History of anime

The history of anime can be traced back to the start of the 20th century, with the oldest surviving anime being Namakura Gatana (Blunt Sword).[1]

The first generation of animators in the late 1910s included Ōten Shimokawa, Jun'ichi Kōuchi and Seitaro Kitayama, commonly referred to as the "fathers" of anime.[2] Propaganda films, such as Momotarō no Umiwashi (1943) and Momotarō: Umi no Shinpei (1945), the latter being the first anime feature film, were made during World War II. During the 1970s, anime developed further, separating itself from its Western roots, and developing distinct genres such as mecha and its Super Robot subgenre. Typical shows from this period include Astro Boy, Lupin III and Mazinger Z. During this period several filmmakers became famous, especially Hayao Miyazaki and Mamoru Oshii.

In the 1980s, anime became mainstream in Japan, experiencing a boom in production with the rise in popularity of anime's like Gundam, Macross, Dragon Ball, and genres such as Real Robot, Space Opera and Cyberpunk. Space Battleship Yamato and The Super Dimension Fortress Macross also achieved worldwide success after being adapted respectively as Star Blazers and Robotech.

The film Akira set records in 1988 for the production costs of an anime film and went on to become an international success. Later, in 2004, the same creators produced Steamboy, which took over as the most expensive anime film. Spirited Away shared the first prize at the 2002 Berlin Film Festival and won the 2003 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, while Innocence: Ghost in the Shell was featured at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival.

First generation

According to Natsuki Matsumoto, the first animated film produced in Japan may have stemmed from as early as 1907. Known as Katsudō Shashin (活動写真, Activity Photo), from its depiction of a boy in a sailor suit drawing the characters for "Katsudō Shashin", the film was first found in 2005. It consists of fifty frames stenciled directly onto a strip of celluloid.[3][4] This claim has not been verified though and predates the first showing of animated films in Japan. The date and first film publicly displayed is another source of contention, while no Japanese produced animation is definitively known to date before 1917, the possibility exists that other films entered Japan and that no known records have surfaced to prove a showing prior to 1912.[5] Film titles have surfaced over the years, but none have been proven to predate this year. The first foreign animation is known to have been found in Japan in 1910, but it is not clear if the film was ever shown in a cinema or publicly displayed at all. Yasushi Watanabe found a film known as 不思議のボールド (Fushigi nobōrudo Miracle Board) in the records of the 吉沢商店 (Yoshizawa Shōten) company. The description matches James Blackton’s Humorous Phases of Funny Faces, though academic consensus on whether or not this is a true animated film is disputed.[5] According to Kyokko Yoshiyama, the first animated film called ニッパールの変形 (Nippaaru's Transformation) was shown in Japan at the 浅草帝国館 (Asakusa Teikokukan) in Tokyo sometime in 1911. Yoshiyama did not refer to the film as "animation" though. The first confirmed animated film shown in Japan was Les Exploits de Feu Follet by Émile Cohl on April 15, 1912. While speculation and other "trick films" have been found in Japan, it is the first recorded account of a public showing of a two-dimensional animated film in Japanese cinema. During this time, German animations marketed for home release were distributed in Japan.[5]

Few complete animations made during the beginnings of Japanese animation have survived. The reasons vary, but many are of commercial nature. After the clips had been run, reels (being property of the cinemas) were sold to smaller cinemas in the country and then disassembled and sold as strips or single frames. The first anime that was produced in Japan was made sometime in 1917, but there is dispute on which title was the first to get that honor. It has been confirmed though that Dekobō shingachō – Meian no shippai (凸坊新画帳・名案の失敗 Bumpy new picture book – Failure of a great plan) was made sometime during February, 1917. At least two unconfirmed titles were reported to have been made the previous month.[5]

The first anime short films were made by three leading figures in the industry. Ōten Shimokawa was a political caricaturist and cartoonist who worked for the magazine Tokyo Puck. He was hired by Tenkatsu to do an animation for them. Due to medical reasons, he was only able to do five movies, including Imokawa Mukuzo Genkanban no Maki (1917), before he returned to his previous work as a cartoonist. Another prominent animator in this period was Jun'ichi Kōuchi. He was a caricaturist and painter, who also had studied watercolor painting. In 1912, he also entered the cartoonist sector and was hired for an animation by Kobayashi Shokai later in 1916. He is viewed as the most technically advanced Japanese animator of the 1910s. His works include around 15 movies. The third was Seitaro Kitayama, an early animator who made animations on his own and was not hired by larger corporations. He eventually founded his own animation studio, the Kitayama Eiga Seisakujo, which was later closed due to lack of commercial success. He utilized the chalkboard technique, and later paper animation, with and without pre-printed backgrounds. The works of these two latter pioneers include Namakura Gatana (An Obtuse Sword, 1917) and a 1918 film Urashima Tarō which were discovered together at an antique market in 2007.[6]

Second generation

Yasuji Murata, Hakuzan Kimura, Sanae Yamamoto and Noburō Ōfuji were students of Kitayama Seitaro and worked at his film studio. Kenzō Masaoka, another important animator, worked at a smaller animation studio. In 1923, the Great Kantō earthquake destroyed most of the Kitayama studio and the residing animators spread out and founded studios of their own.

