Anime considered childish by Japanese!?

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This summer I had gone to Japan to visit some friends I had made when they did an exchange program over at my university. While I was there, we had come across the topic of mangas and which ones we liked. The convo eventually lead to anime and my friends (both males and females) said that anime was childish, but reading manga was okay.

I tried to ask them for a reasoning, but they couldn't really come up with one, aside from "they usually change the anime from the manga." Which isn't really all that great of a reason. Of course there have been exceptions that they have watched, such as Great Teacher Onizuka and Slam Dunk. I didn't pursue the matter any further because I didn't want them to think I was an otaku (which is bad in Japan).

The friends I had asked were four girls (all four read manga but did not watch anime) and three guys (two read manga but only one watched anime out of those two). The one guy who watched anime did not admit watching it during our discussion, haha.

I had learned he watched anime while he was in America from a conversation he had with another guy, but he was really annoyed at that person as all he would talk about was anime and how great it was, especially in regards to Cowboy Bebop. So I didn't talk to him about anime till we became better friends and met up in Japan, lol. Even then, he still didn't really like talking about it even though he likes watching it.

Anyone have any ideas or suggestions as to why anime is considered childish while manga isn't? Even when an anime is usually derived from manga?

  • Jul 31, 2006

kuroimisa

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Hrmm. That's quite an interesting thought. I was reading manga and in that one of the characters were being accused of being an otaku for watching Gundam and being childish for watching it and buying toys. I'm not exactly sure why it's deemed as being childish... but if you ask me for my own personal opinion, reading and watching are completely 2 different things... well... they have a different feeling.

When I read manga I have the book in my hands or I'm reading it on screen and it feels... like I'm reading any book. When I'm watching some sort of animation on television, depending on what it is, I sometimes feel like it's a bit childish. Perhaps it's also to do with social values- the father comes home from work, turns on the TV and watches the sumo wrestling. You'll growl "but I was watching anime!" and the father will go "you're watching that again?! Be a MAN! WATCH SUMO!" or so some dramas show that. And some songs even lol.

But to be honest, I really don't know why anime is more childish than manga o_o Possibly because it's just a book. Maybe it's something else :\

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cmon man. anime is cool. it has nice fight scenes. better from normal humans having fight scenes. in animes you can do the impossible things. and things you'll never get to see in real like. if ya guys like fiction. welcome to watch anime haha. its not necessary childish as its quite educational as well. =/

  • Jul 31, 2006
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kuroimisia:
Hmm...you bring up a pretty good point. It's possible that reading manga would be considered like reading a novel and that it requires effort. Like learning the kanji and such (when there's no furigana).

andyloh006:
Lol, there is no doubt in my mind that anime is cool. I mean, I love it. But my question wasn't whether anime is cool or not, it's why do the Japanese find it childish while manga isn't. It might or might not be childish in other countries (depending on who you ask) but it definitely is when asked by the majority of Japanese.

  • Jul 31, 2006
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Everyone has different opinions. IMO anime is not childish. Just because it's drawn doesn't mean it's childish. It's prolly because in other places anything that's drawn is mostly for children. In other words, cartoons. Cartoons are mostly for children. So some people might find anime childish because it's drawn. Though I wonder what's childish about boobs? XD

Anime is ok for me, cause at least I can see mangas in motion. =D

somebodyelse

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Thread kick no jutsu! (lol)

This thread caught my eye because I've seen firsthand Japanese men in 3-piece business suits reading manga circulars on the Tokyo/Kyoto subways. I might've asked them about if they watched anime if I'd known more Japanese at the time. <sigh>

But to address the question, I'd say it has a lot to do with social perception.

In America for instance, most mainstream animation for a long time was Disney-type stuff, and as such it had a "kid" stigma to it. Granted, there were exceptions (my grandfather has an extensive Bugs Bunny/Elmer Fudd collection) but if most people make the mental connection "animation=kids" then the social norm would probably stay the same. Now the American perception has changed somewhat; for example, I certainly wouldn't show stuff like Beavis & Butthead or South Park to young kids, and shows like The Simpsons and King of the Hill are prime-time television on major networks and have an impressive following.

I'll tentatively put forth the same theory for Japanese social perception on anime. I'll concede that I'm not very familiar with older Japanese anime, but I'm certainly not aware of older series that push the envelope as much as, say, Elfen Lied. If the anime that most Japanese adults are familiar with is material like Kiki's Delivery Service or Mononoke-Hime then social perception will lean toward the association "anime=kids". For this perception to change, shows aimed at an older target audience would have to become more mainstream.

Edit: As for why manga is not considered childish (forgot that part- whoops!), it's probably because it's a much longer entrenched entertainment form in their culture. For some background, manga was around at least before WWII- the D-Day Museum in New Orleans had propaganda manga pages on display that portrayed Franklin Roosevelt with devil horns on his head. (I say "had" because there's a possibility they fell victim to Hurricane Katrina. I certainly hope not.) Anyways, if a large percentage of adults read/collected manga as children, then their children would be influenced by manga, therefore manga would be considered more "mainstream."

Just my 2 cents. I'd love to see some opinions about my opinion!
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Yea, i do consider it childish even if it is a violent anime. the fact is, its still a drawn out fantasy in a writer's mind. im not ashamed of being a child at all. its what the anime stories that interests me. who cares what japan thinks. there are some things over there we would think its childish of them too like...*thinks...well ill sleep on it but ill be bak O.o

What is it?

