Spirited Away directed by Hayao Miyazaki
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In its most basic form, anime refers to animation. It isn’t an abbreviation of the English word animation; it’s how you say “animated cartoon” (アニメ in Japanese). To a Japanese viewer, anime is any cartoon, whether it’s made in Japan or not. Outside of Japan, the term has come to mean “animation made in Japan,” or any animated programme or film that uses signature aspects of Japanese-style animation, like vibrant colours, dramatic panning, and characteristic facial expressions.
In the West, most anime is classified as a niche form of entertainment, especially for adults. In Japan, however, anime is a culturally accepted and basic form of entertainment for adults. This difference means that anime contains multitudes, with content produced for a wide range of viewers. From drama, action, and romance to historical fiction, horror, comedy, and more, there’s an anime to match any taste.
Anime dates back to the birth of Japan’s film industry in the early 1900s and has emerged as one of Japan’s major cultural forces over the past century. However, it wasn’t until after WWII – 1948 – that the first modern Japanese animation production company came into being: Toei. Toei’s first theatrical features were in the vein of Walt Disney’s films (as popular in Japan as they were everywhere else). One key example was the mini-epic Shōnen Sarutobi Sasuke (1959), the first anime to be released in the United States (by MGM, in 1961).
The advent of TV in the 1960s pushed animation to the fore in Japan. The first of Toei’s major animated TV programmes during this time were adaptations of popular manga, e.g. Mitsuteru Yokoyama’s Sally the Witch.
Hayao Miyazaki is a Japanese film director, producer, screenwriter, animator, author, and manga artist. Through a career that span...