What is Anime? May 22, 2014
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Anime (Japanese: アニメ?, [anime] ( listen); English i/ˈænɨmeɪ/) are Japanese animated productions usually featuring hand-drawn or computer animation. The word is the abbreviated pronunciation of “animation” in Japanese, where this term references all animation; the term may ultimately derive from the French dessin animé, referring to an animated picture. In other languages, the term is defined as animation from Japan or as a Japanese-disseminated animation style. Arguably, the stylization approach to the meaning may open up the possibility of anime produced in countries other than Japan. For simplicity, many Westerners strictly view anime as an animation product from Japan.
The earliest commercial Japanese animation dates to 1917, and production of anime works in Japan has since continued to increase steadily. The characteristic anime art style emerged in the 1960s with the works of Osamu Tezuka and spread internationally in the late twentieth century, developing a large domestic and international audience. Anime is distributed theatrically, by television broadcasts, directly to home media, and over the internet and is classified into numerous genres targeting diverse broad and niche audiences.
Anime is a diverse art form with distinctive production methods and techniques that have been adapted over time in response to emergent technologies. The production of anime focuses less on the animation of movement and more on the realism of settings as well as the use of camera effects, including panning, zooming and angle shots. Diverse art styles are used and character proportions and features can be quite varied, including characteristically large emotive or realistically sized eyes.
The anime industry consists of over 430 production studios including major names like Studio Ghibli, Gainax and Toei Animation. Despite having a fraction of the domestic film market, anime achieves a majority of DVD sales and has been an international success after the rise of televised English dubs. This rise in international popularly has resulted in non-Japanese productions using the anime art style, but these works have been defined as anime-influenced animation by both fans and the industry.
The history of anime began at the start of the 20th century, when Japanese filmmakers experimented with the animation techniques that were being explored in the West. The first generation of animators in the late 1910s included Ōten Shimokawa, Jun’ichi Kōuchi and Seitaro Kitayama, referred to as the “fathers” of anime. During World War II, propaganda films such as Momotarō no Umiwashi (1943) and Momotarō: Umi no Shinpei (1945) were made, the later being the first anime feature film. During the 1970s, anime developed further, separating itself from its Western roots, and developing distinct genres such as mecha and its Super Robot sub-genre. Typical shows from this period include Lupin III and Mazinger Z. During this period several filmmakers became famous, especially Hayao Miyazaki and Mamoru Oshii.
In the 1980s, anime was accepted in the mainstream in Japan, and experienced a boom in production. The rise of Gundam, Macross, Dragon Ball, and the Real Robot and space opera genres set a boom as well. The film Akira set records in 1988 for the production costs of an anime film and went on to become a success worldwide. Later, in 2004, the same creators produced Steamboy, which took over as the most expensive anime film. Space Battleship Yamato and The Super Dimension Fortress Macross also achieved worldwide success after being adapted respectively as Star Blazers and Robotech.
The internet also led to the rise of fansub anime. 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.