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New Video Celebrates A Century of Japanese Anime

100 years of animation in 15 minutes.

Image: Japan's National Film Centre

The Association of Japanese Animation (AJA) has released a video to mark the 100th anniversary of Japanese animation. The 15-minute video features 122 clips that reveal a century of dramatic developments in anime.

The first clip (shown for a brief 2 seconds) is from Namakura Gatana, ‘The Dull Sword.’ A silent four-minute film made a hundred years ago, it follows a samurai’s hopeless attempts to use his newly-purchased sword. This relic of a short film was discovered in an antique shop in 2008.

Other clips on the AJA’s highlight reel include Tetsuwan Atom, known as ‘Astro Boy.’ Released in 1963, it was Japan’s first weekly TV animated series. Complex storylines were used in place of complex animation to save costs. Created by the legendary Tezuka, it would pave the way for decades of anime to come.

The celebratory highlight reel also includes Gigantor, Cyborg 009, Speed Racer, Ashita no Joe, Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, Mobile Suit Gundam, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball, Bungo Stray Dogs, Tiger and Bunny, and Mr. Osumatsu. And yes. Pokemon is in there somewhere.

100 years on from The Dull Sword, the Japanese anime market is booming. It was valued at over 2 Trillion Yen in 2016. And more anime series was produced in 2017 than ever before (about 170).

So while Disney has left the world of hand-drawn animation behind in the West, it is possible that it may last another hundred years in the East. Thank you, Japan.

The next 100 years is off to a monumental start as Hayao Miyazaki comes out of retirement with a new anime feature.

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