I saw a comment online that stated The Legend of Korra is not anime. I kinda know the argument in that "anime" refers to only Japanese animation, but is that so? The style of this anime, the humour, and everything about it seems extremely anime. I understand that it was written by Americans and animated in Korea.

Is The Legend of Korra seriously not considered anime because of this?

Am I going to have to categorize this into an alternate genre type, so that I can add Archer and Futurama? Is there a genre type for these types of animations like with "shoujo", "shounen", "seinen", and "josei"?

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    try this, it does contain answer for some part of your question Oct 13, 2014 at 11:27
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    and try to narrow down your question, asking many question will give both correct and incorrect answer at same time. Oct 13, 2014 at 11:32
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    considering that "Anime" is the Japanese word for cartoon, and that Legend of Korra is a cartoon, then it is an anime Oct 13, 2014 at 16:11

3 Answers 3


Any animation that is not made by a Japanese production company is not anime, according to the English definition of the term.

To Japanese people in Japanese, the Japanese words 「アニメーション」 and 「アニメ」(animeeshon, shortened to anime) are used to describe any animation, whether made in Japan or made in other countries, such as Disney.

It is important to distinguish between the Japanese word used by Japanese in Japan to describe all animation from all countries, as compared to the English word which is distinct from that in meaning. The English word only refers to animation that is made by a Japanese production company. It includes many series which were almost entirely animated in Korea by Koreans, but done so for a Japanese production company. Look in the credits list at the end of many anime TV series and you will see many Korea names; since the company is Japanese, it counts as anime, even if the animating work was largely accomplished by non-Japanese people. If the exact same Korean animators created an animated series produced by a Korean company, it would not be anime according to the English definition of the word.

Korean comics are called manhwa. There are a handful of American publishers that might market a graphic novel to you as "manga made in America," but that is actually an oxymoron. The English word "manga" only refers to comics produced by Japanese publishing companies. Japanese people do not usually use the Japanese word 「漫画」 (manga) to refer to comics from other countries; instead they say 「コミックス」 (komikkusu). Again, you could be a non-Japanese living in Japan and having your comic published in a Japanese manga magazine, and it would be real manga, because of the company, regardless of your own ethnicity. But if you are ethnically-Japanese publishing your comic outside of Japan, it is not manga.

Another important thing to keep in mind is that neither the English word nor the Japanese word contain anything related to art style. This is also true of words such as shounen, shoujo, seinen, josei, and so on: within each, there is a wide variety of art styles. For example, compare the art style of Kaitou St. Tail to NANA, to Kiko-chan Smile, to Ace wo Nerae, to Zetsuai 1989. They are all shoujo, but they do not look alike, and there are respective shounen series that look more like one of them than the other.

Shounen, shoujo, seinen, and josei are words that can only be used to refer to sub-genres within Japanese comics and animation; they cannot be applied to animation produced in America or any other countries. Rather than genres proper, they are simply technical groupings of marketing targets: was this series targeted at young adult women, or not? You can promptly tell which type it is by which area of the Japanese bookstore the manga is in.

According to Energetic Heartbeats,

What is Shoujo?
Shoujo (girls') is not a genre itself - it's the marketing strategy. Shoujo simply means that the title was originally marketed to a female audience in Japan. Nothing more than that. Shoujo includes its own genres that cannot be found in their original form within the shounen world, including mahou shoujo, shounen ai, yaoi, yuri, and others.
Shoujo is not limited to only anime and manga. The word is also used for audio dramas and novels. . . . Pretty much any film genre you can think of has been represented in shoujo.

What is Not Shoujo?
Shoujo is NOT a type of art style, nor a type of story element. It is not even neccessarily work by a specific creator. For example, the beloved team CLAMP is responsible for outstanding examples of shoujo manga and anime, but has also created shounen manga. What's the difference between the shounen manga and the shoujo manga? The shounen series was serialized in a manga magazine aimed at male readers.

  • Thanks .. this is a very well thought out answer. I am going to go ahead and create the word ALTanime for this sub genre.
    – user6383
    Oct 15, 2014 at 7:32

The motivation for deciding that it is not anime is that it is a Western Animation. Despite the fact that the styles borrow from one another, anime is often considered simply "Eastern Animation". While there is a lot of "I know it if I see it" characteristics which make the Avatar series more anime-like than Futurama, it it still considered Western in origin.

  • Please make a comment when you talk about allowed topics
    – nhahtdh
    Oct 13, 2014 at 13:15
  • @nhahtdh I am saying that this is the question on the meta on whether that show can be considered Anime. Though the topic of that question is whether they should be allowed on this site, this question and answer are not about that. They are about whether Avatar/Korra are animes which was addressed there. If you still feel this isn't an answer, though, I can revert it to a comment as it originally was. I thought it needed to be flushed out more though.
    – kaine
    Oct 13, 2014 at 13:19
  • I drop the mention to the meta post, since it is not what this question is about (as you have stated). If you want to discuss about allowed topics, refer to the meta post in comment. As it is now, what you have here is a valid answer.
    – nhahtdh
    Oct 13, 2014 at 13:23
  • I have no interest in addressing allowed topics. That question did, however, address whether those shows can be considered anime. Despite the overlap, that link was very relevant. What you left now is an unsupported comment. meta.anime.stackexchange.com/questions/1/…
    – kaine
    Oct 13, 2014 at 13:26
  • That question asks whether they can be considered anime so that it can be allowed on the main site. Its purpose is different from this question, where it asks why those series are not considered anime in general. So I think citing that question is inappropriate.
    – nhahtdh
    Oct 13, 2014 at 13:39

The "genre" that I have typically heard these type of shows being referred to as "American Anime" or "Western Anime" to refer to the borrowed style, however I've only seen these terms used "unofficially". The term anime these days is most commonly used to define works originating from Japan, and even some dictionaries define it as such.

Let's take a look at some other notable titles:

  • RWBY coins itself as "an American animated web series". Even though it is licensed in Japan, most still won't consider it "anime" in the traditional sense, although judging by this article some people really want to view it as such.

  • Halo Legends considers itself "anime" as the actual animation studios were based in Japan, and they were given a wide degree of freedom in terms of story.

  • The Animatrix dubs itself "animated short films". Although the majority of the films within the anthology originated from Japanese studios, the collection as a whole originates from several different countries.

In this regard we can deduce that strictly speaking, Legend of Korra isn't considered anime solely for the reason that it wasn't produced or even animated in Japan. However this doesn't mean that the definition will evolve to refer to the overall art style if other countries start producing these types of works.

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