Anime: History and Artistic Analysis

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Anime is not just cartoons. Many people are bogged down in myths and delusions. Losing the opportunity to understand this modern art with its history and different types. After all, ‘Anime’ a modern elevated art form.


What makes “Anime” unique and a separate genre from cartoons? First, we need to understand what anime is. ‘Anime is a diverse form of art with distinctive production methods and techniques that were eventually adapted to new technologies. It consists of an ideal story-telling mechanism combining graphic art, characterization, cinematography, and other forms of creative and individualistic techniques.’ These methods of production and technology distinguish anime from other cartoons because one looks at a picture made in the style of Anime and another, for example, Disney-style animation makes a difference between them. Anime stands out among the animations of other countries for its relevance in Japanese society.

“The animation of Japan differs from the animation of other countries, primarily, in that it is a developing closed cultural stratum, which includes many unique plot and ideological symbols, patterns, stereotypes, and types. The simplest examples are anime-specific genres, such as “Mecha”, which live by their own laws, or are often reflected in anime elements of Japanese culture.” (Ivanova B.A. 2002) In Japan, people are so involved with this art that they use the style of ‘Anime’ even in grocery stores for advertising.

“Most of the anime is created with the expectation of a specific, sometimes rather narrow target audience. The criteria for division can be gender, age, psychological type of the viewer. The genre chosen in this way sets the general direction of the work, influencing its plot, ideas, and even the style of the image. Children’s (kodo) anime makes up the majority of all animation products produced in Japan, but more “adult” works are popular outside the country.”

This is an important topic because of the huge public, which is sometimes entangled in the myths and misconceptions about the new art form ‘Anime’.

Popularity Statistics of Anime

“And if you’re searching for it, it also has around 1M – 10M monthly Google searches. On Instagram there are over 58 million hashtags for the topic of “anime”. On Facebook there are multiple groups with 200 – 750,000 anime fans. An app called Amino has around 710,000 reviews, and about 5M – 10M downloads / installs. ” As the new generation grows on this kind of art ‘Anime’, and the old generation does not fully understand this genre and therefore this can be destructive for the future generation.


The history of anime originates in the XX century when Japanese filmmakers begin their first experiments with animation techniques trying to reproduce the early experiences of American animators (for example: “Keeping up with the Joneses” animated by H.S. Palmep and produced by Gaumont Company in 1915) and European animators (as an example: “Fantasmagorie” produced by Émile Cohl in 1908).

The oldest known surviving Japanese animation “KatsudoShashin”, lasts only 3 seconds. One of the very first anime was the two-minute comedy film “Namakura-gitana” (‘An Obtuse Sword’, 1917), demonstrated in 1917, in which the samurai is going to try out his new sword, but is defeated by a citizen. Ōten Shimokawa, Kouuchi Junichi, and Seitarō Kitayama became the first explorers in the field of Japanese animation. One of the most popular and accessible methods at that time was the technique of cut-out animation, which was used by animators such as Sanae Yamamoto, Murata Yasuji, and Noburō Ōfuji. «Cutout animation is a technique for producing animation using flat characters, props, and backgrounds cut from materials such as paper, card board, stiff fabric or even photos. The world’s first surviving animated feature was produced using aform of cutout animation.»

Later, the technique of application animation also spread. By 1940, organizations began to form multipliers and artists. The founder of the traditions of modern anime was Osamu Tezuka – he laid the foundations of what later transformed into modern anime series. For example, Osamu Tezuka borrowed from Disney and developed a way of using the big eyes of characters to convey emotions; it was under his leadership that the first works appeared that can be attributed to the early anime. Tezuka’s first job was the “Shintakarajima” manga. For an almost century-long history of anime, it has come a long way from the first experiments in animation, Tezuka films to the current enormous popularity around the world. Over the years, the plots of anime, originally designed for children, became increasingly difficult, the problems discussed were becoming more serious.

Anime series appeared, designed for a teenage audience – young men and women over fourteen years old. These series have found admirers among adults, in rare cases up to advanced years. In its development, the anime was a little behind the Ottomans, which originated a few years earlier and had already gained popularity among all circles of the Japanese population.

