16 January 2007
I've seen quite a bit of anime over the years. As such, I've come to feel that the current genre set - you know the ones: 'Giant Mech', 'Sports', 'Samurai', 'Cyberpunk', 'Slice of Life', 'High School Romance' etc. - is missing a few slightly more specific genre categories. So I've decided to propose some new ones. Welcome to...
The 2007 Proposal For Additional Anime Genres
New Genre #1: Randomisation Anime
This is anime that just does random shit for no apparent reason. Well, there is a reason - usually it's meant to be either bizarre or funny. Unfortunately, only ten percent of the time does the randomisation achieve the desired effect. Usually this genre masquerades as a parody or a cross-genre bastard child of comedy.
How to identify:
The main character is usually rude, gross, insane or stupid. Another way to recognise this genre is that the animation style will frequently change � quite dramatically - for a variety of shots. There will always be an excess of shouting.
Galaxy Angel, Gintama, Excel Saga, Pani Poni Dash.
New Genre #2: Popcorn Anime
Comprises approximately 80% of all animes. These animes are usually somewhat entertaining, but won't really stretch your brain or cause you to squeal in happiness whenever the opening credits play. These are the generic of generic animes.
How to Identify:
They usually contain a respectable amount of comic relief, and tend to feature battles where the characters do cool things that amaze onlookers, which must be explained by an expert who understands but is unable to do these cool things themselves. There's almost always a love interest that takes a back seat to the action. The story is usually relatively simple with only a couple of features of the setting that sets it apart from its fellows. Most of the interest is generated by cool battles and interesting characters. Typically the main character has a very strong sense of right and wrong, and the villain is a confused individual that has been twisted by life experiences. In longer-running popcorn animes, the main character will meet many such twisted people, and will usually manage to redeem most of them with some simple words of wisdom that will inexplicably touch their hardened hearts, though usually not before undergoing a heavy beating (the martyrs). Expect lots of �rising from the ashes to snatch victory from the jaws of defeat� moments. Rarely do any of these animes last for a single season, unless they're bad. Subsets of this genre include searching animes; series where characters are trying to collect something precious or find a rare artefact.
You really need examples? There's like a million! Law of Ueki, Elemental Gelade, Shaman King, Yu Yu Hakusho, Tsubasa Chronicles, Buso Renkin�. Some other animes that hover at the edges of this genre are Bleach, Naruto... actually, almost anything that was originally in Shonen Jump would have a healthy heaping of elements of this genre (about the only exception to the rule I can currently think of is Deathnote.)
New Genre #3: Arthouse Anime
These are the most pretentious animes on the market. Typically animes within this genre only make sense to people who have studied semiotics or hold arts degrees in universities.
How to Identify:
These animes are typified either by A. Frequent random twisting of the world and setting to create bizarre visuals and/or B. The presence of an excessive number of psychological theorems and unfamiliar scientific terms. Almost all of these animes will feature hallucinations prominently, to the point where you usually at least temporarily lose track of whether the material is taking place in the real story, or just in a character�s mind. Usually they are visually very strong properties, but despite their masterful art direction animes in this genre normally can�t come off as anything other than creepy. Rest assured, that�s probably the desired effect.
Paranoia Agent, Cat Soup, Serial Experiments Lain.
New Genre #4: Evangeliclones
This genre should be self-explanatory. These are giant robot animes that are eerily reminiscent of Neon Genesis Evangelion. Not all of these copies are necessarily bad � in fact, they�re frequently high budgeted, well-directed endeavours that are just different enough from Evangelion to avoid being sued over copyright infringement � but they are shameless copies all the same.
How to identify:
Features include giant, abstract-looking foes, middle-to-high school aged pilots, large suspicious organizations with hidden agendas, mass evacuations of cities on a practiced and routine basis, and at least one character that is on the brink of a mental breakdown. Be on the watch out for the mysterious girl with an amazing lack of modesty and natural emotions � they�ll be floating naked in a glass tube at some point if you have trouble spotting them. Another noteworthy plot point to be on the look out for is that the main character�s mother is usually a scientist, and the father is usually a military commander. Also, the main character will always have to pilot their giant robot with almost no training, but will manage magnificently in their first battle regardless � training will then take place afterwards. All Evangeliclones will also eventually degenerate into philosophical gibberish towards the end, proving that they don�t just copy the good stuff � the bad stuff is up for grabs too!
Particular episodes to watch out for are: �The main character running away from their parent organization� episode, �Unbeatable foe is magically defeated by teamwork alone� episode and the �Redeem self by breaking out of prison to defeat a surprise foe� episode, where the main character will be duly forgiven for running away in a previous episode after they�ve proven their utter indispensability.
RahXephon, Soukyuu no Fafner, Gasaraki and Martian Successor Nadesico (to a lesser extent, though, considering it was supposed to be a parody anyway. I GUESS.)