  • Aug 14, 2006
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Mostly college students here watch anime anyway, so I personally don't think it's quite THAT childish. I mean, the storyline and all are quite meaningful if you look at it in a different perspective. I'm a college student myself and I enjoy watching anime. Although it may seem childish, I personally don't believe it.

  • Aug 14, 2006

BladeSummers

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Anime is great.

Manga is Great.

Anyone who disagree's will be sentenced to watching pokemon till their eye bleed.

  • Aug 14, 2006
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I would dare to speculate that, like someone mentioned above, it has to do with reading. I heard that in the not so distant past, only the elite were taught how to read and write. I need to find some evidence to back this up. But that would make reading a noble art, even if it is Manga. Anyone can listen to a radio, or watch a TV, but reading is honorable. I found a website that give some historical background : http://www.asianinfo.org/asianinfo/japan/education_literacy.htm

By the way, Japan's literacy rate today is 99%, well above most other nations, including my own.

  • Aug 14, 2006
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yeah Japanese had only anime to start with. It's kinda like how you know when we were really young we had those american cartoons. lol so yeah Japanese people say it is childish after they get older i guess.....

  • Aug 14, 2006
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I think it's all about estereotypes. Remember that Japanese society is one of facades. All that matters is the impression you give to other people.

If you haven't married by age 25: you're a loser. If you don't stay at work at least some hours after your shift ends: You're a slacker. If you're a foreigner: you're filthy and a heathen [just in some parts of Japan] If you wacth anime: you're a geek[otaku]. It's tabu. I know it sounds stupid for us westerners but that's the way it is overthere.

I know it's hard to believe the first time you hear about this and you probably won't get much useful info about this topic out of a normal Japanese person, since admitting that they are ruled by estereotypes makes them look bad in the eyes of the rest of the world. That's the sad truth.

  • Aug 14, 2006
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Actually I don't read mangas, I prefer watching animes! I think its interesting that teh japs think that anime is childish and manga is not, but it doesn't really affect me...cos I'm from Uk and ppl think anime are cartoons so I'm used to ppl thinking its a little bit weird that I love watch animes so much!

  • Aug 21, 2006
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while i was in japan i also saw adults reading mangas and playing Game boys lol st the subways and well i myself dont read manga but prefer to watch anime.

  • Sep 13, 2006
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I have heard this about this before several times. From all this information and from your experience I guess that it is true that Japanese people are not fond of anime. I don't understand how that is possible though.
I heard that they use anime as a promotion for the manga. And that promotion of manga is the first priority with entertainment value coming in second.
I don't care though because I love anime so much more than manga and I hope that they never stop making it! :)

  • Sep 13, 2006
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For my experience, when I watch most Japanese TV shows and dramas, i found the contents nearly identicial to animes, the only difference is one is drawn and the other is played by real people. (Splendid cooking competitions, romance drama with handsome guys, sounds familiar?) In fact, sometimes the anime got a deeper meaning than real shows IMO :P

'Childish' or not, anime and manga is the thing that introduce Japan to the world nowadays.

  • Sep 14, 2006
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WOW.....childish.....mmmm......well I really could not be all to bothered about the fact that they think it is childish .....I enjoy watching anime and will enjoy watching it until my last breath...

  • Oct 18, 2006

FutatsuNoNegai

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Interesting topic...In a way or another Japanese consider anime childish,whether we like it or not..If you watched 'Densha Otoko' you'd know what they think of otakus..The show shows the term otaku in their eyes..In our eyes we love being otaku..because we are addicted to anime.

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ChibiKareshi

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Well, whether it's my friends or my parents, the president or the pope, the Americans or the Japanese that think it's childish, nothing's gonna change the fact that I enjoy watching anime.

  • Oct 18, 2006

ElvishImmortal

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Ha...thread kick jutsu...lol

Anyway, I think to solve this dilema, we're going to have to get a straight answer from a couple of Japanese people of varying ages. That's really the only logical thing to do, not to sit here and speculate the wrong(or not well informed) answers. Lol, i know almost nothing of Japanese culture, so I'm not too much help...But in any case, I'd perfer the anime over a series as opposed to the manga because everything is played out right before your eyes. If it has a thick storyline, it can still be conveyed through anime. Let's take Neon Genesis for example. Ive seen it a couple times now, and im still not getting the whole picture. Also if anime was 'taboo', and the manga was preferable, why did so many people complain about the 25/26 episode ending and pressure Anno to make the Death and Rebirth/ End of Eva.? Come to think of it, it's probably something we'll never understand..(like why white people who live in good neighborhoods try to act 'ghetto'...that's pathetic...) Hope I could be of some help

  • Oct 18, 2006

ellymate

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i don't consider the anime or the manga childish,i believe it's really fun watching anime and i love doing it ,if they consider anime childish why do they do so many?only for children...then i'll be a "big child" in the future :D

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  • Jul 03, 2007

mineharu

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I think it's the way the person absorbs it.. meaning.. some ppl watch anime and omg they are very childish.. but some aren't.. so it depends.. and besides like chibikareshi said.. it doesn't matter.. because i as well enjoy anime very much and also manga.. i love both.. and im addicted to both.. i'm an otaku.. and i'm proud of it..

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I don't think the Japanese think anime is childish at all. I mean a lot of adults watch them. However, I heard that Japanese children are not really allowed to watch anime because they are too young for it. So what is the point consider it is childish while children cannot watch them.

  • Jul 04, 2007
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I have a friend that recently went to japan for a foreign exchange student program and she's a hardcore anime fan. I'll have to ask her about the topic sometime

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