Characteristics of japanese anime
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Characteristics of Japanese Anime. Lauren Malis David Jacobs. Topics. Characteristics of the Art, Animation Methods and Techniques Focus on Toei Animation. Start of Animation in Japan. Began around 1960 Osamu Tezuka Father of manga Astro Boy! Creates Mushi Pro Reason?

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Characteristics of japanese anime

Characteristics of Japanese Anime

Lauren Malis

David Jacobs



  • Characteristics of the Art, Animation Methods and Techniques

  • Focus on Toei Animation

Start of animation in japan

Start of Animation in Japan

  • Began around 1960

  • Osamu Tezuka

    • Father of manga

    • Astro Boy!

  • Creates Mushi Pro

  • Reason?

    • Turn manga stories into Animation

Astro boy sets the stage for anime

Astro Boy Sets the Stage for Anime

  • Tezuka’s art is highly influenced by Disney

  • Well rounded character designs

  • Large eyes

  • Similar to Bambi and Mickey Mouse

Boys manga

Boys Manga

  • Became very popular in the 1950s

  • Examples include Shukan shonen sande and Shukan shonen magajin

  • With these publications, manga became more popular with children than ever before

Boys manga cont d

Boys Manga cont’d

  • Some of the most popular boys manga revolve around sports heroes

  • Some of the most popular about include Ashita no Jo (Tomorrow’s Joe) which is an adolescent boxer and Kyojin no hoshi (Star of the Giants) is described the story of a baseball pitcher.

  • The typical themes included a character who, “trained very hard, displayed unyielding tenacity, and defeated even the toughest rivals,” (

Keep the animation simple

Keep the Animation Simple!

  • As a manga, it already had a vast number of stories

  • Needed to adapt them quickly for T.V.

  • Inexperienced staff and low budget =

Time and money saving

Time and Money Saving

  • Cut the number of drawings or holding drawings for longer periods of time

  • Reuse pieces of animation

  • Done also to place more focus on the dramatic sense and appeal of the original story

More techniques later on

More techniques later on

  • Scrolling or repeating backgrounds

  • Still shots of characters in action poses sliding across screen

  • Dialogue where only the lips move

  • In 1960, 60% of all anime were based on character driven stories from manga

1970s shift

1970s Shift

  • Mostly Original Stories

  • Studios began taking ideas from one another

  • Began Giant Robot stories

  • More complicated stories

    • Youthful Emotion

    • Philosophical Themes

Shift s influence on the art

Shift’s Influence on the Art

  • Deeper story plots =

  • Need for deeper more believable characters

  • Studios favor more realistic drawing style

  • More Details

  • But to keep budget, less animation

  • If viewer is hooked by the story no problem if only the character’s mouth is moving

  • Characters stay rigid, no volumetric changes

  • No need to invent, just follow character model sheets

Stylized character emotion

Stylized Character Emotion

  • Again less time less money

  • Comedic anime = “face fault”

  • Extremely exaggerated expression to show Shock!

Stylized character emotion1

Stylized Character Emotion

  • Female characters pull out weapons like hammers out of nowhere to bludgeon a nearby friend in anger

  • Guy getting bloody nose around an attractive girl

Love and comedy

Love and Comedy

  • Popular in the 1970s through 1980s

  • “in the love-comedy manga stories, romance is invariably set against the backdrop of often-slapstick events involving the protagonists and other characters, and priority is given to a balance between the elements of serious drama and comedy,” (

  • Some popular romance mangas include Urusei yatsura (Noisy People), Miyuki, Mezon Ikkoku (Maison Ikkoku), and Tatchi (Touch)

It s the 1980s and manga returns

It’s the 1980s and Manga Returns!

  • Manga has branched out to different groups: girls, boys, teenagers, adults

  • Anime follows suit

  • Manga released in weekly installments

  • Form larger overarching stories

  • Characters grow and develop

It s the 1980s and manga returns1

It’s the 1980s and Manga Returns!

  • Manga already has fan base

  • Studios want to offer same story/experience

  • To achieve same level of emotion from the still images…..

  • More Effort put in backgrounds and character drawings versus movement

Importance of character

Importance of Character

  • Unless viewers have been watching since beginning

  • All the nuances of the character might not be understood

  • But, creates more engaging stories to hook the audience and bring them back

Shinji shimizu on character

Shinji Shimizu on Character

  • Producer of GeGeGe no Kitarou

  • (Quote not on slides…)

Different perspective

Different Perspective

  • Mamoru Oshii

  • Director of Ghost in the Shell

  • ‘the visuals are the most important aspect, then the story, and the characters come last

Current trends

Current Trends

  • Stories and topics are much more teenager and adult themed

  • Many visibly show characters drinking and smoking such as in Naturo and One Piece

Violence violence violence

Violence, violence, violence

  • The content of popular animes today are filled with gratuitous violence

  • Today’s society is consumed with the “fight fight” mentality

Recent ratings sept 2008

Recent Ratings, Sept. 2008

  • 1. Sazae-san

  • 24-year old daughter living with her family in Tokyo

  • Started as newspaper comics in 1946

  • Turned to animation in 1969, currently running and longest running animation in history

Recent ratings sept 20081

Recent Ratings, Sept. 2008

  • 2.Chibi Maruko-chan

  • Little girl named Maruko and her family in suburban late-seventies Japan

  • Aimed at young girls

Recent ratings sept 20082

Recent Ratings, Sept. 2008

  • 3. Crayon Shin-chan

  • Young trouble making boy

  • 4. Doraemon

  • Magical cat that pulls items out of his pouch

  • Helps friend, Nobita, young school boy

Top four shows

Top Four Shows

  • Very similar art style

  • Simplified and child-like drawings

  • Comedic driven anime

  • Source material = manga

  • Number 5 also manga, but different style….

