Informative Essay S Bolstad

The History of Anime

The history of anime and manga has long since been a controversial battle. No one knows what the first anime was, or when it was made. There is believed to have been political motives when naming an actual date for what the first anime may have been. Though, with all the controversy, anime and manga has still managed to become Japan's largest cultural community.

In 2005, Naoki Matsumoto discovered a small strip of film that was barely even 3 seconds long (Clements, McCarthy 169). It depicted the image of a boy writing the Japanese characters for "moving pictures" on a blackboard. Many scientists in Japan have reported that it may very well have been the first anime. However, that cannot be proven, since most of the earliest works were destroyed, partly due to the Great Kanto Earthquake of 1923 (Clements, McCarthy 170). In 1915, 21 foreign cartoons were known to have been screened (Clements, McCarthy 169). They may have stimulated experiments at home. Some believe that the discovered film strip may have been one of those experiments. Reporters were quick to seize the opportunity, and soon many false reports began surfacing on how old it really was.

Within a few days it was being said that the strip dated back to just "shortly after 1900" (Clements, McCarthy 169). However, there is believed to have been political motives behind the reports. For example, a 1907 date would've allowed Japan to claim independence in animation (Clements, McCarthy 169). A pre-1907 date would've allowed them to claim to be pioneers of the medium (Clements, McCarthy 169).

There are many different stereotypes used in establishing the heroes and villains in anime. Examples would be the yakugara (focused on being more than just realism) cliches of Japanese theater, such as Kabuki. Kabuki divides characters into two different categories: protagonists and antagonists. From there, protagonists can be divided further still. There's your typical gruff, hot-headed hero (aragoto), or there's the more refined or even effeminate character (wagoto). These are just two typical traits a protagonist can have. Another stereotype is the jitsugoto, a character that opposes evil with "divine justice", though they're often destroyed by their attempts. Some women stereotypes include the wakaonnagata, a youthful princess or damsel in distress. There's also the kashagata, or samurai wife. She is often good with a sword or frying pan. Finally, there's the akuba, an archetypical bad girl with street smarts, tattoos, and more than a little bit of sass. The villains are divided into more simple categories, such as evil princesses, evil samurais, evil retainers, dishonest clerks, and apprentices. Of course there's also usually some sort of henchman for comic relief. (Clements, McCarthy 618)

There are three main age groups: young, middle-aged, and old. Probably the most commonly used catalyst that drives a hero into action, is the death of a family member. A lot of times a mentor figure comes and pushes the hero, usually because they themselves are trying to cope with some sort of guilt. The mentor will most likely have a tragic death, such as a fatal illness or secret affliction, or even sacrificing themselves for the hero. The hero is not usually alone in much of the story. Sometimes they have a childish sidekick for comic relief for viewers. Another common character cliche is a dark and more mysterious character that is often revealed to be some lost relative. That, plus a few battles can carry a story for at least a good 26 episodes.

With so many fans, it's only natural that a community was made. Many students have chosen to drop out of school to join the massive otaku community of manga and anime fans, known as Comiket (Gravett 136). The ten thousand or so cosplayers that attend Comiket are the most visible of the community in media, but they only represent a small percentage of all Comiket visitors (Gravett 136). In the summer of 2002, nearly half a million people flooded into the 63rd Comiket, inside Tokyo's Ariake Big Sight venue (Gravett 136). Over the years, Comiket has grown to become Japan's biggest cultural gathering. Comiket spans over the course of three days. During day one there is manga, anime, and science fiction for general audiences. During day two you can see different game characters and variations of the Shojo manga genre. Finally, during day three you can attend studies of the manga and anime culture.

Despite all the good times anime brings to fans, there is also a darker side to the fandom. During the 1890s, rorikon, or the "lolita complex", was being adopted as a style by grown women (Gravett 136). It stemmed from more mature "adult" manga series that starred cute (or kawaii) young girls. Women all over were dressing up and acting like young, innocent girls. It grew to become very popular. However, the rorikon fantasy went sour in 1989, when 26-year-old Tsutomu Miyazaki was arrested and charged for the abduction, murder, and mutilation of three preschool girls. Miyazaki was found to be a withdrawn and obsessed fan of anime and manga, and especially rorikon (Gravett 136). Needless to say, there was an uproar, not only from Japan, but even in the Western countries. The media panicked, and a worldwide campaign was started by mothers to regulate what they saw as "harmful manga". Authorities cracked down on publishers and retailers, pressuring them not to publish, but, or sponsor harmful manga. Creators of the mature, uncensored manga were often arrested. The respected senior mangaka set up the Association to Protect Freedom of Expression in Comics, to speak out against the regulation. However the controversy still continues. (Gravett 136)

Even though no one really knows what the first anime actually was, it continues to warm the hearts of fans across the globe. With its humor, emotion, and fantastic storyline, anime is truly a spectacular masterpiece. The many different genres and styles give viewers something to look forward to every time. Though there have been some dark, and often difficult twists and turns, the good parts make it worth it. Anime will always be here for those who need it. However, anime ratings were very low in 2006, but I think those numbers are slowly (but surely) changing.It's on the rise, and it has yet to reach it's peak.

Works Cited

Clements, Jonathan and Helen McCarthy. The Anime Encyclopedia: A Guide to Japanese Animation Since 1917 (Revised and Expanded Edition). Berkeley, California: Stone Bridge Press, 2006. Print.
Gravett, Paul. Manga: 60 Years of Japanese Comics. London, United Kingdom: Laurence King Publishing Ltd, 2004. Print.

Informative Essay Peer Review- Sydney. B

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