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Anime as a New Kind of Modern Art

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Abstract

New art form ‘Anime’. There are a lot of myths and delusions around this genre, but where is the truth, and where is the lie? And can we call ‘Anime’ a new art? For this, the history of the emergence of the Anime genre has been studied and analyzed. As well as a survey among school students to see the popularity and coverage of this art ‘Anime’.

Introduction

Nowadays, a new art form like ‘Anime’ is becoming increasingly popular. Since the twentieth century radically changed the whole nature of art, putting an impassable boundary between old and new art, which now began to develop according to unknown laws. They manifest themselves not only in what and how they reflect art, but also in the development of various tendencies, rejecting the artistic experience of the past, including denying the possibility of translating new ideas into graphic form. Art loses its old form at historical frontiers and gains new ground for its development. In these circumstances, with a sharpness unprecedented for the classical epochs of the history of art, questions are raised about what it means, for what art exists and what art can do.

Three major areas of research can be distinguished in art: ideological and artistic issues, issues of the socio-historical nature of art, and features of its national and international character. All of them penetrate deeply into the history of art, exist and act in it in an interconnected form. In the twentieth century, events such as the emergence of new types of artistic creativity, the restructuring of the genre-specific composition of the fine arts, the development of international art movements and much more related to the ideological structure, forms and functions of art.

At the end of the twentieth century, the art of Japanese animation began to play a significant role. But can we say that “Anime” is a new kind of art with its own style and its culture?

History

The first Japanese animated films appeared in 1917. They were small films from one to five minutes long, and they were made by single artists trying to reproduce the early experiences of American animators (for example: “Keeping up with the Joneses” animated by H.S. Palmep and produced by Gaumont Company in 1915) and European animators (as an example: “Fantasmagorie” produced by Émile Cohl in 1908).

The first Japanese animated film is considered to be ‘The Story of the Concierge Mukuzo Imokawa’ (original title – ‘Imokawa Mukuzo Genkanban no Maki’ created in 1917) made by Ōten Shimokawa (he drew with chalk on a blackboard and shot his drawings on film). Also in 1917, the Seitarō Kitayama was created by Battle of a Monkey and a Crab (original name: Sarukani gassen), and in 1918, his own Momotarō (Momotarou, a popular Japanese fairy tale hero).

None of these films have survived, but it is clear that their artistic value was low – they were just experiments, now interesting only for film historians as the first steps of Japanese animation. In the 1920s, the usual length of an animated film in Japan did not exceed 15 minutes. Almost all of the animation at that time was done in tiny home studios by single artists and funded by film and rental companies in exchange for the right to hire.

Usually, animators either used Western subjects, say, the popular American comic book and animated series ‘Felix the Cat’, or, much more often, – screened the classic Chinese and Japanese fairy tales, drawing them as in the style of traditional Japanese graphics, and in European styles. The most notable animators of the silent era are Shimokawa, Kouuchi Junichi, Seitarō Kitayama, Sanae Yamamoto, Murata Yasuji and Noburō Ōfuji, who cut his characters out of paper (the so-called ‘silhouette animation’).

Sanae Yamamoto’s ‘The Hare and the Tortoise’ (originally titled Kyoikuotogimanga Usagi to kame) (1924) is considered to be the oldest Japanese animation film we have ever seen.

Also in Japan popular was the American animation (such as “Donald Duck”, “Magician Mickey” with a fictional and very popular hero from «Walt Disney Productions» Mickey Mouse) , which was, in turn, under the influence of American military sentiment, and therefore consonant with the policy pursued by the Japanese censorship.

Since 1937, when Japan began to intervene in China and unleashed a massive Japan-China war (1937-1945), the spectators and readers literally fell on the flow of comics and animation content. Recognizing their value, the government not only coordinated their creation, but also supported it financially. A little away from these events was the release in 1940 of the first Japanese sci-fi comic book – ‘Journey to Mars’ (‘Kasei Tanken’) by Noboru Oshiro and Taro Asahi. He talked about a little boy who went to Mars on a space rocket with a dog and a cat in his sleep. The comic strip was painted in three colors, showing the Martians and rockets in detail, and even glued real photographs of the moon.

After the surrender in 1945, Japan’s life came under black occupation. In the ruined country there was no other entertainment than a cinema, and crowds of Japanese lined up for the box office.

Japanese animators were amazed at the technical superiority of these films. It became clear to them that the future of commercial animation was not for individual works of artists, as it used to be, but for large animation studios modeled on American ones (like «Walt Disney Studio»).

