Manga And Anime – Then To Now
If you really want to understand anime, you have to understand manga. Really understanding manga means you need to know a little about where it came from. It’s also fun to know why things today look like they do.
Manga started in Japan as entertainment for children.
In the 1950s, manga could be rented from libraries for a few yen. (Believe it or not, in Japan they had and still have pay libraries – you pay a small fee to rent a book, unlike most American libraries, where as long as you have a library card you can borrow books for free.)
Boys’ comics, or shounen, focused on historical adventure, samurai stories, and sports, while girls’ titles, or shoujo, focused on romance or puppy love.
One creator was popular with boys and girls. Osamu Tezuka, who wrote and illustrated in a Disney influenced style, created an enormously popular series called New Treasure Island. He also created a character and series named Ambassador Atom, renamed Astro Boy in the United States.
His style was so popular most manga for the next twenty years was illustrated in a similar style.
Later in the 1950s, science fiction stories became really popular, especially stories with robots in them. Tezuka’s Ambassador Atom (obviously he liked the word “atom”) ran in a magazine called Shonen Magazine for nine years. It was about a robot that could never become fully human. (If it sounds like it was a rip-off of Pinocchio, it was. Tezuka later admitted he “borrowed” the story from Pinocchio as the basis for his story about Ambassador Atom.)
By the way – if you’re starting to think Tezuka was responsible for basically creating the comics industry in Japan after World War II, you’re right.