Thursday, January 31, 2013

1973: Onna Unchained

A junior pursuing a Biology major and Women's Studies minor, Natasha Hede (@illegenes) has had a fierce love for the animated world since she was a 4th grader sitting down in her living room and watching Toonami programming.The time remaining from her all-consuming studies is committed to sobbing about anime and television and secretly playing video games while eating Cocoa Puffs. She runs the anime blog Shibireru Darou? with her buddies from across the United States.

Feminism in the 1970's wasn't as prominent or stylish as it is now, but just as every movement has its beginnings, so did the movement toward putting girls in the spotlight. For us, the year of 1973 is where the embers of this cause ignited. During this time, the second wave of feminism had already begun. In Japan, this wave was led through the Women's Liberation movement, headed by the influential Mitsu Tanaka. Instead of just opting for economical equality, this group—and the second wave in Japan in general—sought to aim for something deeper and more powerful. In her "Declaration of the Liberation of Eros", Tanaka writes:
"As we continue to thoroughly question ourselves, in the mist of the struggle, we who can be none other than onna. By questioning men and authority, we will deconstruct our own fantasies of love, husband and wife, men, chastity, children, the home, and maternal love. As we design our own subjective formation, we would like to aid in the (re)formation of men's subjectivity."
These words echoed through media as Japan aired two critical TV shows and two movies that laid the tracks for future writers and works that enforce a sense of feminism: Kanashimi no Belladonna ("Belladonna of Sadness"), Cutie Honey, Êsu wo Nerae! ("Aim for the Ace!"), and Panda! Go, Panda!

(Editor's note: Warning! Not safe for work. Also, a trigger warning for rape imagery and discussion.)

Monday, January 28, 2013

1971: Anime Undergoes Puberty

Rose Brazeale is a Theatre and Film Studies undergraduate at Agnes Scott College and is preparing to work on a senior research project looking at Catholicism and its representation and influence in Trigun and Blue Exorcist. She has been an avid anime fan since she was in elementary school playing the Yu-Gi-Oh! trading card game on the playground. She also is a co-panelist on the Anime Academia panel at Georgia Tech's MomoCon 2013 with Brent Allison.

When I volunteered for this project, I looked to see which years were still available. Only a few were still up for grabs, so I looked up which anime came out in the years that were still available and volunteered for the first one that had a title that I recognized, which ended up being the year 1971. The title that I had recognized was Lupin the Third. However, I had never watched any anime older than the ‘90s, so this was an adventure into unknown territory for me where I learned a lot and exposed myself to anime that I ordinarily would not have given much thought to.

The immediate indication that Lupin the Third is a significant instance in anime history is the new revival of the franchise in the form of the 2012 series Lupin the Third: The Woman Called Fujiko Mine. If Lupin the Third is able to still be relevant to today’s audience, then it must be significant in some way, and I made it my job to learn why it was. Pushing off from Lupin the Third, I then investigated which other anime that came out during that year had the most information available. It quickly came out that one other series, of a vastly different genre, could hold a candle up to Lupin the ThirdMarvelous Melmo, a magical girl anime geared towards children.

Granted, there are other shows that came out in 1971 that didn't hold an impact to Western fandom as much as Lupin the Third and Marvelous Melmo. Wandering Sun, a drama covering the story of two women switched at birth, was more significant for its production staff, as it united Yoshiyuki Tomino and Yasuhiko Yoshikazu before their venture with the Mobile Suit Gundam manga. Tensai Bakabon, a comedy series about a boy and his father who isn’t all that bright, has been a memorable show, mostly in the minds of pachinko fans. While there were other shows that debuted that year—Sarutobi Ecchan, a magical girl anime; Hyppo and Thomas, a comedy about a hippopotamus and a bird; Andersen Monogatari, a fantasy series aimed at children and based on the Hans Christian Andersen tales—there were really only two shows to cover.

That said, let’s dive right in.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

1970: Anime Finds Its Heart and Passion

Jessica Dreistadt is currently writing on her bachelor's thesis in Asian and African Studies at Humboldt-University in Berlin, Germany. While her main focus is on Japan and though her thesis will have no relation to anime or manga whatsoever, she's been an avid viewer of anime for almost two decades, having grown up watching the anime shown on German television in the 90s and early 2000s.