Prewar animators faced several difficulties. First, they had a hard time competing with foreign producers such as Disney, which were influential on both audiences and producers. Since foreign films had already made a profit abroad, they could be sold for even less than the price domestic producers need to charge in order to break even.[7] Japanese animators thus had to work cheaply, in small companies with only a handful of employees, but that could make matters worse: given costs, it was then hard to compete in terms of quality with foreign product that was in color, with sound, and made by much bigger companies. Japanese animation until the mid-1930s, for instance, generally used cutout animation instead of cel animation because the celluloid was too expensive.[8] This resulted in animation that could seem derivative, flat (since motion forward and backward was difficult) and without detail.[9] But just as postwar Japanese animators were able to turn limited animation into a plus, so masters such as Yasuji Murata and Noburō Ōfuji were able to do wonders in cutout animation.

Animators such as Kenzō Masaoka and Mitsuyo Seo, however, did attempt to bring Japanese animation up to the level of foreign work by introducing cel animation, sound, and technology such as the multiplane camera. Masaoka created the first talkie anime, Chikara to Onna no Yo no Naka, released in 1933,[10][11] and the first anime made entirely using cel animation, The Dance of the Chagamas (1934).[12] Seo was the first to use the multiplane camera in Ari-chan in 1941.

Such innovations, however, were hard to support purely commercially, so prewar animation depended considerably on sponsorship, as animators often concentrated on making PR films for companies, educational films for the government, and eventually works of propaganda for the military.[13] During this time, censorship and school regulations discouraged film-viewing by children, so anime which could possess educational value were supported and encouraged by the Monbusho (the Ministry of Education). This proved important for producers that had experienced a hard time releasing their work in regular theaters. Animation had found a place in scholastic, political and industrial use.

During the second World War

In the 1930s, the Japanese government began enforcing cultural nationalism. This also lead to a strict censorship and control of published media. Many animators were urged to produce animations which enforced the Japanese spirit and national affiliation. Some movies were shown in newsreel theaters, especially after the Film Law of 1939 promoted documentary and other educational films. Such support helped boost the industry, as bigger companies formed through mergers, and prompted major live-action studios such as Shochiku to begin producing animation.[14] It was at Shochiku that such masterworks as Kenzō Masaoka's Kumo to Chūrippu were produced. Wartime reorganization of the industry, however, merged the feature film studios into just three big companies.

More animated films were commissioned by the military,[15] showing the sly, quick Japanese people winning against enemy forces. In 1943, Geijutsu Eigasha produced Mitsuyo Seo's Momotaro's Sea Eagles with help from the Navy. Shochiku then made Japan's first real feature length animated film, Seo's Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors in 1945, again with the help of the Navy. In 1941 Princess Iron Fan had become the first Asian animation of notable length ever made in China. Due to economic factors, it would be Japan which later emerged long after the war with the most readily available resources to continue expanding the industry.

Toei Animation and Mushi Production

In 1948, Toei Animation was founded and produced the first color anime feature film in 1958, Hakujaden (The Tale of the White Serpent, 1958).

It was released in the US in 1961 as Panda and the Magic Serpent.[16] After the success of the project, Toei released a new feature length animation annually.[17]:101

Toei's style was also characterized by an emphasis on each animator bringing his own ideas to the production. The most extreme example of this is Isao Takahata's film Hols: Prince of the Sun (1968). Hols is often seen as the first major break from the normal anime style and the beginning of a later movement of "auteuristic" or "progressive anime" which would eventually involve directors such as Hayao Miyazaki (creator of Spirited Away) and Mamoru Oshii.

A major contribution of Toei's style to modern anime was the development of the "money shot". This cost-cutting method of animation allows for emphasis to be placed on important shots by animating them with more detail than the rest of the work (which would often be limited animation). Toei animator Yasuo Ōtsuka began to experiment with this style and developed it further as he went into television. In the 1980s Toei would later lend its talent to companies like Sunbow Productions, Marvel Productions, DiC Entertainment, Murakami-Wolf-Swenson, Ruby Spears and Hanna Barbera with producing several animated cartoons for America during this period. Other studios like TMS Entertainment, were also being used in the 80's, which lead to Asian studios being used more often to animate foreign productions, but the companies involved still produced anime for their native Japan.

Osamu Tezuka established Mushi Production in 1961, after Tezuka's contract with Toei Animation expired. The studio pioneered TV animation in Japan, and was responsible for such successful TV series as Astro Boy, Kimba the White Lion, Gokū no Daibōken and Princess Knight.

Mushi Production also produced the first anime to be broadcast in the United States (on NBC in 1963), although Osamu Tezuka would complain about the restrictions on US television, and the alterations necessary for broadcast.[18]


The 1960s introduced the first animated television series. Osamu Tezuka's Tetsuwan Atom (Astro Boy)) is often miscredited as the first television anime series.[19] The first animated television series in Japan was Instant History, although it did not consist entirely of animation.[17]:90 Astro Boy was highly influential to other anime in the 1960s.[20] There was a surplus of anime about robots and/or space that followed.

