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  • People never talk about this.

  • One of the most interesting periods of japanese animation history is the very early years.

  • Before established studios and techniques, the industry was a free-for-all of experimentation.

  • Mixed in with the troubles of a world war, these initial years are fascinating and very

  • rarely discussed.

  • Which is a shame became loads of animators and directors that worked during this period

  • are disregarded in discussion about anime history.

  • Directors that are pivotal for the birth of anime.

  • The birth of Japanese animation can be dated back to the beginning of the 20th century,

  • well over 100 years ago.

  • Unfortunately, little work from this period has survived, some films having only been

  • discovered a number of years ago.

  • These were either artistic tests or commercial work.

  • Many commissioned films exist in company records but not in a viewable form.

  • In 2004, A film reel was found, and distributed online as Katsudou Shashin, experts dated

  • it back to 1907, which if true makes it the oldest known piece of japanese animation.

  • Containing only 50 frames, it's not a huge stylistic insight, but it certainly has historical

  • importance.

  • There are a number of films in the following decade too that are unfortunately lost in

  • history.

  • An artist at the time, Oten Shimokawa is responsible for many of these films.

  • He was a cartoonist for a magazine at the time and created 5 short animated movies in

  • 1917 as experiments.

  • A year later we have footage of Urashima Taro, a short film that was found in an antiques

  • shop in 2008.

  • Instead of cel animation that would be used in later decades, these works were made with

  • cut-out animation.

  • This is when animators would literally cut out shapes and move them between each frame.

  • There was obviously no sound or colour and very limited movement.

  • But these relics give us an insight into where future styles started.

  • Up until the later 1920s, animators had no way of getting their projects funded, there

  • was just no demand for japanese animation.

  • Disney films could be imported in and played for a fraction of the cost.

  • But, around the mid-20s, japanese animation started to gain traction.

  • One of the most prolific and important names of the period is Noburo Ofuji, a director

  • who became extremely interested in animation as a medium and started producing short films.

  • Ofuji's early work consisted of him experimenting with basic movement, using primarily cutout

  • animation.

  • He would animate various characters in front of backgrounds to tell simple stories.

  • One of his early works that really fascinated me was The National Anthem in 1931.

  • He became interested in german shadow puppet animation and created this short film.

  • The movement is smoother than cutout animation but even more limited.

  • What I liked was how well the silhouette effect excelled in certain areas.

  • It created an eerie atmosphere and some awesome psychedelic imagery that was rare at the time.

  • It's one of the earliest works that I felt an artistic connection with and it's really

  • interesting to see the various avenues directors were experimenting with here.

  • A few years later in 1934, Kenzo Masaoka made one of the medium's most important movements.

  • He created Chagama Ondo, the first fully cel-animated anime.

  • This was a big step forward for Japan in terms of catching up with western animation and

  • allowed for much higher quality movement.

  • Many animators still use cel animation today and digital techniques are based off of this

  • technique.

  • Chagama Ondo was 2 short films, featuring a group of Tanuki's exploring a temple.

  • The style is typical of the time, lots of bold, curved lines and circular movement.

  • There was no real camera movement, Masaoka would set up a static background and have

  • characters move around it like a play.

  • But the animation was impressive for the time, mimicking the style of Disney.

  • Later in 1935 we have Norakuro, which was the first manga adaptation, a format that

  • would become an industry standard later on.

  • This was directed by Matsuyo Seo who becomes one of the most important individuals in the

  • industry.

  • The film featured a lot more movement in elements outside of character designs.

  • We would get subtle camera pans and perspective shots.

  • Seo created this in the style of a cartoon or short film, rather than previous works

  • that looked more like comic strips of theater plays.

  • Norakuro seems different thematically from a lot of the other works during this period.

  • It's not a old folk tale told with animals, it's more comical, which is a nice change.

  • Seo was revolutionary once again in 1941 with his short film, Ari-Chan.

  • He was the first director in Japan to fully use Multiplane camera technology.

  • Something that Disney were once again, already utilising.

  • It allowed an unbelievable amount of extra depth to their animation.

  • Ari-Chan had a real sense of a 3D perspective.

  • Having characters move in all directions instead of just left and right.

  • As you might have realised, Seo was hugely influenced by Disney.

  • His use of chirpy orchestral music, with movement that moved in sync with the sounds and his

  • round, animal character designs.

  • They were all influenced from Disney's work in the 30s.

  • Seo was one of the first animators to really start pursuing the competition.

  • And Ari-Chan is a great example of the progression japanese animators were making.

  • I mentioned earlier that directors found it hard to find funding for their movies.

  • Well now they had an option.

  • The Japanese government were actively funding films, but there was a very strict set of

  • rules on what was allowed to be made.

  • A lot of these became propaganda films.

  • Kenzo Masaoka returned in 1943 to create one of the first examples of this: Kumo to Tulip.

  • A 15 minute short film about a spider chasing a ladybird.

