Introduction to Japanese Anime

“Whatever is happening now, it always has got to do something from the past.”

The history of anime is notably broad, yes, and it will take hundreds of pages if I will make a chapter about it. I could, but it will take a year or more for me to compile it. My primary focus is not to present a chronological dissertation of anime history in its broadened sense, since it is, as I said, broad. But it is part of my cause to present to you, the readers, a simplified presentation of the anime history. So in this article, my cause is to give a simplified yet awakening view for us Christians about anime and its history. Knowing the history, of course, will not make us ignorant of today’s sophistication. Furthermore, as Christians, it is important for us to know or to trace back the roots before we jump into temptations of any kind.

To begin with, the word “anime” is primarily based on the original Japanese pronunciation of the American word “animation.” It is the style of animation in Japan. The Urban dictionary defines it stereotypically as: the anime style is characters with proportionally large eyes and hair styles and colors that are very colorful and exotic. The plots range from very immature (kiddy stuff), through teenage level, to mature (violence, content, and thick plot). It is also important to note that American cartoons and Japanese animes are different. The storyline of an anime is more complex while that of a cartoon is simpler. While cartoons are intended for kids, anime, on the other hand, is more intended for the adult viewers.

Although the creation of anime was basically due to the influence of the Western countries that began at the start of 20th century (when Japanese filmmakers experimented with the animation techniques that were being explored in the West) it was also inspired by the production of manga (comic) that was already present in Japan even before the production of anime.

Around the beginning of the 13th century, there were already pictures of the afterlife and animals appearing on temple walls in Japan (most of them are similar to modern manga). At the start of 1600’s, pictures were not drawn on temples any longer but on wood blocks, known as Edo. Subjects in Edo arts were less religious and were often geographically erotic. Noting this, without a doubt, it gave me this insight:

“The explicit presentations of manga, that would later influence the industry of anime, were already existent in the 13th century. That’s hundreds of years before anime emerged into view!”

Now it shouldn’t be too surprising, right? There are many mangas (also known as comics) of these days that are too vulgar and explicit and if not, there will be at least one character in her showy appearance. I’m not saying that all mangas are full of nudities, if that’s what you’re thinking by now. But rather, this exploitation of eroticism (or at least a hint of amorousness) on mangas is not actually new. They already existed even before the World War I and II. They, however, advanced into something else. Manga, to a great extent, is a factor as to how and why anime existed. In fact, most animes and live actions are adaptations of mangas or comics.

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