Anime is a style of animation originating in Japan, characterized by colorful graphics and often featuring themes intended for an adult audience. The word is the Japanese abbreviated pronunciation of "animation." The intended meaning of the term sometimes varies depending on the context.
While the earliest known Japanese animation dates to 1917, and many original Japanese animations were produced in the ensuing decades, the characteristic anime style developed in the 1960s—notably with the work of Osamu Tezuka—and became known outside Japan in the 1980s.
Anime, like manga, has a large audience in Japan and recognition throughout the world. Distributors can release anime via television broadcasts, directly to video, or theatrically, as well as online.
Both hand-drawn and computer-animated anime exist. It is used in television series, films, video, video games, commercials, and internet-based releases, and represents most, if not all, genres of fiction. As the market for anime increased in Japan, it also gained popularity in East and Southeast Asia. Anime is currently popular in many different regions around the world.
Anime began at the start of the 20th century, when Japanese filmmakers experimented with the animation techniques also pioneered in France, Germany, the United States, and Russia. The oldest known anime in existence first screened in 1917 – a two-minute clip of a samurai trying to test a new sword on his target, only to suffer defeat. Early pioneers included Shimokawa Oten, Jun'ichi Kouchi, and Seitarō Kitayama.
By the 1930s animation became an alternative format of storytelling to the live-action industry in Japan. But it suffered competition from foreign producers and many animators, such as Noburō Ōfuji and Yasuji Murata still worked in cheaper cutout not cel animation, although with masterful results. Other creators, such as Kenzō Masaoka and Mitsuyo Seo, nonetheless made great strides in animation technique, especially with increasing help from a government using animation in education and propaganda. The first talkie anime was Chikara to Onna no Yo no Naka, produced by Masaoka in 1933. The first feature length animated film was Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors directed by Seo in 1945 with sponsorship by the Imperial Japanese Navy.
The success of The Walt Disney Company's 1937 feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs influenced Japanese animators. In the 1960s, manga artist and animator Osamu Tezuka adapted and simplified many Disney animation-techniques to reduce costs and to limit the number of frames in productions. He intended this as a temporary measure to allow him to produce material on a tight schedule with inexperienced animation-staff.
The 1970s saw a surge of growth in the popularity of manga – many of them later animated. The work of Osamu Tezuka drew particular attention: he has been called a "legend" and the "god of manga". His work – and that of other pioneers in the field – inspired characteristics and genres that remain fundamental elements of anime today. The giant robot genre (known as "Mecha" outside Japan), for instance, took shape under Tezuka, developed into the Super Robot genre under Go Nagai and others, and was revolutionized at the end of the decade by Yoshiyuki Tomino who developed the Real Robot genre. Robot anime like the Gundam and The Super Dimension Fortress Macross series became instant classics in the 1980s, and the robot genre of anime is still one of the most common in Japan and worldwide today. In the 1980s, anime became more accepted in the mainstream in Japan (although less than manga), and experienced a boom in production. Following a few successful adaptations of anime in overseas markets in the 1980s, anime gained increased acceptance in those markets in the 1990s and even more at the turn of the 21st century
Facial expressions:Anime characters may employ a variety of predetermined facial expressions to denote moods and thoughts. These techniques are often different in form than their counterparts in Western animation, and they include a fixed iconography that's used as shorthand for certain emotions and moods.
There are a number of other stylistic elements that are common to conventional anime as well but more often used in comedies. Characters that are shocked or surprised will perform a "face fault", in which they display an extremely exaggerated expression. Angry characters may exhibit a "vein" or "stress mark" effect, where lines representing bulging veins will appear on their forehead. Angry women will sometimes summon a mallet from nowhere and strike another character with it, mainly for the sake of slapstick comedy. Male characters will develop a bloody nose around their female love interests (typically to indicate arousal, which is a play on an old wives' tale). Embarrassed or stressed characters either produce a massive sweat-drop (which has become one of the most widely recognized motifs of conventional anime) or produce a visibly red blush or set of parallel (sometimes squiggly) lines beneath the eyes, especially as a manifestation of repressed romantic feelings. Characters who want to childishly taunt someone may pull an akanbe face (by pulling an eyelid down with a finger to expose the red underside). Characters may also have large "X" eyes to show a knockout, or in some cases, even illness. This is typically used for comedic purposes. Vacant, non-reflecting eyes can be used to indicate a state of semi-consciousness
Story themes:A wide variety of stories have been adapted into anime. They are sourced from Japanese history, classical literature, and even adult-oriented themes. While animation for children exists, most anime are intended for an older audience Distribution:While anime had entered markets beyond Japan in the 1960s, it grew as a major cultural export during its market expansion during the 1980s and 1990s. The anime market for the United States alone is "worth approximately $4.35 billion, according to the Japan External Trade Organization". Anime has also had commercial success in Asia, Europe and Latin America, where anime has become more mainstream than in the United States. For example, the Saint Seiya video game was released in Europe due to the popularity of the show even years after the series has been off-air.
