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Anime

Anime is a style of animation developed in Japan, with a look very similar to manga. Many anime shows and movies are based on popular manga series. Its animation covers many genres, from science fiction and horror to romance and history.

History of Anime

"Anime," an abbreviation of the word "animation," was born in the early 1900s as Japanese filmmakers began experimenting with the animation techniques being used in the U.S. and Europe. The oldest known anime is a three-second clip of a sailor boy from 1907.

By the 1930s, anime had become a popular alternative to live action movies in Japan. Disney films like Snow White and the Seven Dwarves, released in 1937, had a huge impact on Japanese animators. The manga artist Osamu Tekuza even used variations of many Disney animation techniques in his own work.

By the 1980s, anime was widely accepted in Japan, partially due to the popularity of the robot anime series Gundam and Macross. In the 1990s, people began sharing anime on the Internet, leading to its increased popularity in the U.S. and other countries. In addition to Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball, other popular anime series include Naruto, Yu-Gi-Oh!, Digimon, and Cowboy Bebop. Many anime are adapted from manga.

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Kids—learn more about Japan at this site made just for you!

Teachers: Jump to National Geographic’s country page on Japan for printable maps and more.

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Anime Premieres

Premiering at the Kennedy Center's Japan Festival

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5 Centimeters Per Second (East Coast Premiere)
This movie consists of three short films that follow a boy in Tokyo from the first half of the 1990s into the present. Director Makoto Shinkai  started his artistic career as a graphic designer for video games.

The director's breakthrough film, Voices of a Distant Star, was about a teenage couple who send text messages to each other across the farthest reaches of space. His other popular film, The Place Promised in Our Early Days, is set in an alternate reality in which Japan was divided and occupied by the U.S. and the Soviet Union after World War II.

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The Piano Forest (North American Premiere)
This story revolves around two talented boys and a piano hidden deep in the forest. Director Masayuki Kojima will make a guest appearance. Kojima is a member of the famous animation studio Madhouse.

Kojima's other work includes Master Keaton, about an archaeologist and soldier who becomes an insurance inspector, and Monster, a thriller about a doctor pursuing a young madman whose life he once saved.

Appleseed

Appleseed: Ex Machina (East Coast Premiere)
Based on the Appleseed Saga manga by Shirow Masamune, this film tells the story of the futuristic city of Olympus, and the humans and cyborgs that protect it. "Ex Machina" is Latin for "out of the machine." The film was produced by action director John Woo, known for films such as Mission Impossible: 2.

learn more!

Kids—learn more about Japan at this site made just for you!

Teachers: Jump to National Geographic’s country page on Japan for printable maps and more.

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Film Techniques in Anime

Anime is created using a style called limited animation. While animated films like Disney's The Lion King contain about 18 frames, or drawings, per second, limited animation has only eight frames per second. This makes limited animation look less smooth and less realistic.

Limited animation was used by the manga artist and animator Osamu Tezuka. In the 1930s and 40s, Walt Disney produced animated films that were very detailed but very expensive. Tezuka adapted Disney's method to create his own unique style, which was also more cost-effective.

Some of the techniques used in limited animation include scrolling backgrounds, as well as showing characters sliding across the screen or moving their mouth and eyes while the rest of their body stays still.

learn more!

Kids—learn more about Japan at this site made just for you!

Teachers: Jump to National Geographic’s country page on Japan for printable maps and more.

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Vocabulary

Anime (AH-ni-may): an abbreviation of "animation," this is a unique type of Japanese animated shows and films.

Limited animation: style of animation used in anime. Limited animation uses only 8 frames, or drawings per second, as opposed to the more costly 16 frames a second in other types of animated films such as The Lion King.

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