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YumeTwins Kawaii Culture BlogAnime History: Everything You Need to Know!

Anime History: Everything You Need to Know!

By Savannah Walker
July 02, 2024

Welcome to the magical world of anime history, where creativity and culture blend into endless fun! From its start in early 20th-century Japan, anime has become a global favorite, charming people with unique stories and beautiful art.

Get ready to explore a universe full of endless possibilities, where every frame bursts with color, and every story is an adventure. There’s always something new and exciting to discover in this enchanting world.

What was the first anime that was released to the West?

Anime history traces back to the early 1900s when imaginative Japanese animators began experimenting with new animation techniques called cel. This innovative approach led to charming early anime short films like Namakura Gatana (1917) and Momotaro: Umi no Shinpei (1945). These adorable classics established a vibrant industry with unique visual styles and captivating stories.

A shot from "Astro Boy", a major show in anime history.
Astro Boy was a major part of anime history! Image via Screen Rant

Fast-forward to 1963, and a truly magical moment happened with the release of Astro Boy, also known as Tetsuwan Atom. Osamu Tezuka, known as the “God of Manga,” created Astro Boy. This series introduced the world to the unique appeal of Japanese animation. Set in the future, it explored themes of social justice. The show resonated with audiences during technological progress and societal shifts. Get ready to fall in love with the delightful world of anime!

Which anime shows were popular in the 1970s?

The 1970s were a time of incredible growth for anime, with series like Candy Candy (1976) and The Rose of Versailles (1979) capturing hearts in Japan and beyond. Candy Candy, a romantic drama about the adventures of a spirited orphan girl, became a cultural phenomenon.

Meanwhile, The Rose of Versailles, set against the backdrop of the French Revolution, broke new ground with its compelling narrative and strong female protagonist. These series undoubtedly enchanted audiences and paved the way for anime’s continued evolution. It’s also become one of the greatest examples of shojo anime, or anime specifically for girls!

Candy Candy (1976)

Candice White Ardely from the "Candy Candy" anime. She has blonde pigtails.
“Candy Candy” was about an orphan who makes friends in Michigan. Image via Tumblr

Candy Candy debuted in 1976 and became a beloved series known for its heartfelt storytelling and memorable characters. Generally, the series follows the adventures of Candy, an optimistic orphan girl, as she navigates life’s and love’s challenges. Candy Candy captured viewers’ hearts with its emotional depth and exploration of themes like friendship and resilience, making it a cherished classic in anime.

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The Rose of Versailles (1979)

Oscar from "The Rose of Versailles" holding a sword.
“The Rose of Versailles” was a groundbreaking shojo anime! Image via MUBI

The Rose of Versailles debuted in 1979, set during the French Revolution. It pioneered new anime storytelling techniques. The series focused on Oscar François de Jarjayes, a noblewoman raised as a man to serve in the palace guard. It explored her complex relationships amid political upheaval. The show enthralled viewers with its historical drama and intricate character arcs. It also examined gender roles in depth. These elements cemented The Rose of Versailles as a landmark anime series.

Why did anime spread worldwide in the 1980s?

In the 1980s, anime blossomed with new technology and Studio Ghibli’s magic! Founded by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata in 1985, Studio Ghibli wowed fans with enchanting tales like Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind (1984) and Castle in the Sky (1986). These films crossed cultures and touched hearts worldwide with Miyazaki’s imaginative brilliance.

Asuka, Shinji, Misato, and Risuki from Neon Genesis Evangelion.
Image via YouTube/Glass Reflection

By the 1990s, anime went global! Hits like Neon Genesis Evangelion (1995) and Dragon Ball Z (1989-1996) won fans everywhere with deep plots and dynamic animation. Conventions like the Anime Expo in LA and Comiket in Tokyo have become magical places for fans to share their love. The anime craze spread fast, and everyone wanted to join the fun!

What were some popular titles in the 1990s?

The 1990s also ushered in a new era for anime, with unforgettable series that became global sensations. Neon Genesis Evangelion redefined mecha anime with deep psychological themes, while Sailor Moon enchanted audiences with its empowering magical girl tale.

Dragon Ball Z became known for its epic battles and iconic transformations, while Cowboy Bebop stylishly mixed genres in a space western setting. These shows entertained and reshaped anime storytelling, cementing their status as timeless classics that still inspire new generations of fans today.

Why is anime history important?

In recent years, anime has blossomed with new genres and innovative storytelling techniques. The adaptation of beloved manga and light novels has widened its appeal and captivated audiences of all ages and backgrounds across the globe!

Sailors Mercury, Moon and Mars standing and talking to each other.
What other facts about anime history do you know? Image via Reddit

Overall, anime history is a vibrant tapestry of creativity and cultural exchange. From its humble beginnings to its current status as a global phenomenon, anime has left an indelible mark on popular culture and entertainment.

It continues to evolve, pushing boundaries and exploring new themes that resonate deeply with fans. We invite you to share your favorite anime moments and join the conversation below. What does anime mean to you? Let us know in the comments, and keep the anime spirit thriving! 

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