The first such studio was Nippon Doga, created in 1946 by Kenzô Masaoka and Sanae Yamamoto. Their first cartoon was the 1947 Masaoka film Kitten Tora-chan (original title – Suteneko Tora-chan).

In 1951, Japan concluded a peace treaty in San Francisco, and the occupation regime was finally lifted. Throughout the first half of the 1950s, all the full-length cartoons of The Walt Disney Studios – ‘Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs’, ‘Bambi’, ‘Pinocchio’, ‘Cinderella’, ‘Alice in Wonderland’, ‘Dumbo’ and ‘Fantasia’ – were screened in Japan.

Ryuuichi Yokoyama’s ‘Toei Doga’ studio in 1955 created a less significant, but also known at that time animation studio ‘Otogi Production’.

The first full-length films of ‘Toei Doga’ studio were technically very similar to full-length films – each of them took about a year to produce, they were large-scale screenings of folk (only Japanese and Chinese, not European) fairy tales with a large number of characters-animals. Some of them were even in the U.S. rental, but there failed, and for two decades, the Japanese animation almost disappeared from the screens of the U.S.

Nevertheless, from the very beginning it was clear that the Japanese animation is moving on a different path. There were completely different cultural traditions and graphics, and the plot. Unlike the American animation, the anime did not feel the tradition of musical, the films were much more serious, and the plots – more dramatic.

Passionate about the success of American animated TV series and the growth of popularity among Japanese science fiction readers, the studio ‘Toei Doga’ offered to cross the two genres of animation and start producing low-budget Japanese TV animation, attracting viewers not with technical perfection, but with original and exciting storylines based on motives taken from science fiction.

In 1964, Osamu Tezuka released the first in the history of Japan full-length animated film based on TV-anime series – ‘Astro Boy’ (original name – ‘Tetsuwan Atomu’). From this moment until the beginning of the 80’s the main part of full-length animated production of Japan gradually began to make up just such films – the continuation of popular TV series.

In 1969, two well-known Russian films by Toei Doga Studio – ‘Puss in Boots’ and ‘Ghost ship’ – were released. Hayao Miyazaki made a significant contribution to both of these films, and both are now considered classics of Japanese children’s cinema.

In the 1970s, anime history is without exaggeration an era of television. Most of the animated films that had a significant impact on the further development of anime history were television series.

Their format was developed by Osamu Tezuka and his colleagues in the early 1960s – one series of about 23-25 minutes a week (about 30 minutes together with a block of advertising), shown at a time strictly defined by the TV channel for this series. The duration of the series was determined by its popularity: more popular series went longer, less popular – quickly ended. But usually the series is shorter than 20-30 series in the 1970s were not made.

There was a change in the anime audience. If earlier its basis were young children and younger teenagers 10-12 years old, now the generation of viewers of the first anime has grown up, but still interested in ‘cartoons’. Therefore, begin to appear and the series, designed for viewers of middle and even older teenagers.

The set of basic genres has not changed – fairy tales, science fiction, historical legends, screenings. Since then, the history of anime has developed, mainly within the genres. Anime 1970s was technically and aesthetically more perfect than the anime of the 1960s. Animators ‘got their hands full’, and producers invested more and more money in a profitable industry. Genre frameworks were expanding considerably, creating additional space for creative possibilities of anime creators.

The beginning of the 1990s was a time of sharp stylistic reshaping of anime. It becomes more and more expensive and beautiful, and at the same time there are changes in the sociological composition of the audience.

There appeared real ‘big eyes’ – a style that is usually considered an indispensable attribute of anime, but in fact became fashionable only during this period.

The style of ‘kawaii’ (translated from Japanese as ‘lovable’, ‘cute’, or ‘adorable’), the element of which was, among others, ‘big eyes’, is becoming increasingly popular. As a result, the personal charm and sexuality of the anime characters increases dramatically. Falling in love with a character is becoming more and more normal in the world of anime fans.

One of the most important events in the history of anime of this period is the beginning of the series of directors Satou Junichi and Kunihiko Ikuhara ‘Toei Animation’ ‘Pretty Soldier Sailor Moon’ (original name – ‘Bishōjo Senshi Sērā Mūn’) in 1992.

For the first time in the history of anime (and manga) genre ‘Magical girl’ (the original name of the genre is ‘mahō shōjo’) was crossed with ‘sentai’ genre, i.e. there are now many magic girls, and they started to fight more actively with all kinds of enemies.

Another atypical feature is the author’s attempt to create a complex world system that explains the magical side of what is happening.

