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Anime ( Japanese. アニメ , [ anime ], German frequently [ anime ], plural: anime ) called in Japan produced animated films . In Japan itself, anime stands for all types of animated films and series, for those produced in their own country as well as for imported ones. It is the counterpart to the manga , the Japanese comic . Japan has the most extensive animation culture in the world.

Definition and conceptual history

In Japanese, "anime" can refer to any animated film, both from your own country and from abroad. Outside of Japan, the term is used exclusively for animated films of Japanese origin. Historically, animated films in Japan were not called anime for a long time . In the early 20th century there were speechless at first senga ( "line art") and kuga ( "flip images". See flipbook ) dekobō shin Gacho ( "mischievous new images") or chamebō-to ( "playful images" ). Later came manga eiga ( 漫画 映 画 , "manga films") and dōga ( 動画 , "moving images"). It was not until the 1970s that the word anime appeared together with the word Japaneseimation in Japan . The latter is used exclusively for the company's own animation industry, which was growing rapidly for the first time. Anime originated as a shortening of the Japanese loan word animēshon ( ア ニ メ ー シ ョ ン , from English animation ). While animēshon was used more as a term for highly respected animation art and movies, its short form was mainly used for the more cheaply produced television series that began in the 1960s. Ultimately, anime prevailed as the name of all animation productions. The other terms were only preserved in niches. As a term used only for Japanese animated films and series, the term has established itself in the USA and Europe since the 1980s. In the English-speaking world, Japanese animation has been used more frequently in the small fan scene and by the first commercial distributors since the late 1970s , but this led to corruptions and misunderstandings. This word was replaced around 1990 by the shorter anime taken over from Japan .

In scientific or journalistic discourse, however, the exact demarcation between anime and animation is generally controversial, even if anime and Japanese animated film are mostly used synonymously. This is how Thomas Lamarre calls a distinction between full animation and limited animation in the Japanese discourse. Anime, especially television anime in the simple, inexpensively produced form of the 1960s, is then regarded as a form of limited animation. Full animation producers want to differentiate themselves from it. For example, Studio Ghibli rejects the term anime for their films and uses manga eiga instead . Elaborate films and television productions have in common that the aesthetics of traditional animation techniques are almost always preserved, even if computer animation is often used. Pure computer animation films, which this technology can also be viewed and which strive for realism, do occur, but are an exception. Stevie Suan and José Andrés Santiago Iglesias name a number of style features that are characteristic of Japanese television productions and those with Japanese influence: a continuous narrative of all episodes, the use of cliffhangers and their dissolution by eucatastrophes , reduced and iconic character design , larger ones Diversity in the color palette, use of limited animation and the creation of a spatial impression through movement as well as the use of many cuts, camera positions and montages to display many perspectives and details of a scene. All these characteristics are summarized by Suan and Iglesias under the term animesque . An animesque s work is recognized by fans as an anime because it meets the narrative and formal expectations associated with Japanese animated films. In addition to the style characteristics mentioned by Iglesias, Brian Ruh refers to the transnationality of the anime medium, which is expressed in its history as well as in internationally understandable designs. Similarly, other authors also describe an understanding of anime as (television) series productions integrated into a media mix, with style and narrative features that were also recognizable in their film adaptations. In addition, there are products from Japanese animated films that some recipients do not regard as anime, but rather as an indefinite alternative to Japanese animated film or only generally animated film.

Jonathan Clements also points out several blurring of the definition of the term: In addition to the technical between full and limited animation, there are authors who historically delimit anime as Japanese animated films from the television series of the 1960s. Japanese animation from the time before is then not referred to as anime, although the early films were of great importance for the later productions. Further blurring results from the extensive process of production, sales and consumption. For example, some foreign - especially US - animated film productions were made with Japanese participation or even largely in Japan; on the other hand, Japanese companies were clients for animation work in other countries, and finally Japanese companies were involved in the localization, distribution and marketing of foreign productions. All the related works can therefore also be understood as part of the Japanese animation film industry or of its history. And finally, anime is not only about the objects, the works produced and sold, but also the events of performance and consumption. Steven T. Brown goes so far as to seek the meaning of the term anime in the presentation and arrangement of information during the performance and in the interaction of the recipient with the work.

The description of anime as a medium also often points out how much Japanese animated film differs from what Western viewers expect from animated films - especially American cartoons or films by Walt Disney . Many animes are not made for children, some are even pornographic, tell dramatic or action-packed stories, and serve a wide variety of genres. Compared to many animated films that have been successful in the West, musicals, animal characters and slapstick humor are much less common. Despite these frequently mentioned features or noticeable differences, these are not used for the definition. When anime became more and more popular in the USA around 2000, but at the same time there were prejudices against cultural imports that were dangerous for children, anime was also used pejoratively - especially by those distributors who themselves imported Japanese animated films and wanted to protect their products from prejudice .

Historical development

The classification as well as the beginning of the story of the anime is - as with the manga - controversial in research and specialist journalism. Depending on the definition of anime as a medium or just a certain manifestation of Japanese animated film or as a genre, the beginning of its history is seen at the beginning of the 20th century, in the middle of it or in the 1970s. The exact role and effect of Osamu Tezuka as a pioneer of the television anime is controversial, since some authors see many important developments already applied to the cinema films Tōei Animation .

Animation techniques and optical toys were known in Japan long before 1900 and, as in western countries, were mainly demonstrated by showmen or were available as toys for wealthy citizens. Sometimes referred to as the first anime, the film strip Katsudō Shashin , which is dated from 1907 to 1912, was one such toy and was never shown publicly. From around 1910, western cartoons came to Japan, first shown in stage shows and then increasingly in cinemas. The first Japanese imitators are known from 1917, in which the pioneers Ōten Shimokawa , Jun'ichi Kōuchi and Seitarō Kitayama presented their first films. Kitayama founded Kitayama Eiga Seisaku-sho in 1921, the first studio dedicated solely to animation film. The still experimental animation techniques used included, among other things, chalk drawings, ink drawings and paper cutting . At that time , the showing of films was still accompanied by a benshi who narrated and explained the short films. The profession came from the tradition of the showman and lived on at the street paper theater Kamishibai until the 1950s. Like the manga, the Japanese animation film was narrative and aesthetically influenced by the benshi and the paper theater. The film censorship that emerged in the 1910s also hit animated films. As a result, the resulting short films were mostly comedies or showed Japanese and Chinese myths, fairy tales and fables, which were judged less sharply by the censors. In addition, educational films were made that were safe from censorship because they were made on behalf of the public.

After the production of animated films increased at the beginning, the studios and most of the films produced by then were destroyed in the Great Kanto earthquake in 1923 . The industry shifted to the Kansai region, where its focus remained until after World War II. There she was able to break away from the influences of the traditional theater and showman scene in Tokyo. In addition, there was the influence of American cartoons, which were now increasingly being shown in Japan. The production was rationalized and moved away from the handicraft production of the first years. Simple camera and picture frames were used for the exposure. The material used initially remained mostly paper with black and white drawings, the staging was kept simple and the studios had no more than a handful of employees. Of these, Kitayamas remained the most successful for a long time, with several employees turning away and setting up their own studios. Most of the production was now educational and promotional films and fictional content became the exception. The sound film came to Japan around 1930 and put an end to the benshi profession. Some of them became the first voice actors. The elaborate sound film also increased the demand for short films and thus for cartoons. Probably the most frequently seen of these was Kokka Kimiyao by ufuji Noburō , made in 1931 - the Japanese national anthem to sing along to, which was shown at the beginning of most film screenings. While Fujifilm set up a celluloid production facility in 1934, the production of paper could be converted to more modern cels, color films remained the exception until after the war. In the 1930s, propaganda films were increasingly produced, warning of American influence and preparing and accompanying Japan's wars in China and the expansion in the Pacific. The majority of the films produced were still not entertainment films, with the focus shifting to animated instructions for military personnel and (propaganda) news films. The ban on foreign films, government contracts and state pressure, especially on schoolchildren to watch the films, brought the animators unprecedented demand and resources and studios were able to grow beyond the number of fewer employees. The Japanese government was also willing to prove its superiority in film production and to draw level with the films Disney and the Chinese film Tiě shàn gōngzhǔ from 1941. This is how the first full-length anime film was made: Momotarō: Umi no Shimpei . The story, told in black and white, of animals liberating the Pacific islands from British colonial power and bringing them Japanese culture, hit cinemas not long before the surrender in 1945.