In December 1969, Attack No.1 started its run on Japanese television. It tells the story of an aspiring volleyball star and is one of the most, if not the most, popular sports-themed series aimed at girls. Attack No.1 was also the first anime I recognized as coming from Japan when I watched it as a child about 25 years after its original run.

Attack No. 1 was still on air in 1970, when a number of sports-themed shows targeted at boys and young men were brought to the screen. Out of 16 Japanese anime series debuting in 1970, 5 can be counted into this category, namely Ashita no Joe ("Tomorrow's Joe", boxing), Akaki Chi no Eleven ("The Red-Blooded Eleven", soccer), Otoko Do-Ahô Kôshien (baseball), Kikku no Oni ("Kicking Demon", kickboxing), and Inakappe Taishô ("The Funny Judo Champion").

Monday, January 21, 2013

1969: Small Steps, Giant Leaps

Former con chair for Anime Weekend Atlanta and occasional cartoonist Dave Merrill writes about classic Japanese animation at Let's Anime, highlights stupid comics at Mister Kitty, and produces “Anime Hell” events in his home town of Atlanta and his adopted city of Toronto. His work has appeared in the anthologies DRUNK TANK and JUKU, as well as the annual publication for the FLUKE minicomics festival. Follow him on Twitter at @terebifunhouse.

As Iggy would say, "Well, it’s 1969, okay."

Nixon lurches through his first heady year in the White House. The gay community finds its street-fighting heart at the Stonewall riots. Youth writhes in the mud to Sha Na Na at Woodstock while the Rolling Stones finish their set at Altamont with "Sympathy For The Devil" and a body count of four. In Vietnam, the NVA tries for a second Tet offensive, Hill 937 gets renamed "Hamburger Hill", and the Australians pummel a combined NVA/VC force in Binh Ba. A more peaceful impulse of humanity sends Neil Armstrong to salute America (and the enigmatic "Mr. Gorsky") from Tranquility Base on the surface of the Moon. Ominously, Action For Children’s Television consolidates its power as it seeks to remove everything that makes children’s television interesting, fun and violent.

In Japan, radical students disrupt Tokyo University with protest against America's growing Asian military presence. Japan's fourth attempt at an orbital satellite fails with the third stage of L-4S-4 (5th time's the charm; 1970's launch of OHSUMI is a success), and Japanese animation—soon to become one of the nation’s primary cultural exports—continues to gain influence and significance. Did they suspect that the next decade would see European TVs filled nothing but Grandizer and Captain Harlock, and that their super robot diecast toys would excite children around the world?

But wait. Let’s deal with 1969 first.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

1968: Man and Machine Take on the World

A proud child of the 80's, Todd DuBois (@GWOtaku) grew up on Transformers, G.I. Joe, Thundercats, Robotech, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, and pretty much any 80's cartoon that was halfway popular at the time, but it was Cartoon Network's Toonami that made an anime fan. Currently, Todd is a moderator for the Animation Wiki and the Anime Forum, posting there since 2003.

As remarked before the 1960s were a time of firsts for television anime, and that's certainly no different when it comes to 1968. In January, GeGeGe no Kitarô popularized the yôkai anime genre, introducing the world to all of the unique supernatural monsters of Japan and paving the path for other pseudo-horror successes in the same year (Kaibutsu-kun, Yôkai Ningen Bemu). In March, Star of the Giants (Kyojin no Hoshi), the popular baseball manga from Ikki Kajiwara and Noboru Kawasaki, became the first sports anime to hit TV and presented four years of surreal baseball drama.

Since the advent of the Astro Boy series in 1963, 1968 was the first year to see no new adaptations from Osamu Tezuka's body of work. However, the preeminent anime of this year is undoubtedly the work of his one-time protege and one of the most influential manga creators of all time: Shôtarô Ishinomori, who got his big break in the 1950s working on the Astro Boy manga as Tezuka's assistant.

