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Can Anime Be Made Outside Japan? And What Exactly Qualifies As ANIME?

Anime Girl Thinking – Cute
Avatar of Theo J Ellis

Can anime be made outside Japan? And what criteria should you use to judge it?

Is it like saying can Hip Hop be made outside the USA? Or is it not that simple?

I’ve heard this argument for years. anime fans have.

The ironic thing I notice is the same fans saying this are never native Japanese people. They’re westerners, Europeans, or Americans.

I don’t see this behavior or attitude towards anime from Indians, Filipinos, Africans or anyone else. And if it exists, it’s nowhere near as common or self righteous.

So why is that?


Gatekeeping in the anime community

YouTube video

Gatekeeping in the anime community is common. I’ve already talked about it before. Most people are doing it wrong.

Often it comes from a toxic place of elitism, fake superiority, and a misguided obsession for anime that drives fans to be overly protective or defensive.

“Protective” of anime and what it means to them that is. Or worse: trying to be spokespeople for the Japanese when they themselves disagree.

Gatekeeping goes all the way to what anime is supposed to represent, and the argument of why anime can’t be made outside of Japan.

In fact there is no “why”. There’s never a legit reason or explanation for it. It’s spoken as fact and nothing more.


Arguments against anime outside Japan

It’s usually along the lines of this:

  • Webtoons adapted into anime isn’t “real” anime.
  • anime.

And basically anything along those lines. Speaking of lines, there’s a fine line between what’s anime and what isn’t.

I’ll agree on that much. But that line’s exaggerated a lot of the time.

Here’s some popular examples of anime outside Japan that some people feel aren’t “anime”.

I’ll explain why they are (or aren’t) anime.


1. The God Of Highschool

the god of highschool anime cover

The God Of Highschool is adapted from Korean webtoons. And made into…. an anime series.

Crunchyroll in particular are the ones who got their hands on it, and helped bring it to fruition. They’re on the production committee.

Park Yong-Je, the author of the material majored in cartoon animation in South Korea. And that’s what lead him to eventually creating the webtoon.

The studio MAPPA, an official JAPANESE anime studio are the ones who worked on the adaptation as well.

So in this case, it’s dumb to say The God Of Highschool isn’t an anime. Especially if you go by the strict rules of anime being made in Japan, or with Japanese studios taking part in it.

Related: 8 Of The Greatest Anime Studios That Produce Jaw Dropping Shows



rwby anime rooster teeth

RWBY was made in America, making this drastically different to The God Of Highschool.

It’s an American style anime that’s taken inspiration from Fairy Tail‘s characters. And is known worldwide (made by Rooster Teeth).

In this case we can say RWBY is not an anime. It wasn’t built on Japanese soil. The Japanese don’t agree 100% though.

This is pointed out by Lindsay Jones:

“Funnily enough, we showed our Japanese cohorts RWBY and they started arguing about whether it was anime or not! But seeing the reception from audiences is so surreal, and we never expected it.” – Wikipedia

3. The Tower Of God

tower of god bam and the crew

The Tower of God, similar to The God Of Highschool, is a popular webtoon series in South Korea.

Also, The Tower Of God was produced IN JAPAN by TMS Entertainment, a legit anime studio in Japan.

Crunchyroll licensed and played their part in the series yet again.

The Tower Of God aired in Japan officially, hence why it was able to be simulcasted outside Japan.

There’s no room for argument that The Tower Of God is a legitimate anime series.


4. Avatar: The Last Airbender

avatar anime main character

Avatar is no doubt a seriously popular series made in the USA. So just like RWBY, it’s not made on Japanese soil.

In this case though, it was actually produced by a South Korean company. But that’s another story.

Even though people argue about whether this is an anime or not, it’s not anime in the purest sense of the word.

No Japanese people or anime companies from Japan took part in the creation of Avatar.


Anime is about who makes it, and where it’s finished

A lot of webtoons are good examples of this. All of them start in Korea, but once adapted, Japanese companies in the anime industry take part in adapting it.

Anime is made by Japanese companies like MAPPA after all, so once it’s in their hands, they know what to do with it.

It’s a guarantee at that point that the series being adapted is an ANIME, no different to a manga being adapted into an anime. Regardless of its origins.

If an anime is made outside Japan, or the material is adapted outside Japan and not in the hands of anime companies and business people? Then by that logic it can’t ever be an anime.

At least not in the way fans aggressively define it. Sometimes by gatekeeping or being spokespeople for the Japanese.

Related: Webtoons Are Cool, But They’re NOT The Future Of Anime


Do Japanese fans believe anime can be made outside Japan?

This is something I’ve struggled to find evidence of. Most opinions are always people trying to speak for the Japanese as if they share the same view point.

Apart from Lindsay who said Japanese people in the industry “argued” about whether RWBY is an anime or not, there’s little evidence of their viewpoints about anime outside Japan.

Not to mention whether they consider it anime.

But the moral of the story is: if the Japanese take part in it, it’s an anime. Full stop.

tohru dragon smug shrug

Anything less is just mental gymnastics from fans who hold anime TOO close to their heart. And get overly defensive about dumb sh*t.

I might speak out for anime or call out BS when I see it, but I’m not so arrogant or fanboy-ish that I’d think my view point on anime outside of Japan is the same as what the Japanese themselves believe.

But anyway – that’s the post in a nutshell. Everything has been said.

I’ll talk about what Japanese think another day after doing some digging.

What do you think?



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