What Was The First Anime? The Making Of The Anime Series

What Was The First Anime? The Making Of The Anime Series

The term anime is the Japanese short form for animation. Anime is widely known as any animation work from Japan, although the Japanese refer to it as animation in general from any part of the world.

Osamu Tekuza first introduced the modern style and art of anime through his work in the 1960s. Anime characters have large doe-eyes and bright colored hair. Furthermore, these characters tend to express exaggerated emotions and gestures. 

Anime series promote Japanese culture, and there are stories for all age groups. Anime film has grown over time, but everything has a beginning.

What Was The First Anime?

The first anime film was Dekobo Shingacho – meian no Shippai (Dekobo’s New Picture Book – Failure of a Great Plan), credited to famous Japanese artist Shimokawa Oten in 1917. It was a five-minute chalk animation.

There remains some argument the author of the first anime. The uncertainty is due to the practice of taking down films when reels were complete. 

Unfortunately, some films that survived disappeared in the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, which swallowed many film studios and theatres. The crisis destroyed others in the World War 2 bombings, and the rest just vanished over time.

The Development Of Japanese Anime

The year 1917 saw the rise of the fathers of anime – manga artists Oten Shimokawa, Junichi Kouchi, and painter Seitaro Kitayama. 

These men, hired by existing film studios and working with a few others, created the anime sensation of that year. Not only did the first anime film premiere, but also 20 more short anime films.

Although the anime films produced at the time were considerably different and inferior to what we have today, they remain the foundation of anime film development.

Then, they used chalk to draw on boards, clean them, and re-draw in between camera takes. As a result, they only made black-and-white movies, usually five-minute films.

They eventually switched to 2D paper cutouts, which were less demanding than drawing with chalk. These films recounted tales of Samurai warriors and Japanese culture. Music played in the background, and ‘banish storytellers told the audience the story.

There were no televisions or phones back then. However, there were theatres, but only the wealthy or their friends could attend.

Kitayama quit Nikkatsu, the firm he was working for, in 1921 and founded The Kitayama Eiga Seisakujo, the world’s first anime studio.

Kouchi established his studio in 1923, but things didn’t go well because anime received less money, and then the Great Kanto Earthquake drowned them all away.

Despite its struggles and lack of funding, anime has persevered. Another pioneer, Kenzo Masaoka, rose to prominence in the 1930s. In 1933, he released the first anime film synced with pre-recorded voices (a talkie) titled, Chikara to Onna no Yo no Naka (Within the World of Power and Women). 

Anime film production progressed, and Masaoka’s Chagama Ondo (The Dance of the Chagamas), the first film made with cels, premiered in 1934. 

Cels were more productive than chalk or paper cutouts in producing anime films, but they were also more expensive. So studios looked for new ways to raise money, creating propaganda films, children’s educational films, and animated commercials.

As the war approached, animators shifted their concentration to propaganda, resulting in the 1945 release of Momotaro: Umi no Shinpei (Momotaro, Sacred Sailors), the first full-length anime film.

Japanese anime films continued to develop after the war. Japan Animated Films began production in 1948. Toei purchased the company in 1956, and in 1958, it released Hakujaden (The Tale of the White Serpent), the first feature-length colored picture animation film. It lasted 78 minutes on screen.

This movie inspired Osamu Tezuka, one of the most famous manga artists. In the late 1950s, Tezuka became well-known.

He worked with Toei in 1958 to produce his animations, and when his contract with them expired, he founded Mushi Production, a.k.a. Mushi Pro. He brought Toei’s best animators with him, including Japan’s first-ever female animator, Kazuko Nakamura.

Before 1958, if you wanted to see a film, you’d either go to a theater or have a wealthy friend who had a projector at home and access to reels.

Things changed as films began airing on television. The first anime was Mogura no Adventure (Mole’s Adventure), shown on the fledgling medium. It used paper cutouts, but it was in color. 

Later on, other studios followed suit, and anime developed into color. It not only aired on TV but also caught America’s attention.

The 2000s marked a turning point in anime development when people started using computers to create anime. For anime producers, it was a big step forward. It simplified and expedited the process. This development led to the production of more and better anime films in color.

