The Rise of Manga and Anime in the Twenty First Century

The word Manga (pronounced maawng-guh) literally translates to “whimsical or impromptu pictures.” It’s stereotyped as a nerdy culture in and beyond. The reality is far from it . You have people from all walks of life reading manga and watching anime now. Examples include Samuel L. Jackson, Elon Musk, Ariana Grande, just to name a few. Manga is a common word in countries for all graphic novels and comic books initially published in Japan. Manga can be found in episodic comic books, monthly magazines, and graphic novels. All formats are available in English translation; however, graphic novels are the most prominent and can be found in both major bookstore chains and local comic shops. (Yes, you, India’s crazy import tariffs, I’m looking at you.) 

Every year, people spend billions of dollars in Japan on manga. Part of the reason for this is that manga has something for everyone, with every genre conceivable represented. The popular Pokemon series, for example, is suitable for children. There is manga for both genders and for mature audiences, as well as works with sophisticated stories and emotional depth (If you want to contemplate your life for the next week, please proceed to read Oyasumi Punpun)

Manga has a distinctive appearance, despite the fact that it spans a wide range of themes and each artist has his or her unique style.  One of these characteristics is outward exhibition of expressions. Emotions are frequently exaggerated for comical effects, such as a vein protruding from a character’s forehead to represent stress or sweat beads to indicate concern. Manga and anime are both drawn in the same way. Drawings are usually done in pen and ink, with a focus on crisp lines. The stereotyped characters have huge, almond-shaped eyes and other out-of-proportion bodily components. Both anime and manga are influenced by Japanese calligraphy and art, in which broad strokes are created with a round ink brush.

The roots of Manga lie in the deep and rich history of Japanese art dating back to the 12th century. During the rise of Japanese imperialism in the 20th century, the Japanese empire used manga to spread propaganda about the benefits of Japanese leadership. But everything changed after the Second World War. During the United States’ occupation of Japan from 1945 to 1952, there was an upsurge of creative output. During the occupation, US troops introduced American comics and cartoons to Japan, including Mickey Mouse, Betty Boop, and Bambi, motivating Japanese artists to create their own style of comics. Osamu Tezuka, known as the God of Manga and the Godfather of Anime, pioneered the distinctive large eyes visible in both manga and anime. Astro Boy, his manga series, went on to become the first Japanese television series to encapsulate the visual style that became universally recognized as anime. This series was broadcasted in Japan for the first time in 1963.

                                 /: – Astro Boy

In the aftermath of the Second World War, the first modern anime production firm, Toei, was founded in 1948 by Kenz Masaoka and Zenjir Yamamoto,and is still a juggernaut in the anime industry. Terrific studios have found their way in the industry ever since, but Toei truly took animated shows to popular television in the 1960s, with major heavyweights like Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball and One Piece, amongst others. 

The 1980s were the golden age of anime, with many of the genre’s most beloved titles being produced then. Dragonball, Captain Tsubasa, and Akira are just a handful of the titles that have become synonymous with the popularity of anime across and beyond Japan. Not only were there some genuinely memorable films, but 1985 also marked the establishment of one of the most legendary studios, Studio Ghibli.

The invention of Home Video impacted movies and television around the world, and Japan’s love of technology drove the creation of experimental anime. Creators worked on manga adaptations and projects that went direct to video, which allowed them to be more innovative with plots and animation techniques. Anime also found an ever increasing global audience.. Needless to say, the passion and dedication of Japanese animators resulted in Japan having a large inventory of anime by the early 1990s. Both anime films and series had loyal admirers and were embedded in Japanese culture. The late 1980s gave rise to a whole new generation of people known as otakus (translates literally to geek or nerd) .

There was also an increased interest in anime aimed entirely at adults (I’m not talking about X-rated anime, which is a sub-genre entirely on its own) – these films and series had high amounts of sexuality and violence, making them far too adult to be seen by children. 

Neon Genesis Evangelion, The Ghost in the Shell, and Cowboy Bebop — not only did these projects have a brief (and late-night) run on Japanese television, but they also generated quite the buzz outside of Japan. The Ghost in the Shell was a massive inspiration for the producers of The Matrix film series, showcasing the influence of anime on western media at that time.

    /: – Neon Genesis Evangelion

What started as a “niche” interest for dorks and weirdos who frequented comic book shops has swiftly gained mainstream popularity as an amazing form of media. You can witness the ingrowth of anime around you. Every third friend is busy starting anime because of the pandemic and that makes me incredibly happy. On a parting note, I would like to inform my fellow weebs to keep introducing their friends to anime and keep the fanbase growing. 

(P.S.  Bleach is better than Naruto and One Piece. Fight me.)

                   –Jaideep Natu

 FY B.Sc.

References – 

2 thoughts on “The Rise of Manga and Anime in the Twenty First Century

  1. Sahil S says:

    I agree, Bleach is better, in amount of filler that is. \ (•◡•) / Although from plot, mystery and world building perspective, One Piece>Naruto>Bleach.

  2. Rei says:

    Bleach is better. I see, you are a man of culture as well!

    This was a lovely little piece about anime. You’ve presented it rather well. A lovely read!

Leave a Reply