What Is Anime Art? The History Of Anime And Manga

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Written by Juha

In the world, art is recreated from all kinds of visions and perspectives: paintings, music, writing, composition, web, etc. As well as it has all kinds of forms, there are also disciplines that try to unify all these movements in a single and harmonic representation. 

Anime is in short Japanese animation. However, unlike American comics and animation, it has completely different bases, objectives, and audience.

Anime is an expression of art, which by tradition is drawn by hand, but now in the era of technology are made in various design programs. The Japanese Ministry of Education officially recognized anime as an art form and is considered one of the most important forms of artistic expression in modern Japanese culture. 

Nowadays, they are an essential part of the publishing market in Japan and have been adapted in several formats such as animation series, movies, and even video games.

The birth of manga art

Manga originated way before Dragon Ball Z, Sailor Moon, or any other well-known anime and manga series.

The very first examples of manga can be found in the Chōjū-jinbutsu-giga scrolls from the twelfth century. These scrolls were illustrated by an artist-monk called Toba Sōjō. This took place somewhere between 1053-1140AD.

The Chōjū-jinbutsu-giga scrolls are part of a sub-genre of manga known as emakimono. 


The history of anime and manga art

When Japan moved from Edo to the Meiji period, Japan started to become influenced by other countries’ cultures, and it slowly started to influence the art style too.

In 1862, Japan Punch was born and their first magazine already showed signs of a new more cartoony style.


Probably the biggest development in manga and anime art came from the hands and visions of Osamu Tezuka, the father of Astro Boy.

Osamu Tezuka, the father of Astro Boy

This was in 1947-1963.

Anime art began as such around 1963 in the land of the rising sun. Unlike the American comic, which dates back to the 1930s. It happens after the Second World War, where Japan is exposed to a new Western culture that it is beginning to adopt.

It is of the first epoch (The 70s) of the anime that arises the first series that initiate this tour along with the world, Centella, Macross, Mazinger, Candy Candy, etc. Then come the golden years of anime (the 80s), with Saint Seiya, Captain Tsubasa, Dragon Ball, etc.

Dragon Ball Z Frieza

With so many new trends, many pioneers start to collect ideas from the new American animation. Disney (think of Bambi) and Warner, the two great American animation schools, feed this trend combined with traditional Japanese Manga, which is just the name given to comics (Manga in Japanese is something like continuous drawings).

What is anime?

Anime is a word of French origin that means animated or alive, and that the Japanese adopted in their language since 1985 to refer to cartoons on television. Thanks to the rapid growth in the 1970s of the distribution of Japanese cartoons on television in the Western world, the word anime began to become popular as a way of referring exclusively to Japanese cartoons.

Anime is characterized by bizarre characters with exaggerated actions that usually have a mission. The characters are faithful to the genre they represent, for example, a romantic anime would be excessively tender and sweet, while a gore anime would have an excess of blood and violence.

American animation by tradition is simple; they created their own rules, such as the camera was static, the characters did not change the scenery, or it was a simple continuous scenery that moved while the characters remained static.

With anime, the revolution began. They began to experience the camera moving, discovering details of the characters, or moving away from the object, revealing something new to the viewer. Because anime emerged in a situation of poverty, producers had to find new techniques like these to make the process cheaper without losing the quality in the final result.

Between the 1960s and 1970s, the anime of robots (mecha) became popular, appearing in iconic series such as Tetsujin 28-go and Mazinger Z or Gundam.

During this same period, the popular series Doraemon (1973) began to be broadcast, based on the homonymous anime by Fujiko Fujio, a series that tells the story of a cosmic robot cat that has a bag attached to its body from which it removes various artifacts which are used in the adventures of Doraemon and his human friend Nobita.

In the 1980s and 1990s, Japanese animation entered an international boom, which led to many series beginning to be dubbed into English and Spanish. In these years, cult series such as Dragon Ball, based on Akira Toriyama’s manga, emerged, Saint Seiya also known as The Knights of the Zodiac, Captain Tsubasa, exported as Super Champions, Rurouni Kenshin, known in the West as Samurai X, Neon Genesis Evangelion by Hideaki Anno, Pokémon, Ranma 1/2, and Sakura Card Captor, etc.