The first quarter of the second half of the 1990s is a controversial period for anime. On the one hand, the total expansion of the market potential allowed animators to implement the most unusual ideas and stories. On the other hand, the economic crisis has significantly reduced investment in each individual project, putting creators in front of the need to clearly adhere to the cutbacks in budgets.

There was an interest in previously almost completely ignored computer graphics. Its small inserts became the norm and gradually increased in size.

Nowadays, the most anime-series on television are anime-series. Both created in Japan and in Europe.

Picture

People unfamiliar with anime among the signs of anime usually first of all mention the unnaturally big eyes of the characters. In fact, the existing style arose under the strong influence of Western animation traditions – Osamu Tezuka, who is considered the founder of this style, was inspired by the characters of American animated films, such as BettiBup, Mickey Mouse and Bambi. Anime characters are distinguished not so much by the size of their eyes as by the attention given to detailing their eyes in relation to the rest of the face. The nose and mouth are usually depicted with several wavy lines, except when the character speaks. Nevertheless, there are works in which a “realistic” pattern is used – the nose, mouth and cheekbones, as well as other details of the face, are depicted and shadowed with greater accuracy.

When drawing eyes, light and dark shades are usually applied at the same time. The eyes can often be inferred about the character as a whole. They usually reflect the age and openness of the character. Positive, funny, friendly protagonists are often portrayed with large, brilliant, life-filled eyes; closed, dark or negative have eyes narrowed, sometimes half-closed or tinted by bangs – often they are painted similar to the eyes of some sharp-eyed bird of prey or snake. Sly or pointedly polite characters have the eyes of a fox – as if they were closed all the time, as if the character was constantly smiling, but ordinary characters who want to sleep all the time can have about the same shape; if the character is not romantic, but not evil, cunning, or reticent, artists can supply him with rather large eyes, but with small pupils-points; moreover, if a character is suddenly deprived of a magical way of will or even of a soul, his eyes lose their luster and become lifeless – all glare disappears from them. In children, the eyes are usually depicted very large, while the elderly (with very few exceptions) have small eyes with a small pupil. Sunglasses are an additional means of expression, being an indispensable attribute of scholars (as opposed to eccentric geniuses), various modest women or otaku guys.

Anime hair is usually made up of strands. The hairstyles of characters can have very different, sometimes strange shapes and colors. Hair, as well as details of the clothes of the characters, often subordinate to the wind or inertia, forcing them to move asynchronously as the character moves. Hair of various colors was originally a way to “personalize” the characters, to make them noticeably different. Today, when the images of the characters are worked out down to the smallest details of the face and behavior patterns, multi-colored hair is not a necessity, but rather a tradition. In addition, hair color often reflects the character of the character. For example, red hair is a characteristic indicator of temper (Asuka from the TV series “Evangelion”, Lina Invers from the TV series “Slayers”). Blonde hair also indicates the foreign origin of the hero, since most Japanese have dark hair. We should also mention bleached hair as part of a hooligan stereotype or eccentric – as mentioned above, the vast majority of Japanese people have dark hair, and lighting is the most effective way for someone to stand out from the crowd in school and on the street.

Since anime series are usually shown on television with a frequency of about a series a week, they are created by a staff of scriptwriter, director, designer, and several dozen animators. In addition, in order to fit into the exit schedule, if possible, without loss of quality, the so-called “limited animation techniques” are used. They include the redrawing of individual parts of the picture while preserving most of the picture unchanged, static backgrounds, simplified forms of the transmission of emotions.

The transfer of emotions in the anime is a reason for a separate conversation. In addition to the traditional types of anime feelings manifestations of the character – a change in the expression of the face or tone of his voice, a number of other techniques are used. Emotions can be portrayed in a markedly unrealistic, hypertrophic way – the characters speak with their eyes closed to convey a categorical nature, or take a picture of a demonic form when they show anger. In comedic situations, in order to show the frivolity of feelings, pictograms are used, such as a picture of “sweat droplets” or “swollen veins” appearing over the hero’s head, or in a frame above it.

In addition to the “serious” picture, there is also a popular “tibi” or “super-deformed” (SD) style, in which characters are portrayed in a simplified way, with disproportionately large heads and half-face eyes. Usually the style of SD is used in comedic situations, since it gives a clear frivolity, parody of what is happening. However, there are serials entirely made in this manner; here, a similar style is used to create sympathy for the “small and fluffy” main characters. For example, in the comedy series “YamatoNadeshikoShichiHenge”, the main character spends 90% of screen time in her Tibi-form, acting as if she is completely out of this world. Other characters, being more adequate, are depicted, respectively, quite ordinary.

