AniDB Definition:Anime

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This page is meant to help define what is considered an "anime" in the context of AniDB. Our definition is just as arbitrary as anyone else's, and has evolved over time. Questionable shows may, and should, be discussed in the Change Requests forum. Final decision will fall on the mods to decide if it is appropriate to have in the database.


What does "anime" mean in Japan?

"Anime" in Japan technically means any animated film, regardless of origin. Also, "manga" is any printed comic. However, this definition is too broad. This would mean anything that is animated (Bugs Bunny, Mickey Mouse, ...) would be considered anime.

What does the rest of the world think?

People in the rest of the world take "anime" to mean animated films from Japan.

Why not use this definition?

What does "from Japan" really mean? What if a show is produced by a Japanese company and was released in Japan, but was drawn in India because of cheap labour, is it an anime? What about that animated commercial for a bar of soap, is that anime? Also, many people consider many shows from China and Korea to also be anime because their style is similar to other anime.

What about using the styles to define an anime?

Anime styles are frequently distinctive and fairly easy to recognize. The stereotype is of characters with huge hair and large eyes. Although this is true of many anime (to varying degrees), there are also many anime that do not fit this description. Also not everything with big eyes is necessarily an anime either.

So what IS an anime?

To meet the AniDB definition of "anime" it must be:

  • An anime needs to be animated. Live action, or something with just a few animated scenes and/or picture dramas (audio dialog over still images) is not an anime (these items can still be added as S episodes if they are released as a BD/DVD special).
  • It has to have a plot. For instance an animated soap commercial is not an anime.
  • The anime needs to be created primarily for the Japanese, Chinese, or Korean ("CJK") market.
    • For instance, Disney may collaborate with a Japanese company on the making of a film for the United States, but it is not an anime even though a Japanese company is involved.
    • For further clarity, a CJK company must be a producer of the anime; this generally means that a CJK company is credited for anime production. Just having a hand in the animation is not sufficient.
  • An anime has to be professionally produced by a CJK producer.
    • Professionally produced re-cuts are considered anime.
    • Fan-made shows and/or parodies are not considered anime. Fan-made re-cuts are also not considered anime.

Isn't that arbitrary and exclusive of good Western animation?

Yes it is. Thanks for asking. But we just don't consider it "anime." We suggest entering it into The Big Cartoon Database.

These rules can be changed if the AniDB mods feel it is appropriate for AniDB. At this time however, we feel these rules are the closest to meeting the spirit of what we want to catalog.


Yes, every rule has exceptions. There are a lot of borderline cases, but these cases should be discussed before adding them to the database. If there is something in the database or you think should be added to the database that does not match the definition above it needs to be discussed in the forum. First, you should search to see if there has already been a discussion about the anime in question. If you cannot find one, then you need to make a post in the Change Requests forum, put [ADD][ANIME] or [DEL][ANIME] in the subject of your topic.

In General

Chinese/Korean productions?

Are animated, professionally produced, TV shows, feature films, and OVAs/OADs created by a Korean/Chinese company for the Korean/Chinese market allowed?
Generally, yes most CJK productions for a Chinese or Korean audience are accepted; CJK includes Japan, China, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, and North Korea. Check the forum before adding them though. This definition has been discussed here.

Music videos?

Fanmade AMVs are not allowed if they are montages of scenes from anime with a song playing on the background, for original animation created by fans, see "Fan-Made Shows" section. If they are professionally produced mainly by a Japanese company or individuals, then yes. Even if the song the music video is for is not by a Japanese artist/band, it is still acceptable if the previous rules apply, since the video will be marketed globally on the internet. Partially animated music video can be acceptable as well (Passion from the examples), but it depends on the amount and length. In some cases an official AMV related to a series should be added as a special episode, in other cases it's a separate project from the source material and should have its own entry.

Examples: Macross: Flashback 2012, Gurren Lagann Parallel Works, It Girl, Passion

Game CGs/promos?

Cutscenes in games are part of the game and shouldn't be considered as stand-alone anime, therefore they are not accepted. Animated promotional videos for games are generally accepted granted they are long enough and have a narrative other than simply showing scenes from the game itself. In some occasions, a game can be released bundled with a bonus animated video, which can be added as an anime entry.

Examples: Mugen Senshi Valis, Mugen Kouro, Kyokugen Dasshutsu ADV: Zennin Shibou Death

VTuber videos created by VTubers starring themselves in a video blog (vlog)?

In general, VTuber videos, which by definition are animated, do not count as anime, even though these VTuber videos, especially videos by larger VTuber accounts, are often professionally produced to some degree, and may meet the plot requirement. The videos are not produced for a broadcast audience (TV and/or streaming sites such as Netflix, Hulu, Crunchyroll, NicoNico, QQ, etc).

