If you visited Michael’s Winx Club today, you may have noticed he said something a little strange in his new report: Winx Club is “not an anime from Japan.” Isn’t all anime from Japan? Winx Club is an Italian show, which means it’s not an anime, right?
Yes, it is. Time for Anime 101.
Anime (アニメ) is short for animeeshon (アニメーション), the Japanese transliteration of “animation.” In Japan, it’s the term used for all animated works, no matter what country they’re from, what types of animation they are, or what length they are. That means Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, Dreamworks’ Madagascar, Spongebob Squarepants, and everything else like them count.
Winx Club is a mahou shoujo (魔法少女) or “magical girl” series. (You probably knew that if you love Japanese anime like I do; in fact, the magical girl genre is my favorite.) It belongs with shows like Sailor Moon, Ojamajo Doremi, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, and Shugo Chara!, which share the same element: transforming super girls with magic powers.
The pixies are also based on characters from Japanese anime. They’re drawn in super-deformed style (sometimes called chibi), marked by big heads and bigger emotions. Chibis are very popular in Japan and appear on food labels, drink cans, park signs, and billboards. Sometimes in anime, non-chibi characters are turned into chibis for a comic effect. This picture shows Amu, the main character from Shugo Chara!, as a chibi while she’s panicking over having too many crushes. Don’t you feel her pain? 😛
Okay, lesson over. That settles it, right?
Not really. We have to look at the other side. In the western world, we often change the meanings of foreign words, even ones from other parts of the west. For example, the entrée is the appetizer in France and the main course here in the states. Obviously, anime has come to mean “Japanese animation,” which is why you rarely see Japanese and non-Japanese shows shelved together in a store unless the Japanese shows have been dubbed by a company like 4Kids TV. There are a lot of fans of Japanese anime who think it and “cartoons” should never mix anyway (especially since a lot of those fans hate dubs); for people who don’t like Japanese anime, it helps to keep it in its separate world; and for everyone, it makes the shows easier to organize. Imagine an A-to-Z list of every cartoon in the world!
So, one more time: is Winx Club an anime? My answer: absolutely. But I guess it depends on who you ask.