I have always found very uninteresting watching anime series or movies because they have never called my attention before. However, this changed a couple of years ago when I was given as a present "Princess Mononoke" a movie by a Japanese filmmaker called Hayao Miyazaki. I must admit I kept it laying around for several months until one day I was curious to see what the movie was about. Since then I have become an arduous fan of this beautiful art; that has inspired me with their stories, music and beautiful illustrations. I began to investigate and learn about anime artists as well as music producers who have influenced my own music skills and compositions.
It was during the early 1940's that Anime industry became known to the world. However, those were hard times not only in Japan thus it was through this period that World War II was taking place. By then Japan was lacking many natural resources that held the industries and in consequence the economy of the country together. Hostility between Japan and China grew leading to a War between them; this made Japan more aggressive, wanting to expand their empire to find strategic resources that would contribute to the countries' growth. Japan was fighting against England and United States in the name of supporting Germany, but these two allies distrusted each other and it was a chaotic political resentment that caused the world to paralyze. Japan had been a military world power for more than three thousand years and by then it was confronting the US and the UK, ambition and disagreement that ended in two atomic bombs over the Japanese population.
During this time, Japan was mobilized and forced to follow the government's demands or be punished with terrible consequences. There was no choice; it was an obligation for men to join the Japanese army. This led to the organization of many artists that began to grow such as the New Cartoonist Association of Japan and the Faction group. The government took advantage of the talent and popularity that these artistic groups were gaining and through it started to promote the Japanese nationalism to advertise themselves disqualifying the power of their enemies.
JAPANESE CLASSIC CARTOON VIDEO 1933
The Roots of Japanese Anime -- Until the End of WWII
Parallel to this in the US, a cartoonist named Walt Disney was also becoming increansingly popular with his animations. Movies such as Alice in wonderland and the creation of Mickey Mouse made him famous all around his country despite the war throughout the world. His name became worldwide respected and recognized in the animation world with his releases during the late 1930's and the early 1940's like Snow White and the Seven dwarfs, Pinocchio, Bambi, Dumbo and The three Caballeros. Disney also made training films for the US military.
When the War ended he continued making films and released "Cinderella". He opened Disneyland, an attraction park which reflected all of his animations and in which he had been working for the last decades. During his life he created other movies with a vast success such as Mary Poppins and 20,000 leagues under the sea, but unfortunately he died in 1966 leaving his legacy to his brother.
Japanese cartoonist Osamu Tezuka, whilst Disney's creations were becoming known to the world (inspired by his animations) published his first comic named New Treasure Island, followed by Astro Boy which made him achieve an incredible success throughout the world . This has given Osamu Tezuka the name "father of Anime". He began his own animation production company in the 1960's called Mushi productions where he continued with the Astro Boy series as well releasing other TV animations such as Kimba the white Lion, who is said was copied by Disney who released the movie Lion King with Simba as the main character, but denies copying from Tezuka... hmmmm!
Astroboy (openings 60´s y 80´s)
Trailer Astroboy 2009
In 1973 Mushi productions went bankrupt. he still worked with an animation production company where he released other work of his including Buddha, Phoenix and Black Jack. Other cartoonists have gained named in the next decades such as Rumiko Takashi, Isao Takahata, Masahiko Minami, Hayao Miyazaki and many others.
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It is important to mention the Japanese animation is very different from American animations. The main differences consist in how the Japanese animations, the backgrounds do not change despite the perspective of the character. The characters remain still as well, and only their mouths moves when there is dialogue. Developements have been made however, as technology allows for more motion between the characters, and the revolution of 3D animation. Still, other characteristics such as the physique of the characters which usually have big round eyes and perfectly harmonious bodies, so perfect they overpass the human ability of possessing this figure. American animations tend to be more realistic and kinetic.
One of the most recognized studios now a days of anime movies and series is Studio Ghibli, headed by Hayao Miyazaki, Isao Takahata, and Toshio Suzuki all anime producers, who have won multiple awards for their exquisite and magnificent creations. Hayao Miyazaki however is my favourite, he is the mind behind Movies like Castle in the Sky, Porco Rosso, Howl's Moving Castle, Spirited Away, Princess Mononoke and his latest release Ponyo on the cliff by the sea. His films are like a romantic piece of Chopin. The melodic, sublime features, the story, the colors, the characters, the music, all play an essential part making his films an incomparable work of art. The plot of the stories usually refer to inner problems that are expressed through mythical creatures who live with the human race. Many conflicts occur due to the fallen spirit of humans who have been hypnotized by the emptiness and selfishness that consumes them. Hayao Miyazaki invites us to not only entertain our minds but to show and teach us about our everyday problems in a mystical way. He is allowing our minds to think and reflect about them in the real world, and how many times we ignore and are indifferent to certain dilemmas.
(Click to maximize images)Images from Spirited away and Princess Mononoke by Hayao Miyazaki)
Princess Mononoke, Extract