Anime is in Japan is popular among a small community and is now viewed throughout the world. Anime itself is considered a form of limited animation. Anime can be broadcasted either through television or released directly to video, which are often called OVAs or OAV (Original Animation Video).
The history of anime begins at the start of the 20th century, when Japanese filmmakers experimented with the animation techniques that were being explored in France, Germany, the United States, and Russia. The oldest known anime in existence was screened in 1917; it was a two minute clip of a samurai trying to test a new sword on his target, only to suffer defeat.
By the 1930s, animation became an alternative format of storytelling compared to the underdeveloped live-action industry in Japan. Unlike America, the live-action industry in Japan remained a small market and suffered from budgeting, location, and casting restrictions. The lack of Western-looking actors, for example, made it next to impossible to shoot films set in Europe, America, or fantasy worlds that do not naturally involve Japan. Animation allowed artists to create any characters and settings.
The success of Disney's 1937 feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs influenced Japanese animators. Osamu Tezuka adapted and simplified many Disney animation techniques to reduce the costs and number of frames in the production. This was intended to be a temporary measure to allow him to produce material on a tight schedule with an inexperienced animation staff.
During the 1970s, there was a surge of growth in the popularity of manga—which were often later animated—especially those of Osamu Tezuka, who has been called a "legend and the "god of manga". His work and that of other pioneers in the field, inspired characteristics and genres that are fundamental elements of anime today. The giant robot genre (known as "Mecha" outside Japan), for instance, took shape under Tezuka, developed into the Super Robot genre under Go Nagai and others, and was revolutionized at the end of the decade by Yoshiyuki Tomino who developed the Real Robot genre. Robot anime like the Gundam and Macross series became instant classics in the 1980s, and the robot genre of anime is still one of the most common in Japan and worldwide today. In the 1980s, anime became more accepted in the mainstream in Japan (although less than manga), and experienced a boom in production. Following a few successful adaptations of anime in overseas markets in the 1980s, anime gained increased acceptance in those markets in the 1990s and even more in the 2000s.
The pronunciation of anime in Japanese, ɑnime, differs significantly from the Standard English which have different vowels and stress. (In Japanese each mora carries equal stress.) As with a few other Japanese words such as saké, Pokémon, and Kobo Abé, anime is sometimes spelled animé in English (as in French), with an acute accent over the final e, to cue the reader that the letter is pronounced, not silent as would be expected in English. However, this accent does not appear in any commonly used system of romanized Japanese and is not in frequent enough use to be recognised by the Oxford English Dictionary.
In English, anime can be used as a common noun ("Do you watch anime?") or as a suppletive adjective ("The anime Guyver is different from the movie Guyver"). It may also be used as a mass noun, as in "How much anime have you collected?" and therefore is not pluralized as animes.
In Japan, manga can additionally refer to both animation and comics (although the use of manga to refer to animation is mostly restricted to non-fans). Among English speakers, manga usually has the stricter meaning of "Japanese comics". An alternate explanation is that it is due to the prominence of Manga Entertainment, a distributor of anime to the US and UK markets. Because Manga Entertainment originated in the UK the use of the term is common outside of Japan. The term "animanga" has been used to collectively refer to anime and manga, though it is also a term used to describe comics produced from animation cels.
Anime is commonly referred as an art form. As a visual medium, it naturally places a large emphasis on visual styles. The styles can vary from artist to artist or by studio to studio. Some titles make extensive use of common stylization: FLCL, for example, is known for its wild, exaggerated stylization. In contrast, titles such as Only Yesterday or Jin-Roh take much more realistic approaches, featuring few stylistic exaggerations.
While different titles and different artists have their own artistic styles, many stylistic elements have become so common such that they are described as being definitive of anime in general. However, this does not mean that all modern anime share one strict, common art style. Many anime have a very different art style from what would commonly be called "anime style", yet fans still use the word "anime" to refer to these titles. Generally, the most common form of anime drawings are "exaggerated physical features such as large eyes, big hair and elongated limbs... and dramatically shaped speech bubbles, speed lines and onomatopoeic, exclamatory typography. The influences of Japanese calligraphy and Japanese painting also characterize linear qualities of the anime style. The round Ink brush traditionally used for writing Kanji and for painting produces a stroke of widely varying thickness.
