Japanese illustration, or what we call anime, has been around for a long time. We have proof of it as early as the 1910s. Japanese artist ŌtenShimokawa, originally a political cartoonist, is credited with making the first true anime film, a five-minute cartoon released in theaters back in 1917. Another “father” of anime is SeitarōKitayama, one of the first animation directors in all of Japan. Just like Walt Disney, Kitayama made a folk tale come to life, athough his was about a fisherman who rides a turtle under the sea. These short films were just the beginning.
As it became easier to make and interest grew, Japan used the genre to its advantage. In the 1940s, animators created films about Momotarō, a popular hero in Japanese folklore. They depicted him as a human serving in a Japanese naval unit along with a variety of animals. The two film series is interesting in that they were World War II propaganda films. The first, Momotarō’s Sea Eagles glorifies the attack on Pearl Harbor. The second film, entitled Momotarō’s Divine Sea Warriors, depicts a Japanese invasion of the British-held island of Celebes. The end is particularly eerie, as you watch children pretend to parachute down onto the United States. The films were made to educate the Japanese and drum up support for the war. However, the timing was bad. The second film was released less than six months before Japan surrendered.
So that is the old guard. They paved the way for the new anime that we have today, or as I like to call it, the neo dynasty.The anime now is sophisticated and nuanced. It has cultural significance and impact. And if you don’t think this stuff is popular, you are wrong. Check out youtube and see all the anime on there. Take special note of all the views. Also, think about what happened this summer and all those people who are out there playing Pokémon Go. People did not just start playing it because it is a cool app or because they wanted to walk around more. There are plenty of good apps out there and it actually seems counterproductive to be outside but messing with your phone. Many of the players are people who watched the series and were fans of the characters. People are still huge fans of Dragonball-Z and Cowboy Bebop. And there are so many others now. Good books and great series and awesome films.
They did a study and almost half of all the books sold in Japan are manga. People should read them more here too. As kids, it can be hard to make the transition from bright and interesting picture books to boring (and long) young adult books. They have special manga in Japan that are age group appropriate. I bet we would have more people reading if that were the case here. I urge all parents who have struggling readers to take this into consideration.