Anime Books of the Year

December 23, 2009

Jonathan Clements’ Schoolgirl Milky Crisis blog offers a list of books that ought to be on every fan’s shelf. A couple of them are his and mine, but that’s more an indictment of the state of the market than any kind of personal bias. There are more good anime books in English than there were ten years ago – but still nowhere near enough.

As English-language anime scholarship increasingly focusses on our own reactions to our own interpretations of the material, rather than the the medium and its makers, we run the risk of being so entranced with our own interiors that we vanish inside them. I know class is over (at least for this year) but you owe it to yourselves to carry on reading intelligent critical writing on anime and its history. Why settle for pointless consumption of pap when you can handle mind-expanding substances?


Stunning new book from Germany in English

November 17, 2009

Catalogue to a German exhibition of manga and anime, with essays from many distinguished international scholars. Get more info and buy it here.

New book on Satoshi Kon

November 6, 2009
Book cover

Andrew Osmond's new book

I’ve been trying to read my cold into oblivion and have just completed my first reading of Andrew Osmond’s new book Satoshi Kon: The Illusionist. I’m going to do a more detailed review on my blog when I complete the second reading, but I recommend it to anyone interested in finding out more about the work of one of the most exciting Japanese directors of today. It’s packed with information, gives close and detailed readings of Kon’s work and suggests a wide range of influences, ideas and opinions to consider and look out for as you watch.

It’s also beautifully designed with good colour pictures. The use of colour-coding for each chapter is very clever – for those who like to see a film for the first time without knowing the story, the colour-coded pages help you to avoid the chapters on works you haven’t seen yet.

Background notes for week 3, 27/10/2009

November 3, 2009



Toei Animation                                                Gerry and Sylvia Anderson

Mushi Production                                                Go Nagai

Tezuka Production                                                Leiji Matsumoto

Eiichi Yamamoto                                                Noboru Ishiguro

Mahiro Maeda                                                Yoshinobu Nishizaki

Kunihiko Ikuhara                                                Yoshiyuki Tomino

Kihachiro Kawamoto                                    Masaki Osumi

Monkey Punch                                                Riyoko Ikeda

Shinichiro Watanabe                                    Tadao Nagahama

Masaaki Osumi                                                Osamu Dezaki

Yasuo Otsuka                                                Rintaro

Isao Takahata                                                Masahiko Minami

Hayao Miyazaki

Hiroshi Fujimoto

Tokyo Movie Shinsha (TMS)

Yoshio Kuroda

Zuiyo Enterprises

Nippon Animation


Dominance of Toei and fracture/reforming of small studios

Technological change

Experimental anime and small studios

Animation for older audiences – Animerama, Sazae-san, Lupin III

Animation for children – as advertising/merchandising, World Masterpiece Theater

Sc-fi and robot anime – transforming toys, the influence of Go Nagai, the move towards more realistic robots as young viewers grow up

Anime for girls – the successors to Princess Knight

Background notes for week 2, 20/10/2009

November 3, 2009



Toei Doga/Toei Animation, anime studio                 Osamu Tezuka, cartoonist/animator/writer/director

Mitsuteru Yokoyama, cartoonist/writer                      Shotaro Ishinomori, cartoonist/writer

Tatsunoko, anime studio                                                 Mushi Production, Tezuka’s anime studio

Ryuichi Yokoyama, cartoonist/animator                    Otogi Production, Yokoayama’s anime studio

Takeda Puppet Troupe, worked with Tezuka              Animation Group of Three, experimental animators

Tadahito Mochinaga, animator in Japan and China      Kihachiro Kawamoto, independent animator

Rankin-Bass, US studio                                                  Hayao Miyazaki, animator/director/writer/cartoonist

Isao Takahata, animator/director/writer                   Yasuo Otsuka, animator/director

TeleCartoons Japan, anime compa                              Studio KAI, anime company

P Production, anime company                                       TMS/Tokyo Movie Shinsha, anime company

TV Doga, anime company                                               Osamu Dezaki, animator/director