In 2000 the anime already were massified in great measure by the acceptance and the enormous base of fans that had acquired by then. These followers are known as otakus, impelled the Japanese animated industry.

Since then there have been numerous animated productions that have been distributed around the world, among the highlights of the new millennium are One Piece, Naruto, Bleach, Fullmetal Alchemist, Inuyasha, Yu-Gi-Oh, Rozen Maiden, Kuroshitsuji, and Death Note, all based on mangas that when they became successful, allowed the development of the animated series.

Nowadays, any manga that has many followers is very likely to have been adapted into an animated series, as was the case with Hunter x Hunter, Pandora Hearts, Ao no Exorcist, Mirai Nikki, Bakuman, and Shingeki no Kyojin, among many others.

What is anime art?

Anime is a type of animation that originated in Japan. It was born by creating moving images through various techniques. Worldwide when listening to the word anime already distinguishes that it is Japanese animation, but it is necessary to emphasize that for them, this same word includes any type of animation.

The traditional animation is based on a two-dimensional view, to that is added the handmade drawing and is composed of background and characters.

The art of anime is something very special. It has some primary and secondary characteristics that differentiate it from a series of other styles since, as mentioned above, it has countless genres and can be directed at people of different ages.


The difference between anime and cartoon

Just because they’re cartoons, people often think of anime as the same as children’s cartoons. However, despite its ability to entertain children, anime can also contain adult themes, intellectual themes, mixtures of comedy, drama, action, horror, science fiction, social criticism, and even adult animation (hentai).

The differences between the two are so great that a simple explanation would not be enough.

People are used to American cartoons, in which the plots are simple, the characters always show the same side of their personality, their conflicts are easily resolved in a half-hour episode, and, most importantly, they are almost exclusively aimed at children.

Anime, unlike traditional anime (from the United States), is not only intended for children; even those intended for children tend to be less simplistic than their New World counterparts.

For example, cartoons tend to avoid death and other realities of everyday life, whereas anime tends to be more of a part of it. Thus, we can see a wide variety of styles comparable only to the cinema itself; like the cinema, we see all kinds of material that may or may not please us all, but surely there are samples that will definitely delight us.

Japanese animation, which is directly descended from the modern manga (inheriting all its characteristics, such as its narrative style and themes) is considered in its country of origin as one more narrative form, that is, another means of expressing ideas, directed to children, young people or adults. Thus, each character, whether heroes or villains, have feelings, aspirations, virtues, defects, and a life they can lose.

There are other sources of inspiration that include Greek mythology, Nordic mythology, history, classical works, among others. However, the market for anime in your home country is immense.

What reaches other continents is only a small part of the total. This, to a certain extent, is good, because it allows for a systematic selection of good titles in most cases.

Many series present their characters in everyday situations of the Japanese lifestyle: people at their workplace, at school, in traditional Japanese rituals.

Everything is very “normal” until something extraordinary happens… for the audience. Perhaps it is this mixture of exaggerated fantasy with the terrifying reality that makes Japanese animation so appealing.

Anything can happen in anime. The important thing is not to forget that the human mind varies with respect to the culture it refers to, and that’s why the content of some Japanese anime may seem inappropriate for children elsewhere, when in fact it may be that the animation contains elements that are perfectly permissible in Japanese children’s culture or that the work was in fact intended for an older audience… not children.

Another point of difference in style. Anime tends to use its own well-developed techniques in its drawings; techniques that have been used in Japan for centuries, along with the more recent American influence, have produced the current style of animation that is both peculiar and effective.

It is common, for example, to see big eyes and hair in the characters. They tend to use “unreal” colors; (green, blue, violet) in the hair, for example, to denote personality, etc. It is also common to use simple lines and “peculiar” details in each character, although there are many variations.

But even music and special effects have to use a characteristic style, which more than decorates, complement as a whole the animation.

What defines anime as anime art

Art is a discipline that is based on the materialization of emotions, objects, and real-world environments, seeking this, and above all, beauty.

This recreation of the world that surrounds the author must express a message, idea, feeling, or worldview pragmatic, and once they are transmitted to other people, they fulfill the function of enriching their personality.

Anime is a successful form of expression, narration and cinematography thanks to its excellent diversity of themes, deep handling of the characters, and quality of animation.