AnimeNation analyst John Opplinger emphasized that the way the character is depicted allows the viewer to instantly determine its importance. He also believed that in many anime series, where there are memorable characters created by famous designers, there are often cases of unsuccessful performance, while other series, where there is no clear difference between the characters, have become very popular. According to the analyst, although the overall character design evolves over time to fit the tastes of the audience, the distinctive appearance is found in isolated cases.

History of Manga

漫画 The word ‘manga’ is quite ambiguous. These are political cartoons in the newspapers, and Japanese drawing stories that are very popular throughout the world. But for the Japanese, this is primarily a comic.

The manga creator is called ‘mangaka’. Usually one person (often with assistants) draws comics and writes texts, but there is also group creativity. However, more than three or four people usually do not work on one manga. The artistic integrity of this increases, and personal incomes grow. In addition to professional manga, there is an amateur – ‘Doujinshi’. Many mangaks began as creators of Doujinshi (‘同人誌’). In large cities, there are special markets in which Doujinshi sell their products and sometimes find serious publishers for their works.

The most sought-after manga is produced in the form of books (often series of 10-20 volumes), which spread across the country in tens of millions. And on the basis of the best of them multiseries cartoons are created. Almost all manga is drawn and published in black and white. There are several reasons for this – firstly, this is the legacy of traditional Japanese painting, and secondly, it significantly reduces the cost of its production.

Do not confuse manga with «manhwa» and «manhua». ‘Manhwa’ ( 만화 ) – the invention of Koreans, and ‘Manhua’ ( 張曼華 ) – the Chinese. These words are similar for the simple reason that they are written with the same hieroglyphs. And in fact, ‘manhwa’ is not only comics, but also cartoons, too – this is the meaning the word has inside Korea itself, and outside of it is used exclusively to refer to Korean comics. Also, the peculiarity of Mankhwa is that, based on it, live TV shows and films are created more often, while animation works are still a relative rarity. Manhua includes all comic books released in China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, as well as translations of Japanese manga into Chinese.

Manga is a phenomenon of artistic culture. As an expressive tool, it has even more open space for creativity than other types of media. Manga is a more individual, and therefore freer, art, as an expressive means is somewhere in between other types of media, such as cinema, CD, literature, television, etc. Manga differs markedly from Western ones in graphic and literary style. comics (American and European), despite the fact that developed under their influence. The scenario and arrangement of frames are built differently; in the pictorial part, the emphasis is on the lines of the drawing, and not on its shape. The picture can vary from photorealistic to grotesque, but the dominant direction is the style, a characteristic feature of which large eyes are mistakenly considered. In fact, it is not the size of the eyes that is important, but the attention that the artist pays to the eyes in relation to the rest of the face, their detailed gleaming. The first in this style began to draw the already mentioned Osamu Tezuka. Manga is usually read from right to left, the reason why Japanese writing, in which the columns of hieroglyphs are written that way.

Manga is distinguished by the prevalence of serial issues in periodicals.

In Japan, very rarely manga is published immediately in book form, instead it is first released as a series of issues (or as part of a journal issue) of 20-30 pages each and only then (depending on success) is collected and published as a book. It is the fact that manga is first printed in magazines, and is one of the reasons for manga ‘blackness’. Popular works are often released as separate issues for several years (Ranma 1/2, DragonBalls, etc.), and when it comes time to release in book form, they can occupy dozens of volumes.

Today, manga is an almost all-powerful and comprehensive visualization tool, including a huge range of genres and forms, ranging from humorous books, melodramas, fiction, to serious literary works, travel descriptions, educational and educational guides.

Conclusion

Summing up this work, we can conclude that anime is indeed a new art of our time. Anime has a significant impact on all areas of art of the 21st century, being distinctive and completely new. Its uniqueness lies in the fact that it combines both the culture of the countries of the East and European culture, forming new aesthetic ideals. Anime captures the extraordinary color palette, psychological tension of the plot, fantastic worlds, unexpected ending, but most importantly – exactly recreated characters and emotions inherent in the living, not the painted person. The mastery of the artists and the psychological findings of the authors are impressive.

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Anime as a New Kind of Modern Art. (2022, April 08). GradesFixer. Retrieved June 29, 2022, from https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/anime-as-a-new-kind-of-modern-art/
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Anime as a New Kind of Modern Art. [online]. Available at: <https://gradesfixer.com/free-essay-examples/anime-as-a-new-kind-of-modern-art/> [Accessed 29 Jun. 2022].
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