that stuff! can't wait for Kora to come to the tube!

  11. Onivana

    I was never really into Anime however I watched a series called Blood with an anime enthusiast. I love it! The themes were so intense and adult. You could actually identify with the characters even though they were only cartoons.

  12. Duncan D. Horne - the Kuantan blogger

    Hi Kimberlee, I had a student here in Malaysia who loved anime! He always bought the cartoon magazines from Japan!

    This is me, Duncan D. Horne, visiting you from the A-Z challenge, wishing you all the best throughout April and beyond.

    Duncan In Kuantan

Who is Kimberlee Turley?

Kimberlee Turley grew up in California where she earned a degree in Fashion Design from FIDM in 2005. Soon after, she married her husband, who was neither Mr. Darcy nor Edward Cullen, but he’d read her atrocious first novel and said it was “good” with a straight face.

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