The first animation to be broadcast was Three Tales, but it is a film, not a series. 1963 premiered several television anime other than Astro Boy, which premiered on the first day of the year. Sennin Buraku, Tetsujin 28-go, Ginga Shounen Tai, and 8 Man are among other television anime that began airing that year.1963 also introduced Toei Doga's first anime television series Wolf Boy Ken. Fujiko Fujio's first manga to be animated was Shisukon Ouji in the same year. Due to the success of these titles in 1963, there were a few more anime introduced in 1964. Most notable is the 59-episode adaptation of Tezuka's Big X or Shōnen Ninja Kaze no Fujimaru. Mushi Pro continued to produce more television anime and met success with titles such as Kimba the White Lion in 1965.Other important anime of '65 include Prince Planet, Hustle Punch Super Jetter and Patrol Hopper. 1966 saw a change from monochrome animation into an addition of a few color titles. Nonetheless, most of the biggest hits were black-and-white titles. What is noted as the first magical girl anime, Sally the Witch, was broadcast. A manga adaptation came before the anime and was written by Gigantor creator Mitsuteru Yokoyama. Tetsuya Chiba's first manga to be animated, Harris no Kaze, premiered, as well as Shotaro Ishinomori's Cyborg 009 precursor anime series Rainbow Sentai Robin. Robin is the first televised sentai team series. In 1967 the original Speed Racer television anime began. It was another anime brought to the west that met great success. At the same time an anime adaptation of Tezuka's Princess Knight aired, making it one of very few shoujo anime of the decade. Anime adapted from manga became increasingly more popular at the end of the decade. The first anime adaptation of Shotaro Ishinomori's Cyborg 009 was created following up to the film adaptation two years prior. The first of many anime for GeGeGe no Kitarō also began airing in 1968. In the same year, the anime adaptation of Ikki Kajiwara and Noboru Kawasaki's Star of the Giants aired, making it the first sports anime. Soon after followed Attack No. 1, another sports anime, which was quintessential in causing an extreme increase in popularity for shoujo and sports anime. Another legendary title is Tiger Mask (also written by Kajiwara) which was highly influential in anime and real life wrestling.

The long-running Sazae-san anime also began in 1969 and continues today with excess of 6500 episodes broadcast as of 2014. With an audience share of 25% the series is still the most popular anime broadcast.[16]:725


During the 1970s, the Japanese film market shrunk due to competition from television. This increased competition from television reduced Toei animation's staff and many animators went to studios such as A Pro and Telecom animation. Mushi Production went bankrupt (only to be revived 4 years later), its former employees founding studios such as Madhouse and Sunrise. Many young animators were thrust into the position of director before they would have been promoted to it. This injection of young talent allowed for a wide variety of experimentation. One of the earliest successful television productions in the early 1970s was Tomorrow's Joe (1970), a boxing anime which has become iconic in Japan.1971 saw the first installment of the Lupin III anime. Contrary to the franchise's currently popularity, the first season only ran for 23 episodes before being cancelled. The second season in 1977 saw considerably more success, spanning 155 episodes over three years.

Another example of this experimentation is with Isao Takahata's 1974 television series Heidi, Girl of the Alps. This show was originally a hard sell because it was a simple realistic drama aimed at children. Most TV networks thought the TV show wouldn't be successful because children needed something more fantastic to draw them in. Heidi wound up being an international success being picked up in many European countries and becoming popular there. In Japan it was so successful that it allowed for Hayao Miyazaki and Takahata to start up a series of literary based anime (World Masterpiece Theater). Miyazaki and Takahata left Nippon Animation in the late 1970s. Two of Miyazaki's critically acclaimed productions during the 1970s were Future Boy Conan (1978) and Lupin III: The Castle of Cagliostro (1979).

Another genre known as Mecha came into being at this time. Some early works include Mazinger Z (1972–74), Science Ninja Team Gatchaman (1972–74), Space Battleship Yamato (1974–75) and Mobile Suit Gundam (1979–80). These titles showed a progression in the science fiction genre in anime, as shows shifted from more superhero-oriented, fantastical plots found, as seen in the Super Robot genre, to somewhat more realistic space operas with increasingly complex plots and fuzzier definitions of right and wrong, as seen in the Real Robot genre. Mazinger Z is considered the first piloted mecha ever created in anime and manga.

As a contrast to the action oriented shows, shows for a female audience such as Candy Candy and Rose of Versailles, earned high popularity on Japanese Television and later in other parts of the world.[21]

Also during this period Japanese Animation reached continental Europe with productions aimed at European and Japanese children, with the most pronounced examples being the aforementioned Heidi but also Barbapapa and Vicky the Vikings. Italy, Spain and France grew an interest into Japan's output and imported in masses for a cheap selling price that Japan was offering.[21][22]


The release of Space Battleship Yamato is often cited as the beginning of anime space operas.

