Anime has a wide variety of genres including, but not limited to: Western, Giant Robot, Fantasy, Action/Adventure, Crime, Drama, Comedy, Detective, Harem, Steampunk, Romance, Suspense.
Some anime are adaptations of other popular media such as video games and their counterparts, manga (pronounced "mahn-gah") which are Japanese comics.
HistoryThe first anime were created in the beginning of the 1900s when Japanese filmmakers were experimenting with animation techniques that France, Germany, the United States, and Russia had developed. This was before voice technology had been developed, and the first voiced Japanese animation was Chikara to Onna no yo no Naka (translated: Within the World of Power and Women) which was released in 1933 by Kenzo Masaoka.
Later in the 1960s, following the success of Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, famous manga artist Osamu Tezuka adapted many Disney animation techniques and simplified them to reduce costs and time yet still produce high quality animations. Throughout the 1970s there was yet more growth within the community of Japanese animation as entire genres, like the Super Robot genre under Go Nagai, and later the Real Robot genre, were developed.These became quick favorites and are still classics since the 1980s. The robot genre of anime is still common in Japan and has now reached popularity worldwide. After the advent of the robot genre, anime became more mainstream, though it never was as accepted as manga, and it experienced a flurry of activity in production.
The boom in anime has continued since then, and by the 1990s, anime hit full phenomena status, becoming known to countries outside Japan. Now prominently featured in many United States and European countries via specialty networks such as the now defunct Toonami, 4Kids or Funimation networks.
CharacteristicsAnime has several common characteristics, such as some exaggerated body features and "super deformed" styles of drawing for humorous purposes. Facial expressions are also commonly used in Japanese animation, such as the "sweat drop" that denotes embarrasment of a character, the "bleeding nose" which is used to show arousal, usually by older men, and commonly face faults will be employed when characters are surprised or exasperated where the characters will completely launch back and land on their face.
Perhaps the most common form of exaggeration is the exaggeration of eyes. Osamu Tezuka was believed to have created this style based upon his admiration for American characters with larger more oval eyes and pupils, such as Betty Boop, Mickey Mouse, and Bambi.
PopularityAnime has become extremely popular since the boom in the 1980s, and there have been several different variations across the world. Usually considered "anime-influenced animation", series such as Avatar, Teen Titans, and Totally Spies are more well known animations with similar styles and themes to anime. Commercially, anime has become very viable due to the success of series such as Nintendo's Pokemon franchise (which itself is based upon a series of video games by the same name).
Japanese culture itself has also become very popularized with western admirers of anime. The Japanese Language Proficiency Test saw an increase in the amount of testers in 1984 and worldwide the number of people who study Japanese has increased.
Popular culture has also become a prime example of the influences of anime. Commonly references are made to animations styles and sometimes even specific anime, often satirically as in the South Park episode "Chinpokomon", and characters such as Ling-Ling from the series Drawn Together are examples of this.