After the end of the war, attempts to pool the Japanese animators in a few studios failed because of the poor economic situation, labor disputes and political conflicts over participation in war propaganda. In addition, there was competition from foreign films coming into the country. As a result, Japanese animation films rarely came out. The now mainly small studios in the industry largely switched to commercials, which in the course of the 1950s became a growing market with private television. Artistic quality and the production processes lagged behind the developments of the previous two decades. Of the studios established after the war ended, only Nichidō remained , which was finally bought by Tōei. From this merger under the name Toei Animation , Hakujaden , a full-length, now full-color anime movie, emerged in 1958 . It was the beginning of a series of films by the studio that are considered classics prior to the television anime era and which had a significant impact on later productions. Her aesthetic was already influenced by contemporary manga and many were involved in the productions, who later founded their own studios and took their first experiences with Toei with them. An important figure in anime history, similar to the manga, is Osamu Tezuka . After working on a feature film with Toei Animation, the already successful mangaka wanted to film his own series and finally created Astro Boy, the first anime television series with half-hour episodes in 1963 . His studio produced other series based on Tezuka's stories, including the first color television anime Kimba, the white lion, made with American funding . From the late 1960s, Tezuka then made more sophisticated and experimental films, as well as some of the first erotic anime films. As with his mangas, Tezuka was still heavily influenced by Walt Disney's films and their aesthetics. His own works, in turn, had a great influence on the filmmakers who followed him, either based on or delimited his styles and working methods. With his studios and the ones that followed, the industry expanded from an estimated 500 employees around 1960 to double that number in 1967 and finally around 2,000 around 1970. In addition to and through Tezuka, Hollywood films in particular had a large number of them after the war hit theaters in Japan, greatly influencing the growing generation of later animators and directors. In their own works, they based their productions on Western models and soon mastered and used cinematic techniques more extensively than their colleagues in American television productions. In turn, American studios such as Hanna-Barbera were role models for efficient working and production methods for television series .

In the late 1960s and 1970s mainly science fiction series emerged, and with them the first generation of fans grew up, who themselves became active as producers in the anime industry from the 1980s. With this generation, the cross-marketing of toys along with anime series also increased. In addition to the science fiction dominated by Mecha , series for the children's program continued to emerge, especially fairy tale adaptations at large studios such as Toei Animation and Nippon Animation , which were also broadcast internationally. Since the late 1960s, comedy and drama have become important genres, especially sports dramas . The first series aimed at girls emerged in the medium, which was previously dominated by men. Ribon no Kishi (1967) by Tezuka and Mila Superstar (1969) were among the first to follow the creation of the Shōjo manga and its adaptation as an anime. These series brought new topics into the medium, in particular emancipation, self-discovery and love stories. In this context, new genres emerged: in the 1980s, the Magical Girl series, which told of magically transforming girls , in the 1990s, stories about homoerotic relationships increasingly came from the manga, also in the anime, and in general, aesthetic principles from series for girls became more widespread , including the portrayal of handsome boys as bishons . The emergence of video cassettes and video rental stores in the 1980s also changed the medium: studios could now publish directly through purchase media and no longer had to sell to television stations. The first original video animation was Dallos in 1983 , others mainly from the field of science fiction followed. This new distribution channel opened up the market for small studios that could finance themselves directly through small orders from video distributors. At the same time, new studios with realistic and fantastic fabrics also became successful in the cinema, in particular Studio Ghibli . In the 1990s, more realistic material, especially comedies and dramas in high schools, or coming of age stories became more popular in the television anime, sometimes also in connection with magical girls and fantasy.

Since the 1970s, anime came to European and American cinema and television, initially mainly children's series, which were also co-produced with Western broadcasters and studios. There were great reservations about more adult, action-packed materials. In the video stores, primarily pornographic and erotic titles were initially sold, which generally gave anime a corresponding reputation. Sci-fi series occasionally appeared on cable programs in the USA and southern and western Europe. That changed from the end of the 1980s with the success of the science fiction film Akira in the cinema, in the 1990s with the films by Studio Ghibli and with internationally successful television series such as Sailor Moon , Pokémon and Dragon Ball , so that the medium around the year 2000 around the world had its breakthrough and was able to gain a large fan base.

Content, genres and target groups

Anime cover a wide range of topics for all ages. Stories are often more complex and multi-layered than usual in many western animation productions. There is more character development and the death of important characters loved by the audience can also occur. With hero characters, their motivation, loyalty and assertiveness are more important than that they win and antiheroes appear more frequently. Historical hero ideals such as the ninja or samurai ( Bushidō ) are also reflected in many animes. A classic conflict from this tradition is giri-ninjō , the conflict between social obligations and one's own needs. Antagonists are often nuanced and have a backstory that explains their actions. The frequent change of sides of a figure also contributes to this. Clichés about typical villains are broken and, for example, the opponents are shown as particularly beautiful. Women often have more important roles, are strong heroines on an equal footing with men, and yet are usually portrayed as attractive. Although or precisely because this often still does not correspond to the position of women in Japanese society, it contributes to a wider audience. Nevertheless, classic female roles can often be identified. This includes the role of the mother and (in the background) caring housewife or the calm, cute, empathetic student. These roles can be described with the Japanese term “yasashii” (pure, warm, empathic). This also includes women warriors who associate yasashii with the ideals of Bushidō, and girls and women with magical gifts. Questions of sexuality and gender are often treated casually in animes and with perspectives that are unusual for Western viewers; they are the subject of comedy, clichés and erotic stories. Homosexuality occurs explicitly and even more frequently in the form of hints, as well as fuzzy gender roles and androgynous figures, which are also shown in ideal images such as men as bishons or women repeatedly appearing in male roles. Homosexual behavior is often not an identification feature of the characters, they do not see themselves as homosexual or are characterized by many other features and can appear in a wide variety of roles. Same-sex love stories are devoted to entire genres. Nonetheless, stories about same-sex love sometimes convey conservative values; especially in older works, relationships come to a tragic end and the protagonists are punished for violating social norms.

Since the medium was only consumed in Japan for a long time, most productions were only created with a view to the domestic market, have strong references to Japanese culture that are difficult to understand from the outside and do not take into account the customs or taboos of other cultures, as is the case with foreign-oriented productions such as from the USA is common.

While television productions are more often aimed at children, the target group of the video market is older adolescents and adults. In its entirety, anime can appeal to all ages and walks of life. Based on the usual division of manga into target groups according to age and gender, this is often also done with anime. With many animes, especially those without a manga template, the classification into these genres is difficult or impossible:

  • Kodomo (Japanese for "child"): productions for younger children.
  • Shōnen (Japanese for "boy"): productions for male adolescents, often assigned to the genres of action , science fiction and fantasy .
  • Shōjo (Japanese for "girls"): Programs for young women, often love stories.
  • His (Japanese for "young man"): The primary target group are men between the ages of 18 and 30, mostly with more demanding, erotic or violent content.
  • Josei : is the female counterpart to his. Often deals with the everyday or professional and love life of young women.

Even if all sorts of topics can arise, topics related to everyday Japanese life or Japanese culture are particularly widespread. On the one hand, this can be sport and art, problems of everyday life and its rules, or life in a modern, technologically advanced and densely populated country in the metropolises, and on the other hand, traditional arts, topics from Buddhism and Shinto and Japanese history and mythology . Traditional stories, including mythology and Japanese classics such as Hakkenden and Genji Monogatari , are often taken up, modernized and presented in a contemporary interpretation or morality. Non-Japanese, in particular Judeo-Christian symbolism and Chinese mythology are also repeatedly woven in. In addition, there are typically Japanese subjects such as mono no aware , which can express themselves not only in aesthetics, but also in the stories themselves. These topics are not infrequently mixed with science fiction and fantasy elements and most of the works cannot be clearly assigned to a single genre. In addition, there are typically Japanese topics that are widespread in anime, such as advantages and conflicts in a tightly woven society and, as a counterpart, the tempting, free but also dangerous life of outsiders and loners. There are also political issues such as appreciation of nature, environmental protection , war and peace. In addition to the more internationally known, pacifist works in fantastic, realistic or dystopian settings, there are also stories that tie in with the war propaganda of World War II or downplay Japanese imperialism and emphasize a Japanese victim role in war. Japanese idols , famous personalities who sing, act and advertise from other areas of Japanese popular culture can be found again and again in anime: as the central figure in a story about show business or in a modified form in a fantastic narrative. Since the 1990s there have also been works that focus on the fan scene itself and, in turn, primarily address them as a target group.

