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Character Animation

Character animation is a specialized area of the animation process concerning the animation of one or more characters featured in an animated work. It is usually as one aspect of a larger production and often made to complement voice acting. Character animation is artistically unique from other animation in that it involves the creation of apparent thought and emotion in addition to physical action.

Historically, Winsor McCay's Gertie the Dinosaur (1914) is often considered the very first example of true character animation. Otto Messmer imbued his Felix the Cat with an instantly recognizable personality during the 1920s. The following decade, Walt Disney made character animation a particular focus of his animation studio, best showcased in productions such as Three Little Pigs, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, Pinocchio, and Dumbo. Disney animation artists such as Bill Tytla, Ub Iwerks, Grim Natwick, Fred Moore, Ward Kimball, Les Clark, John Sibley, Marc Davis, Wolfgang Reitherman, Hal King, Hamilton Luske, Norm Ferguson, Eric Larson, Johnny Lounsbery, Milt Kahl, Frank Thomas and Ollie Johnston all became masters of the technique.

Other notable figures in character animation include the Schlesinger/Warner Bros. directors (Tex Avery, Don Bluth, Chuck Jones, Hanna-Barbera. Bob Clampett, Max Fleischer, Walter Lantz, Frank Tashlin, Robert McKimson, and Friz Freleng), independent animator Richard Williams, John Lasseter at Pixar, and latter-day Disney animators Andreas Deja and Glen Keane. Character animation is not limited to Hollywood studios, however. Some of the finest examples of character animation can be found in the work of Nick Park of Aardman Animations and Russian independent animator Yuri Norstein.

Character animation is augmented by special effects animation, which creates anything that is not a character; most commonly vehicles, machinery, and natural phenomena such as rain, snow, and water.

History of Film Animation

The history of film animation began in the 1890s with the earliest days of silent films and continues through the present day. The first animated film was created by Charles-Émile Reynaud, inventor of the praxinoscope, an animation system using loops of 12 pictures. On October 28, 1892 at Musée Grévin in Paris, France he exhibited animations consisting of loops of about 500 frames, using his Théâtre Optique system - similar in principle to a modern film projector.

The first animated work on standard picture film was Humorous Phases of Funny Faces (1906) by J. Stuart Blackton. It features a cartoonist drawing faces on a chalkboard, and the faces apparently coming to life.

Fantasmagorie, by the French director Émile Cohl (also called Émile Courtet), is also noteworthy. It was screened for the first time on August 17, 1908 at Théâtre du Gymnase in Paris. Émile Courtet later went to Fort Lee, New Jersey near New York City in 1912, where he worked for French studio Éclair and spread its technique in the US.

The first puppet-animated film was The Beautiful Lukanida (1912) by the Russian-born (ethnically Polish) director Wladyslaw Starewicz (Ladislas Starevich).

The first animated feature film was El Apóstol, made in 1917 by Quirino Cristiani from Argentina. He also directed two other animated feature films, including 1931's Peludopolis, the first to use synchronized sound. None of these, however, survive to the present day. The earliest-surviving animated feature, which used colour-tinted scenes, is the silhouette-animated Adventures of Prince Achmed (1926) directed by German Lotte Reiniger and French/Hungarian Berthold Bartosch. Walt Disney's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937), often considered to be the first animated feature when in fact at least eight were previously released.

The first to use Technicolor and the first to become successful within the English-speaking world was Flowers and Trees (1932) Disney studios which won an academy award.

The first Japanese-made anime film was the propaganda film Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors (桃太郎 海の神兵) by the Japanese director Mitsuyo Seo. The film, shown in 1945, was ordered to be made to support the war by the Japanese Naval Ministry. The film's song AIEUO no Uta (アイウエオの歌) was later used in Osamu Tezuka's anime series Kimba the White Lion. Originally thought to have been destroyed during the American occupation, a negative copy survived and the film is now available in Japan on VHS.

History of Animation in Japan & USA

- Japan (Anime)

  • The first Japanese Animation
Found recently in Kyoto, the film depicts a boy wearing a sailor uniform performing a salute. The film dates back to around the year 1900 and is on 35mm Celluloid, composed of 50 frames put together with paste

