It’s hard to believe it, but anime has actually been around for over 100 years! The earliest Japanese animation was released in 1917 and comprised of 3 one-reel cartoons that were between 1 and 5 minutes long.
By the 1920’s a number of anime cartoons had been shown, and while some were based on foreign cartoons like Felix the Cat that were popular at the time, the others were dramatizations of Oriental folk tales in traditional Japanese art style.
Seitaro Kitayama, Junichi Kouchi, Sanae Yamamoto and Oten Shimokawa are just some of the notable silent-era animators that made a major contribution to the art form. Most of these cartoonists worked in home studios, although eventually Japanese theatrical companies started to finance them in an exchange for the rights to distribute their media.
From Folk Tales to Westernised Humour
In the 1930’s there was a major shift in anime, and the folk-tale based stories started to change, taking on the fast pace of Western style cartoons and including similar humour. By the mid 1930’s Japanese militarism had a major impact on the content being created.
Mituyo Seo’s cartoon Private 2nd-Class Norakuro, which was based on a cartoon strip about a dog soldier in an animal army, was a hit and when Japan went to war in 1937 a slew of militaristic propaganda cartoons followed.
During the war the Imperial government even commissioned anime cartoons to boost morale and tell the stories of brave soldiers, and they not only funded these projects, they also owned the rights to them.
After WW2, animators were left to their own devices and the government no longer funded projects, plus they couldn’t even rely on mobile casino Malaysia winnings, as these were a far off dream! They also faced extremely stiff competition from the slick and well produced cartoons that were being released in their droves by American film studios.
Despite the major advances in technology, the first full colour anime cartoon was only released in 1955, and this was a result of the adoption of Western style studio film development practices. While the independent anime creator still exists to this day, it was the Western style studios that really got the genre off the ground.
Making Their Mark
Although the first attempts to create an Americanised studio began in 1945, they were only really successful in 1957 when the Toei Animation Co. released Doodling Kitty, an animation created by Yasuji Mori.
A year later, the general public as wowed with first theatrical feature called Panda and the Magic Serpent, also created by the Toei Animation Co. This theatrical feature was very much based on the typical Disney formula and was the start of many similar releases that followed Oriental style tales that had been given the Disney/anime style treatment.
Throughout the 1960’s these releases came thick and fast, and grew in popularity over time. Some of the even reached America where they gained a sort of cult following.
By the 1970’s television animation was incredibly popular in Japan and there was a heavy focus on giant-robot adventure serials. Leiji Matsumoto’s acclaimed Planetary Robot Danguard Ace was one of these, and it changed many peoples perception of anime for good.