From literary adaptations (e.g. The Diary of Anne Frank or Heidi ) to horror to comedy and romances, almost all areas and age groups are covered. The works can convey knowledge about history, a sport or another thematic focus of an anime, as well as teach moral values ​​such as teamwork or respect. There are also genres that appear exclusively in anime and mangas or that were created in these media:

  • Etchi : Derived from the pronunciation of the English letter H for "hentai". Japanese for indecent sexuality . According to the western and especially the German definition, these anime contain only slight sexual hints. In Japan, etchi and hentai are the same, which can be explained mainly by the word formation itself.
  • Gourmet : Stories about cooking and eating, in which the focus is primarily on gourmets, restaurant critics or chefs.
  • Harem : Loosely defined genre in which the protagonist of the plot is surrounded by several or even a multitude of other characters of the opposite sex who are attracted to him.
  • Hentai : Japanese for abnormal or perverted . This term is mainly used by Western viewers for anime with pornographic or erotic content. In Japan, however, the terms Poruno or Ero are common to refer to such material.
  • Isekai : means something like "other world". Here one or more characters get from the real world to another for various reasons. This can be a video game or a fantasy world, for example.
  • Magical Girl / Mahō Shōjo (Japanese for "magical girl"): Stories about girls who can turn into magical warriors.
  • Mahjong : Stories about the game of Mahjong .
  • Mecha : Anime and Manga that feature robots or fantastic machines. Often these are huge and are controlled by pilots seated in them.
  • Sentai / Super Sentai (Japanese for "combat team"): Refers to any show with a team of superheroes.
  • Shōnen Ai (Japanese for "boy love"): Term for Manga and Anime, the theme of which is love and romance between male characters. This term is not used in Japan because of the allusions to pedophilia and has therefore been replaced by the term Boys Love or similar.
  • Sports : Stories that focus on a sport. Usually the development of an athlete is followed from the beginning to the professional career.
  • Yaoi : like Shōnen Ai, but usually also has a sexual relationship with the topic. The target group are women.
  • Yuri : refers to anime and manga that deal with love and romance between female characters.

Pornographic animes, so-called hentai , make up only a small part of the Japanese video purchase market; in Japan these are not shown at all on television and in the cinema. However, many animes contain erotic elements without being able to be assigned to the hentai genre, especially those of the Etchi genre . These, as well as series with a high proportion of violence or demanding content, are shown on Japanese television in the night program and are usually not financed by the broadcast, but by the DVD sales advertised as television broadcasts. Erotic stories and the relatively permissive treatment of sexuality in popular culture have a long tradition in Japan, so there were many such ukiyo-e, called shunga , in the Edo period . In hentai as well as in etchi manga, as is common in Japanese eroticism, sex scenes are often embedded in a humorous or parodic narrative. Sexual violence and fetishes are discussed relatively often. In addition to comedies, horror is often used for erotic and pornography. Critics note that such stories show a variety of sexual practices, but at the same time convey conservative images of society by punishing excessively exuberant or normative behavior. In addition to humor and horror, there is also a range of romantic, sentimental pornography that tells, free of violence and exaggeration, about sex as an expression of human feelings and character development. This sub-genre is often named after Cream Lemon , one of the first representatives.

Eroticism in Japan is strongly influenced by the legislation that arose under the American occupation, which made the representation of the adult genital area and other "offensive" content a criminal offense (Section 175 of the Japanese Criminal Code). This has been circumvented by many artists by showing the figures and their genitals in a childlike manner. Together with the kawaii aesthetic, this promoted the creation of many erotic and pornographic stories with childlike characters and the establishment of the Lolicon and Shotacon genres . Even when the interpretation of the law was relaxed, this tendency remained. Other ways of circumventing the censorship legislation are the use of bars or pixelation, omissions or greatly reduced, symbolic representation of sex organs. Internationally, erotic anime were at times significantly more successful and widespread commercially than other genres, which led to the legend that all anime are pornographic. However, this impression is also the result of the stereotypes of the western audience and probably also had an effect on the Japanese productions, which in turn, based on American films, gave women larger breasts and men more muscles. Nudity can also occur beyond sexual scenes, in everyday or children's series, as it is not considered offensive in such situations in Japan. This includes bathing, also publicly and together in the bathhouse , and breastfeeding . Nudity, sexual innuendo, and fecal humor are also popular in some comedy animes.

Production and working conditions

In addition to the animators , who are responsible for the actual work of creating the animation, many other professional groups are involved in the creation process of anime . These are the usual participants in the film industry, such as the director , screenwriter , film producer , film editor and film composer, as well as those specifically required for animated films such as voice actors . In addition, employees in the industry work for the translation of imported films. Also involved in the production or marketing of anime and the surrounding media mix are publishers , mangaka , employees at supervisory authorities, television broadcasters, toy manufacturers, video game manufacturers and publishers, as well as all companies that participate in the production of an anime or sponsor it. Even simple employees in organization and sales can play decisive roles. In the industry, which is often characterized by deadline pressure, the work and reliability of messengers who deliver raw material or a finished production are of great importance and are sometimes the subject of disputes and anecdotes. In addition to all these official employees, you can also count fanubbers and illegal distributors , especially internationally, as these also have an influence on the work consumed by a viewer. The industry association is the Association of Japanese Animations (AJA).

Traditionally, animes, like cartoons from other countries, were created as cel animation. Painted foils ("cels") are placed in front of a background that is also painted and photographed. The number of slides and individual images produced per second depends on the budget and the intended quality or fluidity of the movement. There was a tendency for cinema films to be produced more elaborately and of higher quality, with more cels for the same time, than television series. Also productions directly for the video market are usually of a higher quality than for television. Since the 1990s, cel animation has been increasingly replaced by computer animation . Until the 1930s, paper was primarily used, as plastic films were hard to come by, before Fujifilm set up its own celluloid production in 1934. From then on, the material basis of animation in Japan until the 1990s remained Cels and the associated production processes. Since the television series from the beginning of the 1960s - for some for this reason the actual birth of anime - limited animation has prevailed as the animation principle. With the productions of cinema films in the years before, the aim was still to model Disney's full animation , that is, the most realistic possible representation and the best possible illusion of movement, with a larger number of images per second and corresponding effort. 18 different images per second are common for this, 24 at the top. This approach has become uncommon, only cinema productions, especially by Studio Ghibli , still follow it, and has largely been replaced by Limited Animation. This gets by with an average of just eight frames per second. The impression of movement is created not only through different images, but also the arrangement of the images and cuts. So the impression of movement can be created by shifting the foreground and background against each other instead of different images. In action scenes, still images in expressive poses in quick cuts are more likely than movements are actually shown. The depth of the space can at least be indicated by the superimposition of the levels and their overlap. Image elements are often recycled. For this purpose, studios use libraries of the individual characters in different positions and movements that can be reused. The significant cost savings were initially one of the most important reasons for this. Osamu Tezuka sold his first episodes for only 500,000 yen each. But even when the studios slowly had more money available from the 1970s, this principle was not deviated from. Instead, like Tezuka from the beginning, its artistic possibilities were explored or additional effort was invested in backgrounds and designs. The cost-saving methods of limited animation were used as early as the 1920s, but not systematically.

The setting, including recordings of the speakers, takes place after the animation has been created, which is why lip movements do not match the sound in cheaper productions. In addition, mostly only three pictures of mouth positions are used instead of eight in elaborate American productions. The reverse procedure with sound recordings before animation was developed was developed in the 1930s with the advent of talkies and has been common for several decades since then.

