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Japanese animation, also known as anime (pronounced “ani-may“), is a popular form of animation in Japan which is quickly spreading in the U.S.  The major difference between anime and American cartoons is that unlike American cartoons, which are only watched by children, anime is popular among the Japanese adults and is watched by millions. 

The same applies to Japanese comics known as manga.

In Japan, after World War II, a young aspiring artist named Osamu Tezuka became a cartoonist and released his first work Shintakarajima (known in English as “New Treasure Island“).

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Many were impressed by Tezuka’s original style.  However, it was not until Tezuka released his ultimate work Tetsuwan Atomu (Astro Boy) that he achieved success; he was pronounced “the Father of Manga and Anime“.

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When Tezuka made a name for himself in the industry, he managed to establish his own production company in 1962.  He formed Mushi Productions, where he released his best work, Astro Boy.  With Astro Boy, many recognized Tezuka’s original style and approach that was new to the entire industry. 

The style of his illustrations and characters came from French and German cinema.  His characters exploded with life and emotion, and his stories would unfold themselves on hundreds of pages. 

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By 1963, Astro Boy crossed international borders and was premiered on NBC stations all over the US and was still successful with American audiences.

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After the success of Astro Boy, Tezuka released another work, Jungle Taitei (Kimba the White Lion).  There was much controversy in the past about this anime after Disney released a similar version with the movie The Lion King with Simba as the main character.  Although Disney denies this, many believe that Disney stole the anime and recreated it with their own version.

Timeline

1914 –  Cartoonists were among the first Japanese artists to experiment with animated motion pictures.

1918 – Momotaro by Kitayama Seitaro became Japan’s first world wide success.  However, the manga industry was still growing slowly and had a long way to go.

1932 – Before the WWII, Seitaro released the anime, Chikara To Onna No Yononoka.

1941- The Japanese government used cartoonist to make comic strips with propaganda to use against their enemies.

1947 – After World War II, Osamu Tezuka became a cartoonist and released his first work Shintakarajima (known in English as New Treasure Island).

1951 – Osamu Tezuka created the milestone manga, Tetsuwan Atom or Astro Boy, as it was known in the US.  As a result, years later he became a pioneer in anime, and was the man responsible for the success of anime and manga worldwide.

1956 – The production company, Toei Animation, was founded by Hiroshi Okawa and released its first feature, The Tale of the White Serpent.

1958 – Tezuka furthers his talents entering the anime world.

1961 – Tezuka founded the Osamu Tezuka Production Animation Department, which eventually became Mushi Productions.

1962 – Manga Calendar was the very first anime to be aired on television.

1963 – Tezuka’s Astro Boy premiered on NBC stations.

1970’s- Various “mecha” anime (anime with giant robots) took over.  Among them were G-Force, Battle of the Planets, Great Mazinger, and Star Blazers.

1979 – Mobile Suit Gundam, the originial version of the current anime Gundam Wing premiered and was a huge success which turned into a nation wide obsession.  As a result, the series was released into three theatrical films.

1986 – The artist, Akira Toriyama, released the series Dragon Ball, which became one of Japan’s most popular anime shows.  Later, the series went on  forming Dragon Ball Z and Dragon Ball GT.

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