Japan started producing animation films in the year 1917, which was better known as the age of silent movies. They devised many methods of making anime and began with the trial and error method of drawing the images and arranging the cut-outs in the form of animation. This method led to inspiration for France and United States animation films and series. Eventually, the quality of Japanese anime improved and was very high. The ‘manga films’ are a great example of the same. Due to the extraordinary improvisation in the quality, the production costs boomed even more than the Western animations. Meanwhile, the popularity of Disney cartoons overshadowed Japanese anime. From here, the Japanese anime had to struggle and fight an uphill battle.
The Japanese animation industry finally found its niche. The anime produced were for the public to maintain public relations. The anime production started at the domestic level with a solid foundation. Since Tokyo and surrounding areas suffered from the Great Kantō earthquake in 1923, the anime industry had to start from scratch.The industry saw a lot of struggle as there was no adequate response to the first talkies that were released in 1929 and to the colour films which were released in 1932. Ōfuji Noburō won international acclaim for’ Bagudajō no tōzoku’, also known as ‘The Thief of Bagua Castle’, even in these difficult times. He made the film by cutting and pasting chiyogami – Japanese-coloured paper. This film created pomp overseas as well.
The struggle continued as the war approached nearby. The goods were in extremely short supply, and the national mood had turned militaristic. Meanwhile, a film, known as Momotarō: Umi no shipped, was produced by the navy just before the end of the war. The film was a full-length theatrical film designed to lift morale and commitment to the war efforts. After the war ended, the General Headquarters of the Allied occupation (GHQ) thought of bringing hundreds of anime artists from Tokyo together to form an association known as Shin Nihon Dōgasha or New Japan Animation Company. The aim was to produce anime in the favor of democracy and to create awareness about the occupation policies in the public eye. This journey was not that easy, as it led to many disputes and disagreements between the people. Some artists were more independent and territorial.
The beginning of Tōei Dōga (Now Tōei Animation)
As the animation industry recovered from the war, Okawa Hiroshi, the president of Tōei film company, got inspired by the Snow White movie. The gorgeous colours used in the animation of the film were very overwhelming for him. In 1956, he started his studio with an ambition to become the ‘Disney of the east’. Eventually, ‘Hakujaden’ (The Legend of White Snake), became a hit. A research team was sent to the US, to learn animation and experts were invited to Japan as mentors. They mastered the method of “assembly-line production”, which Disney used to do. Their skills were worked upon under the veteran animators like Mori Yasuji and Daikuhara Akira. In the post-war times, it was hard to find jobs, so the team of young talents were ready to work for lower salaries. The company became labour intensive. The government started the drive of doubling the people’s income which eventually declined the company’s financial status. The number of attendees decreased at the manga festival. Labor movement had started which led to labour disputes and labour management clashes.
The beginning of the TV series
Image 4_ Tetsuwaan Atomu_©i.pinimg.com/474x/20/66/27/206627700e4822193c3689ea0bd4390f.jpg
Japanese animations began to appear on television. The first series, Tetsuaan Atomu, aired on 1st January 1913. It was a Fuji TV broadcast of about 30 minutes. In English, it was known as the Astro Boy. It was a massive hit which gave a boom to the anime industry and created competition for channels for TV audiences; but there were very low franchise fees that were paid to the studio, hence, Tezuka Osamu, the president of Mushi production, who created the series, had to cut the production costs. He found clever ways of doing the same. He had cut the number of drawings, trimmed the number of lines to the bare minimum and gave still images. The storylines were made quicker to portray simulating movements. Sound effects were added to the dialogues.
While facing the losses, he ensured he had the funds coming from the copyright of the animations. He licensed the right of the main character to corporate sponsorship. He used it for various brands of chocolates. Despite this, he invested in his income which he had derived from manga publishing. He is also known as the “god of manga”. Later on, many series were made based on science fiction and space and about the girls with magical powers. In 1968, ‘Star of the Giants’ came in and in 1969, a family drama known as the Sazae- san became the longest-running series in anime history. Again, there was a recession in the anime industry due to larger economic issues like the Nixon Shock in 1971 and the oil crisis in 1973. The salaries were provided based on performance. In 1974, Battleship Kamato, a TV series and later on, a feature film in 1977, became very popular among young adults.
The proliferation of Japanese anime
Since the popularity of anime was increasing among young adults, some countries rejected it. They said that it portrayed a cheap, violent and sexually explicit image. Candy Candy was a series famous for girls. The parents claimed that their children are being corrupted by the strange culture that is being showcased. The anime industry is recovering its pomp. Due to the boom of video games and cell phones, nowadays, there is no value given to anime. TV Tokyo chief and some other friendly channels continue to run the Japanese anime series. The budgets are smaller and hence improvisation is needed.