I’m sure you have watched cartoons once in your life before. Popular shows like SpongeBob SquarePants, Looney Toons, Tom and Jerry, and more, are all essentially part of American history. The fact that we have a traditional cartoon brings up one question. What do other countries have as their cartoons and animated shows? In this case, I will explain the history of Japan’s cartoons and animations, commonly referred to as Anime.
Although very early elements of anime animation have been found as far back as 1907, modern Anime was founded in 1948, with the birth of Toei Animation. After World War II, Toei Animation produced their first color anime feature titled Hakujaden (In English, “The Tale of the White Serpent). Shortly after, there was a spurt of releases between 1958 and 1964. The first anime to get world recognition, as well as a substantial fan base in the United States, was the show Dragon Ball. Shortly after, Sailor moon was released in 1992, as well as One Piece in 1999.
One of the Toei animators, Yasuo Otsuka, followed a fundamental theory that defined the animation. Referred to as the “money shot,” it is a technique that focuses only on the main part of a scene. This technique not only produces a unique animation style, but also produces a cost effective and efficient animation.
Over the last couple decades, Japanese Anime and Manga have cracked into the Americas to create a unique, and often distained, culture. As an animation became more and more popular, the demand to have a translated version grew. This was the case with Dragon Ball, which was both subbed and dubbed by English speaking voice actors. Pokemon is a great example of an Americanized animation. These two shows were the beginning of the American manga culture. Today, Japanese anime is easily watchable, and can be streamed from dozens of websites without cost. Also, with the Internet accessible around the world, translation from Japanese to English is widely available and provided as a free service.
Anime has brought along bad publicity as well as its welcomed scene. Someone associated with Anime is automatically stereotyped as an “Otaku,” or put simply, “one who sits alone at home and does not work.” Anime watchers have been seen as lazy, ignorant, and weird. With the globalization of anime in the 2000s, Americans quickly attached themselves to it. Many have described watching anime as living in a different reality, only to wake up into a boring and depressing world afterwards.
Along with the Japanese culture, more perverse elements have made their way into the Americas as well. A large portion of Anime, although not all, features an immense quantity of fan service (adding sexy scenes to a show to keep the viewer entertained). Especially seen in modern day anime, it is a new element to the animation that is not as well scene to the public. In traditional anime from 1960 to 1990, fan service is not a common element. However, with the industrialization of the style, fan service is widely used to attract a larger audience.
Anime animation has become an essential part of American culture. It is a very unique and almost underground culture. Although the general public is not 100% with the culture, it is slowly gaining publicity and continues to expand further into every reach of our growing world.