Anime also tends to borrow many elements from manga including text in the background, and borrowing panel layouts from the manga as well. For example, an opening may employ manga panels to tell the story, or to dramatize a point for humorous effect. This is best demonstrated in the anime Kare Kano.
Variations to proportion can be modded. Super deformed characters feature a non-proportionally small body compared to the head. Sometimes specific body parts, like legs, are shortened or elongated for added emphasis. Mostly super deformed characters are two to four heads tall. Some anime works like Crayon Shin-chan completely disregard these proportions. It is enough such that it resembles a Western cartoon. For exaggeration, certain body features are increased in proportion.
A common approach is the large eyes style drawn on many anime and manga characters. Osamu Tezuka was inspired by the exaggerated features of American cartoon characters such as Betty Boop, Mickey Mouse, and Disney's Bambi. Tezuka found that large eyes style allowed his characters to show emotions distinctly. When Tezuka began drawing Ribbon no Kishi, the first manga specifically targeted at young girls, Tezuka further exaggerated the size of the characters' eyes. Indeed, through Ribbon no Kishi, Tezuka set a stylistic template that later shōjo artists tended to follow.
Coloring is added to give eyes, particularly the cornea, and some depth. The depth is accomplished by applying variable color shading. Generally, a mixture of a light shade, the tone color, and a dark shade is used. Cultural anthropologist Matt Thorn argues that Japanese animators and audiences do not perceive such stylized eyes as inherently more or less foreign.
However, not all anime have large eyes. For example Hayao Miyazaki is known for not having large eyes and having realistic hair colors on his characters. In addition many other productions also have been known to use smaller eyes. This design tends to have more resemblance to traditional Japanese art. Some characters have even smaller eyes, where simple black dots are used.
A wide variety of facial expressions are used by characters to denote moods and thoughts. Anime uses a different set of facial expressions in comparison to western animation.
Other stylistic elements are common as well; often in comedic anime, characters that are shocked or surprised will perform a "face fault", in which they display an extremely exaggerated expression. Angry characters may exhibit a "vein" or "stressmark" effect, where lines representing bulging veins will appear on their forehead. Angry women will sometimes summon a mallet from nowhere and strike someone with it, leading to the concept of Hammerspace and cartoon physics. Male characters will develop a bloody nose around their female love interests (typically to indicate arousal, based on an old wives' tale). Embarrassed characters either produce a massive sweat-drop (which has become one of the most widely recognized stereotype motifs of anime) or produce a visibly red blush beneath the eyes, especially as a manifestation of repressed romantic feelings. While common, the use of face faults is optional. Some anime, usually with political plots and other more serious subject matters, have abandoned the use of face faults such as Gundam Wing and Teknoman.
Like all animation, the production processes of storyboarding, voice acting, character design, cel production and so on still apply. With improvements in computer technology, computer animation increased the efficiency of the whole production process.
Anime is often considered a form of limited animation. That means that stylistically, even in bigger productions the conventions of limited animation are used to fool the eye into thinking there is more movement than there is. Many of the techniques used a comprised with cost-cutting measures while working under a set budget.
Anime scenes place emphasis on achieving three-dimensional views. Backgrounds depict the scenes' atmosphere. For example, anime often puts emphasis on changing seasons, as can be seen in numerous anime, such as Tenchi Muyo. Sometimes actual settings have been duplicated into an anime. The backgrounds for the Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya are based on various locations within the suburb of Nishinomiya, Hyogo, Japan.
Camera angles, camera movement, and lighting play an important role in scenes. Directors often have the discretion of determining viewing angles for scenes, particularly regarding backgrounds. In addition, camera angles show perspective. Directors can also choose camera effects within cinematography, such as panning, zooming, facial closeup, and panoramic.
