Animation Japanese style. Best known for its distinctive early "big eyes, small mouth" visual style and the wide range of subjects and genres it covers. Unlike the United States (where it is generally regarded as a "ghetto" restricted to children's programming), animation is considered just another medium in Japan, lending itself to any story for any age level (although the demographic which watches TV the most are inevitably kids and teens). It is also very useful in certain genres like Sci-Fi which would otherwise be very expensive to produce. As a result, a large number of Japanese television shows and movies are animated; there is also a very large market for direct-to-video animation (known as OVAs). Most of these productions are not restricted to topics suitable for the under-12 set. It is a commonly held misconception that the term anime is derived from French. It's actually short for the Japanese animeeshon, itself a loanword from English. Anime's trademark visual style is shared with Manga (Japanese comic books and graphic novels); in both cases, it is inherited from the work of earlier authors/artists such as Osamu Tezuka, who is arguably the father of modern Japanese manga and anime, and Junichi Nakahara, a godfather of manga art. Another common misconception surrounds the origins of the classic anime "style", with some sources saying it originated from Osamu Tezuka, while others say he "lifted" it from American animations such as Walt Disney's work or Betty Boop (one of Tezuka's favorite characters). In actual fact, the "large eyes" look in Japanese commercial art predates Tezuka, Disney, and Betty Boop. The "large eyes" look was already popular in Japan as early as the 1920's, when the manga artist Junichi Nakahara was drawing illustrations for popular female Shoujo magazines that look very similar to modern manga/anime art, including the "large eyes" look, representing a transition from traditional Japanese Ukiyo-e art to modern Japanese manga/anime art. A similar wide-eyed look soon started appearing in popular Kamishibai (paper theater) shows by the early 1930's, with popular characters such as Jungle Boy, and to an extent Golden Bat and Prince of Gamma. The distinctive art style which began in 1920's Shoujo magazines evolved over the decades into the familiar art style that has characterized manga and anime for so many decades. In response to contemporary criticism of the typical anime/manga art style, the artist/author Shirow Masamune has said, "I've heard that some people complain about the large eyes and small noses and mouths in Japanese manga. But I don't see a whole lot of difference when I look at Disney characters." Osamu Tezuka's work was essential in laying the foundations for modern manga and anime as they are known today. His seminal creation — and the one most Americans are likely to be familiar with — was Tetsuwan Atom (Mighty Atom). It is perhaps better known in the English-speaking world as Astro Boy.
Anime films and series:
open/close all folders