Anime distribution companies handled the licensing and distribution of anime outside Japan. Licensed anime is modified by distributors through dubbing into the language of the country and adding language subtitles to the Japanese language track. Using a similar global distribution pattern as Hollywood, the world is divided into five regions.
Some editing of cultural references may occur to better follow the references of the non-Japanese culture. Certain companies may remove any objectionable content, complying with domestic law. This editing process was far more prevalent in the past (e.g. Voltron), but its use has declined because of the demand for anime in its original form. This "light touch" approach to localization has favored viewers formerly unfamiliar with anime. Robotech and Star Blazers were the earliest attempts to present anime (albeit still modified) to North American television audiences without harsh censoring for violence and mature themes.
With the advent of DVD, it became possible to include multiple language tracks into a simple product. This was not the case with VHS cassette, in which separate VHS media were used and with each VHS cassette priced the same as a single DVD. The "light touch" approach also applies to DVD releases as they often include both the dubbed audio and the original Japanese audio with subtitles, typically unedited. Anime edited for television is usually released on DVD "uncut", with all scenes intact.
The Internet has played a significant role in the exposure of anime beyond Japan. Prior to the 1990s, anime had limited exposure beyond Japan's borders. Coincidentally, as the popularity of the Internet grew, so did interest in anime. Much of the fandom of anime grew through the Internet. The combination of internet communities and increasing amounts of anime material, from video to images, helped spur the growth of fandom. As the Internet gained more widespread use, Internet advertising revenues grew from 1.6 billion yen to over 180 billion yen between 1995 and 2005.
Some fan groups add subtitles to anime on their own and distribute the episodes. These are known as fansubs. Before the popularity of the Internet, fansubbing used VHS as a means of distribution. Often, people will collect these fansubs and upload them to websites which they also put advertisements on so as to earn money, which violates copyright laws in many countries. The ethical implications of distributing or watching fansubs are topics of much controversy even when fansub groups do not profit from their activities. Once the series has been licensed outside of Japan, fansub groups often cease distribution of their work. In one case, Media Factory Incorporated requested that no fansubs of their material be made, which was respected by the fansub community. In another instance, Bandai specifically thanked fansubbers for their role in helping to make The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya popular in the English speaking world.
Influence on world culture:Anime has become commercially profitable in Western countries, as early commercially successful western adaptations of anime, such as Astro Boy, have revealed. The phenomenal success of Nintendo's multi-billion dollar Pokémon franchise was helped greatly by the spin-off anime series that, first broadcast in the late 1990s, is still running worldwide to this day. In doing so, anime has made significant impacts upon Western culture. Since the 19th century, many Westerners have expressed a particular interest towards Japan. Anime dramatically exposed more Westerners to the culture of Japan. Aside from anime, other facets of Japanese culture increased in popularity. Worldwide, the number of people studying Japanese increased. In 1984, the Japanese Language Proficiency Test was devised to meet increasing demand.
Even domestic animation industries had made attempts at emulating anime. Anime-influenced animation refers to non-Japanese works of animation that emulate the visual style of anime. Most of these works are created by studios in the United States, Europe, and non-Japanese Asia; and they generally incorporate stylizations, methods, and gags described in anime physics, as in the case of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Often, production crews either are fans of anime or are required to view anime. Some creators cite anime as a source of inspiration with their own series. Furthermore, a French production team for Ōban Star-Racers moved to Tokyo to collaborate with a Japanese production team from Hal Film Maker. Critics and the general anime fanbase do not consider them as anime.
Some American animated television-series have singled out anime styling with satirical intent, for example South Park (with "Chinpokomon" and with "Good Times with Weapons"). South Park has a notable drawing style, itself parodied in "Brittle Bullet", the fifth episode of the anime FLCL, released several months after "Chinpokomon" aired. This intent on satirizing anime is the springboard for the basic premise of Kappa Mikey, a Nicktoons Network original cartoon. Even clichés normally found in anime are parodied in some series, such as Perfect Hair Forever.
Anime conventions began to appear in the early 1990s, during the Anime boom, starting with Project A-Kon, Anime Expo, Animethon, and Otakon. Currently anime conventions are held annually in various cities across the Americas, Asia, and Europe. Many attendees participate in cosplay, where they dress up as anime characters. Also, guests from Japan ranging from artists, directors, and music groups are invited. In addition to anime conventions, anime clubs have become prevalent in colleges, high schools, and community centers as a way to publicly exhibit anime as well as broadening Japanese cultural understanding.
Viewers may also pick up on Japanese terms either within or related to anime, though at times those words may take on different connotations. For instance, the Japanese term otaku is used as a term for anime fans beyond Japan, more particularly the obsessive ones. The negative connotations associated with the word in Japan have lessened in foreign context, where it instead connotes the pride of the fans.
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