Anime has a long history, starting at the beginning of the 20th century when Japanese filmmakers were experimenting with Western animation techniques.  Very few films created during this time have survived to be around now.  However, some cartoon strips and individual scenes have managed to make it.  Animators in this time period used things like the chalkboard technique and paper animation.  Apparently most of these films were silent, which makes sense.  Two surviving films from 1917 and 1918 (An Obtuse Sword and Urashima Taro, respectively) were found in an antique market in 2007.  Pre-World War I animators in Japan had a hard time of it.  They couldn’t compete with foreign producers, such as Disney.  They started making “talkies” in 1933.  The first full-length animated film was made in 1945.

By the 1970s, anime developed further, moving continuously away from Western culture and creating sub-genres like Super Robot.  The Japanese film market had shrunk due to competition from television.  Anime production companies were going bankrupt.  Because they needed to try something new, many young animators were promoted to directors.  They started experimenting a lot more, leading to successful television productions, such as Tomorrow’s Joe. This is when our director, Hayao Miyazaki, became particularly famous.  He and his partner started up a series of literary based anime (World Masterpiece Theater).  A genre known as Mecha was also started at this point in time, realistic science fiction, unlike the Super Robot genre.

Anime was accepted into mainstream Japanese culture during the 1980s, the “Golden Age of Anime.”  People started producing it a lot more and budgets went up.  Sports anime made its debut in 1983.  Miyazaki’s Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind was made in 1984 and became the most influential anime movie of all time.  In 1988, Akira set records for being the most expensive anime movie ever produced.  (The same creators produced Steamboy later in 2004, which then took over.)

The 1990s and 2000s are when the rest of the world really took notice of anime, with the production of TV shows like Dragon Ball Z (dubbed into more than a dozen languages worldwide), Sailor Moon, and Pokémon.  Miyazaki’s Spirited Away took first prize at the 2002 Berlin Film Festival and won the 2003 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.  TV Tokyo clamped down with censorship on violence and sexuality in anime.  Instead of mainstream Hollywood movies having influence over anime, things were now the other way around, with movies like Megazone 23 having strong influence over The Matrix.

A more sleazy side of anime has come into focus lately, with the development of a porn and rape genre known as hentai.  Just like any other form of “entertainment,” there are those who would take and pervert the cool things.

America has been really influenced by anime this last decade with the development of TV shows, such as Transformers and GI Joe: Sigma 6.  Anime has become somewhat of a cash cow.

Posted by: Amy

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