The History Of Anime: Firsts
When some anime fans think of anime, they think of newer shows like “Full Metal Alchemist” or “Naruto Shippuden.” However, ask older fans and you might hear about titles like “Star Blazers” or if they’re true fans they may actually know the original title (“Space Battleship Yamato”). Maybe they’re fans in their mid forties like me. Then they’d be able to shoot off titles like “Mach Go Go Go!” (aka Speed Racer).
But don’t think that anime began with “Astro Boy” or “Kimba the White Lion.” (Actually one of those titles is a first but that comes later). Anime has quite a long history. The purpose of this article is to share some of the ‘firsts’ of anime.
First Japanese Animated Feature Film
The honor of being known as the first anime feature film coming out of Japan belongs to the black and white feature Momotaro no Umiwashi, (Momotaro’s Sea Eagles). This Japanese propaganda film was created in the middle of the war in 1943 and though it demonizes American and British military forces, it is considered a classic in anime.
Here’s a Fun Fact for you. Although on record as being made in cooperation with the Japanese Naval Ministry, the Navy had nothing to do with the film as they didn’t want to give any military secrets to the enemy.
First Color Anime
The first Japanese feature film in color is called Hakujaden, (The Tale of the White Serpent). Produced in 1958 by Toei animation, this film is considered by some to be the first “anime,” that is, style wise. But the animation style is closer to Disney animation than the Big Eyes Small Mouth type of anime that most of us have become used to.
First TV Anime
Mitsu no Hanashi, (Three Tales). This was the very first domestic anime produced for television. It was a black and white anthology made by the television company NHK. The show was based on three short fairy tales aired seperately.
Technically the first anime for TV was the first story called “The Third Plate.” This was followed by “Oppel and the Elephant and then “Sleepy Town.” It’s assumed the the segments ran one right after the other making the entire show around thirty minutes but I admittedly don’t have information backing up that assumption.
First Breakout Anime Success
In 1963, Tezuka Osamu, known as the “God of Manga,” (Manga, if you don’t know are Japanese comic books but that’s another article) adapted his character Tetsuwan Atomu (Mighty Atom) into an anime series. The show was an instant success and kicked off what came to be known as the First Wave of International Anime Fans.
NBC picked up the series and it became very popular here in the States. You may recognize the name as it has been remade in the ’80’s and very recently was adapted into a major motion picture. The name of the anime? Astro Boy.
I hope you enjoyed this little romp through the firsts of anime as much as I enjoyed researching and writing about it. There’s so much more information to be found out about this style of animation and I promise to write more about it. A simple Google search will provide much more info if you’re so inclined.
Take care and happy watching!