Anime history in a nutshell. Part One: How Propaganda Grew into Fairy Girls (Topic)

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Anime history in a nutshell. Part One: How Propaganda Grew into Fairy Girls


The history of anime and its evolution is as long a process as the history of cinematography or animation. Through the influence of war, Western animation and pop culture, anime has developed its own authentic style, thanks to which they are considered exclusively products of Japanese animation. We will try to figure out how this happened and consider a short history of the anime.

The progenitors of the phenomenon

Many sources write that the history of anime officially dates back to the 50s. However, given that often all anime is filmed based on manga, it is worth delving into the story. Namely, at the end of the 19th century [although you can find information that the manga goes back to the 12th century, in the work of the Buddhist monk Toba]. It was then that the first Western comics reached Japan. It is important to clarify that there were not so many of them in the west either. In 1902, the first Japanese comic strip, Togosaki and Makube Inspecting Tokyo, was released, in which two vagrants wandered around Tokyo and found themselves in various funny situations. At the same time, manga began to develop further and became entertainment for young people.

In 1917, the very first Japanese cartoon "Namakura Gatana" was released, in which a samurai is going to test his sword. It is considered the official start of animation in the Land of the Rising Sun. However, at the beginning of the 2000s, the film "Katsudou Shashin" was found, which was supposedly created in 1907. It contains an animation of several seconds in which a student draws hieroglyphs on a blackboard, then takes off his hat and bows. It was drawn directly on celluloid film.

Quite a few projects of the early 20th century have come down to our times. However, they all tried to copy the western style of animation, and were no more than five minutes long. Animations were created by small teams or single authors, and then sold their pictures to cinemas or rental companies. It was impossible to compete with the West, and it was expensive. To save money on production, many authors used cut-out animation techniques by cutting out paper figures. The image looked very flat and lacked detail.

One of the classic representatives of Japanese animation of those times can be called the cartoon "Ubasute Yama", which told about the eerie tradition in ancient Japan to take their elderly parents to the mountains and leave them to die [not the fact that it existed].

The birth of quality animation

After Emperor Hirohito came to power, the entire Japanese media space began to work for the purpose of propaganda and militarization. By the beginning of 1940, the first anime studio, Masaoka Production, had emerged, along with animation and artist organizations such as Shin Mangaha Shudan and Shin Nippon Mangaka.


After Japan invaded China, cartoons about how the Japanese proudly fight their enemies were launched. A cartoon was even released, where, according to the plot of the frog, the islanders fight against the horde of the arriving invaders Mickey Mouse.

After the Second World War ended, cinemas became the main entertainment for ordinary Japanese, where for the most part, if they played cartoons, then American ones. In terms of quality, they were significantly superior to that of Japan. But the desire to compete with the West was the impetus for the development of a new level of domestic animation.

At the same time, Japanese animators were still looking for ways to reduce the cost of production. This is how the classic for modern anime technique was born to divide the whole picture into main frames, the animation of which was spent on the main resources, for example, battle scenes, and secondary ones, where nothing was happening and the frames were quite static. This made it possible to reduce the cost of production to a large extent.

But no one laid the foundations for anime animation as strongly as Osamu Tezuka, who, for example, borrowed from Walt Disney the manner of using large eyes to convey emotion. And exactly what came out from under his hand can be considered the first anime. In addition, Tezuka also drew manga, which was also actively developed after the war.

New genres began to appear in the manga, as well as a clear division into shonen and shoujo, in other words for boys and girls.

In 1965, Tezuka's studio began to release the TV series Mighty Atom, aka Astroboy, based on his manga. The anime begins with a little boy dying. His saddened father decides to create a robot similar to his deceased son in the person of Astroboy. At the same time, the concept of a common plot appeared, when each episode is independent, but at the same time the series has a thread of the main plot.


The success of "Astroboy" led to the fact that anime began to actively develop: new films appeared, new studios, new manga, on which future directors and manga artists such as Satoshi Kon, Katsuhiro Otomo and Mamoru Oshi grew up.

At the same time, the division of shonen and shojo made its way into the anime and is clearly fixed in it to the present day. In the shonen anime, the main character was a boy who had unusual abilities and was often involved in trouble. In shoujo, the main character is a girl, they also raised the topic of growing up, but there was a lot of emphasis on romantic relationships.

Great reach

After the anime became distinctive and self-sufficient, they began to cover different areas of life in their stories. So, in 1968, the first sports anime about baseball "Star of Kyojin" was released, which gained such success that a year later an anime about women's volleyball was released, and the TMS studio itself still makes many cool sports titles.


In 1969, the first erotic anime based on the fairy tale "1000 and 1 Nights" was released. By the 1970s, anime had entered the TV environment more densely, giving preference to serials over feature films. One of the reasons was that children who grew up on anime matured, and along with the grown-up audience, the popularity of series aimed at older viewers increased. And it is the 70s that can be called the heyday of anime as a mass phenomenon.

In 1973, the series "Cutie Hani" was released, based on the manga by Go Nagai, which was a boy-oriented maho shoujo genre. The TV company decided to put this anime on a par with other serious projects, so the concept has undergone a change. The main character was made an android who fought the mafia, romance was minimized, and nudity was also added. This is how the transformation that is already familiar to us today appeared in the anime, when, for example, in the anime about the girls of sorceresses during the transformation, the main character remains naked for a couple of seconds, which we will see later in Sailor Moon. ”

Then in the seventies the king of anime appeared - the genre of fur, which we talked about separately [we strongly recommend that you read the material, since the history of anime is in many ways connected with it]. It should be said, however, that after the release of Mazinger Z in 1972, mecha became the mainstream throughout anime. At the same time, the Sentai subgenre appeared, which tells about a team of heroes fighting evil.

We will consider the continuation of the anime story in the next article.

The Topic of Article: Anime history in a nutshell. Part One: How Propaganda Grew into Fairy Girls.
Author: Jake Pinkman