Therefore, more intense stories are created that attracts the eye, mind, and heart, sharing a message, and creating artistic magic so peculiar, addictive and deep that it has earned the affection of millions of people in the world.


The different styles of anime


It is characterized by extremely violent and bloody content. It has features of the ecchi or hentai, which makes them more striking and is aimed at adult audiences. These become more interesting when they are created with styles that transmit feelings of intrigue, black comedy, romance, among others.



It refers to the animes with sports content, highlighting values such as companionship, physical and mental effort, friendship as well as competition and rivalry. This produces in the spectators, the emotion of wanting to belong to a sports club and those who already belong to one feel identified.


It’s a comedy with a touch of romance, aimed at all types of audiences. It is mostly set in school life and is accompanied by both realistic elements such as fantasy and the supernatural.


These are not usually common, they can be found for different types of audiences. It has great stories that have touches of intrigue or mystery. It is used to designate anime with stories of a police nature.


This genre is commonly situated in science fiction. The term refers to mechanical. In other words, a fuse is a robot that possesses different characteristics such as giant size, powerful weapons, and is designed for military use mostly.



It is aimed at women and girls, contains entanglements, comedy, love conflicts and the characters are usually teenagers. It focuses on topics such as friendship and courtship, i.e. the problems of everyday life.

Maho Shojo

In this one, most of the characters possess magical powers in order to protect something. They mostly involve both social and school life, with priority given to the main characters who are girls or female adolescents. It is a variation of shojo, as it preserves comedy and romance.


It is presented to an adult audience, not because it has sexual content, but because it refers to dramatic images. They commonly have a complicated plot and focus on people’s everyday lives.

Magical Girlfriend

The story focuses on a female character who may originally be an alien, angel, demon, god or robot. She forms a relationship with the human being either of love or friendship.


It refers to manga and anime aimed at a female audience. It is a more realistic version of both the story and the characters and mostly does not contain explicit material. They are usually about the daily life of the main character who is a woman. It focuses on the experiences of college, high school or the life of adult women.


This is mostly aimed at a child audience, which is accompanied by comedy. It is characterized by the fact that some characters have animal features or the opposite.


It has familiar stories and themes, has a large audience thanks to the simple plot, short duration, and its fun, daring and funny style. It is aimed at children’s audiences and differs from others in that it does not contain an element for adult audiences.


Usually, the main character, who is male, is surrounded by several women. There is also the harem verse, which is the opposite of the normal harem.


It is mostly played by male characters, with little love experience to make the plot interesting. It means pervert, commonly used for anime that contains humor in some moments of sexual nature. One of the characteristics is the bleeding of the boys’ nose when they accidentally meet a girl in an improper way.


This is set in a futuristic world that is devastated. It commonly has the crucial element of technological advances that are accompanied by the social order.


This is a variant of shojo. The theme is still one of the romantic relationships, only in men, like saying a homosexual romance. This type of anime is very much seen by female audiences.

In this type of anime, there are two characters: The dominant(seme), and the dominated(uke)


It’s the same as yaoi, only the only difference between action and romance is between women. The term seme changes to tachi and the uke stays


He is gendered for boys (men). The theme is also a little bit simple but with more action whether it be fights or a deeper plot and some romance. It is one of the genres whose titles are usually a bit longer in terms of chapters with many filling episodes.


It is for a larger male audience than Shonen and Shojo, in other words, young people and not children because of the general theme. The plots have more violence and implicit sex. They tend to have parts of the gore and be more concrete than Shonen as well as fewer filling episodes.


Another subgenre of the Japanese anime and manga art style. This style is characterized by overtly sexualized characters and sexually explicit images and plots.

Why anime art is art?

In short, anime is the highest expression of the human imagination, it is art. To be able to create series with a never-before-seen, novel, and unique content, all this positively influences our lives, makes us happy, we are happy and we are also sad, if this is not art then I don’t know what it can be.

In an anime we can find exciting stories, with characters that can make us fall in love, that make our emotions flow, that’s art.

It is a form of expression in which a message can be transmitted uniquely and to different audiences.

The anime reflects characteristics that many people have and even indirectly helps us feel better because we can feel identified with certain characters.

Drawing anime is our passion!

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