The shift towards space operas became more pronounced with the commercial success of Star Wars (1977). This allowed for the space opera Space Battleship Yamato (1974) to be revived as a theatrical film. Mobile Suit Gundam (1979), the first Real Robot anime, was also initially unsuccessful but was revived as a theatrical film in 1982. The success of the theatrical versions of Yamato and Gundam are seen as the beginning of the anime boom of the 1980s. This anime boom also marked the beginning of "Japanese Cinema's Second Golden Age".[23]

While the mecha genre shifted from giant robots (the Mecha genre of the 1970s) to elaborate space operas (the Real Robot genre of the 1980s), two other events happened at this time. A subculture in Japan, who later called themselves otaku, began to develop around animation magazines such as Animage or later Newtype. These magazines popped up in response to the overwhelming fandom that developed around shows such as Yamato and Gundam in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Yamato animator Yoshinori Kanada allowed individual key animators working under him to put their own style of movement as a means to save money. In many more "auteuristic" anime this formed the basis of an individualist animation style unique to Japanese commercial animation. In addition, Kanada's animation was inspiration for Takashi Murakami and his Superflat art movement.

In the United States the already mentioned popularity of Star Wars had a similar, but much smaller, effect on the development of anime. Gatchaman was reworked and edited into Battle of the Planets in 1978 and again as G-Force in 1986. Space Battleship Yamato was reworked and edited into Star Blazers in 1979. The Macross series began with The Super Dimension Fortress Macross (1982), which was adapted into English as the first arc of Robotech (1985), which was created from three separate anime titles: The Super Dimension Fortress Macross, Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber Mospeada. The sequel to Mobile Suit Gundam, Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam (1985), became the most successful Real Robot space opera in Japan, where it managed an average television rating of 6.6% and a peak of 11.7%.[24] As well as adapted anime, many American companies utilised Japanese animation studios to animated their television series, examples include Takara's/Toei animation's The Transformers and Hasbro's G.I. Joe television series and Gaylord Entertainment/Tokyo Movie Shinsha's The Adventures of the Galaxy Rangers. Popular American entertainment franchises from the 1980s often originated from pre-existing Japanese franchises, such as "Transformers" and "Robotech". Franchises such as "Transformers", which were adapted from the unpopular Japanese "Diaclone" and "Microman" toy franchises by "Takara", also became popular in Japan and even promted anime continuations of the American/Japanese animated series, such as "Transformers: The Headmasters", "Transformers: Super God Masterforce", "Transformers: Victory", and the OVA's "Transformers: The Movie" and "Transformers: Zone".

The otaku culture became more pronounced with Mamoru Oshii's adaptation of Rumiko Takahashi's popular manga Urusei Yatsura (1981). Yatsura made Takahashi a household name and Oshii would break away from fan culture and take a more auteuristic approach with his 1984 film Urusei Yatsura 2: Beautiful Dreamer. This break with the otaku culture would allow Oshii to experiment further.

The otaku subculture had some effect on people who were entering the industry around this time. The most famous of these people were the amateur production group Daicon Films which would become Gainax. Gainax began by making films for the Daicon science fiction conventions and were so popular in the otaku community that they were given a chance to helm the biggest budgeted (to that point) anime film, Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise (1987).

One of the most influential anime of all time, Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984), was made during this time period. The film gave extra prestige to anime allowing for many experimental and ambitious projects to be funded shortly after its release. It also allowed director Hayao Miyazaki and his longtime colleague Isao Takahata to set up their own studio under the supervision of former Animage editor Toshio Suzuki. This studio would become known as Studio Ghibli and its first film was Laputa: Castle in the Sky (1986), one of Miyazaki's most ambitious films.

The success of Dragon Ball (1986) introduced the martial arts genre and became incredibly influential in the Japanese Animation industry. It influenced many more martial arts anime and manga series' including YuYu Hakusho (1990), One Piece (1999), and Naruto (2002).

The 1980s brought anime to the home video market in the form of Original Video Animation (OVA). The first OVA was Mamoru Oshii's Moon Base Dallos (1983–1984). Dallos was a flop, but later titles like Fire Tripper, Leda: The Fantastic Adventure of Yohko, and Megazone 23 (all 1985) were successful. Leda was in fact so successful, it was released theatrically at the end of the year. Shows such as Patlabor had their beginnings in this market and it proved to be a way to test less marketable animation against audiences. The OVA allowed for the release of pornographic anime such as Cream Lemon (1984). The first hentai OVA was actually the little-known Wonder Kids Lolita Anime, also released in 1984.

The 1980s also saw the amalgamation of anime with video games. The airing of Red Photon Zillion (1987) and subsequent release of its companion game, is considered to have been a marketing ploy by Sega to promote sales of their newly released Master System in Japan.

Sports anime as now known made its debut in 1983 with an anime adaptation Yoichi Takahashi's soccer manga Captain Tsubasa, which became the first worldwide successful sports anime leading its way to create themes and stories that would create the formula that would later be used in many sports series that soon followed such as Slam Dunk, Prince of Tennis and Eyeshield 21.

The late 1980s, following the release of Nausicaä, saw an increasing number of high budget and/or experimental films. In 1985 Toshio Suzuki helped put together funding for Oshii's experimental film Angel's Egg (1985). The OVA market allowed for short experimental pieces such as Take the X Train, Neo Tokyo, and Robot Carnival (all three 1987).

