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Not just a cartoon: what is the secret of anime's phenomenal popularity around the world
Not just a cartoon: what is the secret of anime's phenomenal popularity around the world

The popularity of anime all over the world is steadily growing, and today even people who do not at all consider themselves to be cartoon lovers enjoy watching Japanese animation. At the same time, fans of the genre assure: anime is not a cartoon at all in the usual sense of the word. It is distinguished by its characteristic drawing of characters and backgrounds, and in the west, anime is the object of study by cultural scientists, sociologists and anthropologists.


Japanese manga

The art of conveying a story through drawings originated in Japan approximately in the 12th century, and the reason for the emergence of such a tradition was a complex writing system, consisting, in fact, of three alphabets. Even educated Japanese people could not always understand the meaning of what was written without an accompanying picture. Towards the end of the 19th century, Japanese comics - manga - began to appear exactly as they are known today. And already at the beginning of the last century, that very unique Japanese animation appeared.

This is how shots from Japanese cartoons of the first half of the twentieth century looked like

The first animators of the Land of the Rising Sun were inspired by Western examples, and therefore their first works were more like American and European cartoons. Initially, they were not intended exclusively for children, but focused on the general public of different ages. Yet at the time, Western cartoons dominated Japan because it was too expensive for local artists to produce animated films.

In the first half of the twentieth century, there were still no conditions for the rapid development of Japanese animation. In 1923, Japan was hit hard by an earthquake, with major cities and their animation studios nearly destroyed.

This is how shots from Japanese cartoons of the first half of the twentieth century looked like

But in the second half of the last century, the Japanese comics industry and the art of anime began to develop by leaps and bounds, even though Western animation was very superior to Japanese in quality. At that time, Japanese artists began to develop their individual style and create their own cartoons, which did not require large financial investments at that time.

For example, the Toei studio, created in 1948, was initially a trick to reduce costs: the main budget was spent on important scenes, and the secondary ones were drawn with not such good quality. This allowed the studio to quickly take a leading position, which it retains today.

A still from the anime "The Legend of the White Snake."

In 1958, Taiji Yabushita's first full-length animated feature film, The Legend of the White Snake, was released. And already in 1963 a real hit appeared - the series "Astro Boy" by Osamu Tezuka. It was broadcast in different countries, translated into many languages, and the manga on which the series was filmed sold around the world in the amount of about 100 million copies. The main character of the series has become one of the national symbols and the basis of the anime style.

Still from the anime "Astro Boy"

Japanese animators, inspired by success, began to actively develop anime, and soon it had its own directions and genres. Separate series for boys and girls began to be created, and already in 1969 the first erotic film based on the fairy tale "1000 and 1 Nights" appeared.In the early 1970s, the West began to take an active interest in anime, thanks to the large-scale animated series produced in Japan based on Star Wars and other space epics.

Initially, anime was based on manga or computer games, but nowadays there are many animated series with original scripts.

The secret of popularity

A still from the Akira anime

The golden age of anime was the 1980s. During this time, many new studios appeared, bold experiments in mixing genres were carried out, and rapidly developing technologies made it possible to achieve high quality animated films. "Akira" was released on the screens, which became the first anime, filmed at a speed of 24 frames per second and was distinguished by truly phenomenal detail, which until that moment Japanese animators had not done.

A still from the Sailor Moon anime

Anime quickly conquered the world, but on the territory of the former USSR, Japanese animation appeared only in the 1990s. Popularity came along with the first Japanese animated series "Sailor Moon", a little later, viewers were able to enjoy the adventures of Pikachu and his friends from the "Pokemon" series.

Today anime is watched by both children and adults all over the world. The secret of popularity is very simple: initially, Japanese cartoons were created not only for children, but were focused, rather, on adolescents and adults. And along with the development of anime, a whole generation of fans of this art form has grown.

A scene from the anime "Naruto: Hurricane Chronicles"

It is worth noting that anime genres allow each viewer to choose a movie to their liking. In anime there are dramas and thrillers, adventures and peculiar melodramas, erotic films of different directions and much more.

A wide age range, a variety of genres and an unusual drawing make anime so popular in the world.

Japanese culture is wide and multifaceted, and therefore it is not at all surprising that talented artists, screenwriters and directors give the world not only amazing anime, but also touching dramas, fascinating, fairy-tale stories.

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