The United States has been the leader in film and television since the rise of Hollywood, but one area of western visual entertainment has been lacking as a superpower. Animated television shows in the United States and all over the world have been increasingly influenced by Japanese style animation. This influence has been growing for over a decade and shows no signs of decline as hundreds of American, European and Canadian comic books and television shows emerge.
The Japanese style of animation has roots in the Japanese comics called Manga. Manga is believed to have begun as long ago as the 12th century when Japanese monks used the likeness of animals to tell tales of corruption in the political system. Characters are typically iconic in the extreme. Very simple lines are used to show few exaggerated features. Emotions are often revealed by curved lines and colors.
Anime In The West
In the western world, the word anime refers to the Japanese style of drawing. There is even a term for western animation that is obviously influenced by the anime style. This western term is Anime-Influenced Animation. Many people believe there to be two mainstream styles of comic drawing and story telling; The Japanese manga and the American superhero. However, modern cartoons about highly symbolic American superheroes have even begun to take on an Anime influenced style. The current morphing of American style comics and cartoons is proof of the huge influence Japanese anime is having on the world. This Western style change most notably began in the 80’s with cartoons such as Transformers. Before this influence, American comics were a staple of American culture and ideals. Ruggedly drawn superheroes were more than iconic for many westerners, but times change and Japan has proven itself as a leader in comics and animation.
The Japanese style has proven influential for adult themed animations as well as children’s shows. Many popular late night western adult cartoons show a more mature Japanese style. Settings often combine western and eastern cultures. Manga and anime are no longer considered immature mediums. Many serious artists produce respectable works through Japanese influenced animation techniques.
It is not just the United States that has been influenced by Japanese animation. Europe and Canada have produced quality art with obvious eastern influences. It was a Canadian short film that became the first non-Asian work to win the Open Entries Grand Prize. The prize is given at the Anime Awards held in Tokyo, Japan.
Western Influence On Japanese Animation
Though the influence of Japanese animation on the rest of the world is obvious, it is also known that certain western films influenced the future of anime. A Japanese film maker named Osamu Tezuka began making anime films in the 30’s by adapting Walt Disney pictures. He first adapted Snow White and the Seven Dwarves so that it could use less frames and be more cost effective. This began as a way to create films on a low budget, but the simplistic style eventually took on a life of it’s own.