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History of anime The history of anime begins at the start of the 20th century, when Japanese filmmakers experimented with the animation techniques that were being explored in France, Germany, the United States, and Russia. The oldest known anime in existence was screened in 1917; it was a two minute clip of a samurai trying to test a new sword on his target, only to suffer defeat.
By the 1930s, animation became an alternative format of storytelling compared to the underdeveloped live-action industry in Japan. Unlike America, the live-action industry in Japan remained a small market and suffered from budgeting, location, and casting restrictions. The lack of Western-looking actors, for example, made it next to impossible to shoot films set in Europe, America, or fantasy worlds that do not naturally involve Japan. Animation allowed artists to create any characters and settings.
The success of Disney's 1937 feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs influenced Japanese animators. Osamu Tezuka adapted and simplified many Disney animation techniques to reduce the costs and number of frames in the production. This was intended to be a temporary measure to allow him to produce material on a tight schedule with an inexperienced animation staff.
During the 1970s, there was a surge of growth in the popularity of manga—which were often later animated—especially those of Osamu Tezuka, who 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 are 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 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 in the 2000s.
Synonyms Anime is occasionally referred to as Japanimation, but this term has fallen into disuse. Japanimation saw the most usage during the 1970s and 1980s, but was supplanted by anime in the mid-1990s as the material became more widely known in English-speaking countries. In general, the term now only appears in nostalgic contexts. Although the term was coined outside Japan to refer to animation imported from Japan, it is now used primarily in Japan, to refer to domestic animation; since anime does not identify the country of origin in Japanese usage, Japanimation is used to distinguish Japanese work from that of the rest of the world.
In Japan, manga can additionally refer to both animation and comics (although the use of manga to refer to animation is mostly restricted to non-fans). Among English speakers, manga usually has the stricter meaning of "Japanese comics". An alternate explanation is that it is due to the prominence of Manga Entertainment, a distributor of anime to the US and UK markets. Because Manga Entertainment originated in the UK the use of the term is common outside of Japan. The term "animanga" has been used to collectively refer to anime and manga, though it is also a term used to describe comics produced from animation cels.
Visual characteristics Anime is commonly referred as an art form. As a visual medium, it naturally places a large emphasis towards visual styles. The styles can vary from artist to artist or by studio to studio. Some titles make extensive use of common stylization: FLCL, for example, is known for its wild, exaggerated stylization. In contrast, titles such as Only Yesterday or Jin-Roh take much more realistic approaches, featuring few stylistic exaggerations.
While different titles and different artists have their own artistic styles, many stylistic elements have become so common such that they are described as being definitive of anime in general. However, this does not mean that all modern anime share one strict, common art style. Many anime have a very different art style from what would commonly be called "anime style", yet fans still use the word "anime" to refer to these titles. Generally, the most common form of anime drawings are "exaggerated physical features such as large eyes, big hair and elongated limbs... and dramatically shaped speech bubbles, speed lines and onomatopoeic, exclamatory typography."
The influences of Japanese calligraphy and Japanese painting also characterize linear qualities of the anime style. The round Ink brush traditionally used for writing Kanji and for painting produces a stroke of widely varying thickness.
Anime also tends to borrow many elements from manga including text in the background, and borrowing panel layouts from the manga as well. For example, an opening may employ manga panels to tell the story, or to dramatize a point for humorous effect. This is best demonstrated in the anime Kare Kano.
Animation technique The basics of anime are based on traditional animation. Like all animation, the production processes of storyboarding, voice acting, character design, cel production, etc. still apply. With improvements in computer technology, computer animation increased the efficiency of the whole production process.
Anime is often considered a form of limited animation. That means that stylistically, even in bigger productions the conventions of limited animation are used to fool the eye into thinking there is more movement than there is. Many of the techniques used a comprised with cost-cutting measures while working under a set budget.
Anime scenes place emphasis on achieving three-dimensional views. Backgrounds depict the scenes' atmosphere. For example, anime often puts emphasis on changing seasons, as can be seen in numerous anime, such as Tenchi Muyo. Sometimes actual settings have been duplicated into an anime. The backgrounds for the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya are based on various locations within the suburb of Nishinomiya, Hyogo, Japan.
Camera angles, camera movement, and lighting play an important role in scenes. Directors often have the discretion of determining viewing angles for scenes, particularly regarding backgrounds. In addition, camera angles show perspective. Directors can also choose camera effects within cinematography, such as panning, zooming, facial closeup, and panoramic.
Genres Anime has many genres typically found in any mass media form. Such genres include action, adventure, children's stories, comedy, drama, erotica (more specifically ecchi or hentai), medieval fantasy, occult/horror, romance, science fiction and magical girl. Most anime includes content from several different genres, as well as a variety of thematic elements. Thus, some series may be categorized under multiple genres. For example, Neon Genesis Evangelion might be considered to fall into the genres of post-apocalyptic, science fiction, mecha, and drama.
The following is a list of the major genres and designations that are specific to anime and manga.
Action/Adventure primarily focuses on battles, war, and physical competition. Martial arts, weapon fighting, or other action oriented material are usually featured. Examples: Naruto or One Piece.
Drama primarily has a high degree of character development and emotional themes. Many center on relationship complications. Examples: Fushigi Yūgi or Kare Kano.
Game Based primarily revolves around some sort of card or board game. Examples: Yu-Gi-Oh! or Hikaru no Go.
Horror use darker and/or supernatural themes. Examples: Vampire Hunter D series or Chrono Crusade.
Science fiction consists of futuristic elements, particularly featuring future science and technology. They can be drawn from current scientific studies and inventions or created to meet the needs of the world. Examples: Ghost in the Shell or Royal Space Force: The Wings of Honneamise
Progressive or "Art films" are extremely stylized. Examples: Sayonara Zetsubō Sensei or 5 Centimeters Per Second.
For other possible genres, see Film genre.