One of my favorite hobbies is anime. Anime or short for Animation is, a French word even though it is used to describe animation from Japan. Anime is an interesting and varied from of entertainment that appeals to all ages. However like all art forms, anime did not form in a vacuum, but instead had various stages of development. It is the purpose of my report to show the various stages in the development of anime.
The elements that formed anime stretch back for hundreds of years, as they are found in the various other forms of Japanese art. The art form that has the most connections with anime, both in the past and still today, is manga. Manga, Japanese for Irresponsible pictures, is Japanese comic books. Manga arouse in the Edo Period (1600-1868) with the rise of the merchant class. Manga is different from American comics in the art style, which has the characters drawn with very large eyes. This is done for artistic impact as the eyes help portray the character’s personality.
The other element important to the foundation of anime is Japanese theater. Theater, in it’s various forms is partially responsible for the extensive use of symbolism in anime. It may also be responsible for certain character designs, most prominently bishonen, or the beautiful boy style. The reason for this may be that two forms of traditional theater Kabuki and Takarazuka, feature men or women impersonating the other sex.
Anime officially began in the early 1960’sWhen a man named Osamu Tezuka produced a show based of the manga he created. The series is called Testuwan Atom or Astro Boy in the American version of the show. Astro Boy was the story of a little robot who fought evil. Astro Boy was followed up by Jungle Emperor Leo or Kimba the white lion in the American version. Kimba was such an interesting show that almost 30 thirty years the show began Disney ripped off Kimba an made the Lion King, even if their Lawyer’s deny it.
One of the most important Genres in anime is Mecha or giant robots. The first giant robot show was Tetsujin 28 or Gigantor in the American version. One of the perceived reasons behind the popularity of Mecha in Japan is that it is a result of World War II. Many Japanese citizens felt that they lost the war due to inferior technology and Mecha was an outlet for the desire of technological progress among the Japanese. There are also other theories based on the idea that the giant robot is symbolic of the power of the Hero.
One of the most important Mecha show is Mobile Suit Gundam, or Gundam for short. Gundam has a history parallel to Star Trek, in that it had mediocre ratings but had a growing popularity in syndication, growing into a cult classic that spawned several spin-offs. It is also important in that it marked the maturity that anime often possesses. Gundam was one of the first anime shows that adults watched as well, due to the complexity of the story and the characters.
Another Important show in the development of Anime was Macross, or in the American version the first part of Robotech. Macross is also a Mecha show but It’s Mecha designs are not the most important contribution it has made to the development of Anime. The biggest change Macross made is through Mari Iijima one of the voice actors on the show. This was the first series in which music played a large part in the series. Today most anime has popular singers voice acting the characters.
Of course not all anime is giant robots. One of the most pivotal shows in the development anime is Sailor moon. Sailor moon is a shojo anime, an anime title directed at girls. One important feature of shojo anime is that while it is targeted for girls “...boys don’t really mind female heroes either, provided they are doing something a bit more interesting than sticking sequins in a plastic horse’s mane.1”
One of the other aspects that makes anime an attractive form of entertainment is the tendency toward moral Ambiguity. A very good example of this is found in Princess Monoke. Princess Monoke resembles many shows about environmentalism but unlike the other shows the antagonist, Lady Eboshi, is trying to help the disadvantaged rather than simply make profits. This trend is possibly do to the fact that Japanese religion does not believe in an absolute good or evil.
This report has been a truncated version of the History of anime. There are many aspects of the Art form that I have not been able to cover due to the scope of this project.
1 Antonia Levi: Samurai from outer space
back to articles