The History and Popularity of Cool Anime in Japan

What is Japanese Anime?

Japanese anime is a popular form of media and art in Japan. It features good story lines and plots which are portrayed by animated cartoons. On the other hand, this particular kind of literary media is not like ordinary cartoons. There are distinct methods and techniques in sketching out characters when comparing ordinary cartoons and anime. This unique technique serves as a trademark to distinguish anime from other cartoons.

Most anime is derived from good storylines written in manga or comics. It is common to see animated versions of the manga. This means that the ordinary drawn characters are transformed so that they could talk, walk, and move.

The shape and movement of the mouth indicate dialogue and it is common to see faces with exaggerated facial expressions. This is to help audiences in determining the emotion being portrayed by the characters. Japanese anime may be one of the internationally recognized forms of TV entertainment for the Japanese. Every year, there is a western award show that welcomes nomination for these kinds of animated shows in a variety of categories.

Different categories of Japanese Anime

There is a total of four different categories of Japanese anime. Each category focuses on a particular demographic or target market. A lot of people are quite taken aback by the way that manga and anime are categorized. Some even say that it is too gender biased, stereotypical or gender specific. However, a simple understanding of the system can easily show that these anime and manga are divided as such for ease of cataloging.


The word Shounen often means boy  (or son) in the Japanese language. This may mean that this category is originally intended for young boys. This particular assumption is actually a common misconception. In Kanji, the word shounen literally translates to a meaning of few years indicating that it is targeting the younger generation in general.

Most shounen manga focuses on stories revolving around adventure, action, and even comedy. A lot of stories are also quite fantastical which deals with supernatural beings, aliens, magic, and more. What is interesting about this is the fact that the shounen manga and anime can be considered among the most popular category.

On top of this, to make this kind of anime relatable for its target audience, most of the main characters are in high school. Most stories are about high school students saving the world, fighting beasts, meeting magical creatures, going to the underworld and the like. This makes the characters’ age fall near or within the same age group as the audiences.


If the Shounen anime is intended for boys, the shoujo anime is intended for girl audiences. Most of the shoujo anime have love stories, fashion, romantic comedy, adventure and the like. Another unique characteristic of the shoujo anime have female leads or are told in a female point of view. This is why it is categorized for young girls because the characters are more relatable for young girls.


By Niabot (Deutsch: selbst erstellt English: self-made) [GFDL ( or CC BY-SA 3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


Another unique characteristic of shoujo anime is the fact that its characters are much cuter and attractive than the shounen manga. The latter has much more color or design and its palettes are usually much lighter to match the storyline. Compared to the shounen manga which deals with darker themes and palettes. There are still some elements of adventure and action in Shoujo movies but it is more common to find story lines with themes of romance and drama.

Seinen (青年and成年)

If both the Shoujo and Shounen manga and anime are intended for children, the seinen manga and anime are intended for much older audiences. In general, they are called as blue years, pertaining to people who are past their adolescence. This category often pertains to the as adult manga.

Despite the fact that the Seinen category is considered as “adult” it does not mean that it always involves sensitive themes such as sensuality and pornography. This just means that it has elements and meanings in its stories which may be too deep or difficult for a child to understand. These include horror, murder, death, suspense, and the like. The story also focuses more on “real life” than anything else.

Most of the time as well, the main stars or characters are much older as well. If seinen and shounen manga have high school students as their main stars or characters, seinen characters are working full-time jobs or are married.

The History of Cool Japanese Anime

First Anime in Japan

A lot of people think that the first ever anime produced and filmed in Japan is Astro Boy. What many people don’t know is that there are a few older animated shorts that were produced much earlier than this. Considered as moving pictures, the Katsudo Shashin was produced in the early 1900s. It was a three-second clip made from a total of fifty frames. This particular clip shows a young boy writing characters on a makeshift board.

The first animated movie was a short clip known as An Obtuse Sword which has a length of two minutes. This was produced in 1958. The first anime series which was produced was the Otogi Manga Calendar which was released in 1961.

The role of Astro Boy

Why do people think that Astro Boy is the oldest Japanese animated series? This is because of the fact that it is one of the first animations that reached an international audience. It was produced in 1963 and there is a wide following not only in Japan but all over the world. In fact, Astro Boy is so iconic that it is considered as one of the important characters of the time.

Furthermore, Astro Boy is still popular up until today. This is after the original black and white series was colorized and re-released in full color.