Today, anime is a unique cultural layer that unites both serials for children (the genre of kodo) – the anime in its original sense, and teenage works, often serious enough for adults to watch – shonen (anime for young men), shojo (anime for girls ). The peak of the anime is considered to be the work of director Hayao Miyazaki. His Spirited Away was the first and only animated film to win the Berlin Film Festival Award for “Best Film”, not “Best Animation”.


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People unfamiliar with anime among the signs of anime usually, first of all, mention the unnaturally big eyes of the characters. In fact, the existing style arose under the strong influence of Western animation traditions – Osamu Tezuka, who is considered the founder of this style, was inspired by the characters of American animated films, such as BettiBup, Mickey Mouse, and Bambi. Anime characters are distinguished not so much by the size of their eyes as by the attention given to detailing their eyes in relation to the rest of the face. The nose and mouth are usually depicted with several wavy lines, except when the character speaks. Nevertheless, there are works in which a “realistic” pattern is used – the nose, mouth, and cheekbones, as well as other details of the face, are depicted and shadowed with greater accuracy. When drawing eyes, light and dark shades are usually applied at the same time. The eyes can often be inferred about the character as a whole. They usually reflect the age and openness of the character. Positive, funny, friendly protagonists are often portrayed with large, brilliant, life-filled eyes; closed, dark, or negative have eyes narrowed, sometimes half-closed or tinted by bangs – often they are painted similar to the eyes of some sharp-eyed bird of prey or snake. Sly or pointedly polite characters have the eyes of a fox – as if they were closed all the time as if the character was constantly smiling, but ordinary characters who want to sleep all the time can have about the same shape; if the character is not romantic, but not evil, cunning, or reticent, artists can supply him with rather large eyes, but with small pupils-points; moreover, if a character is suddenly deprived of a magical way of will or even of a soul, his eyes lose their luster and become lifeless – all glare disappears from them. In children, the eyes are usually depicted very large, while the elderly (with very few exceptions) have small eyes with a small pupil. Sunglasses are an additional means of expression, being an indispensable attribute of scholars (as opposed to eccentric geniuses), various modest women, or otaku guys. Anime hair is usually made up of strands. The hairstyles of characters can have very different, sometimes strange shapes and colors. Hair, as well as details of the clothes of the characters, often subordinate to the wind or inertia, forcing them to move asynchronously as the character moves. Hair of various colors was originally a way to “personalize” the characters, to make them noticeably different. Today, when the images of the characters are worked out down to the smallest details of the face and behavior patterns, multi-colored hair is not a necessity, but rather a tradition. In addition, hair color often reflects the character of the character. For example, red hair is a characteristic indicator of temper (Asuka from the TV series “Evangelion”, Lina Invers from the TV series “Slayers”). Blonde hair also indicates the foreign origin of the hero, since most Japanese have dark hair. We should also mention bleached hair as part of a hooligan stereotype or eccentric – as mentioned above, the vast majority of Japanese people have dark hair, and lighting is the most effective way for someone to stand out from the crowd in school and on the street.

Since anime series are usually shown on television with a frequency of about a series a week, they are created by a staff of scriptwriter, director, designer, and several dozen animators. In addition, in order to fit into the exit schedule, if possible, without loss of quality, the so-called “limited animation techniques” are used. They include the redrawing of individual parts of the picture while preserving most of the picture unchanged, static backgrounds, simplified forms of the transmission of emotions.

The transfer of emotions in the anime is a reason for a separate conversation. In addition to the traditional types of anime feelings manifestations of the character – a change in the expression of the face or tone of his voice, a number of other techniques are used. Emotions can be portrayed in a markedly unrealistic, hypertrophic way – the characters speak with their eyes closed to convey a categorical nature or take a picture of a demonic form when they show anger. In comedic situations, in order to show the frivolity of feelings, pictograms are used, such as a picture of “sweat droplets” or “swollen veins” appearing over the hero’s head, or in a frame above it.In addition to the “serious” picture, there is also a popular “tibi” or “super-deformed” (SD) style, in which characters are portrayed in a simplified way, with disproportionately large heads and half-face eyes. Usually, the style of SD is used in comedic situations, since it gives a clear frivolity, a parody of what is happening. However, there are serials entirely made in this manner; here, a similar style is used to create sympathy for the “small and fluffy” main characters. For example, in the comedy series “YamatoNadeshikoShichiHenge”, the main character spends 90% of screen time in her Tibi-form, acting as if she is completely out of this world. Other characters, being more adequate, are depicted, respectively, quite ordinary.