When computer animation was first used in the 1980s, the Japanese film industry was one of the first to adopt it. Since then, people have been experimenting with 3D animation again and again . Unlike in the USA , computer animation could not replace traditional 2D aesthetics, pure 3D animation films remain a rarity. Instead, 3D animations are used as effects in scenes of classic animation, for example lighting effects and image elements animated on the computer are rendered in a way that makes them appear hand-drawn. The latter in particular has become easier to implement since the late 1990s thanks to new software and has therefore increasingly been used in image elements that are too time-consuming or difficult to implement satisfactorily by hand. The characters in particular remain hand-drawn and the aesthetics of traditional cel animation are retained; drawings are often digitized and then colored and animated as computer graphics . At the same time, the use of computers brings new possibilities for integrating photography and rotoscopy .

The productions are usually spread over many companies, with one acting as the main producer and other subcontractors. Some studios have specialized in preparatory work, some of today's major studios such as Madhouse have for a long time only provided preparatory work for others before producing on their own. The production takes place not only in Japan, but also in other Asian countries, America and Europe for cost reasons. The main subcontractors are in Korea, China and Thailand. Be Outsourced mainly the production of intermediate phase images and coloration. The development of scripts and storyboards , designs, and keyframes usually remains in Japan. There have also been equal co-productions in the history of the medium. For example with European stations in the 1970s. Since the interest in anime in Western countries increased in the 1990s, such co-productions have been occurring again more frequently, especially with American companies. On the other hand, Japanese studios, especially those specializing in preparatory work, also work on productions in other countries, especially in America.

The most important source of income for the studios in the 2000s was primarily merchandising, then broadcasting rights and, to a much lesser extent, cinema income and advertising films. The main customer is television, followed by cinema and the video market in last place. A single episode costs about 5 million yen, in earlier times 7 million, and a month and a half of production time. In the 2000s, 30 to 50 television series and 10 to 20 feature films were produced each year.

Authorship and creative influence on the end product are usually not clearly recognizable in anime and, as in many other film and television productions, are distributed among a large number of participants. They are most noticeable in motion pictures, especially those by well-known directors and authors, to whom the majority of creative decisions and ideas are ascribed. Authors' films and appropriately well-known authors are rare in anime. On the other hand, the authorship of long-running series that adapt a template is particularly unclear. Despite the template, parts of the story are usually left out or new ones added, especially additional short stories if the series needs to be “stretched”. An adaptation to a different, for example younger, audience can also take place during the adaptation. A number of people are involved in these decisions: A series director decides on plot arcs. The directors of individual episodes decide how close the staging is to the original, and the leading animators decide on its actual implementation. In character design , the characters in the template are adapted to the needs of the adaptation in terms of technical and cinematic implementation, changes in content and target group.

According to a study carried out in 2013, Japanese anime artists work an average of 10 to 11 hours per working day or 263 hours per month or 4.6 days off / month. Animators earn an average ( mean ) of 3.3 million yen (approx. € 23,000) or most frequently ( modal value ) 4.0 million yen (€ 28,000) per year , starting with entry-level positions such as intermediate draftsmen with 1.1 million yen ( 8,000 €), key draftsmen with 2.8 million yen (20,000 €) and storyboarders / 3D animators with 3.8 million yen (26,000 €) to directors with 6.5 million yen (45,000 €). Draftsmen are often paid according to a scheme in which, in addition to a fixed wage, they are also paid according to completed individual images or scenes.

Imagery and narrative means

Exemplary modern anime figure
Comparison between anime style and photo

The styles, imagery and symbolism of animes that are frequently encountered are shaped on the one hand by the long-established production as cel animation, on the other hand by influences from mangas and, in particular, from American and French films in the early days. Similar to the manga, the characters are kept simple and stylized, while the backgrounds are drawn more detailed and realistic. This makes it easier to identify with the characters as well as immersing yourself in the world of the story. The richness of detail in the background images can reach a great extent especially in cinema productions and forms a corresponding contrast to the characters in the foreground. In action scenes, on the other hand, the background usually disappears completely, and the movement shown comes into focus entirely. Characteristic, especially in comparison to earlier western productions, is a great variety in the color palette and their individually different use in each work. The character design is heavily influenced by the manga and often corresponds, for example, to the kawaii cuteness concept . With older characters or works for a more adult audience, the more mature, not cute design principle “kirei” also occurs. In addition, Japanese ideals of beautiful women and men, Bishōjo and Bishōnen , are used, and character development uses archetypes, stereotypes and clichés, some of which differ from those of other cultures. The appearance, which is often more “European”, and hairstyles in all colors, including Japanese characters, are particularly noticeable and irritating for Western viewers. In fact, the European-looking large eyes and other features of the character design were created in Shōjo- Manga and serve primarily to convey emotions, have symbolic meaning or serve to distinguish between characters. Therefore, female characters in general and the characters in romantic stories - especially for women - tend to have bigger eyes. While the figures depicted in this way were mostly actually European in the past, these features are no longer perceived in Japan as a mark of a certain origin. If the origin is actually to be clarified, this is done through other features, such as for Europeans with a more distinctive nose. Sometimes the representations are clearly stereotypical . Another type of commonly encountered character design is Chibi or Super Deformed . This variant, usually used for comedy series or interspersed comic scenes, shows characters in extremely miniaturized, downsized form.

In addition - in contrast to western animation films - the aim of the animation is not realistic movement, but the transition between expressive poses. This can be traced back to cost constraints in production, in which still images are cheaper, and to a Japanese aesthetic tradition that is also evident, for example, in Kabuki theater, in which poses also play an important role. In addition to the use of poses, many stylistic devices and symbols in anime refer to older Japanese art forms such as prints, kamishibai and theater, as well as Japanese aesthetics in general . Details are used sparsely, but very specifically, in order to give the impression of a greater wealth of details than actually available. Important moments can remain unseen or only hinted at and the viewer has to fill the remaining gaps himself. The narrative and speaking forms of the anime are also derived from the theater and Kamishibai. In the overall impression, there is often an aesthetic distance between work and recipient (see alienation effect ) and a greater focus on artificiality and symbolism, as is common in many Japanese arts and familiar to the Japanese public. In contrast to some western media, however, complete realism and the illusion of a real event are not the goal. In spite of this, the emotional reaction and empathy of the viewer are triggered and demanded even with anime. Not only the imagery, but also motifs and other design elements are shaped by Japanese culture. Noises that mark the season, such as the cicadas in summer or the often similar staging of fights. In addition, there is a wide range of body language and symbols that are used in anime and that are not always understandable outside of Japan, and Japanese forms of politeness , which are difficult to translate, also appear in the stories and their staging.

The simple, cheaper animation techniques of so-called limited animation shaped the anime. This also includes the lip movements that often do not match the tone, as only a few mouth positions are used and the speakers record after the animation. In narrative terms, the restrained animation of the story and the characters can give greater weight than movement, action and visual humor. Limited animation goes hand in hand with an aesthetic that differs from full animation: in addition to emphasizing the poses of the characters, rhythm is also very important when using and reusing the individual images and cuts. The poses give greater weight to the character design that takes place before the animation than to the full animation, which is focused on movement. This turn to or emphasis on individual characters also serves the multimedia use of the characters, which can be more easily removed from their series and used and marketed in other contexts. While the techniques of limited animation are not considered proper animation for some, for others they are a more modern, further developed animation that has broken away from the imitation of real film and in which both commercial mass works and experimental art are realized and sometimes hardly differ to let. Thomas Lamarre even calls some of these techniques, such as those used at Gainax , "full limited animation" because of their special aesthetics and the sophisticated use of cut and rhythm. Hiroki Azuma turns the studio slide libraries as an early form of database into an important element in his analysis of anime fan culture and its relationship to technology and information. The two-dimensional aesthetic common in anime, which is created by stylized figures and the techniques of cel animation with their work in layers, is associated with the term superflat in connection with a larger trend in Japanese art and popular culture, that of woodcut to Computer games and manga are enough.