Theatrical releases became more ambitious, each film trying to outclass or outspend the other film, all taking cues from Nausicaä's popular and critical success. Night on the Galactic Railroad (1985), Tale of Genji (1986), and Grave of the Fireflies (1988) were all ambitious films based on important literary works in Japan. Films such as Char's Counterattack (1988) and Arion (1986) were lavishly budgeted spectacles. This period of lavish budgeting and experimentation would reach its zenith with two of the most expensive anime film productions ever: Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise (1987) and Akira (1988).

Most of these films did not make back the costs to produce them. Neither Akira nor Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise were box office successes in Japan. As a result, large numbers of anime studios closed down, and many experimental productions began to be favored less over "tried and true" formulas. Only Studio Ghibli was able to survive a winner of the many ambitious productions of the late 1980s with its film Kiki's Delivery Service (1989) being the top-grossing film for 1989 earning over $40 million at the box office.

Despite the failure of Akira in Japan, it brought with it a much larger international fan base for anime. When shown overseas, the film became a cult hit and, eventually, a symbol of the medium for the West. The domestic failure and international success of Akira, combined with the bursting of the bubble economy and Osamu Tezuka's death in 1989, brought a close to the 1980s era of anime.


In 1995, Hideaki Anno wrote and directed the controversial anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion. This show became popular in Japan among anime fans and became known to the general public through mainstream media attention. It is believed that Anno originally wanted the show to be the ultimate otaku anime designed to revive the declining anime industry, but midway through production he also made it into a heavy critique of the culture eventually culminating in the still controversial, but quite successful film The End of Evangelion (1997) which grossed over $10 million. Anno would eventually go on to produce live action films. Many scenes in Evangelion were so controversial that it forced TV Tokyo to clamp down with censorship of violence and sexuality in anime. As a result, when Cowboy Bebop (1998) was first broadcast it was shown heavily edited and only half the episodes were aired; though it too eventually managed to cement itself as a mainstream hit both in and outside of Japan.

In addition, Evangelion started up a series of so-called "post-Evangelion" or "organic" mecha shows. Most of these were giant robot shows with some kind of religious or difficult plot. These include RahXephon, Brain Powerd, and Gasaraki. Another series of these are late night experimental TV shows. Starting with Serial Experiments Lain (1998) late night Japanese television became a forum for experimental anime with other shows following it such as Boogiepop Phantom (2000), Texhnolyze (2003) and Paranoia Agent (2004). Experimental anime films were also released in the 1990s, most notably the cyberpunk thriller Ghost in the Shell (1995), which alongside Megazone 23 (1985),[25] had a strong influence on The Matrix.[26][27][28] Ghost in the Shell, alongside Evangelion and the neo-noir space western Cowboy Bebop, helped further entrench the awareness of anime in the international consciousness born out of the success of Akira.[29]

The late 1990s also saw a brief revival of the Super Robot genre that was once popular in the 1960s and 1970s but had become rare due to the popularity of Real Robot shows such as the Gundam and Macross series in the 1980s and psychological Mecha shows such as Neon Genesis Evangelion in the 1990s. The revival of the Super Robot genre began with the Brave (Yuusha) Series, starting with Brave Exkaiser in 1990, also there were many remakes and sequels of 70s super robot shows such as Getter Robo Go and Tetsujin-28 go FX in response to "post-Evangelion" trends, but there were very few popular Super Robot shows produced after this, until Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann in 2007.

Alongside its Super Robot counterpart, the Real Robot genre was also declining during the 1990s. Though several Gundam shows were produced during this decade, very few of them were successful. The only Gundam shows in the 1990s which managed an average television rating over 4% in Japan were Mobile Fighter G Gundam (1994) and New Mobile Report Gundam Wing (1995). It wasn't until Mobile Suit Gundam SEED in 2002 that the Real Robot genre regained its popularity.[24]

3D rendering was used in this scene of Princess Mononoke, the most expensive animated film at the time, costing $20 million

The 1990s also saw the popular video game series, Pokémon, spawn an anime television show which is still running, several anime movies, a trading card game, toys, and much more. Other 1990s anime series which gained international success were Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, and Digimon; the success of these shows marked the beginning of the martial arts superhero genre, the magical girl genre, and the action adventure genre respectively. In particular, Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon were dubbed into more than a dozen languages worldwide. Another large success was the anime One Piece, based on the best-selling manga of all time, which is still ongoing.

In 1997, Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke became the most expensive animated film up until that time, costing $20 million to produce. Miyazaki personally checked each of the 144,000 cels in the film,[30] and is estimated to have redrawn parts of 80,000 of them.[31]

In 1999, the seinen genre of anime was paid tribute to in the franchise The Matrix.


The "Evangelion-era" trend continued into the 2000s with Evangelion-inspired mecha anime such as RahXephon (2002) and Zegapain (2006) - RahXephon was also intended to help revive 1970s-style mecha designs.

