The origins of Japanese animation

The origins of Japanese animation
The origins of Japanese animation

Before film, Japan had a variety of storytelling and image-based forms of entertainment. Emakimono kagee are regarded Japanese animation's forerunners. In the eleventh century, emakimono was very popular.Traveling storytellers told legends and anecdotes as the emakimono was unrolled as a moving panorama from right to left in chronological sequence. Kagee was a famous Edo period game that originated in China's shadow play. In the seventeenth century, magic lanterns from the Netherlands were also popular. Kamishibai, a paper play, became popular in the eleventh century and remained popular in street theater until the 1930s. Bunraku ukiyo-e puppets are regarded the forefathers of most Japanese anime characters. In the meantime, other cultures were also involved into making animation and many wondered at that time what were the secrets of british animation.

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Shashin Katsud According to Natsuki Matsumoto, Japan may have made its first animated film as early as 1907. The film was first discovered in 2005 and was dubbed Katsud Shashin ("Activity Photo") due to its depiction of a child in a sailor costume sketching the characters for katsud shashin. It's made up of fifty frames stenciled directly onto a celluloid strip. This claim, however, has not been proven and predates Japan's first recorded showing of animated films. Another point of debate is the date and first public viewing of the film: while no Japanese-produced animation is indisputably known to date before 1916, it is possible that other films entered Japan before 1916 and that no records have surfaced to establish a showing earlier to 1912.

Over the years, other film names have surfaced, but none have been verified to predate this year. The first foreign animation was discovered in Japan in 1910, however it is unclear whether the picture was ever presented in a cinema or even publicly. In the records of the Yoshizawa Shten firm, Yasushi Watanabe discovered a film called Fushigi no Brudo ("Miracle Board"). Though academic opinion on whether or not this is a truly animated film is disputed, the description resembles James Blackton's Humorous Phases of Funny Faces.According to Kyokko Yoshiyama, the first animated picture in Japan was Nippru no Henkei ("Nippru's Transformation"), which premiered in 1912 at the Asakusa Teikokukan in Tokyo. Yoshiyama, on the other hand, did not refer to the film as "animation." On May 15, 1912, Émile Cohl's Les Exploits de Feu Follet was the first confirmed animated picture to be exhibited in Japan. While several "trick films" have been discovered in Japan, this is the first documented instance of a public viewing of a two-dimensional animated film. German animations designed for home release were distributed in Japan at this period.

The introduction of American and European cartoons to Japan in 1914 inspired Japanese animators such as Junichi Kouchi and Seitaro Kitayama, both of whom are regarded as "fathers of anime." Jun'ichi Kuchi created Namakura Gatana or Hanawa Hekonai meit no maki, a short Japanese animated film. There are only a few complete animations from the early days of Japanese animation that have survived. The reasons vary, but many are business-related. After the clips were shown, the reels (which were the cinemas' property) were sold to smaller cinemas around the country, then disassembled and sold as strips or single frames. Namakura Gatana (Blunt Sword), the first anime produced in Japan, was released in 1917, but it is debatable whether title was the first to receive that honor. It has been established that Dekob Shingach: Meian no Shippai (, "Bumpy New Picture Book: Failure of a Great Plan") was released in February 1917. At least two unverified titles were said to have been released the month before.

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