The Longest Running Anime 

Many anime movies have existed for a long time and continue to exist today. Pokémon, Dragon Ball, Naruto, and One Piece are a few of the most well-known. In addition, some anime shows have been on the air for nearly 50 years and are still going strong. 

Sazae-San is the longest aired popular anime of all time. It includes more than 2500 episodes and counting. From 1969 to the present, Sazae-San has aired on Sunday evenings. It depicts Sazae Fuguta’s life and that of her family.

Sazae-San was the last film to use the vintage cel animation method before switching to digital in 2013. 

Sazae-San has always been in production, producing new episodes continually. However, during the recent COVID 19 outbreak, it paused its new episodes and streamed old ones.

Now, they are back again to producing new episodes and continue to grace our screens. Sazae-San is the longest-running anime in history, and it will be a long time before any other anime film catches up.

Strongest Anime Characters

Anime offers so much adventure and combat. There are lots of characters with different strengths and abilities. The top 5 strongest anime characters are:

Saitama – One Punch Man:

Saitama is the strongest of all anime characters. In One-Punch Man, things work differently. The protagonist is already at his most powerful when the anime begins. Saitama goes through rigorous 3-year training, and after that, he can destroy anything on its path with just a single strike. 

On the other hand, his strength depresses him, leaving him feeling empty as he attempts to achieve his long-term goals. He is the most powerful because of this. Therefore, it’s more critical for him to complete goals using his strength than the strongest.

Zeno – Dragon Ball Super:

Zeno is the controller of space and time in Dragon Super Ball. He’s a kind of youth god, destroying everything in reality that he hates. He has killed many realities and plays with galaxies just for the fun of it. 

He doesn’t have any unique ability or moves, except powers he enjoys using for mass destruction. In just a heartbeat, Zeno can destroy anyone that stands on his path. Only a few anime characters can stand him.

Kyubey – Madoka Magica:

Kyubey is a destructive force in Madoka Magica. His primary aim and joy are destroying anything and everything. 

He is immortal and omnipotent. He doesn’t have any remarkable strength, he manipulates the earth and people into doing his bidding, and the destruction continues. His power is oblivion, and nothing that he wants to destroy can remain.

Tetsuo Shima:

Tetsuo Shima of Akira is one of the most powerful characters because he can destroy and create. Only a few characters have this ability. However, his power became super high as a psychic when he encountered another psychic. 

His power becomes so great that he can destroy the universe. However, he can hide outside reality before this happens, where his psychic ability explodes to create a new universe.

Kaguya Otsutsuki – Naruto:

Kaguya is the most powerful woman anime character and one of the strongest villains in the Naruto franchise. She is known as Rabbit Princess.

She’s not from earth but ventures to land to eat of the God tree. She intended to make all men fear her, and it worked. She has the power of mind-reading, time-traveling, and manipulation of the mind and controls the elements.

When she got her desire and ate the fruit, she was able to self-heal. This ability made her almost indestructible.

Greatest Anime Studios

To learn more about a studio, have a look at its works. Some studios have a name, but their work is fading, while others have no name but do incredible work. Here are some of the most excellent studios of all time:

  1. Madhouse (1972)
  2. Ufotable (2000)
  3. Studio Bones (1998)
  4. Wit Studio

Top Ten Anime of All Time

Some persons may argue about this list, after all, it all depends on what you like. But if you want to watch anime and don’t know where to start, here are some great options for you.

  1. Dragon Ball
  2. One Piece
  3. Pokemon
  4. Naruto
  5. Death Note
  6. Detective Conan
  7. Attack on Titan
  8. Sailor Moon
  9. Fullmetal Alchemist
  10. Sword Art Online


Dekobo Shingacho – meian no Shippai (Dekobo’s New Picture Book – Failure of a Great Plan), credited to legendary Japanese artist Shimokawa Oten in 1917, was the first anime film. It lasted for only five minutes.

The longest aired anime of all time is Sazae-San. It is based on the manga of the same name and has over 2500 episodes (and counting). Sazae-San has eroded on Sunday evenings since 1969. It depicts Sazae Fuguta and her family’s lives.

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