The Evolution of Anime (Brief History)


Anime has become a global phenomenon in recent years, with a huge fan base that has grown in size and diversity. However, this wasn’t always the case. Anime has gone through significant changes and challenges over the years, evolving from war propaganda to a form of entertainment that captivates audiences worldwide. In this blog post, we will take a look at the history of anime and explore its evolution into the beloved art form that it is today.

First Animated Film 1917:

The roots of anime can be traced back to Japan’s first animated film, released in 1917. This was a time when animation was still a new and unexplored medium, and the film industry was just beginning to take shape. The film was a short propaganda piece designed to promote Japan’s military might, and it set the stage for the use of animation as a tool for propaganda during World War II.

Japanese Film through the 30s and 40s War Propaganda:

During the 1930s and 1940s, the Japanese government began using animation as a powerful tool for propaganda. This period saw the production of many animated films that aimed to promote patriotism and support for the war effort. However, after Japan’s defeat in World War II, the country’s film industry was devastated, and it took several years for it to recover.

1950s and 1960s Animated Film Boom:

The 1950s and 1960s marked a period of significant growth for Japan’s film industry, including the emergence of animation as a popular form of entertainment. Animated films were no longer limited to propaganda and began to explore different genres and themes, including science fiction, adventure, and comedy. During this period, Japan’s animation industry also began to attract international attention, with some of the country’s most iconic characters and franchises being created.

The Role of Television and Anime:

The emergence of television played a significant role in the growth and development of anime. In the 1960s and 1970s, many popular anime series were produced for television, including Astro Boy and Speed Racer. These shows helped to popularize anime and introduce it to a wider audience. With the advent of cable and satellite television, anime became more accessible than ever before, and it continued to grow in popularity throughout the 1980s and 1990s.

Anime of the 1970s:

The 1970s marked a period of experimentation for anime, with many new genres and themes being explored. This was a time when many of Japan’s most beloved anime franchises were created, including Gundam and Lupin III. It was also a time of transition, as anime began to move away from its roots in propaganda and embrace a wider range of themes and ideas.

Anime’s Golden Age 1980s:

The 1980s are often referred to as the “golden age” of anime, as this was a period of tremendous growth and creativity for the medium. This period saw the creation of some of the most iconic and influential anime series of all time, cementing anime’s position as a mainstream entertainment medium in Japan and beyond.

One of the most notable aspects of anime during the 1980s was the explosion of popularity and diversity of anime series. Some of the most popular anime of the 80s included “Dragon Ball”, “Saint Seiya”, “Mobile Suit Gundam”, and “Fist of the North Star”. These anime series captured the imaginations of viewers with their captivating storylines, dynamic characters, and innovative animation techniques.

Another significant feature of anime during the 1980s was the emergence of a distinct anime art style. The art style of anime during the 80s was characterized by sharp, angular lines, bold colors, and exaggerated character features. This distinctive style helped to set anime apart from other forms of animation and has had a lasting impact on the medium to this day.

Finally, the 1980s saw an explosion of different anime genres, with anime producers experimenting with a range of themes and storytelling styles. Some popular genres of anime during the 80s included mecha anime, magical girl anime, and sports anime. This diversity of genres helped to attract a wide range of viewers and contributed to the overall success of anime during this period.

The Effect of the Economic Crash of 1990s on Anime:

The economic crash of the 1990s in Japan had a profound impact on the anime industry, as it did on many other industries. Despite the challenges, the 1990s saw the emergence of new anime studios that were able to produce high-quality shows that resonated with viewers. One of the most notable studios to emerge during this time was Studio Gainax, which was founded in 1984 but really hit its stride in the 1990s. Gainax produced several iconic shows during this decade, including “Neon Genesis Evangelion,” “FLCL,” and “Gunbuster.” Another studio that emerged during this time was Production I.G., which produced shows like “Ghost in the Shell” and “Patlabor.”

Other studios that emerged during the 1990s include Madhouse, which produced “Ninja Scroll,” “Perfect Blue,” and “Trigun,” and Sunrise, which produced “Mobile Suit Gundam Wing” and “Cowboy Bebop.” These studios, along with others, helped shape the anime landscape during the 1990s and beyond, bringing new styles and techniques to the medium. Despite the economic challenges of the time, the anime industry was able to adapt and produce some of the most iconic and influential shows in anime history.

Anime of the 2000s and Beyond:

Anime in the 2000s and beyond brought about a new era of anime with an increased focus on mainstream appeal and global reach. The anime industry has seen significant growth in the 21st century, with an increase in the number of studios and an explosion in popularity in the United States. One of the most significant factors in the global reach of anime in the 2000s was the role of Shonen Jump, a weekly manga anthology published by Shueisha in Japan that was responsible for the creation of some of the most popular anime of the decade.

The Big 3 in anime, Naruto, Bleach, and One Piece, were all published in Shonen Jump and became global phenomena, especially in the U.S. Each anime has its own unique style, but all follow the classic Shonen Jump formula of a young, aspirational hero fighting against insurmountable odds to achieve their dreams. In addition to Shonen Jump titles, other genres also rose in popularity in the 2000s, including slice-of-life, isekai, and sports anime.

With the increased demand for anime content in the 2000s, the industry has seen a significant increase in the number of studios producing anime. The industry has also become more global, with an increase in the number of collaborations between Japanese studios and studios in other countries. Additionally, the growth of online streaming services such as Crunchyroll and Funimation has made anime more accessible to a global audience than ever before. The 2000s marked a new era of anime, with continued growth and global popularity that shows no signs of slowing down.


Anime has come a long way since its inception in the early 20th century, with each decade bringing its own unique style and flavor to the medium. From the first animated film in 1917 to the emergence of new studios in the 1990s and the popular anime of the 2000s and beyond, the anime industry has been shaped by various factors, including economic crises, war propaganda, and technological advancements. The growth of anime’s popularity around the world can be attributed to the dedicated fan base and the genre’s ability to evolve and adapt to changing times. With the rise of streaming services and increased accessibility, anime is more widely available than ever before, and its future looks bright. As the anime industry continues to innovate and expand, fans can look forward to even more exciting and diverse content in the years to come.

Larthian & Syanka

Afar Anime is a co-managed site operated by a husband and wife anime-loving team. Since an early age, they have both shared a love for all things anime. Some of their favorite titles include Naruto, Sailor Moon, and Hunter X Hunter. Post are published weekly and old articles are updated accordingly. If you are interested in collaborations, feel free to reach out at

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