The Real Robot genre (including the Gundam and Macross franchises), which had declined during the 1990s, was revived in 2002 with the success of shows such as Mobile Suit Gundam SEED (2002), Eureka Seven (2005), Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (2006), Mobile Suit Gundam 00 (2007), and Macross Frontier (2008).

The 1970s-style Super Robot genre revival began with GaoGaiGar in 1997 and continued into the 2000s, with several remakes of classic series such as Getter Robo and Dancougar, as well as original titles created in the Super Robot mold like Godannar and Gurren Lagann. Gurren Lagann in particular combined the Super Robot genre with elements from 1980s Real Robot shows, as well as 1990s "post-Evangelion" shows. Gurren Lagann received both the "best television production" and "best character design" awards from the Tokyo International Anime Fair in 2008.[32] This eventually culminated in the release of Shin Mazinger in 2009, a full-length revival of the first Super Robot series, Mazinger Z.

An art movement started by Takashi Murakami that combined Japanese pop-culture with postmodern art called Superflat began around this time. Murakami asserts that the movement is an analysis of post-war Japanese culture through the eyes of the otaku subculture. His desire is also to get rid of the categories of 'high' and 'low' art making a flat continuum, hence the term 'superflat'. His art exhibitions are very popular and have an influence on some anime creators particularly those from Studio 4 °C.

The experimental late night anime trend popularized by Serial Experiments Lain also continued into the 2000s with experimental anime such as Boogiepop Phantom (2000), Texhnolyze (2003), Paranoia Agent (2004), Gantz (2004), and Ergo Proxy (2006)

In addition to these experimental trends, the 2000s was also characterized by the increase of the moe-style art and the bishōjo and bishōnen character design. The presence and popularity of genres such as romance, harem and slice of life rose.

Anime based on eroge and visual novels increased in popularity in the 2000s, building on a trend started in the late 90s by such works as Sentimental Journey (1998) and To Heart (1999). Examples of such works include Green Green (2003), SHUFFLE! (2006), Kanon (2002 and 2006), Fate/Stay Night (2006), Higurashi no Naku Koro ni (2006), Ef: A Tale of Memories (2007), True Tears (2008), and Clannad (2008 and 2009).

Many shows have been adapted from manga and light novels, including popular titles such as Inuyasha (2000), Naruto (2002), Fullmetal Alchemist (2003) and its 2009 reboot Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood, Monster (2004), Bleach (2004), Rozen Maiden (2005), Aria the Animation (2005), Shakugan no Shana (2005), Pani Poni Dash! (2005), Death Note (2006), Mushishi (2006), Sola (2007), The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya (2006), Lucky Star (2007), Toradora! (2008–09), K-On! (2009), Bakemonogatari (2009), and Fairy Tail (2009); these shows typically last several years and achieve large fanbases. Nevertheless, original anime titles continue to be produced with the same success.

The 2000s also marked a trend of emphasis of the otaku subculture. A notable critique of this otaku subculture is found in the 2006 anime Welcome to the N.H.K., which features a hikikomori protagonist and explores the effects and consequences of various Japanese sub-cultures, such as otaku, lolicon, internet suicide, massively multiplayer online games and multi-level marketing.

In contrast to the above-mentioned phenomenon, there have been more productions of late night anime for a non-otaku audience as well. The first concentrated effort came from Fuji TV's Noitamina block. The 30-minute late Thursday timeframe was created to showcase productions for young women of college age, a demographic that watches very little anime. The first production Honey and Clover was a particular success, peaking at a 5% TV rating in Kantou, very strong for late night anime. The block has been running uninterrupted since April 2005 and has yielded many successful productions unique in the modern anime market.

There have been revivals of American cartoons such as Transformers which spawned four new series, Transformers: Car Robots in 2000, Transformers: Micron Legend in 2003, Transformers: Superlink in 2004, and Transformers: Galaxy Force in 2005. In addition, an anime adaptation of the G.I Joe series was produced titled 'G.I. Joe: Sigma 6'.

The 2000s also saw the revival of earlier anime series in the forms of Fist of the North Star: The Legends of the True Savior (2006) and Dragon Ball Z Kai (2009). Later series also started receiving revivals in the late 2000s and early 2010s, such as with Studio Khara's premier Rebuild of Evangelion tetralogy, (2007-), and new adaptations of Masamune Shirow's manga Appleseed XIII (2011) and Ghost in the Shell: Arise (2013-).

The decade also dawned a revival of high-budget feature-length anime films, such as Millennium Actress (2001), Metropolis (2001), Appleseed (2001), Paprika (2006), and the most expensive of all being Steamboy (2004) which cost $26 million to produce. Satoshi Kon established himself alongside Otomo and Oshii as one of the premier directors of anime film, before his premature death at the age of 46. Other younger film directors, such as Mamoru Hosoda, director of The Girl Who Leapt Through Time (2006) and Summer Wars (2009), also began to reach prominence.

During this decade, anime feature films were nominated for and won major international film awards for the first time in the industry's history. In 2002, Spirited Away, a Studio Ghibli production directed by Hayao Miyazaki, won the Golden Bear at the Berlin International Film Festival and in 2003 at the 75th Academy Awards it won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature. It was the first non-American film to win the award and is one of only two to do so. It has also become the highest grossing anime film, with a worldwide box office of US$274 million.

