“In recent years, I often talk about Japanese animation with friends from all over the world. Thirty years ago when I lived in the United States, the topic of anime didn’t work at all. Now the main pillar of Cool Japan. How did anime become so popular in the world? At the recommendation of a friend, when I visited Serbia, a country in Eastern Europe far away from Japan, I could see the peculiarities of Japan, which is completely different from the world, behind the charm of anime.” (Daisuke Yamamoto).
Our generation has loved anime since we were children when the word “otaku” didn’t exist. Weeping in “Marcus in Search of Mother” (broadcasting started in 1976) and enthusiastic about “Mobile Suit Gundam” (1979). In “Castle in the Sky” (1986), was completely captivated by anime.
Even if you search the internet, which is full of anime-related topics, there is almost no detailed information on why it is so popular in the world. Then, when you ask friends from all over the world, you will be surprised to receive responses one after another.
Japan’s first domestic animation
According to “The Complete History of Japanese Animation,” “Animation” is a noun system of Animate, and its etymology comes from the Latin word Anima, which means “giving life” and “reviving”.
In 1895 (Meiji 28), the film was invented by the Lumiere brothers in France. Eventually, in order to distinguish it from live-action film, the one that was drawn one by one on the film to express “movement” came to be called animated cartoon, and now it is animation.
The world’s first animated film first appeared in 1906 (Meiji 39). James Stuart Blackton of the United States drew a picture on the blackboard little by little with chalk and took a time-lapse (* A technique for expressing movement by shooting while moving an object little by little) of it.
Imported works were screened in Japan in the 40’s of the Meiji era, but domestic animation was not produced until the Taisho era. In 1917 (Taisho 6), the cartoonist Oten Shimokawa animated his own manga, “Imokawa Mukuzo Entrance Number Volume,” which was considered to be Japan’s first domestic animation. (Unfortunately the film doesn’t exist). The technology was not transmitted from overseas, and at first it was a state of groping to imitate what to see. Animation was still produced after that, but it was mainly produced as a form of educational films, promotional films for political parties and companies.
The oldest existing Japanese animation film “Namakura Sword” (Director Junichi Kouchi, 1917)
(Collection of the National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo Film Center)
“Snow White” and “White Snake Den”
From the end of the Taisho era to the beginning of the Showa era, popular manga began to be animated, and animations for children also appeared. In 1933 (Showa 8), the original work by Suiho Tagawa, who lived in Ogikubo at that time, was released.
After the end of the Pacific War, in 1950 (Showa 25), Walt Disney’s feature film “Snow White” was released to the public in Japan and became a big hit. Taking this opportunity, the value of commercial animation has come to the fore, and domestic animation production has begun in earnest. In 1956 (Showa 31), Toei Animation (currently Toei Animation), which aims to produce animation for commercial purposes for the first time in Japan, was established at Oizumi Gakuen in Nerima Ward. The company’s first feature-length anime “The Tale of the White Serpent” (1958) became a hot topic as Japan’s first full-length full-color animation (* By drawing slightly different pictures on all 24 frames required per second, the movement can be shown smoothly ). After that, it gained a track record in the field of feature-length animation for theaters, but since 1963 (Showa 38) it has produced TV animation. Toei Animation also worked on the Magical Girl series, including “Sally the Witch.”
Birth of TV animation “Astro Boy”
In 1962 (Showa 37), manga artist Osamu Tezuka established Mushi Production in Fujimidai, Nerima-ku . The following year, the TV animation “Astro Boy” (Fuji TV series) was produced and aired. The 30-minute continuous animation once a week was the first attempt in Japan and in the world. “It was an unbelievable world that Atom would be aired every week because it was a daunting task to make a 30-minute animation with the previous method. Since the production period of “Astro Boy” cannot be long, it usually requires 15,000 to 20,000 pictures, but it is reduced to 1,500 to 2,000, which is one tenth, and the production is thoroughly labor-saving. It was called a limited animation that made the animators omitting as much as possible, such as moving only the mouth. If the story is solid and there are lines and music, it does not have to move so much. It was a TV animation.
Tokiwa-so and Studio Zero
“Astro Boy” was a big hit, and each TV station broadcast TV animations one after another. At the same time, animation production companies were being established one after another. Tokiwa-so (* A two-story wooden apartment located in Shiinamachi 5-chome, Toshima-ku (currently Minaminagasaki 3-chome) is a legendary apartment where famous manga artists such as Osamu Tezuka lived. Studio Zero was founded in 1963 by a group of Tokiwa-so .
Director Suzuki of Suginami Animation Museum is also one of the founding members of Studio Zero. Suzuki, who lived in Tokiwa-so and was aiming to become a manga artist, joined the animation production company “Otogi Production” in 1956 as an animator. Produced Japan’s first TV anime series “Instant History”. After that, he left the company and established Studio Zero with Fujiko F. Fujio, Shotaro Ishinomori, Fujiko Fujio , and Jiro Tsunoda. Fujio Akatsuka would also participate a little later.