28 October, 2009 – Who doesnt love to indulge in a fantastical out of the world animation once in a while? And it sure looks like, if given the opportunity, Bhutanese too love what the rest of the world does. This time round its the worldwide phenomenon called anime, aka Japanese animation.
It hasnt taken Bhutan, or Thimphu for that matter, by storm but it has created its own following like that of a cult movie.
The wide-eyed anime faces and exaggerated facial expressions and physical features gives the cuteness factor to anime series and movies, but it is the strong story lines, action and themes, which attract a wide range of people from different age groups.
Teenagers, who want to break away from mainstream kids cartoon, and adults with young hearts find something to indulge in anime. While it is claimed that anime were initially influenced by the Disney animations like Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, the two schools of animation stand in total contrast.
The happily ever after theme of Disney is in stark contrast with the bloodshed, the heavy use of weaponry and fight scenes of the Japanese anime. It is debatable whether children should be exposed to such animation. But old or young Japanese anime draws its crowd.
In Thimphu, video parlours hardly rent out anime since they come in series, but individuals own the series privately and circulate them among friends and those interested. Its popularity spreading mainly through word of mouth. Shops sell anime figures almost instantly. Cartoon network had its share of Japanese anime series like Pokemon, which enthralled the young, but there are more serious stuff that have entrapped adult minds too.
Naruto, Bleach, Final Fantasy and some of the more popular anime movies like Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away are but a few of the many popular animes.
Karma and Nilesh Thapa are both recent graduates and they enjoy their share of Japanese anime. It has more action, style and the gadgets and gizmos are fascinating, said Karma. Nilesh enjoys the action and finds the drama and emotions, the story line deep, much deeper than Disney and co. Its not kiddish too, he said.
Nilesh has been watching Japanese anime since he graduated from Class XII. In India, where he was studying, whenever the new episode of one of his favourite anime Naruto was broadcast online, the students would download them from the internet and watch it together in their hostel.
Nilesh prefers the series rather than movies. Friends said Japanese anime was the best and, after watching it, I agreed, in fact Ive become addicted to it, he said. In Thimphu, downloading anime from internet is painfully slow. So, anime lovers rely on friends, who go or study abroad to return home with episodes of their favourite anime series.
By Kinley Wangmo