History of Anime

By Link-DVG

Osamu Tezuka

Osamu Tezuka the maker of Animé has been called many things, Walt Disney of Japan, God of Comics and A Legend in his Own Time but there are no words to describe what this man has done to put Animé on the map.

Osamu Tezuka was born in 1926 in Osaka, Japan, the son of a Doctor.
When Tezuka was young, he was heavily influenced by Disney and the penciler of Micky Mouse, Max Fleischer. Max based his designs on round heads and large round expressive eyes, which is a big factor in todays Animé. According to Tezuka:-

"My career as an animator began when at the age fo 4. I copied a picture of Popeye. My house was full of comics when I was a schoolboy.
Because we were about to obtain a projector and several films, I was able to see Micky Mouse, Felix the Cat, Chaplin and Oswald Rabbit at home.
When in the third grade in primary school, I drew comics in my notbook which was immediately taken away by the teacher. Later, however, he encouraged me with praise...

Tezuka was studying to enter the medical profession as he was following in the footsteps of his father but while doing this he also formed and then published several Mangas the most notable of his early work was Tetsuwan Atom (Might Atom later to be AstroBoy in the US).
The story is set like Pinocchio. A robot boy invented by a man who had lost his own son and the robot wishes to become a real boy. Tetsuwan was an instant hit and made Tezuka a instant household name.
And this is what made the Manga industry reborn. Before this comics were not widely read but Tetsuwan Atom spread far and wide, engulfing al walks of life in Japan.
In 1957 when Tezuka was 31 he formed Toei Animation, a subpart of Toei Productions, with a goal of producing animated feature films, which was currently the largest film company in Japan.
Tezuka was currently the biggest cartoonist in Japan was contracted to help Toei's first animated feature film, Monkey King. With large success in Japan it was critisized by the US. One of the main reasons was the translation ruined it.
A year after Toei opened, Tezuka became a Doctor when he received a doctorate in Human Anatomy in 1958. After this he never practiced medicine again.

In 1962 Tezuka's contract witih Toei finished and he left to set up his own company, Mushi Productions, which at first seemed that this would put him in direct competetion with his former employer. Tezuka noticed that to get the largest auidence than the movies was going to be through the black and white television that sat in houses, the ones that could afford it at the time of its release.
He also decided that the first made for TV animation would be based around the hit Manga, Tetsuwan Atom.

Osamu Tezuka

The Japanese Walt Disney

Putting the animation on the television was a rapid change from the movies and in effect it changed almost all Japanese animation from that point on. Through Tezukas determaination this brought about a new concept to the then young Japanese television industry.
The new type of how Animé was shown to the public was so fluid with its movie like plots and methods of direction previously reserved for live action flims, such as attention to lighting and using close-ups for dramatic effects.

The big shot came to Tezuka when an Amercian channel NBC brought the rights to Tetsuwan Atom. It was then changed to AstroBoy. This made Tezuka a worldwide success and this was assured.
The move from the movies to television also gave birth to a new era of production as the Japanese studios refitted themselves for TV production and new studios were formed quickly.
Mushi Productions grew to become the largest animation houses in the business by the time Dr Tezuka stepped down from the position as Acting Director when he was 44 in 1970.
Among his acheivements there was the animated version of his manga Jungle Emperor (seen in the US as Kimba the White Lion), and he also beat Ralph Bakshi's Fritz the Cat as the first X-rated animated film with his production of Cleopratra Queen of Sex.
Tezukas Manga sold in record breaking sales and he continued to receive profits from his Mushi Productions, so by now Tezuka is an extremely wealthy man and hes also internationally known.

With Mushi Productions doing so successfully Tezuka decided to set up another company named Tezuka Production Co. Again, one of the first productions made by this company was the hit selling Manga and now popular animated show, Tetsuwan Atom but this time in colour. Also he made a feature film Space Firebird 2772.
Space Firebird was a story based on one of his longest running Manga works, Hino Tori, which tells the story of the Legendary Chase for the immortal Pheonix. The work was semi-autobiographical, and a very person piece for Dr Tezuka.
Space Firebird became the new break in animation quality and became a measure to all other films.

In 1982 Tezuka left the commercial animation scene altogether and went to work full time for his own films. He abandoned all the other animation factories that he helped to create.
This also gave Tezuka time to vist film festivals such as the Zagreb Animation Festival, held in Czechezlovakia, and aslo the Hiroshima Festival, held in Japan.
Osamu Tezuka became a honoured name among many independent animators. He continued to promote animation, appearing at many festivals around the world, right up until the point of his death.
Tezuka collapsed after arriving home from a festival where he shared his experiences with those who had a lot to learn from this one man. Osamu Tezuka literally changed the face of Japanimation (Japanese Animation).

Tezuka left commercial animation and pursued his own goals. He made the films that he wanted to see , in doing so, he gave us something more than anyone had ever imagined.

This is Osamu Tezukas greatest achievement in his life and his greatest legacy: that so many people love his work and are striving towards the love that this man had to show his artform that this man shared with the world.

Osamu Tezuka