The large majority of anime is traditional animation, which better allows for the division of labour, pose to pose approach and checking of drawings before they are shot favoured by the industry. Other mediums are mostly limited to independently-made short films, examples of which are the silhouette and other cutout animation of Noburo Ofuji, the stop motion puppet animation of Tadahito Mochinaga, Kihachirō Kawamoto and Tomoyasu Murata and the computer animation of Satoshi Tomioka (most famously Usavich).
Anime distribution companies handled the licensing and distribution of anime beyond Japan. Licensed anime is modified by distributors through dubbing into the language of the country and adding language subtitles to the Japanese language track. Using a similar global distribution pattern as Hollywood, the world is divided into five regions.
Some editing of cultural references may occur to better follow the references of the non-Japanese culture. Certain companies may remove any objectionable content, complying with domestic law. This editing process was far more prevalent in the past (e.g. Robotech), but its use has declined because of the demand for anime in its original form. This "light touch" approach to localization has favored viewers formerly unfamiliar with anime. The use of such methods is evident by the success of Naruto and Cartoon Network's Adult Swim programming block, both of which employ minor edits.
With the advent of DVD, it was possible to include multiple language tracks into a simple product. This was not the case with VHS cassette, in which separate VHS media were used and with each VHS cassette priced the same as a single DVD. The "light touch" approach also applies to DVD releases as they often include both the dubbed audio and the original Japanese audio with subtitles, typically unedited. Anime edited for television is usually released on DVD "uncut," with all scenes intact.
TV networks regularly broadcast anime programming. In Japan, major national TV networks, such as TV Tokyo broadcast anime regularly. Smaller regional stations broadcast anime under the UHF. In the United States, Cable TV channels such as Cartoon Network, Disney, Sci-Fi, and others dedicate some of their time slots for anime. Then the Anime Network specifically shows anime. Sony based Animax and Disney's Jetix channel broadcast anime within many countries in the world. AnimeCentral solely broadcast's Anime in the UK.
Although it is a violation of copyright laws in many countries, some fans add subtitles to anime on their own. These are distributed as fansubs. The ethical implications of producing, distributing, or watching fansubs are topics of much controversy even when fansub groups do not profit from their activities. Once the series has been licensed outside of Japan, fansub groups often cease distribution of their work. In one case, Media Factory Incorporated requested that no fansubs of their material be made, which was respected by the fansub community. In another instance, Bandai specifically thanked fansubbers for their role in helping to make The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya popular in the English speaking world.
The Internet had played a significant role in the exposure of anime beyond Japan. Prior to the 1990s, anime has had limited exposure beyond Japan's borders. Coincidentally, as the popularity of the Internet grew, so did interest in anime. Much of the fandom of anime grew through the Internet. The combination of internet communities and increasing amounts of anime material, from video to images, helped spur the growth of fandom. As the Internet gained more widespread use, Internet advertising revenues grew from 1.6 billion yen to over 180 billion yen between 1995 and 2005.
Some American animated television series have singled out anime styling with satirical intent, for example South Park (with "Chinpokomon" and "Good Times With Weapons"). South Park has a notable drawing style, which was itself parodied in "Brittle Bullet", the fifth episode of the anime FLCL, released several months after "Chinpokomon" aired. This intent on satirizing anime is the springboard for the basic premise of Kappa Mikey, a Nicktoons Network original cartoon. Even cliches normally found in anime are parodied in Perfect Hair Forever. Also, in the episode "The Son Also Draws" of Family Guy parodies anime with an appearance by Speed Racer and his trainer. The two speak in poorly-dubbed English, with every phrase punctuated by a "Ha-HA!". Anime conventions began to appear in the early 1990s, during the Anime boom, starting with Anime Expo, Animethon, Otakon, and JACON. Currently anime conventions are held annually in various cities across the Americas, Asia, and Europe. Many attendees participate in cosplay, where they dress up as anime characters. Also, guests from Japan ranging from artists, directors, and music groups are invited. In addition to anime conventions, anime clubs have become prevalent in colleges, high schools, and community centers as a was to publicly exhibit anime as well as broadening Japanese cultural understanding.