since 1965  (really?)

Anime for Beginners

This course listing applies to a Fall 2009 course. To find current courses, check out the Find a Course page.

Fall 2009
Japanese 98/198
2 Unit(s)



About the Course:

Anime (Japanese animation) has become increasingly popular in recent years, expanding from a cult subculture in Japan to a global phenomenon anchored by several works of mass appeal. But at its core it remains a subculture whose devotees occupy a cultural fringe, resigned to influencing mainstream American pop culture indirectly or obscurely. Reliable and accurate information on anime can be hard to come by in the mainstream press, and fan-oriented press is often obtuse. As a result, most Americans have only a hazy impression of anime based on a few shows they have vaguely encountered - if they know about anime at all. Stereotypes and mistaken conclusions abound, reinforced by the subculture's seclusion. Although the curious can break through this barrier with a little self-research, this course is designed to present anime to “outsiders” in the proper context and with some explanation. Classes will consist of short lectures discussing a particular genre or topic of anime each week, interspersed with episodes or clips of episodes illustrating major or representative works of that genre. Lectures will be fairly informal; I will often ask the class questions and welcome some discussion within reasonable time limits. The class’s subject matter is broad; anime is a diverse, sprawling topic about which generalizations can be perilous. However, as the class is predominantly organized along genre lines, an ongoing theme will be the origins and development of specific genres. I will also ask the following questions:

  • Why is anime so popular? Why did a particular genre of anime develop, and why did it develop the way it did? (Genres do not emerge unless they have a fanbase, so this is an extension of the popularity question.) I have my own theories, but there is no easy answer to this question, so I expect students to think for themselves over the course of the class.
  • How is anime different from American popular culture? As one of anime’s defining characteristics is its national origin, I will explore what makes anime a separate category from other TV series and movies.
  • Are there generalizations you can make about anime? I emphasize the diversity and unpredictability and vitality of anime throughout this course, but undoubtedly within certain genres formulae are widespread. To what extent can certain features of anime be considered applicable across the board?

The class is a survey course, so all kinds of anime will be shown, but in general, the most heavily represented eras will be the 1990s and 2000s. Four movies will also be shown in special additional classes during the semester, while one will be watched in-class in a slightly extended session.

How to Enroll:

 Interested students should attend the first class to test the waters and see if the class is right for them. Course control numbers will be revealed in class.

Please note: The primary goal of this course is to spread awareness of the themes, content and development of anime. As such, it is aimed at those with little or no prior experience with anime (hence the course title). It’s O.K. if students have seen several anime series or are knowledgeable about a certain genre, but it is targeted at newcomers. Anime fans will most likely know most of what I cover and are discouraged. Finally, I encourage those with negative impressions of anime to attend. This is not an anime appreciation course; I welcome differing points of view.

Course Contact: brutannica AT

Faculty Sponsor: Alan Tansman

Time & Location:

Eric Stimson
33Dwinelle 187Tu 7-99/01full

Uploaded Files:

Syllabus: Anime Decal syllabus.docAug 647kbWord Doc (Viewer)View Download

Course info last modified August 6, 2009. This page has been viewed 3859 times.

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