Animation has been defined to be an art form including all genres available in cinema. Japanese animated productions are termed as Anime and features computer or hand drawn animations. In Japanese, the term anime stands for animation. However, its meaning could different slight to include Japanese animation or animation style of Japan characterized with vibrant characters, fantastic themes and colorful graphics. Westerners are known to view anime as a Japanese product, while few scholars suggest it to be related to new orientalism form.
It was way back in 1917 that commercial Japanese animation took form and there was noticed steady increase in anime work productions. However, during 1960s anime art style had emerged with Osamu Tezuka works enjoying international fame in late 20th century, thereby developing huge international and domestic audience. Targeting various niche and broad audiences, anime is theatrically distributed through television broadcasts, over the web, home media and the like.
Anime has adapted over a period of time and is considered to be a diverse art form having distinctive production techniques and methods. Less focus is emphasized on movement of animation and more upon setting realism, including camera effect usage, like angle shots, zooming and panning. Also are used diverse art styles, character features and proportions which could be varied, with realistically sized or large emotive eyes.
More than 430 production studios are comprised by the anime industry which includes major names such as Toei Animation, Gainax and Studio Ghibli. It has been enjoying immense international success as well as DVD sales, mostly due to televised English dubs, thereby giving rise to anime art style productions by non-Japanese companies.
Anime’s very first format was viewed theatrically that began originally in 1917 with commercial productions. Previously, crude animated flips were used, while playing musical components before adding vocal components and sound to production. The very first color and televised anime on 14th July 1958 was Mole’s Adventure and since then, there was no turning back. Furthermore, the internet has helped animators to have their work to be distributed online in ‘original net anime’ format.
Japanese filmmakers, during the early period of the 20th century had experimented with animation techniques to give birth to Anime. It was an unknown creator who had created Katsudo Shashin, an early Japanese animation. Numerous works were produced by Seitarou Kitayama and Oten Shimokawa, with Kouchi’s Namakura Gatana being a 2 minute clip of samurai testing a new sword on the target to suffer defeat.
In Japan, animation got well established by 1930s, as live action industry’s alternative format, however, suffered from stiff competition especially for foreign producers. Creators like Mitsuyo Seo and Kenzo Masaoka have taken great strides in regards to animation techniques, while enjoying government patronage, which by then had employed animators for producing educational shorts as well as propaganda. Chikaara to ona no Yo-no Naka was the initial talkie anime produced in 1933 by Masaoka. Divine Sea Warriors of Momotaro was the initial animated feature length movie directed in 1944 by Seo, being sponsored by Imperial Japanese Navy.
Many Japanese animators were influenced by the success of Snow White & Seven Dwarfs of Walt Disney Company. Manga saw rise in popularity in 1970s. Graphic novels and comic books in Japan were later animated. Robot anime series became classics during the 1980s. In 1990s and turn of 21st century, anime has been enjoying immense success.
Classification of anime is often done by target demographic which includes shojo (girls), kodomo (children), shounen (boys) along with diverse genres range targeting adult audience. The other popular subgenres that are present in anime tend to include harem, magical girl, martial arts, sports, medievalism, war and adaptations.
Even there are genres which explore homosexual romances. Homosexual characters prior to 2000, was used typically for comedic effect, however, few works are said to have portrayed the works sympathetically or seriously.
Other animation forms tend to differ greatly from that of anime by diverse art styles, animation methods, process and production. Anime contains wide range of art styles, while differing from studio, artist and creator, thereby becoming diverse art form. Furthermore, they share few similar attributes with regards to character design and animation technique.
- Animation technique
Typical animation production is what anime all about, including voice acting, storyboarding, cel production and character design. Animations right from 1990s have been using increasingly computer animation for enhancing production process efficiency. Noburo Ofuji, a popular artist is known to have pioneered early anime works, consisting of blackboard drawn images, experimental in nature, paper cutouts along with silhouette animation. It was by using traditional animation process that anime was produced before the digital era. Most of the mainstream anime is known to make use of lesser key frames and plenty of in-between animation.
When compared to American animation, anime cinematic effects tend to differentiate itself from stage plays. It is as if through camera that anime is shot, including zooming, panning, angle and distance shots, along with those complex dynamic shots, which otherwise would have been quite tough to be produced in reality. Here, production of animation is done before voice acting, against American animation, where voice acting is done first, where the former might cause lip sync errors.
Human anime character’s body proportions reflect accurately human body proportions in reality. There could be varying head heights, however, most of the characters of anime are around 7 – 8 heads tall. Deliberate modifications are made occasionally by anime artists to body proportions for producing super-deformed characters.
Another factor to be considered is the hair which is colorful, uniquely styled or unnaturally lively. Hair movement is exaggerated, while there is use of ‘hair action’ for emphasizing emotions and actions of characters for extra visual effect. Although, anime is produced for the domestic market, it features characters which do not have any definition of nationality or race, like the ones noticed in Pokemon animated series.
Japanese rock or pop songs by reputed bands is what is provided for the credit and opening sequences of anime television episodes, which might be written keeping mind the series and being aimed at general music market.