Behind the Art and Animation

Popularization of Anime and Manga

The Beginning

Japan has done wondrous things with its form of animation and comics.

In fact, there are several anime cartoons that have been popularized in the U.S. Among those include Speed Racer, Sailor Moon, Dragonball Z and Pokemon.

Some notable characteristics of modern anime cartoons include female characters with beautiful round eyes, hair that is incredibly big, and ultra-feminine figures and physiques.

Chibis are commonly found in anime.

The word "chibi" is Japanese for child.

In a lot of mangas and anime, sometimes (usually for humorous reasons) characters are depicted in chibi form.

chibi character for Jigglypuff
This is a chibi version of Jigglypuff, a character from the
popular anime series, Pokemon.

This is a more minature, child-like depiction of a character.

Anime (pronounced "ah-NEE-may") has its roots in Japanese art and comics, which is also known as manga (pronounced "MAHN-ga"). Most, if not all anime cartoons today have originated from mangas.

Manga developed over hundreds of years, starting from pictures drawn on temple walls to wooden blocks.

These blocks eventually developed into woodblock prints with captions that were printed in books.

Japanese art
In the 13th century, pictures of the afterlife
and animals started appearing on temple walls.
This is very much like modern manga.

These captions and prints soon evolved into comics, which were the main form of literature for Japanese society by the 20th century.

How Japanese Art and Animation Came to the U.S.

During the late 1920s and 1930s, the Japanese government heavily censored works that were critical of the political regime.

According to Marwah Zagzoug, who wrote an article about the history of anime and manga, World War II was the time when Japanese art and animation had a significant influence and impact on the U.S.

Around 1940, many organizations for artists and cartoonists were formed.

Among them were the New Cartoonists Association of Japan (Shin Nippon Mangaka Kyokai) and the New Cartoonists Faction Group (Shin Mangaha Shudan).

Meanwhile, American animation was dominated by Walt Disney and his Disney Studios enterprise.

Creating animated classics such as Snow White and the Seven Dwarves , Cinderella and The Jungle Book, Disney managed to sustain its captive audience throughout the decades.

As American animation films grew, so did anime. After World War II, Osamu Tezuka became a cartoonist and released his first work Shintakarajima, known in English as "New Treasure Island".

Heavily intrigued and inspired by early Disney animations and French and German cinema, Tezuka gained international prestige in the animation world with his 1963 feature film, Tetsuwan Atomu, or better known as Astro Boy .

Four years later, he created the classic, Speed Racer.

Anime would gain even more popularity during the 1980s as several mangas such as DragonBall Z and Gundam Wing became mainstream.

Though there are numerous anime that haven't been broadcast in the States as much as their predecessors mentioned before, there are still networks such as Cartoon Network/Adult Swim that syndicate them during the safe harbor hours.

Introducing: Sophia Cordero

My friend and huge anime and manga fan, Sophia Cordero, likes to attend anime conventions every once in a while, where participants dress up as their favorite characters.

"What I love about anime and manga is the storytelling," she said. "The characters are so dynamic and the plot always reels you in."

In the picture below, she is wearing red "Itachi Mangekyou Sharingan" contact lenses.

Itachi is a character from the popular anime series, Naruto.

The eye color and pupil simulates a hereditary trait of his clan, the Uciha.

Sophia Cordero, a junior majoring in psychology
at the University of Florida, wearing red contact lenses.

Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, Sophie enjoyed reading mangas from her early teens.

Being such a super fan of the culture, Sophie plans to study abroad in Japan this summer to learn about the Japanese culture and language.

"I'm really excited to go to Japan this summer," she said.

"I've wanted to go for the longest time because I've been reading mangas and watching anime since I was 14.

"To be in the country where it all started would be amazing."

Listen to my interview with Sophie as she discusses what she likes about anime and manga.