Saturday, July 21, 2007

Anime is the new rock

God KnowsOn the left: Guitar Hero v.314159

Or perhaps I should say, anime is the new rock n' roll. Now wading in to spread disinformation, sow confusion, and stir the pot.

To claim that anime is even remotely related to rock and roll is to imply that anime will become as dominating an influence on animation as rock and roll was on popular music. And yet, there are signs that this may be the case, although that's beyond the limited scope of this entry.

Just as rock and roll arose out of the confluence of African-American and Western-European musical styles, anime (in a modern sense) arose out of the confluence of Japanese art and American animation, specifically Disney. While there was animation ongoing in Japan prior to the rise of Disney, it wasn't until the 1960's that anime achieved a modicum of international success.

Rock and roll exploded into the global (or just Western industrialized nations) mainstream in 1956 and from it came just plain rock, acid, folk rock, art rock, punk, Merseybeat, metal, death metal, emo, the list goes on. Not all of these derivative styles originated in the United States: punk is distinctly British and there's a reason there's the Mersey in Merseybeat.

The different flavours of rock are so many that we cease to lump them into one category known as rock and roll. Without a passing interest in musical history, rock and roll's connection likely doesn't even enter into the mind.

Anime's explosion was much more muted in that it was localized to Japan for much of the intervening years, but I think that the case also applies. Defining anime as a general category will only aid in identifying the small subset of commonality between derivatives, and as such will only have passing historical interest.

I think that one day, maybe even in my lifetime, people won't speak of "anime" any more than they would speak of "rock" in general terms. Instead they will talk about "mecha" as its own entity just as others speak of "punk" as its own entity.

Oh wait, they already do. What were we debating about again? I suppose I agreez. Anime is a style and aesthetic and influence. Just like rock and roll.

P.S. In response to Maglor: In keeping with the spirit of the English language, we must not only assimilate words and terms from other languages, but we must also bastardize evolve their meanings beyond their initial roots and combine them or just plain make up our own definitions! I leave that as an exercise to the reader.