Following the launch of Toonami on Cartoon Network and later Adult Swim, anime saw a giant rise in the North American market. Kid-friendly anime such as Pokémon, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Digimon, Doraemon, Bakugan, Beyblade, and the 4Kids Entertainment adaptation of One Piece have all received varying levels of success. This era also saw the rise of anime-influenced animation, most notably Avatar: the Last Airbender and its sequel series The Legend of Korra, Ben 10, Chaotic, Samurai Jack, The Boondocks, RWBY and Teen Titans.

At the 2004 Cannes Film Festival, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence, directed by Mamoru Oshii, was in competition for the Palme d'Or and in 2006, at the 78th Academy Awards, Howl's Moving Castle, another Studio Ghibli-produced film directed by Hayao Miyazaki, was nominated for Best Animated Feature. 5 Centimeters Per Second, directed by Makoto Shinkai, won the inaugural Asia Pacific Screen Award for Best Animated Feature Film in 2007, and so far, anime films have been nominated for the award every year.


In 2012, the Toonami block in the US was relaunched as an adult-oriented action block on Adult Swim, bringing uncut anime to a far wider audience. In addition to re-releasing older shows, the block (as well as Adult Swim itself) also oversees the premiere of English releases for various new shows, including: Durarara!! (2010), Deadman Wonderland (2011), Hunter x Hunter (2011), Sword Art Online (2012), Psycho-Pass (2012), Attack on Titan (2013), Kill la Kill (2013), Space Dandy (2014), Akame ga Kill! (2014), Parasyte -the maxim- (2014), and One Punch Man (2015).

On September 6, 2013 Hayao Miyazaki announced that The Wind Rises (2013) would be his last film, and on August 3, 2014 it was announced that Studio Ghibli was "temporarily halting production" following the release of When Marnie Was There (2014), further substantiating the finality of Miyazaki's retirement. The disappointing sales of Isao Takahata's comeback film The Tale of Princess Kaguya (2013) has also been cited as a factor.[33] Additionally, various international anime distribution companies, such as ADV Films, Bandai Entertainment, and Geneon Entertainment, were shut down due to poor revenue, with their assets spun into new companies like Sentai Filmworks or given to other companies.

Both Attack on Titan and The Wind Rises reflect a national debate surrounding the reinterpretation of Article 9 of the Constitution of Japan, with Miyazaki's pacifism in the film coming under fire from the political right,[34] while Attack on Titan has been accused of promoting militarism by people in neighboring Asian countries, despite being intended to show the haunting, hopeless aspects of conflict.[35] The mecha anime genre (as well as Japanese kaiju films) received a Western homage with the 2013 film Pacific Rim directed by Guillermo del Toro.[36]


First Native language name English name Released Type Broadcast
Oldest known 活動写真 Katsudō Shashin Unknownα short film
Oldest confirmed film release 凸坊新画帳・名案の失敗 Bumpy new picture book – Failure of a great plan February 1917[5] short film
Publicly shown in a theater 芋川椋三玄関番の巻 or 芋川椋三玄関番之巻 Imokawa Mukuzo Genkanban no Maki April 1917[5] short film
Talkie 力と女の世の中 Chikara to Onna no Yo no Naka April 13, 1933 film
Entirely cell animated 茶釜音頭 The Dance of the Chagamas March 19, 1935[37] film
Feature film 桃太郎 海の神兵 Momotarō: Umi no Shinpei April 12, 1945 film
Color feature film 白蛇伝 The Tale of the White Serpent October 22, 1958 film
Television series インスタントヒストリー Instant History May 1, 1961 series yes
Late night series 仙人部落 Sennin Buraku September 4, 1963 series yes
Super robot series 鉄人28号 Tetsujin 28-go October 20, 1963 series yes
Color television series ジャングル大帝 Kimba the White Lion October 6, 1965 series yes
Magical girl series 魔法使いサリー Sally the Witch December 5, 1966 series yes
Adult-oriented (animated) film 千夜一夜物語 A Thousand and One Nights June 14, 1969 film
Space opera series 宇宙戦艦ヤマト Space Battleship Yamato October 6, 1974 series yes
Real robot series 機動戦士ガンダム Mobile Suit Gundam April 7, 1979 series yes
OVA ダロス Dallos December 12, 1983 OVA yes
Hentai OVA ロリータアニメ Lolita Anime February 21, 1984 OVA yes
Fully computer animated[38] - A.LI.CE February 5, 2000 film
Katsudō Shashin is thought to have been made sometime between 1907 and 1911. It is not known if this film was ever publicly displayed or released as evidence suggests it was mass-produced to be sold to wealthy owners of home projectors.

