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Anime, A Brief History of Japanese Animation 1945-1970

After Disney’s 1937 hit Snow White, foreign filmmakers severely threatened the Seven Dwarfs, the Japanese domestic anime market. Early pioneers such as Yasuji Murata and Noburo Ofuji found it challenging to compete against imported animation from abroad; with large profits invested into new techniques – like cell animation – Disney led the charge, using them and introducing sound.

However, with growing assistance from the Japanese government through prewar propaganda films produced by animators such as Mitsuyo Seo and Kenzo Masaoka, animators began improving both the quality and techniques. Local animators were encouraged by introducing the 1939 Film Law, which prioritized cultural nationalism while encouraging documentary and educational films.

Government support and Navy funding led to Japan’s first proper full-length feature animation – Shochiku Studios’ production of Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors by Mitsuyo Seo was released in 1945, 13 years before Toei Animation would release their color full-length anime Hakujaden: The Tale of the White Serpent (1958). While Hakujaden features more traditional Disney elements like animal sidekicks and musical numbers than modern anime films do today, many consider it the first “real” anime ever produced by Japanese studios!

After its successful debut in America as Panda and the Magic Serpent, Toei continued developing and producing Disney-esque movies while venturing into animated series such as Dragon Ball, Sailor Moon, and Digimon. One unique element of Toei productions was their emphasis on animator input during the production process; Isao Takahata’s 1968 movie Hols: Prince of the Sun is an example of this approach which differs significantly from “traditional” anime.

Toei contributed significantly by developing “money shot” animation, or money shot style animation. This technique was devised to reduce production costs while emphasizing key scenes within an anime film. For example, most main body scenes of an anime use limited animation, with more detailed cel animation used for specific cells requiring attention. Yasuo Otsuka developed this style further during his tenure at Toei.

Mushi Productions was formed as an alternative studio to Toei Animation by Osamu Tezuka during the 1960s and produced Mighty Atom, their debut hit and first popular anime series in Japan in 1963. Following its enormous success and opening up foreign markets – Fledgling American television was looking for content and programming; thus they adapted Mighty Atom for their US market as Astro Boy in 1964; soon afterwards others followed such as Mitsuteru Yokoyama’s super robot anime Tetsujin 28-go which became known in America under this name Gigantor in 1965 – further opening up foreign markets despite having started in Japan before Toei’s superior animation studio had started creating Mighty Atom in 1963 – leading them into creating competition against Toei’s dominance over Toei’s control; consequently Tezuka created his Mushi Productions to rival Toei’s popularity which lead them into Japan before international markets began adopting Atom in 1964 for use renaming Astro Boy due to this enormous success it also opened foreign markets such that fledgling American television decided to adapt this successful American adaptation called Astro Boy when broadcast by American television at first looking for content and programming adopted Astro Boy into American television as Astro Boy while Mitsuteru Yokoyama’s Tetsujin 28-go which soon released its counterpart Tetsujin 28-go’s super robot anime Tetsujin 28-go which later released as Gigantor release it by American television as Astro Boy!

Since Disney’s Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs was released in 1937, the Japanese anime industry has faced formidable challenges from foreign filmmakers. Notably, early Japanese animation pioneers like Yasuji Murata and Noburo Ofuji found it hard to compete against imported animation of superior quality, such as cell animation by foreign producers; Disney led by using innovative techniques such as cell animation while also including sound effects in their movies.

Japanese Animators and Government Support

However, government support and prewar propaganda films produced before World War II gave Japanese animators a substantial boost. Visionaries like Mitsuyo Seo and Kenzo Masaoka worked hard to advance Japanese animation techniques. At the same time, the 1939 Film Law emphasized cultural nationalism while supporting documentary and educational films – an additional boost for local animators kiss anime.

Japan’s First Full-Length Anime Feature

Thanks to government sponsorship and naval support, Japan produced its inaugural full-length animated feature film: Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors by Shochiku Studios with animation by Mitsuyo Seo, released in 1945, marked a significant step forward in Japanese anime history and displayed the nation’s ability to produce high-quality animation works on par with international counterparts.

Technological Advance: the Arrival of Color Anime

Toei Animation would wait thirteen years before producing Japan’s inaugural full-length color anime film in 1958: “Hakujaden: The Tale of the White Serpent.” While Disney-influenced, “Hakujaden” remained one of the first “real” anime works and was instrumental in shaping its identity as a genre.

Toei Animation’s Influence on Modern Anime

After the massive success of “Hakujaden” in America (where it was released as “Panda and the Magic Serpent”), Toei Animation continued its presence within modern anime by producing Disney-influenced films as well as animated series such as “Dragon Ball,” “Sailor Moon,” and Digimon. Their production process encouraged animators to contribute their ideas freely for production purposes resulting in a wide array of styles and narratives across their production processes.

Shifting Styles: Isao Takahata’s Influence

Toei Animation’s creative environment promoted artistic experimentation, resulting in an unexpected shift in anime style. One such example of this can be found in Isao Takahata’s 1968 film ‘Hols: Prince of the Sun, which marked an abrupt departure from traditional anime aesthetics and introduced more unconventional storytelling techniques through its unconventional visual approach and narrative complexity.

Toei Animation revolutionized animation production by introducing “Money Shot” Animation. This novel technique sought to reduce production costs while increasing impactful frames within films by employing limited animation in most scenes while allocating greater detail for crucial sequences, such as pivotal action or emotional moments – creating a balance between efficiency and visual appeal.

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