"Animé" is a Japanese word, originally taken from
the French dessins animées, or cartoons. Here, it means all
forms of animation originally produced in Japan, whether for film,
TV or video release. The output of the Japanese animation industry
is huge; well over a hundred film/video titles a year, and covering
a much broader range of genres than the typical Saturday morning kids'
fare common to Western animation. There are a number of features of
animé which set it apart from Western animation. The typical
standard of the artwork is very high; a great deal of imagination
goes into the character and technical ("mecha") designs
and the backgrounds are often works of art. The plotlines are typically
more complex, with characters expressing a full range of emotions,
and growing over the course of a series.
Many people, especially in the UK, know Japanese animation better
as "Manga". This is largely due to the efforts of one UK
company, Manga Video, which insists on promoting the products they
license as "manga". In Japanese usage, manga refers to printed
comics, and not to video. Fans of animé can get quite annoyed
about the misuse of the term, so be careful!