The term anime refers to Japanese Animations created for either adults, children, or most often, both. Nearly everyone has seen at least one anime, whether it be Pokémon or Cowboy Bebop. But few have what it takes to recognize fifty anime by a screenshot alone. However, if you didn’t know your Digimon from Monster Rancher, would you really be here? Probably not. Chances are, your dream is to speak Japanese, and you listen to anime themes on a daily basis. You collect anime POP! Figures and will one-day visit Japan or die trying.
All that aside, I think we should go back. Back to the beginning. Before we get started, let’s take a look at the very first anime. The whole term “anime” is usually used to refer to Japanese animations. We know that the first successful American cartoon was Steamboat Willie. But what about Japan? Although there were many small motion pictures, nothing really sold until the 1960s when Tetsuwan Atom, better known as Astro Boy, was created. It wasn’t the first animated series in Japan, but it was the first successful one. Surely everyone is familiar with the robo boy so popular that a 2009 animated film was produced. And a new live-action one is on its way!
That kind of popularity is insane and timeless. Maybe one day, these anime will be timeless as well. For us…they already are.
Let us introduce you to the Listicle Liege, the Article Aficionado, the one and only Nathan. Since creating his first photo collage at the age of five with images clipped from his mom’s Chatelaine magazines (all of them), it’s been nearly impossible to stem this one’s tide of visual learning. Be it the annals of history or the latest celeb gossip, Nathan has probably researched it, likely already has a folder of relevant photos on his desktop, and definitely learned a lot of interesting facts to go with those images. Whereas most well-read adults have bookshelves full of classic literature, Nathan’s stacks are composed of National Geographic and TIME special editions and a curated section of first-grade readers (for inspiration). If you prefer picture books to wordy novels, listicles by Nathan are right up your alley.
His name is Hayao Miyazaki, and in 1985, he created a Japanese film studio called Studio Ghibli. The name “Ghibli” comes from an Arabic word meaning, “hot air blowing in from the Sahara Desert.” No one really knows why he chose this name, but it does work. The company has created some booming box office hits, with their best movie being Spirited Away, which is the highest grossing anime film of all time. The film brought on a total of $275 million worldwide. With over 50 personal works and over 100 contributions, Studio Ghibli is one of the most successful and influential film studios in the world.
With movies like My Neighbor Totoro and Kiki’s Delivery Service, there’s a lot to love. But there’s also a lot that you don’t know about Studio Ghibli. Did you ever wonder why his films are so strange and random? Well, he says, “I don't have the story finished and ready when we start work on a film. I usually don't have the time. So the story develops when I start drawing storyboards. The production starts very soon thereafter, while the storyboards are still developing. It's not me who makes the film. The film makes itself, and I have no choice but to follow.”
There’s a lot of strange things about the films. For one, in the animation room, the animators draw on animals rather than people for inspiration as to mannerisms for the characters. This gives them a more animated and interesting movement in the movies.
Ever wonder how they turn the Japanese films into American adaptions? Well, Pixar helps with that! But Hayao keeps his hand on it. He often writes different scripts for English versions as he realizes the cultures vary. What makes sense in Japanese, might not fly in English! No wonder they are so Disney-like and yet so very different from what we were raised with.
If you want more Ghibli, you can visit the Ghibli Museum in Tokyo, Japan where original short films are shown!
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