Number five

Number Five

  • One Piece

  • More serious (comedic at times) adventure driven story

  • About Pirates

  • Aimed at adolescent boys

  • Much more detailed artwork

  • Still stylized, yet much more realistic characters

General format of anime

General Format of Anime

  • Theme song from commercial music artist (usually not written specifically for show)

  • First half of show

  • One commercial break!

  • Second half

  • Ending Theme

  • Scenes from Next Week’s episode

Focus on toei animation

Focus on Toei Animation

  • Around 440 anime production companies in Japan

  • 80% in Tokyo

  • More than half in the Suginami Ward of west central Tokyo

  • Rest in Nerima Ward

Focus on toei animation1

Focus on Toei Animation

  • One of the largest in Japan

  • Established in 1956 (before Mushi Pro)

  • Located in Tokyo’s Higashi Oizumi district

  • Production began in 1957

  • One year later released first feature length, White Snake

Toei animation today

Toei Animation Today

  • Produces five to six 30 min. T.V. shows a week

  • One full length feature, every one to two years

  • Producer: Shinji Shimizu, started 1977

  • Projects: GeGeGe no Kitaro, Shoot!, The File of Young Kidaichi, Galaxy Express 999, Eternal Fantasy, among others

Others from toei animation

Others from Toei Animation

  • Hayao Miyazaki

    • My Neighbor Totoro (1988)

    • Howl’s Moving Castle(2004), and more

  • Isao Takahata

    • Grave of the Fireflies (1988)

    • My Neighbors the Yamadas(1999), and more

  • Directors/Producers at Ghibli Studios

  • Started at Toei Animation

Production process

Production Process

  • One director takes responsibility for an episode from start to finish

  • Director will at times draw storyboards

  • Overviews process from start to final voice over and sound fx

  • With weekly broadcasts, series will have six to eight directors

  • Take turns in shifts

Key animation change

Key Animation Change

  • Note: not necessarily true of Toei

  • Productions run for long periods of time

  • Studios work on multiple projects at once

  • Sometimes key animators will change during a production

  • Key animators draw all poses needed for any action to be understood by those who fill in or in-between the drawings

Key animation change1

Key Animation Change

  • At times causes some anime episodes to have a fairly dramatic change in style

  • Yet, not always noticed by viewers

  • Characters still move and speak exactly the same way as previous and forthcoming episodes

  • Usually only lasts an episode or two

Key animation change2

Key Animation Change

  • Causes

    • New key animators wanted to try out different style/just for fun

    • They didn’t pay enough attention to the character model sheets

  • Ex: Tweeny Witches and Naruto

Back to the process

Back to the Process

  • Company decides on project

  • Scriptwriting

  • Storyboards

  • Animation divided into Keys and In-betweens

  • Those who in-between clean up drawings so they are ready for scanning and digital compositing

Back to process continued

Back to Process continued

  • One of the last steps: Voice Recording

  • Actors all perform at the same time in the same room



  • South Korea and China

  • Take care of process from usually from in-between phase on

  • Some will do all drawing, including keys

  • Storyboards are always done at home studio, Unless joint project

Toei on outsourcing

Toei on outsourcing

  • Philippines

  • Of more than 400 employees, 150 are in Philippines or 38%

  • Art direction and key animation done in Japan

  • Filipino animators work on coloring, background, and camera works

Outsourcing and wages

Outsourcing and wages

  • According to 2005 study of animators in Japan

  • Average Work day: 10.2 hours

  • Estimated: 250 hours per month

  • 26.8% make less than 1million yen a year (approx. $10,000)

  • 38.2% make from 1million to 3 million ($10,000 to $30,000)

More stats

More Stats

  • 80% of in-between animators are paid by quantity with each drawing averaging 186.9 yen, close to $2

  • Wages currently being offered after much outsourcing

Toei developments

Toei Developments

  • 1996

    • Introduction of Celsys’ RETAS, a digital ink and paint program

    • All productions digitally inked and painted

  • Currently is in the process of eliminating all paper and pencils from the studio

In contrast studio ghibli

In Contrast, Studio Ghibli

  • Hayao Miyazaki insists on using traditional hand drawn techniques

  • Exceptions: Princess Mononoke

  • Some digital animation for the movement of the creatures etc.

  • For the first time some of the drawings painted digitally to keep with release deadlines



  • “It’s very important for me to retain the right ratio between working by hand and computer. I have learned that balance now, how to use both and still be able to call my films 2D.”

More on miyazaki

More on Miyazaki

  • Newest film Ponyo Cliff by the Sea, went back to all hand drawn, summer 2008

  • All of his work has been in house production

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