New Genre #5: Preachy Anime
The most common emotion you will experience while watching this genre of anime is guilt.
How to Identify:
The main character is nearly always a modern citizen who is quite comfortable with city life. In the process of the story, they'll meet another character - usually the principal love interest - that instead lives an extremely simple life, and distrusts most forms of technology. Other staples of the genre include many detailed close-ups of leaves, insects, and creatures giving birth and requires at least one montage of human civilisation portrayed in as disgusting a manner as possible. Usually, things will take a turn for the worse and the main character will realise that we really were all better off when we were stupid monkeys.
Earth Girl Arjuna, Macross Zero, and Wings of Honneamise.
Not-so-New Genre #6: Shameless Pandering to Fanboys Anime
You already know this one � it�s typically known as harem anime. But I felt that it deserved a place on this list all the same. Embarrassment is the single most frequent emotion you will experience while watching this anime. Love Hina popularised this genre to a nigh criminal extent.
How to Identify:
The story is merely a feeble pretext to shove as many girls into one series as possible. The main character is usually a down-on-his-luck, slightly dorky, generic-looking basically nice guy who everyone knows is supposed to be an appropriate character for fanboys to project themselves on to. A lot of the time, his name will start with �Kei�. Presumably this is a �John Doe� or �Joe Everyman� sort of name in Japan. The female characters will, without doubt, be a million times more interesting than the main character themselves. Some other good ways to spot this genre is overuse of 'fantasy' cuts, in which the main character is imagining/dreaming/wishing for a certain provocative interaction that will almost certainly never happen. You'll also notice that the animation style for all of them is almost exactly the same.
Ai Yori Aoshi, Love Hina, Mahou Sensei Negima, Maburaho, Chobits, Oh My Goddess�. Jeez, I could go on for pages. These are outnumbered only by popcorn animes.
New Genre #7: Shameless Pandering to Fangirls Anime
The lesser-acknowledged sister of the Harem anime. This probably has its own name by now too, but I�m going to keep this one for consistency.
How to identify:
These animes are best characterized by a cast filled almost exclusively with pretty boys. Frequently, these animes are set in historical and fantasy settings. There�s typically a heavy focus on romance, and at least one character (if not the entire cast) is of a questionable sexuality. There is also always at least one episode (if not the entire series) that features cross-dressing.
Kyou Kara Maou, Mirage of Blaze, Ouran High School Host Club, Sukisyo.
New Genre #8: Reincarnation Animes
Frequently overlapping with the Shameless Pandering to Fangirls Anime genre, Reincarnations Animes are just that � animes about reincarnated characters. They are all strangely identical, to the point where if you�ve seen one, you get the eerie sensation that you�ve seen them all. Perhaps you watched them in a previous life?
How to Identify:
Obviously, the main character is always the reincarnation of some important and amazing person from the past. The main character does not, of course, remember this, but at least at one point during the series their past life self will inevitably take over and kick a lot of ass. Expect a lot of historical monologues involving a heap of names that you won�t remember and could care less about. The main villain/s will also be reincarnated and/or immortal but they will of course remember everything and go to great lengths to kill the protagonist. Not all of these are bad, of course, but the overwhelming majority of Reincarnation Animes are tediously boring.
(Again) Kyou Kara Maou, (Again) Mirage of Blaze, Samurai Deeper Kyo, Jubei Chan.
New Genre #9: Tragic Love Story Animes
Frequently overlapping with the Shameless Pandering to Fanboys Anime genre, they feature almost all of the same generic conventions with one noticeable exception � these animes are designed to make you cry. Every second episode, preferably. At least the male protagonists in this genre tend to be slightly more interesting.
How to Identify:
If the anime is based on a wildly popular dating sim game, there is a good chance it falls into this genre. The soundtrack will be predominantly piano-based and the opening will feature more shots of the sky than usual. If there is a character in a coma at any point, it probably belongs to this genre. If someone has an incurable disease, it�s probably this genre. Be warned � they will be popping a lot of pills and staring at the few pills remaining in the box with a forlorn look on their faces frequently. If someone has amnesia, it�s also probably this genre. It will invariably have a tragically sad ending for at least one (if not all) of the characters. The animation style tends to be very large-eyed and soft edged.
Kanon, Air, Kimi Ga Nozomu Eien, Saishuu Heiki Kanojo.
........I'm tired, so you don't get a picture for that one. It would probably just make you want to cry anyway, and no one's going to come to a site that makes you cry!
So there you have it. I'll probably add to that list as time goes on and new genre trends start to emerge. Has anyone else noticed any generic trends in anime that I might have missed, or perhaps found a series that exactly fits one of these bills? If so, send me an E-Mail at grandevina @ lycos.com (remove the two spaces - they're there to stop the spambots) with 'The Tomes' somewhere in the subject heading, and I'll post it up on the site. No, really. Oh okay, probably only if I get more than one.