The Japanese Entertainment Industry
Thirty-five years ago, Japan’s entertainment industry found an answer to its problems. Still developing in the aftermath of defeat in World War II, and the subsequent restructuring plan instituted by the United States, Japan was without surplus resources. There was no money for the production of films. American films soon began invading the Japanese entertainment industry. Yet the Japanese people longed for entertainment which would reflect their own culture. And so “animation...developed in Japan to fill the void of high-budget film-making” (Marin, 69). In the years that followed, animation would take a pop-cultural foothold in Japan that has grown and transformed, and yet exists today. Even with the onset of increasing economic fortitude, animation continued to flourish within Japan’s entertainment industry. The creative possibilities of animation’s unparalleled visual story-telling capacities had been discovered by Japanese filmmakers, and would continue to be exploited into the present age.
Japanese animation, more commonly referred to as anime, or Japanimation, has somewhat different origins than western animation. Where animation developed to entertain European and American children through comedic exploits, anime was created to entertain wider audience groups. Indeed, one might find difficulty in characterizing all anime together; the Japanese have viewed animation as a medium of creation rather a form of entertainment limited in audience and expression. Anime is included in a group from which the United States has traditionally banned animation; specifically, anime is considered a form of creative expression, much as are literature, modern art, live-action films, and other arts. A man by the name of Osamu Tezuka first envisioned animation’s possibilities in Japan in the 1960s (Ledoux, 1). Tezuka realized the power animation could
lend to story-telling, and produced a myriad of animated films and television programs from which modern-day anime has made its genesis. At first heavily influenced by Disney’s animation, Tezuka’s animation soon transcended the confines within which American animation had placed itself. Tezuka can be credited today with being the first to produce animation for a sophisticated audience. Osamu Tezuka adapted comics, the most popular form of entertainment in Japan, to his animation. “Tezuka was a creative dynamo whose comics tackled nearly every possible subject: science fiction, action/adventure, romance, horror, and adult drama, creating a readership which encompassed nearly every possible age group” (Ledoux, 2). When he began producing animation, it too was varied in subject matter. Keeping with Tezuka’s creative process, nearly all animation in Japan has been derived from comics, which are known there as manga. This tradition for the most part still exists today.
In the present age, anime is extremely popular in Japan and abroad. In Japan itself, anime...