We all know and love anime. We celebrate it and take pride in being anime fans. And we buy anime bedroom decors, figures, posters, etcetera to show anime off to others. But not all of us knows it’s origin from the get go. So, it is only a matter of time for every fan to ask this question, “what’s the first anime that was ever made?”
For you curious souls who asked this same question and stumbled upon this blog post, welcome to AnimeEverything.online!
Now, back to the topic. What was the first anime ever to be created?
The Origin Of Anime
Anime has been in existence for over a hundred years now. The earliest evidence of animated work in Japan dates back to the 1900’s.
It is a well known fact that Disney animations were a huge inspiration and motivation for the Japanese to create their own animation which is now popularly known as Anime.
Sadly though, several of the oldest anime films were lost during the Tokyo earthquake that occurred in 1923. However, in the recent years, some of those lost films have been discovered and restored.
Ddue to high cost involved in the production of animated content, most works were sponsored by either the military or the government to educate people or to spread military propaganda. As a result, it was used more as an educational medium in the beginning years.
Oldest Animated Film
Katsudō Shashin could be the oldest ever anime/animated content there is. It was found to be a work from the year 1907. However, animation in Japan began production only after 1917 and there is no evidence of Japanese produced anime prior to that year. So, it is possible for Katsudō Shashin to be a foreign animation that was somehow brought to Japan.
It is an animation of a boy in sailor suit drawing the characters for katsudō shashin.
The First Anime Ever
The short film that is verified and acknowledged to be the first anime ever is a short film called Namakura Gatana, which translates to “The dull sword.”
It is a short film directed by Junichi Kouchi which was discovered and digitally restored in 2008.
Namakura Gatana is the story of a samurai who owns a dull sword. In order to test his sword, he attacks the civilians of his town. However, he is beaten by all of them.
The First Anime Film With Sounds/Voiceover
The first Japanese animated film with voiceover was directed by Kenzō Masaoka in the year 1933. This animated film called Chikara to Onna no Yo no Naka (or Within the World of Power and Women) is considered as a “lost film” since there are no available prints of this film.
However the plot of this film is briefed in Wikipedia.
It is the story of a Japanese man who is married to a woman with an incredibly large physique. At home, he is always criticized and ordered around by his wife to an obnoxious extent. Which is why he cheats his wife for a typist who works in the same company as he does. The man’s wife catches wind of this affair when the man accidentally talks about it in his sleep. The woman then confronts her husband and the female typist in their office.
First Color Anime Feature Film
in 1958, Toei Animation and Mushi Production released the first ever colored anime called Hakujaden (The Tale of the White Serpent.)
It was also one of the first anime films to be released in America. In 1961, this movie along with two other films were premiered in America for the first time under the title ‘Panda and the Magic Serpent.’
Moreover, this was the highest budget anime film of that time which had over 13,590 staffs and it took them 8 months to complete it.
A restored version of this film was shown in 2019 Cannes Film Festival.
Japan’s First Animated TV Series
In 1961, the first ever animated television series called Instant History was broadcasted. As the name suggests, it’s an educational series that showed historical events through anime. However, it wasn’t entirely animated. Some photographs and video footages were used along with the animated content.