How many anime have you watched?
5? 10? 20? 50? More?
Well, the anime industry had to go through quite a lot to be able to bring you all of that content.
Anime is an entertainment industry after all.
It was never going to be smooth sailing.
The anime industry has had quite an adventure in its own history.
Here’s the story of anime through the years!
30’s: Well-established animation
By the mid-1930s, animation was a common way of entertainment and an established alternative to live-action media like theatre plays.
Big foreign names like Disney competed ad hindered, but animators like Noburo Ofuji and Yasuji Murata continued their efforts to make cheaper cut-out animation.
One of the convenient ways of getting patronage was to work for the government.
This, however, severely limited creative freedoms in every way since the government only needed educational shorts and propaganda.
40’s: Government disband
With the Pacific War, the Japanese government suffered significant losses and inflation was rampant.
Japan, after the war, was a mess due to a severe shortage and currency devaluation.
This war had gotten Japan to an economic standstill.
In order to dedicate almost all of its resources to military needs, the Japanese government disbanded a lot of artist organizations.
Instead, the ‘Shin Nippon Mangaka Kyokai’ (literally translated to New Japan Mangakka Association) was formed.
This created the first feature-length anime film, Momotaro: Sacred Sailors which received a sponsorship from the Imperial Japanese Navy.
50’s: Short TV ads
The 1950s saw the slow and steady introduction of short animated advertisements created for television.
The U.S provided assistance of about $1.9 billion. More than 80% of this was in the form of food, industrial materials, and transportation equipment.
A lot more important industries needed to be tended to first.
So, the animation and entertainment industry, in general, took a backseat.
60’s: First Anime Television series
Manga artists and animator, Osamu Tezuka, simplified and revised Disney’s animation techniques to make them cheaper and to limit frame counts.
These were only intended to be temporary practices so that he could continue producing his content on a tight schedule and since he had inexperienced staff.
These same practices, however, came to be the definition of the style of anime as a whole.
The very first anime television series ‘Instant History’ aired from 1961 to 1964.
Tezuka also earned great success with the influential series ‘Astro Boy’ airing from 1963 to 1966 based on the manga of the same name.
Many animators later started their own animation studios that are a mainstay in today’s animation like Madhouse Studio Pierrot and Sunrise.
70’s: The Rise of Manga
Japan immediately focused on increasing and benefitting from foreign trade to not fall into debt.
Due to the Income Doubling Plan by then prime minister, Japan’s economy doubled in less than 10 years, which brought back the flourish and gave the animation and manga industry a much-needed relief.
The 1970s saw the rise in popularity of manga many of which were later animated.
Osamu Tezuka’s work and many other artists laid the foundation for anime, as we know it today.
The fundamental characteristics and genre that were established then have remained largely unchanged today, for example, the ‘Mecha’ genre that is also called the ‘Giant Robot’ genre.
80’s: High budget anime films
The 1980s was a complete comeback and further rise of the Japanese animation industry.
Robot anime such Macross Frontier and Gundam made their mark and rose to popularity instantly.
The 1980s brought to light some high-budget anime films like Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Akira, and Lupin III: Castle of Cagliostro.
90’s: Greater interest from the West
During the 1990s, the Western audience took a liking to Japanese animation and cartoons.
This lead to a humongous rise in the popularity of series like Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon.
Titles like Neon Genesis Evangelion introduced an era of experimentation.
This series was followed by many non-mainstream titles like Ghost in the Shell or Cowboy Bebop.
These anime came to garner their popularity in business and were dubbed in dozens of other languages.
As we know it today, the 2000s brought a stable and cozy state for anime as it had now become one of the mainstay forms of entertainment.
In 2003, Spirited Away became the highest-grossing anime film worldwide with over $355 million.
This era of stability expanded the horizons of anime from being animated majorly from manga to light novels and visual novels as well.
A prime example of these would be Fate/Stay Night.
Today, the anime industry is worth $25.46 billion worldwide. In the form of TV, movies, videos, internet distribution like the various streaming services, merchandising, music, pachinko, and live entertainment like stage plays and so on.