Anime Meta-Review


Anime History


By Date




The Foundation of Anime

Note that all dates and episode counts are for the first season only. Many of the anime stretched over multiple years. If you think I'm speaking authoritatively about this then let me be the first to correct your mis-understanding.

Momotaro, Divine Sea Warrior
1945 The first feature length film.

(Legend of the White Snake, Panda and the Magic Serpent)
First Screened in 1958, studio: Toei
The first anime feature film. Bet this one's near possible to get a hold of. Based on a Chinese legend. This is not actually the first Japanese animated production, but it almost certainly marks the beginning of the animation industry, which is what the studio (Toei) was aiming to build.

Manga Calendar
First Screened in 1962, 54 Episodes, studio: Otogi
The first anime TV show. Bet this one's near impossible to get hold of. Short historical cartoons in black and white.

Tetsuwan Atom
First screened in 1963-1966, 193 Episodes
The main creation of Osamu Tezuka who was perhaps the founding father of anime having had a massive impact on the development of manga. Only missed being the first TV manga by several months and was the first with a continuous cast. The start of an anime boom that occurred in 1963.

Tetsujin 28-go
(Iron Man 28, Gigantor)
1963, 83 Episodes
The anime that popularized the giant robot genre. Screened in America as Gigantor starting at episode 27. Best remembered for the robot being run entirely by remote control from, if I remember correctly, a wrist unit.

Mahoutsukai Sally
1966-1968, 109 Episodes
The first TV magical girl anime. Based on the manga by Mitsuteru Yokoyama who also created Tetsujin 28 go. Intended for a female audience and based on the American sitcom `bewitched' when it was found that series had a notable audience of young Japanese girls. As such it also counts as the first `shoujo' TV show. First episodes are in black and white. And most of this information is directtly taken from this page on the Mahou Shoujo Anime Resources web page.

Ribon no Kishi
1967, 52 Episodes, Film
Created by Osamu Tezuka but possibly the foundation for shoujo anime. The manga on which it was based is considered to be the first shoujo manga. It's actually being fan-subbed in what seems to be an impressive labor of love. I'm sure support for this would be welcome, so check it out here

1001 Nights
According to the Erotic anime movie guide this is the first openly erotic feature movie. Created by none other than Osamu Tezuka's studio Mushi in an effort to actually make a profit. And apparently it was successful in this role.

Attack No.1
1969, 101 Episodes
The foundation title for sports shoujo titles, although how many entries in this genre make it out of Japan is an interesting question. There's an interesting review of it here on the Shoujo and General web page.

Himitsu no Akko-chan
1969,92 Episodes
The second magical girl anime and one that introduced a number of new innovations that are now considered standard in the genre. Including the lead being a normal girl granted powers which are expressed through easily merchandisable items. It also was influence by the American sitcom `bewitched'. Most of this information is taken from this Page on the Mahou Shoujo Anime Resources web page.

1969,1000+ Episodes
A long running anime with minimal exposure outside of Japan. A domestic comedy based on a 4 panel manga strip from 1946. The foundation on which anime for mature adults is based?

1972, 92 Episodes, studio: Toei
A Go-Nagai title that revolutionized the giant robot genre. It's primary effect seems to have been the birth of merchandising, which seems to have survived so well that it makes it difficult to find information on the actual anime.
This may be a logical consequence of Go Nagai developing a sizable number of new twists to the genre. This includes making the giant robot a vehicle, rather than a character, and making it built from components rather than an un-modifiable unit. He did not invent the concept of transforming robots, a twist introduced in "Brave Rydeen" although it could be seen as a development from a `component' based mecha.

Science Ninja Team Gatchaman
(G-Force, Battle of the Planets)
1972,105 Episodes, studio: Tatsunoko
Popularized the idea of a regular `team' as the focus of the anime while stories were strongly episodic. Also notable in using `giant robots' as thematic and convenient enemies. Created by Ippei Kurei (who also did mach go go go).

Uchuu Senkan Yamato
(Space Battleship Yamato, Starblazers)
1975, 77 Episodes
The most popular `epic space opera' anime. It also has various interactions, including the title ship, with Japans wartime experiences. Was this one of the first series to have a huge and sprawling but continuous plot? Made by Leiji Matsumoto who was one of the `starving seven', a group of creators formed under Osamu Tezuka's reign.

