Animation Influence in Pop Culture

Just like in animation, culture is varied throughout all the parts of the world, from food, style, history, traditions, art, fashion and even in religion. In other parts of the world, the word has a complicated meaning, since culture is varied worldwide and has no fixed meaning. However, no matter what the meaning is or the differences, the one thing culture has in common everywhere is that it can be learned and understood, if one wants to understand the culture of other countries, worldwide.

American Cartoons, Comics and World War I & II

American cartoons are very popular not only in America, but in other aspects of the world, going back as early as 1909 to 1920, before and after WWI.

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WWI was when comics were used as a means of distracting someone from the reality of destruction and the loss of lives in the war. Ironically, comics were not ones to shy away from cartoon violence, murder or even death but during this time, the early comic artist and storywriters did the opposite, with the risk of many banned subjects being challenged.

One comic in particular did touch on the subject of WWI; Charley’s War by Pat Mills, which tells the story of the main character. Englishman Charley Bourne, as he grew up from a 16 year old boy to a married soldier, during the war and how he dealt with it. However, the comic was classified as being offensive and childish, to cover up the harsh reality of war being a serious thing.

Comic makers also have to be wary of how they create their comics, as it could spell out major trouble if they went too far; i.e. on an international level unless we are talking about aliens or space. However, comics took a big change after the end of WWII, where the theme of war was not acceptable and either had to be toned down or discarded all together.

An example of this is this comic page, featuring Usagi Miyamoto, an anthromorphic rabbit (who sometimes crosses over with the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles franchise). The comic talks about death and war, but to ‘soften’ the topic, the characters are all anthromorphic animals instead of humans to make the subject seem a little more ‘lighthearted’ but at the same time, serious in a sense, since Usagi was seriously angry of the lost of his leader and was annoyed that the others weren’t as upset as he was, until he understood why and also, the time period where they were set was beyond WWI: 4th Century Japan. So, cartoon characters at the time lessened the topic and reality of war, by the humor and the fact that they were animals and not humans.

The Birth of Disney Studios and American Animations

During WW1, in 1928 Walt Disney created Mickey Mouse, who would be known as a great cartoon icon worldwide. Originally, his name was to be Mortimer Mouse, until his wife Lillian convinced him to change it.

Many people believe that Steamboat Willie was the famous mouse’s first cartoon, when in reality his first short was Plane Crazy. However the latter didn’t receive as much recognition, so it was almost forgotten. The former however, saved Walt Disney and his company from facing bankruptcy.

It wasn’t long before the studio was making more shorts and characters, until eventually animated feature films, like Snow White in 1937 and it was a huge success at the time. However, the demand for Disney films declined when WWII began, as they produced expensive films like Pinocchio and Fantasia in 1940, Dumbo in 1941, was made on a low budget and finally Bambi, in 1942.

But, Walt Disney’s company and his success mostly came from the development of the 12 Principals of Animation; the Bible of Animation created by Disney’s Nine Old Men, during the 1930’s.

Animation after those principals were created has been improved, once followed correctly and breathed life into characters, making them look and feel real so the audience can relate to them and feel them in a sense.

In the present, most of American cartoons have some influences from anime, videogames, movies, real life and even go as far as to make some references or Easter eggs in them.

Anime and Manga

Anime and Manga were created in Japan and still popularized all around the world. Everyone thinks anime and manga are one in the same, but anime is linked to animation on TVwhereas, manga is mostly linked to comics or graphic novels.

The origins of anime and manga started in 1947; 2 years after the end of World War II. During the war period, Japan was forced to follow governments control or pay should they refuse to follow their orders. It was written in Frederik Schodt’s book, ‘Manga Manga: The World of Japanese Comics’, the punishments were “”preventive detention, bans on writing, and social ostracism while those who agreed were rewarded with rehabilitation programs and support from the community…artists who had spent most of their lives criticizing the government did an about-face and offered wholehearted support to the militarists”” (Schodt, 55).

In Japan, Osamu Tezuka, the creator of Shintakarajima(“”New Treasure Island”” in English) and Astro Boy. As a child, Tezuka was a fan of Disney’s earlier works and that inspired him to be a cartoonist. After his first creation was a success, he was then dubbed “”the Father of Manga and Anime””.

In 1962, he formed Mushi Productions, where he released Astro Boy. With Astro Boy’s success and Tezuka’s original art style, Astro Boy soon became an international hit and fascinated American audiences in 1963.

Then later, Jungle Taitei (Kimba the White Lion) was released. However, due to the similarities it has to Disney’s The Lion King many say that Disney ripped off the idea, though they claimed that this wasn’t the case.

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