Animation is a modern-day form of story telling. And in this field, Japan indubitably excels beyond any other countries, even the country of origin of animation itself, the U.S. Most Japanese animations are adaptations of best-selling mangas, but there are many animation projects created for the big screen or independently for the television.

Animation, or "animé", first gained popularity in Japan in the late 1930s, much of which inspired by the works of Osamu Tezuka (see his information below). It has since grown into a phenomenal industry: to date there have been over 5,000 titles produced, with tens of thousands of episodes, each with a story. Regardless of what one may think of animé or animation in general, such prolific creativity is truly mind-boggling. There are stories for children, teens, young adults, adults, women, men, with themes that range from the silliest to the most entertaining, and covering such topics as romance, fantasy, and science fiction.

During the first few decades, the art in Japanese animation was simple and modest, with the production meant mostly for television entertainment. In the 1990s, the quality of animation improved tremendously, resulting in truly magnificent productions. The films of Hayao Miyazaki are well-known animated masterpieces, one of which (Spirited Away) won the Academy Award in 2002. Likewise, impressive high-quality animation has become the standard for many animation produced for television, such as Samurai 7, Mushi-shi, and Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood.


Ozamu Tezuka, Pioneer of Japanese Animation

TezukaDr. Osamu Tezuka (手塚 治虫 November 3, 1928 – February 9, 1989) was a Japanese manga artist, animator, and producer. Trained as a medical doctor, he never practiced medicine. He was born in Osaka Prefecture, and is best known as the creator of Astro Boy and Kimba the White Lion. He is often credited as the "Godfather of Anime", and is often considered the Japanese equivalent to Walt Disney, who served as a major inspiration during his formative years. His prolific output, pioneering techniques, and innovative redefinition of genres earned him such titles as "the father of manga"and "kamisama (god) of manga". He began his career as a manga artist while a university student. He graduated from Osaka University and obtained his medical degree, but would later use his medical and scientific knowledge to enrich his sci-fi works, such as Black Jack.

In January 1968, Drew Wesen received a letter from Stanley Kubrick, who had watched Astro Boy and wanted to invite Tezuka to be the art director of his next movie 2001: A Space Odyssey. Tezuka couldn't afford to leave his studio for an entire year to live in England, so he refused the invitation. Tezuka couldn't work on it, but he loved the movie, and would play its soundtrack at maximum volume in his studio to keep him awake during the long nights of work.

Hayao Miyazaki, Animator Extraordinaire

MiyazakiHayao Miyazaki (宮崎 駿 born January 5, 1941) is a prominent Japanese maker of animated feature films. He is also a co-founder of Studio Ghibli, an animation studio and production company.

Miyazaki remained largely unknown to the West, until Miramax released his 1997 film Princess Mononoke. By that time, his films had already enjoyed both commercial and critical success in Japan and abroad. Princess Mononoke was the highest-grossing film in Japan until Titanic (1997) came out a few months later, and the first animated film to win Picture of the Year at the Japanese Academy Awards. His later film, Spirited Away was the first anime film to win an Academy Award, topping Titanic in the Japanese box office. Howl's Moving Castle was also nominated for the Academy Award but did not receive the award.

Miyazaki's films often incorporate recurrent themes, such as humanity's relationship to nature and technology, and the difficulty of maintaining a pacifist ethic. The protagonists of his films are often strong, independent girls or young women; the villains, when present, are often morally ambiguous characters with redeeming qualities.

List of major film works:

The Castle of Cagliostro, 1979
Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind, 1984
Castle in the Sky, 1986
My Neighbor Totoro, 1988
Kiki's Delivery Service, 1989
Porco Rosso, 1992
Pom Poko, 1994
Whisper of the Heart, 1995
Princess Mononoke, 1997
My Neighbor the Yamadas, 1999
Spirited Away, 2001 (winner, Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, 2002)
The Cat Returns, 2002
Howl's Moving Castle, 2004 (nominee, Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, 2005)
Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea, 2008
From Up on Poppy Hill, 2011
The Wind Rises, 2013



Bleach (ブリーチ) is a Japanese shōnen manga series written and illustrated by Tite Kubo. Bleach follows the adventures of Ichigo Kurosaki after he accidentally obtains the power of a Soul Reaper—a Japanese death personification similar to the Grim Reaper—from Rukia Kuchiki. Gaining these abilities forces him to take on the duties of defending humans from evil spirits and guiding departed souls to the afterlife.

Bleach has been continuously serialized in the Japanese manga anthology Weekly Shōnen Jump since August 2001, and has been collected in 42 tankōbon volumes as of October 2009. The manga has been adapted into an animated television series produced by Studio Pierrot since October 5, 2004. After 16 season and 366 episodes, the show ended in 2012 (Japan)/2014 (USA).

There are three feature films based on the Bleach series, all directed by Noriyuki Abe, director of the Bleach anime series. The films have been released in December of each year starting in 2006. Each movie features an original plotline, rather than being an adaptation of the manga's story. They also feature original characters designed by Tite Kubo, which is contrary to the normal practice for anime-based films, as the original author usually has little creative involvement.




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