Beyond the internationally known aesthetics of anime, there are also many works that do not meet these expectations. This can include older anime classics that no longer resemble today's styles, but also puppet cartoons by Kihashiro Kawamoto or animation with silhouettes and silhouettes. The influences of Japanese theater and art in the preference for two-dimensional image design and for choreography are particularly evident in animated films up to the Second World War.

Anime in Japan

Anime are an integral part of Japanese cultural heritage. The most successful movies in Japan include many animes, such as Princess Mononoke , Pokémon: The Movie and Spirited Away . According to a poll, the 100 most popular animated series in Japan are all anime, with the exception of Tom and Jerry .


In addition to films with original material, for which Studio Ghibli in particular is known worldwide, many animes are shown in Japanese cinemas, which mainly implement romantic and dramatic material from well-known novels and mangas. In addition, for several manga and anime series that have been running successfully for a long time, it is usually common for children to bring a franchise film to the cinemas every year. In this way the audience can experience the characters they are already familiar with, sometimes in only slightly modified stories or stories that summarize the series, in higher animation quality in the cinema.

Direct marketing

In addition to television series and movies, animes have been produced as original video animation , OVA for short , for the retail video and DVD market since the early 1980s . OVAs are often very short series or short films with stories that are insufficient for a television series or for which a large audience is not expected. The quality is very different, with some productions only very low, but often well above television standards. The target group is , on the one hand, teenagers and young adults, especially anime fans. Offers for these usually contain a lot of fan service and action as well as partly pornographic content, as well as additional content to well-known series. In addition, the buyers of home videos are largely families and children. In the 1990s, the latter target groups still made up the majority of the direct sales market, although this offer also included many animated films from the USA, especially from Disney and Warner Brothers . In connection with this video market, there was also a high-turnover rental video market in Japan in the past. Both benefit from the fact that in Japan there have long been fewer reservations about animated films and therefore animes of all genres and for all age groups are produced, so that there is a broad audience. The establishment of this distribution channel has allowed more and smaller studios to enter the anime market since the 1980s, as OVAs offer the opportunity for smaller, directly financed orders for video sales or even directly for fans. In contrast, television and cinema productions require greater financial efforts or correspondingly larger production investments.

Since 2000 there have also been series directly for the Internet, called Original Net Animation (ONA).

watch TV

Anime TV series usually have 12–13, 24–26, and less often 52 or more episodes, so that if they are broadcast weekly, they run for a quarter, half a year or a full year. Such a quarterly interval is called cours ( ク ー ル , kūru ). The courses are seasonal, i. that is, there are winter, spring, summer and autumn courses that start in January, April, July and October, respectively. Most anime series are not designed as endless series, although film adaptations of long manga series in particular can have well over 100 episodes.

Seven series were aired in 1963, this is generally considered to be the beginning of anime TV series. In 1978 the 50 limit was broken with 52 series. In 1998 the 100 limit was reached with 132 series. The 200 limit was reached in 2004 with 233 series. Since then, the number of series has more or less established itself, but there were years like 2006 and 2014 in which the 300 mark was reached.

The rise in anime numbers in the 90s is due to the fact that the midnight program slots have been used for anime since 1996, but also because the huge success (and controversy) of Neon Genesis Evangelion has resulted in more studios, video companies and publishers producing work let. These then often join forces with merchandising partners to form production committees ( 製作 委員会 , seisaku iinkai ) and buy a midnight program slot - hence also known as midnight anime ( 深夜 ア ニ メ , shin'ya anime ) - with several stations, usually for one or two cours . Most of this programming happens on regional channels that are not connected to any of the major networks . Since these broadcast on UHF tape, such anime are also called UHF anime (UHF ア ニ メ ). Midnight anime has average ratings of around 2%, while 4 to 5% is already exceptionally high. Audience ratings have hardly played a role in midnight anime and thus most anime since the late 90s, but the broadcasting serves to promote the DVD or Blu-ray releases, with which the merchandise items are made for profit. Depending on their sales figures, it is then decided whether further seasons will be produced. Many of the anime that adapt an existing work ultimately also serve to promote the template, so that the anime sales can also be secondary for the commissioning production company, provided that the template sales attract, which is reflected in the fact that in some cases only less successful anime sequels can get.

It looks different with animes broadcast during the day, which are mostly long-term (over two cours ) and are also aimed at either a young or a family audience. Since the introduction of the midnight anime, the number of series with high ratings has decreased, and the types of series on daily programming have also changed.

Anime with the highest ratings:

title Odds year
Astro Boy approx. 40% 1963
Chibi Maruko Chan approx. 40% 1990
Sazae-san approx. 40% 1979
Dr. Slump approx. 40% 1981
Obake no Q taro approx. 40% 1966
Star of the Giants approx. 40% 1967
Parman approx. 40% 1967
Dokonjo Gaeru approx. 35% 1979
Manga Nihon Mukashi Banashi approx. 30% 1981
Lupine III approx. 30% 1978
Doraemon approx. 30% 1983

Anime with the highest home video sales:

title Sales figures (per volume) year
Neon Genesis Evangelion 171,000 1995
Mobile Suit Gundam 115,000 1979
Bakemonogatari 112,000 2009
Mobile Suit Gundam SEED Destiny 93,200 2004
Mobile Suit Gundam Destiny 87,200 2002
The melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya 77,700 2006
Code Geass 77,000 2006
Love Live! , 2nd season 67,000 2014
Nisemonogatari 65,000 2012
Code Geass R2 65,000 2008

Due to the recovering economy during the 1990s, the strong reporting on the increasing popularity of anime abroad and the “ Moe boom”, companies from outside the industry such as finance and new IT companies also invested in this former niche market. The decline since 2006 is attributed to falling birth rates and the economic recession.

Japanese TV stations are also starting to supply the foreign market directly. In the United States, the decline in the anime market size from $ 4.8 billion in 2003 to $ 2.8 billion in 2007 is primarily related to the fan subbing scene, which subtitles series shortly after they first aired on Japanese television distributed via file sharing. In January 2009, TV Tokyo began as the first major television broadcaster to publish its animes with English subtitles on a subscription-based website just hours after they were broadcast on Japanese television. Today, a large part of the new releases are streamed simultaneously with the Japanese broadcast ( simulcast ) on websites with English ( Funimation and Crunchyroll ), but also German subtitles.

Interaction with other media

The production and publication of anime is often closely linked to other media. In the past, almost all anime were based on successful manga . From the 2000s onwards, the number of adaptations of computer games and light novels has increased significantly. Conversely, a corresponding manga is drawn after the success of an anime. " Anime comics " in which the manga is not redrawn, but rather composed of individual images of the anime and inserted speech bubbles are comparatively rare . Model kits and finished figures play an important role in the various usual merchandising items from franchises, including art books, soundtrack CDs and ring tones . These are sold in large numbers for many series in Japan, but are difficult to obtain outside the country.

Anime productions are usually headed by production committees, which often include companies from various industries, such as book and game publishers, studios, and food companies that bring in capital and share the rights to the work. Due to this early connection, manga, novels and other articles appear parallel to the anime. Some of these franchises are then used specifically to advertise a product or a product group. The cooperation in production committees should also ensure that content and design elements are used in the franchise beyond the individual works, for example the use of characters in a video game is already taken into account when developing a television series. However, the development of the story, the characters and the representation of conflicts and human relationships can take a back seat. Characters are greatly simplified for use in computer games, game mechanics are adapted and, under certain circumstances, made interchangeable and the plot and character development of the template are broken up or disregarded. Such character drawings can also appear in the anime, if it is already taken into account in its production. The adaptation of other works also offers the possibility of leaving out details of stories or side stories, as viewers who are already familiar with the template are able to fill in the gaps. Close cooperation via committees has increased significantly since the 1990s, when the media mix also gained in importance. However, this cooperation has been practiced for a long time, as early as 1963, Astro Boy was co-financed by confectionery and toy manufacturers who brought suitable merchandising to the market.