Gisaburo Sugii, animator/director                                 Machiko Hasegawa, cartoonist


The influence of Osamu Tezuka on anime and manga is enormous, both because of the number of his assistants who set up their own studios using his methods, and because the destruction of prewar materials and the strict censorship of what remained meant that few Japanese had much awareness of the history of these media before Tezuka. Many websites and writers will tell you that Tezuka ‘invented’ or originated’ this and that: take this with a pinch of salt and check it out thoroughly before making up your mind. I find it helps to think of Tezuka as a bridge between pre-war and post-war anime, as well as an innovator in his own right. He was undoubtedly a great artist, but there were great artists before and after him. Considering them will help you to appreciate his genius.


The first animation on Japanese TV was imported foreign material. The first anime on Japanese TV was in anthology show Three Tales (Mitsu no Hanashi, 1960.) The first anime series on Japanese TV was Otogi Production’s Instant History (Otogi Manga Calendar, 1961.) Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atom, 1963) was the first fully animated Japanese TV series, and also the first anime series with continuing characters and developing storylines, on Japanese TV.

Background notes for week 1, 13/10/2009

November 3, 2009



John Barnes Linnett patented the kineograph (commonly known as the flick book or flip book) in London in September 1968

J. Stuart Blackton (1875-1941) Yorkshire-born “father of American animation”

Emile Cohl aka Emile Courtet (1857-1938) creator of the first fully-animated film Fantasmagorie (1908) screened in Japan 1914

Winsor McCay (1867? – 1934) American cartoonist and animator

Oten Shimokawa (1892-1973) cartoonist and creator of the first animated film screened in Japan in 1917

Seitaro Kitayama (1888-1945) watercolour artist and creator of animation from 1917 onwards

Junichi Kouchi (1886-1970) cartoonist and creator of animation from 1917 onwards

Nikkatsu – Japanese studio founded in 1912, among the first to make animation, employing Seitaro Kitayama

Yoshitsugu Tanaka, animator of 1930’s Perrault the Chimney Sweep (Entotsuya Pero), an anti-war, pro-worker film

Proletarian Kinema League (aka Pro-Kino) – political film movement of which Tanaka was a member

Shigeji Ogino (1899-1991) 1930s director of films including Great Detective Felix (Felix Meitantei)

Kenzo Masaoka 1898-1988, pioneering animator

Sanae Yamamoto (aka Zenjiro Yamamoto) 1898 -1981, pioneering animator

Yasuji Murata 1898 -1966, pioneering animator

Tadahito Mochinaga 1919-1999, pioneering animator in China and Japan, builder of Japan’s first ever rostrum camera

Shochiku – film company founded 1895

Shiro Kido, head of Shochiku Films

Noboru Ofuji 1900-1961, pioneering animator

Yoshitaro Kataoka, director of Ban Danemon the Monster Exterminator in 1935

Natsuki Matsumoto, animation researcher, discoverer of early anime material

Noboyuki Tsugata, works with Natsuki Matsumoto

Osamu Tezuka 1928-1989, father of postwar manga and TV anime pioneer

POSSIBLE HISTORIES OF EARLY ANIME: all valid, all overlapping, all influencing each other. It can be useful to consider each strand in isolation, but it limits our knowledge to ignore any of them.

The technological history – development of new media and formats, from new kinds of camera, film and projector, through live narration and live music, to talkies and colour.

The social history – from mass screenings in public places to private screenings at home for those affluent enough to get projectors and film, to the birth of TV and onward to current individual mobile viewing platforms

The political history – the use of animation in education and propaganda, and its adoption by both leftwing and right-wing groups

The economic history – from cartoonists like Shimokawa and Kouchi, commissioned by cinema chains to make works for them to screen, to individual entrepreneurs like Kitayama approaching studios with a pitch; and from the relative affluence of Taisho-era Japan to the terrifying poverty of wartime and Occupied Japan.

The individual history: the development of directors, alliances and studios

The corporate history: the story of how independents, studios and cinema/TV companies interacted.