20 July 2024

Early Japanese Animations from 1917-1970s

Anime date back to the birth of Japan’s big screen production in the early 1900s. It has successfully emerged as one of the famous Japan’s cultural forces over the past century. Most of the work done in these years came from paintings and paper cut-outs. Though gradually a lot of techniques were added to Japanese animated productions. With the increase of Japanese nationalism and the beginning of WWII, most animated productions created in 1930s were not popular entertainments rather they were commercially oriented.

The world of anime summon up the imageries of thrilling escapades, trendy art or your young daughter speaking excitedly about her current obsession. In Japan, this refers to the kind of animation but for the rest of the world, it particularly means the animation from Japan. You may not have a certain and well-known word for animation from any other part of the world. But you may be interested to know how it looked centuries ago and evolved with the passage of time.

Early Japanese Animations: The Ancestries of Anime (1917-1931)

Japanese animation may be filled with a large-eyed maiden, cool robots, and maiden hybrids. It often shows a level of courage, complexity, and creativity which is not typically found in American mainstream animation. The form had laid some evident masterworks from Katsuhiro Otomo’s Akira to Mamoru Oishii’s Ghost.

Anime has a long history than you might think. It was the frontline of Japan’s all-out attempts to update in the first 20th era. The ancient illustration of Japanese animatronics, Namakura Gatana (Blunt Sword), goes back to 1917. Though most of the animated shows were gone following a destructive earthquake in Tokyo in 1923. With Japan’s production in the first eras of the 20th century, animation at this time show artists who try to integrate customary stories and motifs in a new modern way.

Oira no Yaku, a short slapstick comedy which is told with clean and simple lines. Rabbits and tanukis are strengths of Japanese folklore. Similar to other Japanese movies, this film made use of benshi- a performer who would stand by the movie screen and carry out story telling. Another popular illustration of initial anime is Ugokie Kori no Tatehiki (1931) which is an 11-minute short film about a fox who differentiates himself as a samurai and spends the night in abandoned temple occupied by a bunch of tanukis. The movie brings all the great grotesqueries of Japanese legends to the screen.

The 1950s: Some Acquainted Names Appear

After the combat, there were a lot of recognizable names for even to the unpremeditated anime enthusiasts. Japanese animated films were originated in 1948. You would perhaps know them as Toei. The film corporation brought Japanese animated movies in 1956 to produce an animated division. Hakujaden, the tale of the white serpent was released in 1958. It has a runtime of 78 minutes and was the first color anime film. By the late 1950s, the Osama Tezuka became a popular manga artist and is often referred as the “god of manga”. In the year 1958, he started working with Toei to animate his sequence Boku no Son Goku.

The 1960s: Television

The most primitive cartoon to air on the new media was Mole’s Adventure. Two years late, a new animated collection called Three Tales was produced and broadcasted by NHK exclusively. These were ten-minute divisions telling fictional anecdotes and was first broadcasted on American television. In 1961, the anime Otogi Manga Calendar started airing regularly on Japanese TV. The episodes were three-minutes long and the series achieved up to an impressive 312 episodes during the initial run.

The 1970s: Robots, Literature, And Art

Anime continued to progress and define itself through the 70s particularly in regard to science fiction. The first space opera series had a debut in 1974. It featured a thoughtful and complicated story that would have a major effect on late Japanese sci-fi. In the year 1979, it was launched in America as Star Blazers and aroused interest in American fans who are fond of watching cartoons. By the end of the 70s, anime was entirely cemented as a significant part of Japanese popular culture. Even a magazine named “Animage” was devoted to anime and manga.


Studios will rise and decline, budgets will increase and decrease, but the animators will keep innovating with the latest technology and tell timeless stories involving a wide range of use of anime weapons. The techniques of Japanese storytelling and animation is being passed from one animator to another and they will continue winning fans across the world.

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