The computer game industry is often involved in anime production, which produces computer and console games based on the anime. There were also animes based on successful games like Pokémon and Digimon . There is also a parallel development or the beginning of anime production before the start of a game. However, one of the works is often the draft horse, on whose popularity the adaptation depends. The secondary uses are then mainly bought by fans and collectors who want to experience further uses of their favorite characters or world. Independently of such franchise and licensed products, anime and computer games influenced each other in their forms of representation and narrative techniques. The aesthetics of manga and anime in particular have shaped the style of Japanese computer games, especially when it comes to character design. Even early Japanese computer games were based on manga and anime in the representation of their characters. and techniques such as cel shading, which gives computer animation the appearance of classic animation, or principles of limited animation are also used in games.

As in movies, music is used as an important artistic tool in anime. The music is most often used as a theme for a character, or to reproduce the mood of a scene as background music. Series have an opening credits song as an introduction and a closing credits with music. Songs are often sung by well-known musicians or Japanese idols , but also by the voice actors ( seiyū ). Until the 1970s, only simple background music and the publication of individual songs as singles were common, with children as the target audience. In 1977, based on the model of the soundtrack to Star Wars, an album for Uchū Senkan Yamato, which was similarly successful in Japan, was released. Its success quickly led to many imitators and the release of soundtrack albums became a common part of the exploitation chain. The music was composed more elaborately and the pieces, which had previously only been recorded with an orchestra or in the form of classical songs, were accompanied by pop and electronic musicians in the 1980s, and a little later also rock music. The exploitation chain was soon supplemented by sound carriers on which the voice actors recorded songs and texts in their role in the anime. This promoted the notoriety of the hitherto little famous speakers, who have since become idols themselves. Another variant of anime CD publications are drama CDs : radio plays in which the speakers tell a story that often does not appear in the anime.

Due to the close interlinking of different media and the transfer of content from manga to anime and beyond, characters have increasingly detached themselves from their stories since the 1990s, as cultural scientist Gō Itō first described it in 2005. The he called kyara ( Chara , short for English. Character ) is a simplified, reduced to appearances and few significant characteristics which form a character which exists as full-fledged literary figure only within a narrative. It is then not the characters, but often only their Kyara, who appear in simplified forms in adaptations such as computer games and music that are processed in fan works or that combine the works of a franchise, not stories or highly detailed characters. Since the turn of the millennium, Kyara have increasingly become the object of fanatic affection ( moe ) and the focal point of franchises, while the importance of and interest in comprehensive, great narratives has decreased.

Society and politics

Compared to animated films in other countries, anime in Japan was socially recognized relatively early on. Since the 1980s, some animators and directors have become prominent and respected in the same way as their colleagues from real film. While anime, just like other Japanese popular culture, was neglected by politics until the 1990s and, if at all, only perceived as a problem, this changed after 2000. In particular, by Foreign Minister and later Prime Minister Tarō Asō , himself a fan of anime and manga , was understood from Japanese popular culture as an important part of the Japanese economy and culture and its export was advertised and promoted. Several legislative proposals strengthened copyright protection and representatives of the anime industry were included in political advisory bodies. Anime and manga should convey a positive image of Japan in the world as soft power or in the context of the idea of Cool Japan and should be an important part of the export economy.

These initiatives are opposed by the fact that both anime and manga are not as new and modern, as stylistically and consistently as the political strategies advertise them. Style features and marketing strategies have a history that goes back well before 2000 and often emerged in interaction with Western influences, so they are less originally Japanese than politically suggested. Some anime series are criticized for conveying nationalist or revanchist ideas. Japanese anime fans are attributed a stronger national awareness than other parts of society. At the same time, there is also criticism of politics, society and nationalism in the medium, many works target local audiences and are not internationally understandable, and the scene and its representatives try to evade political questioning. Furthermore, it is questionable whether the industry, which is also quite small in Japan, can fulfill the economic hopes placed in it by politicians.

Well-known anime studios

One of the internationally best known anime studios is Studio Ghibli , which has been producing films under the direction of Hayao Miyazaki since 1985 , e.g. B. Princess Mononoke 1997, Spirited Away 2001 or Howl's Moving Castle 2004. Studio Ghibli had its greatest worldwide success with Spirited Away . In addition to numerous international audience and critic awards, the film received the Golden Bear at the Berlinale in 2002 and the Oscar for best animated film in 2003 , making it the most award-winning cartoon of all time.

In anime series, Tōei animation is important, which was involved in early science fiction classics such as Uchū Senkan Yamato (also Space Battleship Yamato ) and Captain Future and later in Sailor Moon , Dragon Ball and other series that have found wide international distribution. In addition, Tōei produced the most important anime films of the 1960s.

Other famous anime studios:

Anime international

Outside of Asia, the USA , France and Italy are mainly responsible for the distribution of anime in neighboring countries such as Spain , Portugal , Arabia , Latin America and also Germany . The success of anime in Western countries opened up these markets in the 1990s to the related medium manga , the Japanese comic, which previously had little popularity here. In some neighboring countries of Japan - South Korea and Taiwan - the manga was present early on, before animes were also shown. In the People's Republic of China, on the other hand, as outside of Japan, both media only became more widespread in the 1990s, and here too, TV series preceded comics. As early as the mid-1990s, Antonia Levi described the popularity of anime - and, in connection with it, manga - in youth culture, which was unexpected in western countries, as the “victory of multiculturalism ”. One who at the same time fertilized the comic and animation scene in America and Europe with new ideas.

The publication is both dubbed and subtitled, with fans in particular often preferring subtitled versions to avoid translations that are not true to the original. Since many animes have references to Japanese culture and are therefore not always easily accessible to viewers in other countries, neutral materials or those based on European or international fairy tales were initially successful outside of Asia, before more Japanese series were also able to find an audience. Some of them had and still have a hard time finding their audience, as especially Japanese style elements, imagery and symbols are not understandable for many outside of Japan. In addition, the dialogues and, in some cases, the plot were adapted in many localizations in order to make them more child-friendly, since in the West animation was only understood as a medium for children's entertainment. Sexual allusions or depictions of violence were removed or “defused” through changes in the dialogue or cuts, right up to changes that distorted the meaning. The complexity of some animes has also been reduced through cuts or the music replaced with new ones in order to make the works more pleasing to the audience. For other series, which are more aimed at anime fans, additional explanations were added instead to explain the Japanese peculiarities. The success of the medium since the 1990s is partly explained by its otherness or “being Japanese”, which is particularly attractive for young people. Other authors point out that series with a less explicit reference to Japan, such as Pokémon and Sailor Moon, are the most successful and therefore a more important role is played by a mixture of fantasy and everyday topics known to the audience that encourage identification. The series such as Astro Boy , which were successful early in the West , did not reveal any Japanese reference, or rather worked it out easily, and were therefore often bought as culturally neutral products. These early imports already accustomed the audience to Japanese aesthetics and narrative patterns.

In the 1970s and 1980s in particular, but also afterwards, a significant proportion of animes found their audiences through illegal copies. Especially in places where no companies had yet licensed anime or no sales infrastructure was available, the medium only became known through illegal distribution and gained a following. In the past, these were copies of video cassettes that were passed on privately and at conventions and subtitled by fans, but later they became fansubs available for download via websites . When a commercial market for anime developed internationally, their companies began to counter the resulting loss of income. In the USA in 1995 they came together to take action against illegal copying and lending of the licensed works. This should be directed against commercially oriented legal violations, but quickly came under criticism of the fan scene that it also acts against fan groups. The work was continued without public relations work so as not to provoke any more reactions from fans. Non-commercial copies are often tolerated by companies, and quite a few of them started out as fan groups themselves. Many fan subgroups, in turn, stop distribution when an anime has been licensed in the respective language and is officially released.

