Why Anime Inspires Young Artists

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Good ol’ gang from Naruto!

Along with our many of our other titles we are all illustrators here at Rocket Adrift. We, just like everyone else started drawing by imitating other artists. Many have started with their favorite Disney characters. Others went to Warner Bros, Hanna Barbara or even American comics for inspiration. But a very large percentage of young artists now in their mid twenties and thirties started through anime and manga. These Japanese style comics and cartoons play a large role in so many artist’s beginnings for many reasons. Here are some of these reasons.


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This was the reason I wanted a pet hamster so bad

The first reason is that a large number of animes use very simplistic and symbolic imagery to exemplify character traits. For example a “chibi” character or a small cutesy-type character with large eyes and small round body is easy for young children to grasp. Large, simple shapes are used to great effect in animes like Pokemon, Hamtaro and Hello Kitty. For young artists learning how to draw, it’s easy to replicate these symbols and make their own characters with them.

Grows with its Audience

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Sailor Soldiers!

The second reason is that  as these young artists grow, Anime offers room for them to discover a host of different styles.The wide variety of characters and subject matter vary in complexity and design. So to put it succinctly, artists that start in anime and get tired of drawing Hamtaro characters can often end up staying in anime but move on to something more mature such as Sailor moon or Naruto.

Diversity in Style

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One of the most beautifully complex animes I’ve ever seen, Perfect Blue by Satoshi Kon.

The third reason is that as we’ve hinted before, Anime is just so vast and all-encompassing. The common misconception about anime is that it’s all cookie-cutter characters with big-eyes, big breasts and similar character traits. But this is just the tip of the iceberg of this genre. There is so  much that anime has to offer, from Cowboy Bebop to One Piece and more. Cultishly famous anime movies are now being considered for Hollywood reboots because of their beautiful design and complexity of subject matter, including Ghost in Shell and Akira. Not even including Studio Ghibli and Satoshi Kon films. The list could go on and on of amazing, must-see anime and mangas that could change the way we tell stories.


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Cute couple cosplaying as Kiki and Tombo at Otaku Con… d’awww~

The last reason why Anime Inspires young artists is that it provides a kind of community. For many who have not started their artistic journeys with anime, the genre can come off as daunting, confusing and even intimidating. Back when anime wasn’t as widely popular or accepted in the western art world, artists that delved into it often felt somewhat ostracized. Young artists may have been told by many a presumptuous teacher that their drawing approach or style was not valid, and to learn the “proper” way to draw. Illustration or design lessons often gave very westernized examples of Warner Bros. or Hanna Barbara cartoons. This rift in the artists community creates a niche interest for many artists. It helps build a kind of underground community of Anime lovers.


Image result for anime cat drawing vs. Image result for cat drawing

There are definite negative consequences for artists that inundate themselves with only Anime. This makes it difficult for young artists to recognize the proper anatomy and theory of art because Anime has simplified it to the point of symbols. What a lot of artists looking to go professional don’t realize is that to start to symbolize and stylize their work they first need to learn the theory and technical side of art.

Everyone has to start with imitation. But for young artists it’s important to move away from that by learning how to draw a wide variety of subject matter. Once you’ve developed the tools necessary to draw whatever you want, then you can take inspiration from other styles or create your own unique way of expressing yourself. That way you know that you’re in control of your style and your style is not in control of you!

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Lead artist and animator at Rocket Adrift. Appreciator of films, music and Japanese cuisine.

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