Is RBNY Anime?

      3 Comments on Is RBNY Anime?

Crunchyroll is now streaming RWBY, an animated series from a small Texas-based studio called Rooster Teeth.
First I want to make it clear that I have no objection to Crunchyroll carrying American-made cartoons. Nevertheless I was disappointed to read this statement from director Monty Oum:

Some believe just like Scotch needs to be made in Scotland, an American company can’t make anime. I think that’s a narrow way of seeing it. Anime is an art form, and to say only one country can make this art is wrong.
–FEATURE: Inside Rooster Teeth’s “RWBY”

There are a number of American comic artists who want to call their work “manga” and now we have American animators who want to call their work “anime”. When they do they end up sounding sad and a bit sleazy, like a Chinese food exporter who says:

Some believe that “Whole Foods” can only refer to a particular American company. I think that’s a narrow way of seeing it. “Whole Foods” refers to any foods that are wholesome. Our fine Chinese food products are very wholesome so there is no reason that we shouldn’t label them “Whole Foods.”

The words “manga” and “anime” do not refer to any particular drawing style or genre or set of tropes. These are Japanese words and their generally understood meanings are:

  • Manga: Comics or other cartoons originally published in Japan.
  • Anime: Animated cartoons originally released in Japan.

Manga and anime include examples of just about every imaginable drawing and writing style. Some are filled with constant action, others rely on crude humor, while some are subtle, slow-moving and philosophical. Some are aimed at small children. Others are too disturbing even for most adults. The only thing they have in common is that they are all Japanese.

Conversely, something made in America, no matter how slavishly it may imitate Japanese models, is not manga or anime.

Not everyone agrees. Consider the following comment posted on Crunchyroll

The First Anime Show I Truly Enjoy

By FickleArtist on Aug 22, 2013

I have tried to watch many anime shows that I thought I would like and they all end up the same way:me stopping after the first five episodes. It seemed that I would never like anime ever, until I came across this show.

When I first saw the Red Trailer, I was sucked into the beautiful animation. I couldn’t resist to watch the other three trailers and the first three episodes available at that time. I soon realized that I was finally enjoying an anime show. This show is very entertaining. It’s not like in shows like Dragon Ball Z when they have episodes when there is nothing going on. Unlike this, every episode is always entertaining and fun to watch. I have never gotten so crazy for a show besides Teen Titans. It has a great cast of characters, stunning animations, and of course, a kick-ass soundtrack.

There isn’t much bad stuff about the show. Sure the voice acting isn’t perfect but honestly it’s not so bad that you just wanna stop watching it. People complain about the video lengths being short. Come on people, this is a WEB SERIES, not a tv show. TV shows has standards, not web series.

And people complain that they should release more episodes frequently. Well if you think about it, if they were to release let’s say an episode a day, they wouldn’t get as much viewers because they are not giving time for the show to gain popularity. If they were to do that, than there would be far less viewers.

Another thing I hear people are saying on this site is that the show isn’t anime. First off, it’s on crunchyroll, right. Crunchyroll streams anime shows. RWBY is on crunchyroll. You see what I’m saying. And I also looked up what anime is. It’s really just the Japanese word for animation or a Japanese style of animation. So RWBY is considered an anime show.

I hope you guys found this review helpful! And congrats to Rooster Teeth and Monty Oum on getting this far.

This, I think, is typical of a fair number of American anime fans: they don’t actually like anime. They watch anime because because they want to watch animated stories and the number produced in America is pitifully small. They just wish it wasn’t so darned Japanese.
Once (as recently as the 1960s) American animators dominated the world and even Japanese animators sought to emulate them. Now America is an animation backwater and Japan dominates the world. So it’s natural for people like Monty Oum to try to imitate anime and even call their own work “anime”. It’s natural but it’s a mistake.

If America is ever to regain a respectable place in the world of animation, American animators need to develop a new style of their own, something distinctly American, something that can appeal to a mass audience of mainstream Americans. They need to address the needs of people who are sick of the “crap for kids” churned out by most American studios but who don’t want to watch something foreign.

For this new American animation to succeed it needs to be actually good, with first-rate writing and good acting. American animators have to expunge the notion that quality doesn’t matter because animation is for kids and kids will watch anything. The main lesson to be learned from Japanese animators (or indeed from European animators) is that it isn’t just for kids. Once you start targeting an older and more sophisticated audience the results are likely to be a lot better.

3 thoughts on “Is RBNY Anime?

  1. paulo

    Sorry to say that american’s doing anime sounds the same as japanese playing football and winning!
    Let’s just leave the anime/manga with those who have the art and the culture to do it.
    If americans want to do some fine shows, they just have to “rewatch” this:
    And restart from there.

  2. Jonathan Tappan Post author

    I probably wouldn’t pick “Jonny Quest” as my example but history certainly shows that Americans can create great animation. They just aren’t likely to achieve it by imitating foreign artists and trying to appropriate their brand.

  3. paulo

    Let’s just remember that JQ’s was done in 60’s…great music, interesting plot, some “solutions” for the animation and a very reasonable budget (at least for the initial episodes)…But thanks for the answer!

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