Anime is a distinctive form of animation that originated in Japan and has become increasingly popular globally, particularly in recent years. It has a rich and complex history that dates back to the early 1900s, and it has evolved over time as a unique art form.
The roots of anime can be traced back to the early 1900s, when the first Japanese animation festival took place in Tokyo in 1907. The festival showcased several works of animation, including the works of three of the most notable pioneers of anime: Junichi Kouchi, Seitaro Kitayama, and Shimokawa Oten. These three animators showcased their works; Kouchi’s Katsudo Shashin (1907), Kitayama’s Nihonbashi Arashiyama (1907), and Shimokawa Oten’s Imokawa Mukuzo Genkanban no Maki (1917). These earliest forms of anime are known as “katsudo shashin” or “moving pictures”.
In the 1930s, animation in Japan was still in its early stages, and the industry was heavily influenced by Western animation. However, this changed with the outbreak of World War II, which led to increased government control over the animation industry. During this time, a lot of the animation produced was propaganda aimed at promoting the war effort. Anime during this time period was also heavily influenced by Disney cartoons.
After the end of World War II, Japan was occupied by the United States, which had a significant impact on the development of anime. The country’s animation industry was restructured, with the government taking control over the industry and prioritizing animation projects focused on education.
One of the most influential figures in the post-war anime industry was Osamu Tezuka, sometimes referred to as the “God of Manga.” He is best known for creating Astro Boy, a popular anime series that became the first anime to be broadcasted globally in the 1960s. He was also a pioneer in storytelling techniques and character design, and his work had a significant impact on the development of anime and manga.
The 1960s and 1970s
In the 1960s and 1970s, anime began to gain immense popularity in Japan and became an integral part of Japanese culture. During this time, many notable anime series were created, including Speed Racer (1967), which was one of the first anime series to be broadcasted in the United States.
In the 1970s, a new subgenre of anime emerged, known as “mecha” anime, which focused on giant robots and mechanical suits. One of the most popular mecha anime series of this time was Mobile Suit Gundam (1979), which became a cultural phenomenon in Japan.
The 1980s saw the growth of the anime industry with the rise of studios such as Studio Ghibli, which was founded in 1985 by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata. Studio Ghibli is now recognized as one of the leading anime studios globally, and Miyazaki’s films such as My Neighbor Totoro (1988) and Princess Mononoke (1997) have become classics.
The 1990s saw a shift in the anime industry with the rise of adult-oriented anime, often referred to as “anime for grown-ups.” These anime series, such as Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995) and Cowboy Bebop (1998), tackled more complex and mature themes, which appealed to older audiences.
The 21st Century
In the 21st century, anime has grown in popularity globally, with anime series gaining widespread recognition and popularity outside of Japan. The availability of anime streaming services such as Crunchyroll and Netflix has made it easier for people to access anime series from around the world.
Anime has also expanded into various genres, including horror, romance, comedy, and action, providing something for everyone.
In conclusion, anime has a rich and complex history dating back to the early 1900s. It has evolved over time as a unique art form and became an integral part of Japanese culture. The rise of anime streaming services and increased global popularity has allowed anime to become a global phenomenon, and it continues to expand and evolve as a medium of storytelling.