AnimeNation analyst John Opplinger emphasized that the way the character is depicted allows the viewer to instantly determine its importance. He also believed that in many anime series, where there are memorable characters created by famous designers, there are often cases of unsuccessful performance, while other series, where there is no clear difference between the characters, have become very popular. According to the analyst, although the overall character design evolves over time to fit the tastes of the audience, the distinctive appearance is found in isolated cases.

History of Manga

The word ‘manga’ is quite ambiguous. These are political cartoons in the newspapers, and Japanese drawing stories that are very popular throughout the world. But for the Japanese, this is primarily a comic.

The manga creator is called ‘mangaka’. Usually, one person (often with assistants) draws comics and writes texts, but there is also group creativity. However, more than three or four people usually do not work on one manga. The artistic integrity of this increases and personal incomes grow. In addition to professional manga, there is an amateur – ‘Doujinshi’. Many mangaks began as creators of Doujinshi. In large cities, there are special markets in which Doujinshi sell their products and sometimes find serious publishers for their works.

The most sought-after manga is produced in the form of books (often series of 10-20 volumes), which spread across the country in tens of millions. And on the basis of the best of them, multi-series cartoons are created. Almost all manga is drawn and published in black and white. There are several reasons for this – firstly, this is the legacy of traditional Japanese painting, and secondly, it significantly reduces the cost of its production.

Do not confuse manga with «manhwa» and «manhua». ‘Manhwa’ – the invention of Koreans, and ‘Manhua’ – the Chinese. These words are similar for the simple reason that they are written with the same hieroglyphs. And in fact, ‘manhwa’ is not only comics, but also cartoons, too – this is the meaning the word has inside Korea itself, and outside of it is used exclusively to refer to Korean comics. Also, the peculiarity of Mankhwa is that, based on it, live TV shows and films are created more often, while animation works are still a relative rarity. Manhua includes all comic books released in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong, as well as translations of Japanese manga into Chinese.

Manga is a phenomenon of artistic culture. As an expressive tool, it has even more open space for creativity than other types of media. Manga is a more individual, and therefore freer, art, as an expressive means is somewhere in between other types of media, such as cinema, CD, literature, television, etc. Manga differs markedly from Western ones in graphic and literary style. comics (American and European), despite the fact that developed under their influence. The scenario and arrangement of frames are built differently; in the pictorial part, the emphasis is on the lines of the drawing, and not on its shape. The picture can vary from photorealistic to grotesque, but the dominant direction is the style, a characteristic feature of which large eyes are mistakenly considered. In fact, it is not the size of the eyes that is important, but the attention that the artist pays to the eyes in relation to the rest of the face, their detailed gleaming. The first in this style began to draw the already mentioned Osamu Tezuka. Manga is usually read from right to left, the reason why Japanese writing, in which the columns of hieroglyphs are written that way. Manga is distinguished by the prevalence of serial issues in periodicals.

In Japan, very rarely manga is published immediately in book form, instead, it is first released as a series of issues (or as part of a journal issue) of 20-30 pages each and only then (depending on success) is collected and published as a book. It is the fact that manga is first printed in magazines, and is one of the reasons for manga ‘blackness’. Popular works are often released as separate issues for several years (Ranma 1/2, DragonBalls, etc.), and when it comes time to release in book form, they can occupy dozens of volumes.

Today, the manga is an almost all-powerful and comprehensive visualization tool, including a huge range of genres and forms, ranging from humorous books, melodramas, fiction, to serious literary works, travel descriptions, educational and educational guides.


Summing up this work, we can conclude that anime is indeed a new art of our time. Anime has a significant impact on all areas of the art of the 21st century, being distinctive and completely new. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that it combines both the culture of the countries of the East and European culture, forming new aesthetic ideals. Anime captures the extraordinary color palette, psychological tension of the plot, fantastic worlds, unexpected ending, but most importantly – exactly recreated characters and emotions inherent in the living, not the painted person. The mastery of the artists and the psychological findings of the authors is impressive.

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