The History of Manga and Anime

This is part of a series that aims to educate anime fans about the history of the medium.

Japan: The literal translation of Manga is “whimsical pictures” and referred to a range of picture books, sketchbooks, comics and drawings from the 18th century onwards. Manga as we know it today originated from post WWII Japan (1945 onwards) when American culture permeated throughout Japan due to the U.S. occupation of Japan. Modern manga is influenced by both traditional Japanese culture and art as well as American cultural influences. Manga artist Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989), widely known as the father of manga and anime, created the manga series Astro Boy (Tesuwan Atomu, lit. “Mighty Atom”) which was first published in 1952 and the anime first broadcast in 1963. The other great influence on manga was Machiko Hasegawa who was responsible for Sazae-san which was a comic strip that ran from 1946 to 1974 in the Asahi Shimbun. The anime series of Sazae-san began in 1969 and continues today making it the longest running television series ever.

The origin of the Japanese word Anime came from the abbreviation of the English word animation. This term became widely used from the 1970s onwards but the Japanese had experimented with animation since 1917. It was only until the 1960s and 1970s that anime became popular and became distinct from the western influence of animation. Astro Boy was the first 25 minute per episode anime series, while Three Tales was the first ever Japanese anime broadcast in 1960. Some other early anime series were Tetsujin 28 (1963), Mazinger Z (1972), Space Battleship Yamato (1974) and Mobile Suit Gundam (1979). Hayao Miyazaki, the most widely known anime film maker, started his directorial career with the anime series Lupin III (1971-1972) and it’s film The Castle of Cagliostro in 1979.

Rest of the world: Manga refers to comics originating from Japan and Anime refers to Japanese animation. In the U.S. one of the first commercially translated manga was Keiji Nakamura’s Barefoot Gen in 1980 (fan translations pre-date this by a couple of years). Other early translated works included Lone Wolf and Cub, Akira, Golgo 13, Ranma 1/2, and Nausicaa.

Anime entered the worldwide markets in the 1960s and it’s popularity was a major reason that contributed to the introduction of manga to the world. Astro Boy was also the first anime series broadcast outside of Japan in 1963 where NBC adapted 104 of the 193 episodes into English for syndication. Later on popularity of anime exploded with titles such as Robotech/Macross, Dragon Ball and more recently Sailor Moon, Pokémon, Evangelion and Cowboy Bebop.

The next part in this series will be on the genesis of the manga/anime art style and go into more detail about the pioneers in the industry.

My Favorite Anime Movies


Ghost in the Shell Movies

The Girl who Leapt Through Time

Macross Do you Remember Love


Mokoto Shinkai Movies (The Place Promised in Our Early Days, Voices of a Distant Star, 5 centimeters per second)

Satoshi Kon Movies (Millenium Actress, Tokyo Godfathers, Paprika, Perfect Blue)

Studio 4C movies (Mind Game, Tekkonkinkreet)

Hayao Miyazaki Movies (My Neighbour Totoro, Porco Rosso, Pricess Mononoke, Spirited Away)

Wing Of Honneamise

Classic Anime of the Week – Lupin the Third


Lupin the third is the successful long running series originally created by Kazuhiko Kato or more well known as Monkey Punch. However the concept of Lupin came from Maurice Leblanc.

The manga started serialization in 1967 which took inspiration from Leblanc’s stories in the early 1900’s. The original 1971 TV series consisted of 23 episodes and was followed by the 155 episode Lupin the Third part 2 from 1977-80. The last TV series was from 1984-85 consisting of 50 episodes.

There have been many movies and TV specials with the most notable being Lupin the Third: The Castle of Cagliostro directed by Hayao Miyazaki in 1979. This is one of my favorite movies of all time. Additionally I’ve watched all of the first season which was directed in part by Miyazaki and Isao Takahata.

Lupin III is a thief and along with his partners the sharpshooter Jigen, Samurai Goemon and fellow thief Fujiko perform heists and deal with the troubles that arise. They are shadowed by detective Zenigata who is charged with catching Lupin.