  • Pre-Tezuka experiments
    • Imokawa Mukuzo Genkanban no Maki(1917)
    • Saru Kani Gattsen(1917)
    • Usagi to Kame (1924)
    • Iburigusa Monogatari (1924)
    • Kujira (1927)
    • Entotuya pero (1930)
    • Nansensu Monogatari/Sarugasima(1930)
    • Norakuro(1935)
    • Momotaro's Sea Eagles(1942)
    • Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors(1945)
  • Mushi Productions and Toei Animation
    • Madame White Snake(1958)
    • Osamu Tezuka's Astro Boy (1963), Kimba the White Lion(1965)
    • Isao Takahata's Hols: Prince of the Sun (1968), helped by Hayao Miyazaki and Yoichi Kotabe.
  • 1960s
    • Tetsujin 28-go
    • 8 Man
    • Obake no Q-taro
    • Sally, the Witch
    • Star of the Giants
    • Attack No. 1
    • Moomin
  • 1970s
    • Tomorrow's Joe and the beginning of sports and martial arts anime
    • Rise of the Mecha and Super Robot genres and fall of Japanese film industry
    • Impact of Gundam and the beginning of the Real Robot genre
    • Candy Candy and Lady Oscar and the rise of shōjo genre
    • Lupin III
    • Science Ninja Team Gatchaman
    • Heidi, Girl of the Alps
    • Space Battleship Yamato
    • The Rose of Versailles
    • A Dog of Flanders
  • 1980s
    • Rise of space operas with Macross (1982) and Z Gundam (1985)
    • Rise of Otaku subculture
    • Beginning of Studio Ghibli
    • Rise of fantasy adventures with the Hayao Miyazaki films Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind and Castle in the Sky
    • Dragon Ball and the rise of martial arts anime
    • Ambitious productions such as Megazone 23 (1985) and Akira (1988) and the beginning of cyberpunk and postmodern anime
    • Dr. Slump
    • Urusei Yatsura
    • Fist of the North Star
    • The Transformers (TV series)
    • Glass Mask
    • Kaze to Ki no Uta
    • Grave of the Fireflies
  • 1990s
    • Decline of domestic industry combined with international growth
    • Rise of harem anime
    • Dragon Ball Z and the rise of superhuman martial arts anime
    • Sailor Moon and the rise of magical girl anime
    • The impact of Neon Genesis Evangelion series and the post-Evangelion trend
    • Critical acclaim in the West and the rise of Moe series domestically
Naruto Kodocha

  • 2000s
    • Rise of digital fansubs outside of Japan, particularly among anime fans in the West
    • Revival of sports anime with titles such as Hajime no Ippo and Hikaru no Go
    • Rise of psychological horrors and psychological thrillers with titles such as Higurashi no Naku Koro ni and Death Note
    • Rise of 3D computer graphics in anime, including anime titles by Hayao Miyazaki and Katsuhiro Otomo
    • Rise of cel-shading in anime such as Freedom Project
    • Revival of Super Robot genre and beginning of counter-Evangelion trend with Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann


Beginning of industrial production of animated cartoon.
- Because the history of Hollywood animation as an art form has undergone many changes in its hundred-year history, Wikipedia presents four separate chapters in the development of its animation:

Animation in the United States during the silent era
(1900s through 1920s)

  • The beginnings of theatrical, the earliest animated cartoons in the era of silent film, ranging from the works of Winsor McCay through Koko the Clown and Felix the Cat
  • The Bray Studios was the first and foremost cartoon studio, housed in New York City. Many aspiring cartoonists started their careers at Bray, including Paul Terry of "Mighty Mouse" fame, Max Fleischer of "Betty Boop" fame, as well as Walter Lantz of "Woody Woodpecker" fame. The cartoon studio operated from circa 1915 until 1928. Some of the first cartoon stars from the Bray studios were Farmer Alfalfa (by Paul Terry) and Bobby Bumps (by Earl Hurd).
  • Max and Dave Fleischer formed their own studio Fleischer Studios, and created the Koko the Clown, Out of the Inkwell, and Sound Car-Tunes series.

The Golden Age of Hollywood animation
(1930s and 1940s)
  • The dominance of Walt Disney throughout the 1930s, through revolutionary cartoons Silly Symphonies, Mickey Mouse, and Donald Duck.
  • The rise of Warner Bros. and MGM
  • The Fleischer Studios creation of Betty Boop and Popeye cartoons
  • Disney's Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs marks the start of the "Golden Age" at Disney.
  • The departure from realism, and UPA

Animation in the United States in the television era (1950s through 1980s)

  • The emergence of TV animated series from Hanna-Barbera Productions
  • The decline of theatrical cartoons and feature films
  • Saturday morning cartoons
  • The attempts at reviving animated features through the 1960s
  • The rise of adult animation in the early 1970s
  • The onslaught of commercial cartoons in the 1980s

Modern animation of the United States (1980s through present)

  • Who Framed Roger Rabbit and the return of Disney
  • Steven Spielberg's collaborations with Warner Bros.
  • A flood of newer, bolder animation studios
  • The Simpsons marks the resurgence of adult-oriented animation.
  • The mainstream popularization of anime
  • The rise of computer animation
  • The decline of Saturday morning cartoons, the rise of Nickelodeon and Cartoon Network
  • Cartoon Network's late-night animation block Adult Swim becomes immensely popular and leads to a resurgence in short, adult animation

Anime (Japan Animation) influence in Western animation

As anime expands to non-Japanese markets such as the United States and Europe, the cycle of cultural influence inevitably extends into these markets. Thus, some Western animation companies have produced works of some anime resemblance. The Animatrix and the Nickelodeon series Avatar: The Last Airbender were influenced by anime. Other animated series such as Powerpuff Girls and Teen Titans have at least a few anime characteristics. While these animated series are not considered to be anime, they do show some characteristics found in typical anime. In addition, Cartoon Network co-produced anime, such as IGPX with Japanese directors. France and Canada have also started to produce anime-inspired shows such as Martin Mystery (Canada/France), Code Lyoko (France) and Team Galaxy (France). Powerpuff Girls made the transition into a true anime (Powerpuff Girls Z).

