When Was the First Anime Made?

Anime, like movies, video games, and mainstream television, has been around for so long that its origins are largely irrelevant to its widespread popularity.

The answer to this question is highly contextual and depends on many factors, not the least of which is your definition of what constitutes an anime. Therefore, we’ll dissect it a little bit to make a few clear distinctions about the very first anime ever made.

What Was The First Anime Ever Made?

In 2017, a book titled “Animated Film in Japan until 1919” was published. According to “Western Animation and the Origins of Anime” (1907) by Frederick S. Litten, the earliest examples of anime date back to that year. Magic lantern shows were popular in Japan for decades before the advent of the film; the first animated film, Katsud Shashin, was released that year (Activity Photo).

In 1933, the film Chikara to Onna no Yo no Naka became the first animation to use synchronized, pre-recorded voices (a “talkie”) (Within the World of Power and Women). A few years later, in 1945, the first animated feature film, Momotar: Umi no Shinpei, was released as part of a wave of wartime propaganda shorts.

The First Anime
The First Anime

First Color Animated Film & TV Series

The first animated feature film, Hakujaden (The Tale of the White Serpent), was created by Toei Animation and Mushi Production in 1958 and premiered in the United States three years later. Otogi Manga Calendar (Instant History) debuted on TV in 1961 and is often regarded as the first anime ever made due to its groundbreaking use of colour animation.

Some people consider Astro Boy to be the first anime ever made, given that Otogi Manga Calendar wasn’t animated (according to Anime: A History. London: British Film Institute) and since it was the first television series to premiere in the United States.

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