Adding VTubers videos to AniDB will be allowed on a case-by-case exception basis only.

When VTubers create videos starring themselves, they are essentially "recording a selfie as themselves" and posting these videos on YouTube as their video blog (vlog) . However, since VTubers are not real people, the vlog is in the virtual world; in some ways, it is a parallel to "live action" videos of a real human person recording a vlog of themselves doing something.

Had the vlog been shot with human idols rather than VTuber idols, it would be a live action video and therefore not anime. The substitution of human idols with VTubers does not change the classification of the video as a vlog, rather than an anime produced for broadcast audience.

Examples of vlogs that would not be added:

  1. Let's play / gameplay: YouTube Link
  2. vlog/ talk show: YouTube Link
  3. ASMR: YouTube Link
  4. Karaoke: YouTube Link
  5. In VTubers English for an English audience: YouTube Link

This policy was confirmed on the Adv. User subforum here and public forum here.

-- VTuber videos: Application of the "needs to be animated" rule, "professionally produced" rule, and "doujin rule" to VTuber videos

Similar to standard anime franchises, VTubers may also publish videos that do not meet AniDB's basic definition of anime. This includes:

  1. The animation rule: limited animated scenes, or no animation at all in the case of a picture drama, would fail the animation rule; both formats are not uncommon for VTubers.
  2. The professional production rule: videos self-produced by small/indie/doujin VTubers likely would not meet the professional production rule. However, VTubers supported by large corporations such as Hololive would likely be sufficiently professional if they were to produce an anime.
    1. The doujin rule: the doujin rule is a specific instance of the professional production rule. If a small/indie/doujin VTuber is supported by a professional animation studio, then the resulting video may be sufficiently professional to meet AniDB's definition of professionally produced.

If a video by a VTuber does not meet the above basic criteria, they would be excluded from AniDB on the basis of these basic rules before VTuber considerations (described earlier) become relevant.

Example 1: PUCHISANJI by Nijisanji (VTuber Group) (YouTube Japanese airing link and YouTube English subbed airing link) is a VTuber picture drama which does not meet the animation rule. PUCHISANJI meets the professionally produced rule, given that the video is produced by Nijisanji, a large corporation.

Example 2: Virtual-san wa Miteiru is clearly animated, so it meets the animation rule. Further, it is produced by traditional animation studios Bridge and Lide , so it meets the professionally produced rule.

Example 3: Holo no Graffiti is clearly animated, so it meets the animation rule. It is not produced by a traditional animation studio; however, it is produced by the VTuber's parent company hololive ホロライブ - VTuber Group, a large corporation that would be able to professionally produce an anime.

-- VTuber videos: Application of the "music video / MV" rule to VTuber videos

AniDB allows music videos ("MVs"), and has a specific anime type called "music video" for this purpose. Anime MVs are allowed; traditionally, song promoters have chartered animation studios to create anime MVs to promote their songs.

Many VTubers give virtual song performances as part of their online persona. This is especially true if the VTuber is also a virtual idol , where the song performed is potentially a first-party song that is purposefully produced for that virtual idol. While it is possible that VTubers may be contracted by a song promoter to create a traditional MV to promote a traditional song, in the current (2021) context of the VTuber environment, most VTuber MVs are self-promoting. As such, by default, all VTuber MVs are not allowed on AniDB; VTuber MVs will only be added to AniDB on an exception basis.

Example 1: ShinySmilyStory by hololive ホロライブ - VTuber Group (YouTube link) is a VTuber MV which meets the animation rule and the professionally produced rule, given that the video is produced by hololive, a large corporation. However, the MV self-promotes a song created by hololive for its roster of VTubers. If idols in the MV were replaced with corporeal humans, this would be a live-action MV, which is clearly not anime. Similar to the general VTuber rule, this is an example of essentially "recording a selfie as themselves", only in song rather than as a vlog.

Doujin anime: fan-made shows/amateur productions?

Doujin anime are not professionally produced, so generally they are not allowed. However some of them can be of very high quality and even have professional voice actors, in which case we have accepted them.

Examples: Touhou PVD, Gensou Mangekyou: The Memories of Phantasm, Ame to Shoujo to Watashi no Tegami: Short Short Story, Fumiko no Kokuhaku

Commercials/Promotional videos?

Animated standard TV commercials are not allowed; examples include commercials for video games, toys, shops, restaurants, businesses, etc.

Short promotional videos, that generally are not shown during commercial breaks on TV, but rather are created for events, web, or special segments of a TV program, are accepted. These shorts need to have a narrative, can contain the product or company the anime is promoting, and are generally 5+ minutes in length, sometimes a bit shorter.

Examples: Superflat Monogram, Next A-Class, Fastening Days, Haru wa Kuru

Live action?