In recent years, some producers of Western animation have turned to Japanese animation companies for collaborative productions. The second season of The Boondocks is produced in cooperation with Studio Madhouse, and Walt Disney Animation Studios has contracted Madhouse to produce the Stitch! TV series (a reimagined version of the well-known American film).

Influence on World Culture

Anime has become commercially profitable in western countries as early commercially successful western adaptations of anime, such as Astro Boy, have revealed. The phenomenal success of Nintendo's multi-billion dollar Pokémon franchise was helped greatly by the spin-off anime series that, first broadcast in the late 1990s, is still running worldwide to this day. In doing so, anime has made significant impacts upon Western culture. Since the 19th century, many Westerners have expressed a particular interest towards Japan. Anime dramatically exposed more Westerners to the culture of Japan. Aside from anime, other facets of Japanese culture increased in popularity. Worldwide, the number of people studying Japanese increased. In 1984, the Japanese Language Profiency test was devised to meet increasing demand. Anime-influenced animation refers to non-Japanese works of animation that emulate the visual style of anime. Most of these works are created by studios in the United States, Europe, and non-Japanese Asia; and they generally incorporate stylizations, methods, and gags described in anime physics, as in the case of Avatar: The Last Airbender. Often, production crews either are fans of anime or are required to view anime. Some creators cite anime as a source of inspiration with their own series. Furthermore, a French production team for Ōban Star-Racers moved to Tokyo to collaborate with a Japanese production team from Hal Film Maker. Critics and the general anime fanbase do not consider them as anime.

Some American animated television series have singled out anime styling with satirical intent, for example South Park (with "Chinpokomon" and "Good Times With Weapons"). South Park has a notable drawing style, which was itself parodied in "Brittle Bullet", the fifth episode of the anime FLCL, released several months after "Chinpokomon" aired. This intent on satirizing anime is the springboard for the basic premise of Kappa Mikey, a Nicktoons Network original cartoon. Even cliches normally found in anime are parodied in Perfect Hair Forever. Also, in the episode "The Son Also Draws" of Family Guy parodies anime with an appearance by Speed Racer and his trainer. The two speak in poorly-dubbed English, with every phrase punctuated by a "Ha-HA!". Anime conventions began to appear in the early 1990s, during the Anime boom, starting with Anime Expo, Animethon, Otakon, and JACON. Currently anime conventions are held annually in various cities across the Americas, Asia, and Europe. Many attendees participate in cosplay, where they dress up as anime characters. Also, guests from Japan ranging from artists, directors, and music groups are invited. In addition to anime conventions, anime clubs have become prevalent in colleges, high schools, and community centers as a was to publicly exhibit anime as well as broadening Japanese cultural understanding.


Otaku (おたく or オタク) is a Japanese term used to refer to people with obsessive interests, particularly anime, manga, and video games.

Otaku is derived from a Japanese term for another's house or family (お宅, otaku) that is also used as an honorific second-person pronoun. The modern slang form, which is distinguished from the older usage by being written only in hiragana (おたく) or katakana (オタク or, less frequently, ヲタク), or rarely in rōmaji, appeared in the 1980s. In the anime Macross, first aired in 1982, the term was used by Lynn Minmay as an honorific term. It appears to have been coined by the humorist and essayist Akio Nakamori in his 1983 series An Investigation of "Otaku" (『おたく』の研究 "Otaku" no Kenkyū), printed in the lolicon magazine Manga Burikko. Animators like Haruhiko Mikimoto and Shōji Kawamori used the term among themselves as an honorific second-person pronoun since the late 70's.


In Japan there has been some negativity towards otakus' and otaku culture, incidents including the Akihabara Massacre and the Osaka School Massacre, just a few of the crimes related to "otaku hatred" or "obsession". an example is Tsutomu Miyazaki, In 1989, he became to be known as "The Otaku Murderer". His bizarre murders fueled a moral panic against Otaku. However, Japanese journalist Akihiro Otani suspected that the crimes were committed by a figure moe zoku, the amount and degree of social hostility against otakus seemed to increase noticeably for a while, as suggested by increased targeting of otakus by law enforcement as being possible suspects for sex crimes, as well as by calls from many persons in local governments for stricter laws controlling the depiction of eroticism in materials which catered to otakus, for example, in erotic manga and in erotic videogames. Nobuto Hosaka criticised a lot of the hype.



"Character Animation." Wikipedia.
"History of Animation." Wikipedia. 3 Nov. 2008

"Anime influence in Western animation." Wikipedia. 4 Nov. 2008
"Anime influence in Western animation." Wikipedia. 4 Nov. 2008