See also


  1. Jonathan Crow (June 2014). "Early Japanese Animations: The Origins of Anime". OpenCulture.com. Retrieved October 17, 2016.
  2. Reporting by Linda Sieg (March 27, 2008). "The first anime was called [Katsudo shashin], Japan finds films by early "anime" pioneers". reuters.com. Retrieved January 2, 2014.
  3. "Oldest Anime Found". Anime News Network. Retrieved 16 July 2013.
  4. "China People's Daily Online (Japanese Edition): 日本最古?明治時代のアニメフィルム、京都で発". Retrieved March 5, 2007.
  5. 1 2 3 4 5 6 Litten, Freddy. "On the Earliest (Foreign) Animation Films Shown in Japanese Cinemas" (PDF). Retrieved 15 July 2013.
  6. Yamaguchi, Katsunori; Yasushi Watanabe (1977). Nihon animēshon eigashi. Yūbunsha. pp. 26–27.
  7. Sharp, Jasper (2009). "The First Frames of Anime". The Roots of Japanese Anime, official booklet, DVD.
  8. Yamaguchi, Katsunori; Yasushi Watanabe (1977). Nihon animēshon eigashi. Yūbunsha. pp. 20–21.
  9. Baricordi, Andrea; D'Opera, Adeline; Pelletier, Claude J. (2000). Anime: A guide to Japanese Animation, 1958-1988 (1 ed.). Montréal: Protoculture Inc. p. 12. ISBN 2-9805759-0-9.
  10. Campbell, Alan (1994). Japan: An Illustrated Encyclopedia (1st ed.). Tokyo: Kodansha. ISBN 978-4-06-206489-7.
  11. Sharp, Jasper (September 23, 2004). "Pioneers of Japanese Animation (Part 1)". Midnight Eye. Retrieved December 10, 2009.
  12. The Roots of Japanese Anime, official booklet, DVD.
  13. Yamaguchi, Katsunori (1977). Nihon animēshon eigashi. Yūbunsha. pp. 34–37.
  14. Yamaguchi, Katsunori (1977). Nihon animēshon eigashi. Yūbunsha. pp. 38–44.
  15. 1 2 Clements, Jonathan; McCarthy, Helen (2014). Anime Encyclopedia: A century of japanese animation. Stone Bridge Press. p. 616. ISBN 978-1-61172-018-1.
  16. 1 2 Clements, Jonathan (2013). Anime: A History. London: British Film Institute. ISBN 978-1-84457-390-5.
  17. Tezuka, Osamu; Schodt, Frederik L.; Chameleon, Digital (2002). Astro Boy (1st ed.). Milwaukie, OR: Dark Horse Manga. p. 2 (Intro). ISBN 1-56971-676-5.
  18. "Astro Boy not the First Anime". Anime News Network. Retrieved April 27, 2016.
  19. "The Mike Toole Show: Old's Cool". Retrieved 2016-10-01.
  20. 1 2 Bendazzi, Giannalberto (October 23, 2015). Animation: A World History: Volume II: The Birth of a Style - The Three Markets. CRC Press. ISBN 9781317519911.
  21. "Anime in Europe". February 2, 2015. Archived from the original on February 2, 2015. Retrieved January 25, 2016.
  22. Kehr, Dave (2002-01-20). "FILM; Anime, Japanese Cinema's Second Golden Age". The New York Times. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  23. 1 2 "Gunota Headlines". Aeug.blogspot.com. Retrieved 2016-09-25.
  24. "Megazone 23". A.D. Vision. Retrieved May 5, 2008.
  25. Joel Silver, interviewed in "Scrolls to Screen: A Brief History of Anime" featurette on The Animatrix DVD.
  26. Joel Silver, interviewed in "Making The Matrix" featurette on The Matrix DVD.
  27. Verboon, Nick (June 13, 2013). "90's Flashback: Neon Genesis Evangelion". Unreality Mag. Retrieved November 17, 2013.
  28. "TNT's Rough Cut - Princess Mononoke - Hayao Miyazake Transcript 11/4/1999". Princess Mononoke. 1999-04-11. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  29. "Studio Ghibli | Disney Video". Disney.go.com. Retrieved 2016-09-26.
  30. "Eva 1.0 Wins Tokyo Anime Fair's Animation of the Year". Anime News Network. February 26, 2008. Retrieved February 26, 2008.
  31. O'Brien, Lucy (August 3, 2014). "Studio Ghibli May No Longer Be Making Feature Films". IGN. Retrieved August 5, 2014.
  32. Blum, Jeremy (August 13, 2013). "Animation legend Hayao Miyazaki under attack in Japan for anti-war film". South China Morning Post. SCMP Group. Retrieved December 11, 2013.
  33. "A revival of militarism? Attack on Titan sparks Korean-Japanese spat (軍國主義復活?/進擊的巨人 引發韓日論戰)". The Liberty Times. Taipei. June 12, 2013. Retrieved June 27, 2013.
  34. Axinto, Jemarc (April 24, 2014). "Pacific Rim: In-depth study of the influence of Anime". The Artifice. Retrieved November 14, 2014.
  35. "Chagama Ondo (movie) - Anime News Network". www.animenewsnetwork.com. Retrieved 2016-10-01.
  36. "Fantasia 2000 holds press conference". Anime News Network. July 5, 2000. Retrieved January 4, 2014.

Further reading

External links

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