A Brief History of Anime
To get a firm grounding from where to begin in looking at the subject of anime as a whole, to better understand why everyone could enjoy anime if they gave the right titles or genres a try, let’s first ask the question; what is anime?
Anime has it’s early origins in the eastern world, with an identifiable central location of Japan being the source from which anime would then spread. Unfortunately, just as with the roots and beginnings of many other culturally important constructs being buried by conjecture, lack of information, and half-truths, identifying the exact date or title of the first-ever Japanese anime is highly unlikely.
What we can know for sure, is anime got its start in the early 1900s, somewhere in Japan. We also have a pretty good understanding of the history of animation as well, which helps in understanding the history of anime better!
Now, before we get any further, I would like to mention something else that was happening circa 1910 in Japan as well. In 1912, the Japanese Emperor, Meiji the Great, died at the age of 59, making way for his successor, Prince Yoshihito, to ascend to the title of Emperor. This transition between Emperors marked the end of the 45 year-long Meiji Period in Japan and the beginning of the Taisho Period under Emperor Taisho.
This transition of Emperors signaled both the end of the Meiji and the start of the Taisho period. Common to transitional periods in history, such as the advancements, changes, revolutions, and ideological shifts in the arts and humanities, which typically accompany these transitional times.
It is not strange then that this is the time we first begin to see the new art form categorized as Japanese anime emerge. Getting its start and developing in the heart of a nation starting on a new path allowed for anime to be quickly accepted and be adopted as time progressed.
Though anime is believed to have gotten its start at this time, there are very few surviving copies of early productions. This lack of material evidence only adds to the difficulty of determining an actual “ground-zero” for anime. With that being said, the first anime to be produced and distributed in Japan was no earlier than 1917.
It was during this period and for some time afterward that thanks to lack of technologies and materials, pre and post-war efforts of both World War I & II, Japanese animation had a difficult time keeping up with other foreign producers. It was not until the 1930s-40s that Japan began producing animations with quality on par with such foreign producers as Disney.
It wasn’t until the late 1950s, though, with the creation of both Toei Animation and Mushi Production Studios that the anime we know and love today truly began to develop. From such iconic anime classics as Astro Boy to popular anime shows we know and love today, like Dragon Ball, or the more recent Netflix release, The 7 Deadly Sins.
What Is Anime and What Makes Anime So Popular?
The term anime refers to a style of Japanese art media, typically based on, derived from, or adapted from Japanese comic books, or comics from Japan called manga. Manga and anime may bear resemblance to western cartoons and comics but vary drastically in style and execution. In the Northern United States, Cartoon Network is one of the few network t.v. channels where anime fans can find and watch both Japanese anime and American anime series. Before the internet and streaming came about, turning on the television and watching Cartoon Network was just about the only way an American boy/girl could watch their favorite anime shows! Tough, right?!?
Over these years, the myriad creators and producers who sprang up have given us no shortage of anime characters to fall in love with from the strong and dashing kind, to the brazen and wild like Gourmet Hunter Toriko! Which, by the way, Toriko just so happens to be one of my all-time favorite anime’s, so if you have never seen it, I strongly urge you to give it a try, it is seriously a fun ride through this insane world of strong beasts and the “gourmet hunters” who fight to capture them for!
In short, there is an overwhelming abundance of different “flavors” or “spice” in the sheer variety of anime genres there are to choose from! So much so that we at Allied Anime believe 100% that anime is meant for everyone and that everyone can find something they would enjoy in the vast library of anime titles that exist to this day in every genre conceivable! And don’t even get me started on the beauty of anime as an art form!
A large part of why I enjoy watching anime so much, even if its the most trivial of shows with no real plot or anything, is the pure emotionality of it all. It seems as though the traditional lack of outward emotional expression in Japan has been captured and thrust into the forefront of anime interactions. I believe this has caused anime to appear nonsensical to many in its overblown reactions. Still, to me, I find these reactive emotional outbursts typical of anime to be beautiful in the sense that they could be the pent up emotions of hundreds of millions of people over the years, finally finding release into the world. And that, to me, is beautiful.