STUDIES AND RESEARCH
Endangered Megalopolis in Japanese Anime Films
The purpose of this paper
is to deepen our understanding of anime, a remarkable
kind of animation that grows more and more popular all
around the world. Japan’s animation has experienced a kind
of renaissance during the last twenty years, which probably
made it the most exciting phenomenon in the world of animation
at present time. But it is still vague and difficult to
A short introduction, which presents Japanese
art in general with its propensity to adapt foreign influence,
but resist assimilation, is followed by the quotation of
a 1929 essay »Thoughts on film-take« by Sergei Eisenstein,
in which he noticed great cinematic potential in Japanese
art and in a way predicted the emergence of something like anime.
Eisenstein highly valued Japanese art’s capability of destroying
»realism« in order to approach reality. »It is montage«,
In the first part of the study, the author
gives a historical overview of the ukiyo-e, woodblock
prints of the Edo period (1600-1867), which was seen by
many as the precursor of both Japanese comic manga and
Japanese animation anime.
The ukiyo-e artists established visual patterns of Japanese
drawing; they made this art distinctive in style and content
by developing powerful yet fluid outline with a clear and
elegant line, by creating a unique perspective technique,
and capturing the essence of the subject put the emphasis,
with on its details.
The second chapter gives a review of the
historical evolution of Japanese contemporary comic called manga. Manga comics
are incredibly popular in Japan and the status of manga artists
in Japan is the same to that of authors or film directors
in the west. Considerable length that gives ample time
to expand on the story development, and characters with
distinctive moral ambiguities are just two of many singularities
that make manga intellectually much more challenging
than most of European or American graphic novels. In the
analysis of manga, the author finds that influences
in manga derive
from many ancient Japanese sources, the most important
being the Shinto religion, Japanese traditional
and modern art, ukiyo-e drawings, kabuki theatre,
Japanese poetry, and finally, Japanese lifestyle.
The third chapter is dedicated to Osamu
Tezuka whom his numerous fans in Japan and worldwide have
elevated to the position of »manga god«. Tezuka
was, in a very real sense of the word, the father of Japan’s
comics and animation culture. Magical powers and playful
spirit of the gigantic work made by this writer, cartoonist
and filmmaker of genius have influenced generations of
Japanese artists that have emerged since 1960s, the time
when Tezuka became known. Drawing for girls’ romance comics,
Tezuka found that Caucasian look, with its typical facial
expressions and saucer-shaped eyes, had strong appeal to
the readers. In accordance with that, he fashioned now
famous manga stylization
and created a large scale of symbols representing emotions
of his cartoon characters.
Among many of his extraordinary
achievements one must mention the fact that it was Tezuka
who considered manga and anime as
two shapes of the same art form so that to this day anime usually
appears as »manga on television and at the cinema«.
That is also the title of the fourth chapter of the study.
Here the author analyses the aesthetic design and technical
aspects of anime. He noticed that most Japanese
animators don’t waste cells since they use a much smaller
number of drawings than an average Disney film. In order
to hide this particularly Japanese feature known as reduced
animation, they often use unusual points-of-view, dramatic
camera angles, sound effects, special effects, etc.
In the next chapter, called »Ancient mythology
meets sophisticated technology«, the author discusses the
roots of story content and dramaturgic construction in anime films.
The author concludes that anime is usually an expression
of the cultural heritage from Shinto mythology combined
with fears and dreams, and hopes and ideas of the Japanese
of modern time.
In the chapter called »Women in anime: remembering
civilization«, the author gives a summary of some of the
most emblematic conventions found in anime films.
The author concludes that anime films are usually
set in the near future, in the apocalyptic post-war times,
so that fantastic narratives tend to be the prevailing
genre. In this part of his study he also discusses explicit
pornographic situations merged with occult rituals, exaggerated
violence, and the fact that female characters are more
common in anime and manga than
they are in European and American comics and animated films.
The following chapter »The young heroes
of the megalopolis« presents one of the most common particularities
present in the majority of anime films; their heroes
are generally much younger than the heroes of the popular
western culture. Special consideration is given to the
way in which anime artists treat large urban areas. The
story is usually set in the present or future Tokyo, which
is used to convey the feeling of uncertainty and fear of
the apocalypse and destruction that are deeply rooted in
The case study is Akira, a long anime made
in 1988. by Katsuhiro Otomo, which presents one of the
highlights of anime history. The film was made using
an enormous number of drawings and an extensive range of
new techniques. More than any other anime, or Japanese
film in general, it has succeeded in endearing itself to
the audiences of different ages and from all corners of
the world. Featuring young heroes set in the urban paranoid
world of 2019 Tokyo, Akira might
be, the author agrees, the most typical example of its
kind ever made.
The paper ends with a short account of the complete work
of Hayao Miyazaki, the genius in the field who is critically
acclaimed and loved by audiences worldwide.
according to the author, is the most important animator
of our time, has acquired his reputation with a large number
of animated features, such as My Neighbour Totoro or Princess
Mononoke, in which he has combined his interest in
European literature with marvelous naturalistic images
and beautiful, human stories.
Miyazaki’s love of small
cities and nature culminated in a romantic action-adventure Porco
featuring his »pigman«, a cynic who had lost his faith
in mankind, and Fio and Gina, two of the strongest female
characters that have ever appeared in animated stories.