United States

Anime series first appeared on television in the West in the United States. Astro Boy , Kimba, the White Lion , Gigantor and Speed ​​Racer ran there in the 1960s . The latter was the only one recognized as Japanese and long shaped the image of anime in the USA. After that, anime series were less present than was the case in Europe. The most popular series came from science fiction, such as Star Blazer , Voltron and Robotech . There have also been co-productions between the USA and Japan, including The Last Unicorn and Transformers . In the 1990s, after the first successful animes in cinemas, American film producers began to show interest in the Japanese film industry and, among other things, financed Ghost in the Shell and an agreement between Disney and Tokuma Shoten brought Studio Ghibli's films to North America. Shortly afterwards, as in Germany, the international marketing of the series Sailor Moon , Pokémon and Dragon Ball Z was responsible for the perception of anime in particular. The 1999 film Pokémon the Movie: Mewtwo Strikes Back became the most successful anime film in Japanese cinemas. Successful broadcasts of anime series had an impact on the cartoon industry in the USA itself. Initially, this mainly affected the comics scene, which was inspired by the aesthetics and themes of anime and manga. Animation productions followed, which initially reluctantly focused on a gloomy atmosphere and more adult topics. Series like Galaxy Rangers in the 1980s and Avatar - The Last Airbender , Monsuno and Teen Titans in the 2000s were influenced by the anime aesthetic. Since the end of the 2000s, manga and anime titles have also been adapted as real films by American studios. After the boom in the early 2000s, sales of Anime DVDs declined towards the end of the decade, mainly due to competition from legal and illegal online offers. The North American manga market took a similar, even more pronounced development.

On US television, the most extensive editing efforts are made for anime that run on children's programming. These versions are then often marketed internationally. The American protection of minors is much stricter compared to the European standard in Germany, France etc. In the US, companies have extensive resources at their disposal to retouch images, change names, omit episodes, crop them and thus change the plot. The music was also partially changed. Permissive, violent, religious or Japanese-cultural content as well as references to alcohol, weapons and drugs will be removed. Serious topics like death are circumscribed or left out. These measures differ from series to series and also from company to company. The most consistent and extensive editing takes place at 4Kids ( One Piece , Yu-Gi-Oh ), Harmony Gold ( Robotech ), Saban Brands ( Digimon , Glitter Force ) and DiC ( Sailor Moon ).

Largely unedited series have gained popularity through videotapes or night programs from broadcasters like Cartoon Network or SyFy . Cowboy Bebop and Big O have become very popular, especially in Cartoon Network's night program . Space Dandy , Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex and a second season of Big O was co-financed by American funds. Netflix plans to co-finance several series, which will then be advertised as Netflix Original. Since the 2000s, anime, previously known to only a few, have become more part of the American mainstream, which has also led to increasing social and political criticism of the medium. While the fans in particular were initially criticized - as strange and immature - the works themselves have now come under criticism, mostly because they are not child-friendly enough.

Anime in Germany

The first anime in Germany was the 1959 film The Magician and the Bandits by Toei Animation shown in cinemas on March 16, 1961 . The first anime series on German television was Speed ​​Racer , but only a few episodes of which were shown in 1971 before it was discontinued due to protests. Something similar happened when Captain Future first aired in the 1980s. Accordingly, only child-friendly series, for example the Masterpiece Theater, were shown in the 1970s and 80s, where no protests were to be feared. Some of them were German co-productions like Wickie und die stark Männer , Die Biene Maja and Nils Holgersson . The first German anime for sale appeared on so-called TED video disks in 1975 . Numerous animes appeared on VHS tapes in the 1980s. In addition to the secondary exploitation of children's series from television, this market was characterized by erotic works that were brought out by Trimax. These imports meant that even after 2000, many people linked “anime” closely with pornographic or highly violent works.

With the beginning of the 1990s, anime films were shown more frequently in German cinemas, including Akira (1991), Ghost in the Shell (1997) and some Studio Ghibli productions such as Princess Mononoke (2001) and Chihiros Reise ins Zauberland (2003). With the advent of private television, a large number of anime series came onto television, initially through purchases of European program packages, which included Western cartoons as well as isolated anime. Over time, series for young people were added to the program, and in August 1999, animes received the program block Moon Toon Zone on RTL 2 . This block consisted of Sailor Moon , Dragon Ball and Pokémon and was expanded with Anime @ RTL2 from 2001 and PokitoTV in 2004. With the success of RTL-2 broadcasts, the deliberate licensing of anime by RTL2 and other television stations began. K-Toon , MTV , VIVA and VOX broadcast anime for an older audience. From 2007 this offer of animes on television decreased again significantly. In 2013, the program on RTL II was completely canceled. From 2007 to June 2016 there was Animax Germany , its own pay-TV channel for German-speaking countries. Today only ProSieben MAXX (since 2013) and Nickelodeon regularly broadcast animes. The post-production of animes happened on German television and cinema for a long time on a large scale and was often the subject of great criticism from fans. Numerous cuts and changes in content were mostly justified with the protection of minors, since trick series are considered children's programs and are bought and shown for this audience.

The first German anime label was OVA Films , founded in 1995. Around 2000, more and more labels came onto the market, but many of them couldn't keep up. New companies only joined in 2010, some of which have also been hosting regular anime festivals since 2015. AV Visionen launched the first German anime video on demand portal Anime on Demand in September 2007 . Over time, other German and international offers followed, but not all of them were permanent. For example, the put to ProSiebenSat.1 Media belonging MyVideo be launched in 2011 offering 2016 again. The American portal Crunchyroll has also been serving the German market since 2013 .

A fan scene developed to a lesser extent from the 1980s. As anime and manga became more popular in the West after the release of Akira, and even more so after the success of television series including Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball , a larger fan base developed. This relied heavily on communication via chats and forums, there were fanzines and events in the scene as well as meetings at book fairs. In addition, cosplay , dressing up as a character from a manga or anime, and fan art are important hobbies in the scene. In addition, it is not uncommon for people to come to terms with Japanese culture and society beyond popular culture. Significant events at which fans primarily meet are anime and manga conventions, as well as Japan Day , book fairs and events on Japanese films. The only current professional German-language anime trade magazine is AnimaniA , which has been published since September 1994. There are also youth magazines with their own anime sections, such as Mega Hiro , Koneko and Kids Zone . The Funime published by the Anime no Tomodachi association and the MangasZene have now been discontinued .


Anime first appeared in France with the series Kimba, the White Lion and Choppy and the Princess (first broadcast in Germany in 1996) in 1972 and 1974. Similar to Wickie and the Strong Men and Maya the Bee , there were French-Japanese co-productions ( Barbapapa , Odysseus 31 and The Mysterious Cities of Gold ) and many series from the World Masterpiece Theater were shown. With the Toei production Grendizer , called Goldorak in France , a series was broadcast in 1978 that was largely responsible for the fact that more anime was used in children's programs. The series achieved high ratings, but also sparked great hostility and protests against violent Japanese productions. TF1 is the largest private broadcaster in France and relies heavily on anime in its children's programming; many series were responsible for the large fan scene in France. Several science fiction series by Leiji Matsumoto followed . Captain Harlock , shown as an albator , was also made into a comic by a French studio. For the female audience, the Candy Candy series was imported from Japan in 1978 . While RTL2 showed a total of around 60 series, there were well over 100 on TF1. However, AB Productions viewed the series as cheap children's programs and then cut these masses of series together in editing and dialogue. In 1997, after protests and a conflict over anime that lasted over 15 years, the program on TF1 was completely canceled. Afterwards, various special interest channels were found that broadcast an anime program, while the children's programs of the major channels focused exclusively on anime that was very child-friendly.

Space Adventure Cobra is considered the anime with the highest cult status in France, live-action films and sequels as a co-production are planned. In 2004, Ghost in the Shell 2: Innocence was nominated at the 2004 Cannes Film Festival . As in the US, anime had an impact on the domestic animation industry in France. Totally Spies! and Wakfu are aesthetically based on anime.


In Italy, the response to anime was consistently positive. Since Goldorak , almost every genre and format has been adopted by Japan. In Italy, most of the anime were shown on television and cinema outside of Japan. While only just under 20 series were shown in Germany in the 70s and 80s, there were already over 200 in Italy. The reason for these mass imports was that Italy privatized television as early as 1976 and a variety of channels emerged from it. Anime were also the cheapest cartoon productions. As in France, Goldrake (Grendizer) was very successful and received several Italian comic adaptations. For the female audience, the Candy Candy series was imported from Japan in 1978 . Coproductions with Japan such as Calimero , Z for Zorro and The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes have emerged. A large number of the programs that ran in children's programs on the major broadcasters ( Rai and Mediaset ) were consistently processed. This is how violence and revealing scenes were cut - but censorship and changes in the dialogue were also made. Topics such as death, sexual innuendos, Japanese cultural content, as well as drastic images and conditions were made very child-friendly and flattened. Due to the theme of the series Detective Conan , such dialog descriptions have disappeared and are no longer used in other series either. In the 70s, 80s and 90s different series ran unchanged on different local channels , but Fist of the North Star came under strong criticism, which is why from then on these smaller channels were not used for anime. In 1999, MTV Italy began broadcasting anime for the first time explicitly for an older audience at a suitable time.