Where is the key requirement, "animation", hiding in this phrase? Are you mad? If there are some live action scenes that are incorporated into an anime that otherwise meets the requirements and when looked at as a whole they can still be considered animated, they may be anime (although this may be extremely unwise, common sense not ruling around here, as it's the first step on the sort of slippery slope we're already experiencing in country of origin), and certain official "live action" extras such as interviews are permitted. For stop motion animation, see the next paragraph.

Stop motion animation (clay/puppet-mation)

Generally we accept clay-mation and puppet animation, although technically live action, they do require character and background designs and creation. Stop motion with humans and regular objects lacks these two things and therefore we don't allow such works.

Examples: Doggy Poo, Renzoku Ningyou Katsugeki: Shin Sanjuushi

DVD/BD specials (omake)?

Not as separate anime entries. Disk-only specials should be added as special episodes to an existing anime.

Other fan-made content

-- Parody Subs/Dubs?

Not as anime entries. These are sometimes allowed as "Parody" episodes (P eps) to an existing anime; please check with a moderator.

-- Fan made re-cuts?

Not as anime entries. These are sometimes allowed as "Parody" episodes (P eps) to an existing anime, but only on an exception basis as approved by a moderator.

Specific Cases

For an ongoing list of items that have been requested for deletion, or have been deleted, see List of duplicate and "not anime" entries in AniDB

Note Some links in this guide are pointing to Internal Docs section and are not available to everyone.
Those are meant to be references for people who work on AniDB documentation.

The Animatrix


Ultima The Animatrix should be allowed because it was animated by many well known Japanese artists. link

Anime Fiction


Der Idiot English company producing for the English market. link



Der Idiot Amateur English company producing for the English market. about us/link

Daicon Opening Animations


Rar Given the long and active tradition of 同人誌, declaring everything not made by the copyright holders might become overly restrictive. However, due to the time and expense it takes to produce animation compared to literature, I suspect a simple 'no doujinshi' rule will probably do for a good few years yet. Unless of course, someone who's seen the work in question wants to contradict me and say it is worth keeping. link
Rar I completely revoke my comments about doujinshi in animation having added this a while ago... fan made, in the 80s, and great. link

Evangelion X


Der Idiot Japanese fanproduction link

The Item


Der Idiot Amateur English company producing for the English market. about us/link

The Last Unicorn


rar Ran across this, and as far as a bit of googling tells me, this is a US animation only, not even a co-production like some are (The Mysterious Cities of Gold for instance). thread deleted
nwa I was renaming the "The" titles and stumbled upon this... according to IMDB this isn't really an anime at all... thread deleted
Der Idiot English company producing for the English market. link

Mania - Secret of Green Tentacle


Der Idiot English company producing for the English market. link



Der Idiot Japanese fanproduction link



Der Idiot Japanese fanproduction link



Ultima Robotech for example has Japanese origins because they were licensed from Tatsunoko Studios for international distribution by Harmony Gold USA. link
nwa Robotech was neither dubbed nor created by the Japanese.. there wasn't even any Japanese studios involved with it? in that case... it's not anime and should be deleted :P link
nwa I wouldn't allow Transformers US Movie or the US Robotech... aah... whatever... they might as well be there... link

Sailor Moon and the 7 Ballz


PetriW I don't see why it wouldn't. thread deleted
nwa they are crappy, but still hentai I guess thread deleted
Ultima Well, personally, removing Sailor Moon and the 7 Ballz wouldn't be a "huge" loss. I guess we should just allow official hentai productions into AniDB. We do the same for official anime music videos released on anime DVDs. I think we should do the same for hentai. thread deleted
Wahaha With a runtime of ~50 minutes, ~70 people who have the files in their lists and ~40 votes, this entry should be kept IMO. link
Der Idiot English company producing for the English market. link



Der Idiot Amateur English company producing for the English market. about us/link

Star Ballz


Der Idiot English company producing for the English market. link

Understanding Chaos


Der Idiot Amateur English company producing for the English market. about us/link

Avatar - The Last Airbender


Der Idiot American production for the American market. link

Pacific Rim: The Black


CDB-Man Paraphrasing nwa: Sounds like this is not anime by our definition. The production is American; Japan's role (Polygon Pictures) is in animation, and Japan is not credited with production control. link

Anime <x> is (not) listed as anime on anime site <y>!

Although that would be part of an argument for or against listing it as an anime, that does not mean that it will be automatically added or removed from AniDB. Every site has a different user base and administrators with their own opinions, you will find that no two sites have the exact same list of anime.

If it is not an anime, where can I find more information?

Every anime related website has different ideas about what is an anime, you can try one of those sites. Also, you can try The Big Cartoon Database.