Monday, January 14, 2013

1965: A Year of Anime Firsts

Mia Lewis is getting her MA/PhD in Japanese Literature at Stanford University, where her area of specialty is manga. Her undergraduate research at Columbia focused on the use of visual manipulation of language to embed meaning into manga’s text. Her undergraduate thesis, which focused on these techniques in CLAMP’s manga, was published in the Columbia East Asia Review. She also runs a blog on anime/manga:

I would like to start as Charles Dunbar did by stating that this era of anime is completely new to me. I must also state that because the vast majority of this year’s anime (beyond their opening themes) is not available outside of Japan or at all, this piece is based almost entirely on secondary research. There were also times when Wikipedia was the only source for specific information. In instances where information from Wikipedia exceeds basic plot information, I only use it when it is consistent with other sources, and note it at the end of the statement. As my goal here is to provide a sense of the industry, rather than individual works, I do not go into plot for most works. I would also like to apologize for putting this project out of order by being late with getting this finished, and to thank all of those who submitted their work early to keep the blog going on time. -- Mia

1965 was a year of firsts for anime on a multitude of different fronts. Some of these experiments and efforts were so successful as to effectively change the standards to which every subsequent anime was held. On the other hand, some were such huge failures that they ended after only one episode. The number of new anime series produced this year nearly quadrupled over the previous year, going from 4 to 15. Of these series, few crossed over into the Western world. However, this year as a period of trial and error was key to the formation of anime as we now know it.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

1967: Best Year for Coming Out Second

An eternal English/Graphic Design major that spends way too much time playing video games and watching Japanese cartoons, Basil Berchekas III has his fingers in many anime-related cookie jars. He's one of the mega-podcasters at OSMCast!, he runs his own geekfest blog at The Basil Blog, and he's also the grand "Director of Awesome" at Hama-con in Alabama. His words, not ours, folks.

Do you remember your first anime? You know, the show that blew your mind away when you were just but a child? A show that, even if you didn’t know it at the time, was something completely different from what you were used to? The show that expanded your mind’s possibilities that animation could be so much more?

I do. As it turns out, my first anime aired in the September of 1967.

Anime in the 1960s, in case it wasn’t obvious, was a decade of firsts. First television shows, first in color, first to star awesome robots—you know, the important things in life. 1967 did not have these firsts. It didn’t land the first color anime, as 1965 swiped that with Kimba the White Lion. Some people say that the first shôjo anime premiered in 1967, but as we've seen before, others may say the first shôjo anime was in 1966 with Sally the Witch.

But you know what 1967 did have?

Monday, January 7, 2013

1966: Reflecting the Economic Expansion in Anime

When we were putting out fliers for our "Golden Ani-Versary" project, he came to us known only as "Inaki", but he convinced us that he'd be the fan for the job when it came to anime. A lifelong fan of Japanese animation, particularly the magical-girl genre with a love of the history of the medium, he can be found on twitter at @aliveinthewired, where he thinks too hard about anime.

WAY too hard about anime.

Like much of the world, times for Japan the 1960s were incredible and tumultuous, a time of great change. The economy boomed, and society underwent many changes; the country itself was transformed as massive building projects worked to accommodate the new Japan, its industry, and its people. It's in this era that television—as well as televised animation, of course—would become firmly established in Japan's popular culture.

Television wasn't new or novel in Japan in 1966, immediately becoming popular after its introduction in 1953, with everyday Japanese people crowding around televisions in public plazas, shops, bars, restaurants, and other such drawcards. Private television was also not novel in 1966, as many Japanese homes bought television sets to watch the Royal Wedding in 1959 with a second upsurge for the Tokyo Olympiad in 1964. It's into this environment that Tezuka's bold experiment, an animated television programme of his hit manga Astro Boy, was brought into the world.

It's no secret that Tezuka's magnificent experiment wasn't exactly a success. Despite building a television anime industry from the ground up and more or less inventing modern television animation to do it, Astro Boy still failed to turn a profit for Tezuka's newly-founded company. However, that was in 1963, and by 1966 things had changed significantly. In the 1960s, the Japanese economy was booming, and every year the GDP nearly doubled, a phenomenon unheard of in economics. More televisions, more money, and more people drove the demand for entertainment up further each year. The seeds of the anime industry were beginning to blossom.