Candy Candy
1976, 115 Episodes
Very well known and influential TV shoujo series. Interesting for being set outside of Japan, specifically in America.

Versailles no Bara
(Rose of Versaille)
1979, 40 Episodes
Seminal shoujo anime based on the manga by Riyoko Ikeda.

Mahou no Princess Minky Momo
(Magic Princess Minky Momo)
1982, 63 Episodes
An extremely influential magical girl series. Interesting for introducing the `risque' transformation sequence. Also the first magical girl series to be produced by a studio other than Toei.

1983, 2 Episodes
The first anime OAV release. Perhaps not important in itself, I didn't like the title that much, but it provided an important alternative distribution between TV and movies. This allowed a number of very interesting works to be released to the public. The OAV market began to be diluted by an increasing number of lackluster titles which, combined with the poor state of the Japanese economy, has caused this market to stagnate to the point of extinction. It has been stated that it was Megazone 28 that was the `big' OAV release, but I would argue it was the growth of this market that was actually the notable outcome.

Mahou no Tenshi Creamy Mami
The first series to combine magical girl and the idol-singer phenomenon.

Cream Lemon
1984, 2 Episodes
Someone realised that if you're selling direct to video you've also got a lot more freedom on how explicit you can be, and that there was money in getting some product out to prove it. The first title was something called Reddening Snow / Girls Tortured with Roses which sounds more than a little worrying. However the erotic OAV and Hentai in general probably owes more to this title, which had a number of additional episodes released. The english availability of this material is a torturous saga by all accounts.

Urusei Yatsura
Staggeringly popular and not only heralding the arrival of a major new manga creator, Rumiko Takahashi, but also assuring her of enough fame and fortune for a lifetime. Could also be considered the foundation stone for a lot of comedy and romantic comedy.

The rebirth of quality animation on television? Right-stuff believes so, but then they probably have the license. In any case, as the first Gainax television creation it probably is an important one to note.

Bishoujo Sensei Sailor Moon
(Pretty Soldier Sailor Moond)
1992 Then `sentai' genre, a term rarely heard, refers to a team of co-operating hero's. I imagine that "Gatchaman" was an example of this type of show. Sailor moon combined this model, including inherent conflict with a powerful enemy, with the magical girl genre. The resulting team of magical girls going on to massive popularity.

Ghost in the Shell
First massively successful american-Japanese co-production?

Minna Agechau
(I give my all)
What an interesting story. Meant to be the first title for the newly formed US Manga Corps it was a piece of soft porn complete with a free pair of pink paper panties as a promotional gimmick. Also the final piece of proof needed for the american media to confirm that anime was a sick and degenerate art form. Must get the full story sometime, sounds awfully entertaining.

Perhaps much better evidence of the above.

Devilman Cutry-Honey

Mobile Suit Gundam
First Screened in 1979, 43 Episodes
Married giant robot anime, complete with it's incredibly lucrative merchandising, with huge space opera plots full of character based drama. Perhaps also important in establishing that sequels can both confirm and re-write the `mythos' of the series world. Also notable in that giant robots changed from being `unique' and `heroic' items to mass produced `tools', although the `hero' mecha tend to skirt the boundary on this point.

Shin Seiki Evangelion
1995, 26 Episodes, studio: Gainax
An important series in bringing dark, complex and mature animation to the TV audience. Also in moving the `giant robot' genre into a more modern form.

Series everyone (Japanese) knows

  • Ace wo Narae, well known Shoujo sports anime.
  • Jungle Taitei, 1965, first in color.
  • Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind
  • Time Boukan Series
  • Mach Go Go Go (Speed Racer), 1967, Ippei Kurei
  • Lupin III: Cagliostro. High point of Lupin and the confirmation of Miyazaki's arrival.
  • Sailor Moon
  • Saint Seiya : Battling angsty bishounen.
  • Tonari no Totoro
  • Ashita no Joe
  • Macross
  • Doreamon
  • GeGeGe no Kitarou : Shigeru Mizuki makes japanese mythology fun.



Words by Andrew Shelton, Web by Ticti, Last Compile: Wed Aug 5 12:39:51 WST 2009