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A Brief History of Anime: Exploring the Three Highlights Posted Aug 6, 2020

Anime was introduced around the early 1900s and it dates back to the inception of the Japanese film industry. It has eventually emerged as a major cultural force of Japan during the last century. A majority of the work performed in the initial years was not done by the cel animation technique. A number of other techniques such as chalkboard drawings, paper cut-outs, and direct painting on the film were in vogue back then. However, with time, cel animation technique became one of the most popular and anime dominant production techniques.

Growing Popularity of Anime

Anime is known to be a relatively new form of media just about a hundred years old. However, it has today become an ineffable aspect of both global and Japanese popular culture. People are just as interested in anime today as they are in Jackpot City Casino. For numerous youngsters in the United States and other nations across the globe, anime is the first-ever introduction to the rich heritage, history, and culture of the Japanese people. As such, Anime is regarded as a valuable and critical form of education and cultural exchange. In this context, you must understand that there is a plethora of anime globally accessible and created with the intention of catering to all possible target audiences.

Anime is hugely popular in Japan as compared to other nations, for instance, the United States simply because in Japan, Anime seems to be the mainstream media. Japan is completely aware to a certain extent of the incredible way how anime has become phenomenally popular in countries across the globe. We understand that the Japanese Paralympic Committee and the Japanese Olympic Committee had actually chosen a specific group of popular anime characters as the true ‘ambassadors’ of the rich and interesting Japanese culture and heritage. Goku, Sailor Moon, and Astro Boy are today international stars and are acclaimed worldwide as Japanese cultural icons.

A Well-Chronicled History

Initially, because of the nationalist movement in Japan and the beginning of World War II, a vast majority of the animated productions that were created during the 1930s were not meant to be popular entertainments. On the contrary, they were used either as a government propaganda tool or were very much commercially-oriented. Some of the pioneers were Jun'ichi Kouchi, Seitarō Kitayama, and Shimokawa Oten. By the 1930s we know that animation began to be regarded as an alternative and effective format of storytelling to Japan’s live-action industry. However, it lacked competition from international producers and several animators like Yasuji Murata and Noburō Ōfuji were still working in the relatively less expensive cutout and not the advanced cel animation. The first-ever talkie anime was called Chikara to Onna no Yo no Naka and was produced in 1933 by Masaoka. The first-ever feature-length animated movie was called Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors and it was directed superbly by Seo in the year 1945 and was sponsored by the ‘Imperial Japanese Navy’.

Highlights of the Japanese Anime History

Osamu Tezuka's Incredible Work

Osamu Tezuka earned his stripes as a manga artist, but was also one of the earliest pioneers in modern animation studios, having founded Mushi Production. This studio adapted a number of his own works into movies as well as anime series. Widely considered to be the father of the manga art form, Tezuka was relentlessly prolific, and within Japan is considered a godly figure equal to the likes of Walt Disney. His incredible work ethic continues to inspire artists to this day, and he continued releasing new work regularly until his untimely death in 1989. Tezuka's most renowned work worldwide is Astro Boy, but he is also well-known for "Black Jack", "Phoenix", and "Buddha", the latter being an exquisite retelling of the life and work of Gautama Buddha. He is also the creator of the first color television anime series, "Jungle Emperor", also called "Kimba the White Lion". This was a highly esteemed series that is also considered to be a major inspiration for Disney's The Lion King, which, however, has been vehemently denied by Disney executives. His incredible body of work lives on in the pantheon of great anime and manga, and he is one of the first names to come to mind when discussing anime maestros.

Hayao Miyazaki's Gentle Brilliance

Hayao Miyazaki entered the animation industry in the '70s, and after a tremendously successful film in "Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind", co-founded Studio Ghibli with Toshio Suzuki and Isao Takahata in 1985. Over the next few decades, Studio Ghibli has cemented its place as perhaps the most recognizable name in anime films, and the studio behind some of the quintessential names in anime, including "Spirited Away", "Princess Mononoke", "Grave of the Fireflies", and "Howl's Moving Castle". Miyazaki himself was heavily involved in the creative process, directing several of these films over the years. While he officially retired in 2013, his legacy lives on in the works of Studio Ghibli and has found new life under his son, Goro.

The Dawn of New Genres

Several anime subsets and genres that are now considered to be industry mainstays have origins that can be traced back to the 1970s and 80s. Perhaps the earliest mecha/robot stories were Mazinger Z and Mobile Suit Gundam in the early and late 1970s respectively. Sports anime also got a major boost in 1983 with the launch and tremendous popularity of the anime adaptation of Yoichi Takahashi's "Captain Tsubasa". Despite not being the first sports story, it is widely considered the most successful in the early days. The BL genre, called "Boys' Love" also burst into popularity in the 1980s, with the likes of Kaze to Ki no Uta, and several others.


It is incredibly fascinating to observe how this grand media is expanding, changing, and developing today and how it would continue to do so in the decades to follow.

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