Thursday, January 3, 2013

1964: Confronting World War II Through Animation

(As an avid viewer of both Japanese animation and cinema for more than a decade, Miguel Douglas has written for Midnight Eye, PopMatters, Manga Life, Directory of World Cinema: Japan, Shadowland Magazine and Miguel is also the editor-in-chief at, a website started in 2008 as an outlet for the exploration of Asian cinema and animation, and runs the @iSugoi Twitter account.)

Coming in the wake of perhaps the most influential year for Japanese animation, 1964 arrived with considerably less impact on the animation industry as a whole. With the massive success of such titles as Tetsuwan Atomu (Astro Boy) and Tetsujin 28 (Gigantor) just a year prior, the industry was attempting to essentially recuperate and further explore what the medium of animation could offer in terms of storytelling.

Stemming from this effort, 1964 saw the release of only three animated series: Shōnen Ninja Kaze no Fujimaru ("Fujimaru of the Wind"), Big X, and Zero Sen Hayato. While numbering only three, these series would provide production studios and directors an opportunity to explore Japan’s traditional past, confront controversial issues of patriotism surrounding Japan’s involvement in World War II, and even exploring the social philosophy of eugenics during the war. Certainly these were difficult subjects to elaborate upon within animation—most would even suggest taboo—but seemingly mature thematic material was increasingly finding the medium of animation as a viable platform within Japan. This year also saw the release of only one theatrical film, Tetsuwan Atomu: Uchû no Yûsha ("Astro Boy: The Brave in Space"), a production featuring the recently famous robot boy created by Osamu Tezuka, introduced to the world only a year prior.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

1963 (Part 2): On the Outside, Looking In

(The article for 1963, the first year featured here at Golden-Ani, has been provided for us by Charles Dunbar, maintainer of the Study of Anime blog. He can also be found on Twitter at @Studyofanime. Part 1 of Charles's analysis covering 1963's two biggest shows, Tetsuwan Atomu and Tetsujin 28, can be read here.)

Now while Atom and Tetsujin might have made the biggest splash in that first year of television anime, there was a third cybernetically-enhanced fellow who flew “under the radar,” so to speak. His name was "Eitoman" ("8 Man"), and while he is often forgotten in the modern era, he made a splash of his own that would be felt long after he vanished from the airwaves.

Created by Kazumasa Hirai and illustrated by Jirô Kuwata (who would eventually garner more fame as the Japanese adaptor of Batman later in the decade), Eitoman occupies the position of first cyborg hero in Japan. While Tezuka and Yokoyama were debating a future in which robots coexisted with humans, Hirai decided to take the more (arguably) “humanist” approach of creating a hero out of a murdered policeman. Saved from death by Professor Tani, felled cop Hachiro Azuma’s brain is transplanted into the 008 robot body, where he continues to fight crime and defend the weak against evil.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

1963 (Part 1): On the Outside, Looking In

Charles Dunbar, maintainer of the Study of Anime blog, is graduate of Hunter College, CUNY, where he received a BA in Religion and Anthropology and an MA in Cultural Anthropology. His thesis, Pilgrimage, Pageantry and Fan Communities was published in 2011 and focused on anime convention participation, including spending habits, cosplay, demographics, communal behaviour and convention culture.

I’m beginning this essay with a disclaimer. I often utilize this American pie institution to clarify what I know, as opposed to what I will be presenting. This is one of those times, so please allow me a few moments to get a few things off my chest.

I came into anime fandom in the late '90s, and like many from that age of Dragon Balls and Sailor Scouts, I had little knowledge of anything beyond those two series. I had never heard of Astroboy or Gigantor, let alone Tobor. I barely knew what manga was, aside from what Stu Levy was releasing through MIXXzine. As my fandom grew, it occasionally embraced the older stalwarts of Japanese animation, but in general I kept myself close to what was new and accessible.

I say this because this essay was something of an enlightenment to me. I chose to cover the year 1963 because it was something I did not know, as opposed to something I was deeply familiar with, and in this way, I learned more about the roots of Japanese animation than I had ever thought. At the same time, I refuse to present myself as an authority on all things Tetsuwan Atomu or Ôkami Shônen Ken. This was as much a learning experience for me as a chance to write, and for that I beg your forgiveness if I get something wrong, or miss something obvious. I am still learning about this amazing time, and while I am hardly an expert, my enthusiasm and interest have grown exponentially.

You have been warned.