Best Anime throughout history

Cool Japanese Anime Movies

Spirited Away (2001)

This is one of the most popular animated films in all of Japan’s history which was directed by Hayao Miyazaki. The story revolves around a young girl who was going through a journey towards escaping from the spirit world where she was trapped in. In her journey, she meets new friends who help her in finding her way home.

Produced by Studio Ghibli, this particular movie won numerous awards. It hit box office when it was released and became the highest-grossing film in all of Japan’s history.  It had a wide following in many parts of the world that both DreamWorks and Disney competed for the rights to distribute it in the US. It was reproduced with an English-speaking cast.

Grave of Fireflies (1988)

Directed by Isao Takahata, this is a popular drama film which was released in 1988. This is a war time film that focuses on the journey of a young boy and his younger sister amidst the war-stricken towns of Japan. It shows the suffering that the Japanese went through during the Second World War and how innocent citizens suffered.

This particular film also gained a wide following after it was released. It is also one of the many Japanese animated series that gained popularity from international audiences. It was nominated for a number of awards and recognition as well.

Cool Japanese Anime Shows

Fullmetal Alchemist

This is one of the longest running animated series in Japan. It was released in 2001 and the final episode was aired in 2010. The story revolves around two alchemist brothers that have spent their lives looking for what is known as the Philosopher’s stone to help their mother be brought back to life. In their adventure, they meet both friends and adversaries that help them reach their goals.

A lot of people like this animated show because of its interesting plot and story line. The setting, which was industrial age Europe, was also a unique choice that surely wowed audiences. The theme song f this show was also a favorite.

Famous Anime Directors

Soubi Yamamoto

By 思弦 張 [CC BY 2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

It is widely known that the animation industry is mostly male-dominated. This means that there are fewer females than male directors in the animation industry of Japan. However, out of the few women that are amongst men, there are people who have notable contributions to the industry.

One such woman would be Soubi Yamamoto who is most famous for the ‘This Boy Can…’ series. Yamamoto is a famous director that has made a name for herself just a short time after she joined the industry. She is best known to be a one-woman show. This is because of the fact that she usually does all the writing and directing of the event.

The storyline of this installment focuses on a young man’s capability of fighting aliens, wizards, and other fantastical and magical creatures that nature has got to offer. What makes this particular anime special is the fact that the color palettes are bright but not too intimidating.

Naoko Yamada

This director gained significant popularity from the animation K-on! This particular show is about a group of young students who used their musical capabilities in forming a band and gaining wide following and popularity all over their school. The series got quite a lot of following because of its adorable characters and cute themes.

Yamada is still famous for her other works such as A Silent Voice whose main character undergoes and survives bullying. There are a number of people who have found this story horrifying. Another one of the very famous shows would be Sound! Euphonium.

Japanese Anime Trivia

Famous Japanese Anime character names

Among the most popular names in anime include Kenshin from Samurai X, Mononoke from Princess Mononoke and more. There are also popular names from famous animated series like Light and ‘L’ from Death Note.

Cool Japanese Anime Quotes

“A road is something that you make yourself” JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure

In this quote, the character is talking about opportunities and how people can create these paths towards success. This is very applicable to individuals who are running after their goals and dreams. It is a reminder that no path to success is easy and it will always come with missed opportunities. No one can help a person to succeed but himself.

“Those who forgive themselves, and are able to accept their true nature… They are the strong ones!” Naruto

In this quote, the character is talking about a person’s capability of accepting himself. In many cases, it is an individual’s flaw that pulls a person towards failure. However, those who believe in themselves have a special new source of confidence. A person’s acceptance of himself, his good traits and his flaws, is an indication of strong character.

“There is no such thing as truth in this world. That is our reality. Anyone can become a god or a devil. All it takes is for someone to claim that to be true” Shingeki no Kyojin

This particular quote can be applied in a multitude of scenarios. It can be used, for instance, in a religion where a man can be led falsely towards darkness when believing something that others believe is true. A person who can control the truth can control another person’s peace.

“People's Lives don’t belong to anyone. Anyone, except themselves. But people have a path. The path of how to use that life”  Kingdom

This particular quote is very similar to the first one. It focuses again on the path that a person must take towards happiness and success. It is through one’s acceptance of himself that he may truly be wealthy and happy.

“Compared to failing without even trying, I’d rather take action even at the risk of a mistake.” Grisaia n Kajitsu.

This quote is one that is most motivational out of the list. It helps a person realize that no success shall be gained without failure. It is this failure that people will learn. Also, it is better to try than to spend long hours of the day and night wondering what could have been.