  • Like I said, the thematic content of these films were influenced by the government and

  • looking back now seem to have strong racial and nationalistic undertones.

  • But that doesn't mean the film's technical achievements can be ignored.

  • The animation is some of Japan's most complex so far, with characters seeming 3-dimensional

  • and backgrounds having a more realistic tone.

  • Depth of field was used strongly giving the insect world a real sense of scale.

  • The butterfly's character design is important to note too, you can see it's distinct resemblance

  • to what would later become the standard anime characterlook”.

  • Japanese animation was progressing faster than ever.

  • Seo then directed two groundbreaking films.

  • Mamtoro's Sea Eagles in 1943 and Mamtoro's Devine Sea Warriors in 1945.

  • They were essentially propaganda films that showed the Japanese military beating foreign

  • forces.

  • Devine Sea Warriors is incredibly important as it was Japan's first ever feature length

  • anime film.

  • But it wasn't just blatant propaganda, although Seo was commissioned by the military, he instilled

  • themes of hope, encouraging the younger generation to dream positively.

  • The movie was telling a unique story.

  • And it was a huge milestone in the development of Japanese animation.

  • Audio was still in its infancy but movement was smooth and Seo incorporated a dynamic

  • range of camera work.

  • Again, the character designs were very Disney-esque but the beginnings of Anime's distinct style

  • were there.

  • Seo even started to animate background elements and used the multiplane camera to enormous

  • effect.

  • Mamtoro's Devine Sea Warriors is this period's peak.

  • Animation in Japan had gone from scarcely animated comic strips to complex feature films

  • that were beginning to rival their foreign counterparts.

  • And even more exciting technology was just around the corner.

  • After the war, the rate of animation production in japan plummeted.

  • It would take years before a similar level of progression would be matched.

  • Directors like Noburo Ofuji and Kenzo Masaoka would continue to work on Anime but many others

  • including the legendary Mitsuyo Seo were forced out of the industry by a lack of work.

  • Ofuji's work took a very dark turn, for example his film Kumo no Ito in 1946.

  • It showcased a bunch of really creepy bodies with imagery of humans burning and what seems

  • like a depiction of hell.

  • Again with the returning spider imagery.

  • Seo completed one film after the war but couldn't find a distributor to release it.

  • He never returned to anime.

  • With the forefather's of japanese animation growing old and the industry seemingly drying

  • up, it seemed the medium was doomed.

  • In 1948 Kenzo Masaoka and film producer Zenjiro Yamamoto tried to hold onto their fleeting

  • medium by forming a animation studio.

  • Unfortunately they didn't receive any substantial work until almost a decade later where a company

  • named Toei purchased the studio.

  • They started production on the wildly important Hakujaden, the first ever colour anime film.

  • It was even released in america a few years later.

  • Hakujaden is responsible for reviving an almost perished industry, establishing Toei Productions

  • and the system of anime studios and inspired the next wave of animators and directors.

  • Stylistically, the film was completely different from previous anime works.

  • Instead looking more like traditional oriental paintings than its wartime predecessors.

  • Although work had been scarce over the last 10 years, the skills of animators had still

  • improved and complex objects full of colour and depth were being animated.

  • It was one of the first time realistic humans had been depicted too, rather than basic animals.

  • It felt a lot close to the overseas competition, with colour inviting a welcomed atmosphere.

  • I don't think Hakujaden was as well directed as previous anime projects though, a lot of

  • the compositions and camera movement seemed very basic, usually just panning back and

  • forward instead of utilising a full 3-dimensional perspective.

  • Regardless, Anime needed this and it completely kick-started industry again.

  • The next few years saw various small animation projects broadcast on TV rather than in cinemas,

  • a whole new market.

  • Things like Otogo Manga Callander were short stories that would be sprinkled throughout

  • a network.

  • But in 1961 a individual named Osamu Tezuka, who had been working at Toei saw a brighter

  • future.

  • He formed his studio Mushi Production with the goal of making anime a TV industry.

  • He released Astro Boy in 1963 and changed the whole game.

  • This single series created the template that every anime would follow for the next 60 years

  • and opened the floodgates for countless other TV anime over the coming years.

  • Tezuka drew inspiration from works like Momotaro and Hakujaden to establish his style, a style

  • that would also be the basis for the next 60 years of anime.

  • Osamu Tezuka had a dream of making anime a global medium and rivalling Disney, and Astro

  • Boy was the perfect start for that dream, the birth of anime.

  • Japanese animation explodes into a stylistic melting pot after this and new genres and

  • creators start to appear every year.

  • You can look more into what happened next in another video i've made: The Stylistic

  • Evolution of Anime that looks into the following decades.

  • But I hope this video had given you an idea of where it all came from and the practitioners

  • that kick-started the medium.

  • You'll have noticed that i've been putting a lot more content out lately and that's

  • set to continue, so please make sure you're subscribed and keeping an eye on the channel.

People never talk about this.

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アニメの誕生 (The Birth of Anime)

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    二百五 に公開 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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