In Italy, anime for younger girls in particular are more popular than in many other countries, especially Rock 'n' Roll Kids has been implemented as a live series for four seasons. The most popular anime is Lupine III . Italy co-financed a new series of the franchise, Lupine Sansei .


Various anime series were initially shown on the public broadcaster Televisión Español in Spain . As in other countries , the first was Kimba, the white lion , in 1969. However, Saint Seiya came under fire and was deposed. Coproductions such as Around the World with Willy Fog , D'Artagnan and the three MuskeTiere and Roy, the Little Cid have also emerged. Many series of the World Masterpiece Theater were shown and some were adapted by local artists. A Spanish comic about Heidi was published . It has also been Mazinger Z adapted. With the advent of private television in 1990, the broadcaster Telecinco started . He continued Saint Seiya and imported nearly 100 more anime series. Just like in France and Italy, the perception of anime developed well before Germany and the USA. However, many of these series came in the criticism because of violence or because of more revealing scenes (short skirts with Sailor Moon or nudity with Ranma 1/2 ) and were temporarily replaced in 1999 with Disney cartoons.

The two most culturally significant anime in Spain are Mazinger Z and Shin Chan . To Mazinger Z there is a statue in the city of Tarragona , and Shin Chan had sometimes greater popularity on TV than some main news broadcasts.

Reception of the medium

Scientific debate

The media historian Jonathan Clements points out that anime are and were received in different ways: for a long time only as an event that took place in the cinema or on television. Since the 1980s also as a product, as a purchase medium to acquire and own. The way anime was experienced changes the effect the medium has on the viewer. Anime as an event is still of importance today, especially in Japan, sometimes in a modified form as in concert "appearances" by the 3D animated figure Miku Hatsune . The view of journalists and academics on the medium is also influenced by the types of reception that are taken into account. A number of sources play a role in dealing with the medium. This includes the self-written chronicles of companies and individuals, yearbooks, digital and analog databases, magazine collections and catalogs (especially the Animage and Newtype ), as well as original material from works and from their production. The latter, however, are only incomplete, as a lot of materials from the early period to the post-war period have been lost and only reports, orders, catalog entries or advertising have been preserved. The insights that one can gain into the medium can differ greatly, especially with the sources of studios and artists, as many cultivated and disseminated their personal view of the development of anime and their contribution to it. Some reports also go back to oral tradition or statements that were written down years or decades after the events.

Fan scene

Japanese animated films have a fan base around the world that largely overlaps that of manga . Many events are therefore dedicated to both media. A fan scene first developed in Japan and, from the 1980s onwards, to a lesser extent in the USA and France. The Japanese fan scene emerged from the 1970s, especially in connection with science fiction series and the SF fandom. In 1978, the first anime magazine, Animage , was launched in Japan and aimed at a wide audience. He was followed by many more, including Newtype, which was just as important for the scene in 1985 . In the following decade, these fans also became active in the anime industry itself. The scene emancipated itself from the science fiction scene and the term otaku came up for anime fans, which is still used today as both a self-name and a derisive, derogatory foreign name. An important portrait of these fans was the short series Otaku no Video by the fan-founded studio Gainax . With the spread and popularity of both anime and manga following the release of Akira in the west, and even more so after the success of television series including Sailor Moon and Dragon Ball , a larger fan base developed in North America and Europe. The development of this fan base has also been promoted by the Internet emerging, new forms of communication such as chats and forums. When the German fan scene grew around 2000, it was still very young. According to a 2005 survey by Sozioland and a study by the French Center d'Études et de Recherches Internationales , most were between 14 and 25 years old. Only a few were over 25, but played an important role in the fan scene, founded the first magazines and events. 70 to 85 percent of those questioned were female.

While occasional viewers mostly consume synchronized anime, the subtitled versions are preferred in the core fan scene, especially in the West, as these are closer to the original and are usually lighter and available for a significantly larger number of works. In the 1990s in particular, the synchronized versions were much more post-processed and culturally adapted to the target country. In particular, the need to see works in as original a form as possible therefore plays a major role in the preference for subtitles. Associated with this, there is often an interest in the Japanese language and the use of Japanese (slang) terms in conversation among fans.

The medium, like manga, invites to a large extent to be creative. In the fan scene, dealing with the works and their continuation in the form of dōjinshi (fan manga), fan fiction , fanart or dressing up as a character from an anime ( cosplay ) is widespread. This high level of interaction between the medium and fans can be seen as another important feature of anime. The subject of no fewer fan works are love stories between the characters that are invented by the fans that do not appear in the original - often same-sex love as well. The genre name Yaoi has established itself for stories about love between men . Some of the fans also have a particularly strong affection or love for individual characters or character traits, which is summarized under the term Moe , which can also denote genre features and means of representation based on this phenomenon. The anime and manga fan scene can be seen as embedded in a broader culture of modern Japanese fashion, consisting of J-pop and visual kei , Japanese food, fashion, karaoke, and computer games. Significant events where fans primarily meet are anime and manga conventions . These conventions offer stalls, workshops, autograph sessions, concerts or video evenings and cosplay competitions. One of the world's largest conventions is the Japan Expo in France with over 230,000 visitors. In addition, many other events will take place in Europe and North America. Anime is also a topic at events related to Japan, animated films, comics or literature, for example in Germany there are events related to Japanese animated film at Japan Day or the Frankfurt Book Fair .

Since until the 1990s all animes were only created with a view to the domestic market - and many still do today - knowledge of Japanese culture is often necessary to understand them. The success of the series outside of Japan was therefore often unexpected for their producers. According to Antonia Levi, it is precisely this additional level, the associated effort and the opportunity to learn something about another culture at reception that makes the medium so attractive for his western fans, who appreciate the "Japanese nature" of anime. The attractiveness of the medium for the fans, according to Ralf Vollbrecht, lies in the clear difference to “western” cartoons. Instead of being “childish-childish”, physical and sexual attractiveness are emphasized more strongly and the stories are close to the worlds of life even with fantastic subjects in their themes - development issues in particular are often addressed - and there is a high potential for identification for the young people in particular Target group and fan base. Alexander Zahlten also emphasizes that the attraction of many series, especially for young audiences, lies in the thematization of the transformation of the self and the encounter with others, and brings this in connection with the end of the bipolar world order after the end of the Cold War, which creates uncertainty and worry killed myself. For girls in particular, anime stories offer special opportunities for identification, says Dinah Zank. Above all, some genres of anime address a female audience in terms of topic choice and design and also offer them characters such as female warriors who break stereotypes. Such works also appeal to male viewers, also because they offer an escape into a different, “safe, imaginative and idealized” world of girls.

See also

Portal: Animation  - Overview of Wikipedia content on animation


  • Gilles Poitras: The Anime Companion: What's Japanese in Japanese Animation? Stone Bridge Press, 1998, ISBN 1-880656-32-9 , (English).
  • Jonathan Clements, Helen McCarthy: The Anime Encyclopedia: A Guide to Japanese Animation Since 1917 . Stone Bridge Press, 2001, ISBN 1-880656-64-7 , (English).
  • Patrick Drazen: Anime Explosion! - The What? Why? & Wow! of Japanese Animation. Stone Bridge Press, 2002, ISBN 1-880656-72-8 , (English).
  • German Film Institute - DIF / German Film Museum & Museum of Applied Arts (Ed.): Ga-netchû! The Manga Anime Syndrome. Henschel-Verlag, Kassel 2008, ISBN 978-3-89487-607-4 .
  • Jonathan Clements: Anime - A History . Palgrave Macmillan, 2013, ISBN 978-1-84457-390-5 .

Web links

Commons : Anime  - collection of pictures, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: Anime  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

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