What Was The First Anime Ever?

The first anime ever was “Dekobo Shingachou: Meian no Shippai”. It is a part of Dekobo’s New Picture Book – Failure of a Great Plan. That is the official version according to Japanese Animation Industry.

Hekoten Shimokawa created the first anime ever in February 1917 in Japan. With attention to fine details, Shimokawa created his artwork using white chalk. It was a black wall-slate that gave these Japanese art frames its intrigue.

Furthermore, there is a great mystery surrounding the first anime movie ever. Even though it created the foundations of Japanese art genre, there is no copy of it in any Japanese cartoon art collection.

various faces of the first anime movies
Various styles of drawing an emotion in Japanese anime and manga artwork.
By Erachima assumed (based on copyright claims).
Own work assumed (based on copyright claims)., CC BY-SA 3.0.

Who Created The First Anime Ever?

Miyako-Jima is the birthplace of Hekoten Shimokawa, the father of the anime art. Shimokawa, also know as Ōten Shimokawa, was born on May 2, 1892, in Okinawa Prefecture in Japan.

Consequently, while being an intern of Rakuten Kitazawa, Ōten Shimokawa became fascinated by manga art. Despite just being 14 years old, Shimokawa learned fast.

For instance, can you imagine how hard it must have been to produce Japan’s early anime movie in the 19th century? As a matter of fact, even then – you needed connections to succeed in the animation industry.

As a matter of fact, fans around the world have Rakuten Kitazawa to thank for helping Shimokawa succeed. Ultimately, it was Kitazawa who introduced Shimokawa with Tennenshoku Katsudou Shashin in 1916.

This has resulted in producers inviting Hekoten to work on first-ever Japan’s animated film. During his career with Tennenshoku, Shimokawa produced five animations.

Shimokawa’s most notable early Japanese cartoon art films are

  • Magic Boy (1959), 
  • Alakazam the Great (1960), 
  • The Littlest Warrior (1961), 
  • The Adventures of Sinbad (1962)
  • and The Little Prince and the Eight-Headed Dragon (1963).

Even though wildly good at creating anime films, the father of Japanese animation, Shimokawa left Tennenshoku Katsudou Shashin. As a result of his illness, unfortunately, not choice.

Unfortunately, he never truly returned to the animation industry and died in 1973. However, some urban legends say that Shimokawa continued to work on his art. Hence creating numerous unpublished Japanese cartoon movies. He died at age 81 and rests peacefully in Tokyo, Japan.

History Of Japanese Animation

In the first place, we must mention Katsudō Shashin, early anime film from 1907. Moreover, anime fans consider Katsudo Shashin as the oldest piece of anime history. It is a filmstrip.

However, Natsuki Matsumoto discovered Katsudō Shashin by accident. Furthermore, this earliest piece of anime history was found in a Kyoto household.

Different from today’s anime series, Katsudō Shashin consists of a short series of images. Above all, each cartoon image lasts for three seconds.

As a result, Katsudō Shashin depicts a young sailorman. In like manner, this young sailor creates kanji characters. However, the real title of this historic anime film remains unknown.

The standard duration of early Japanese anime movie features by Katsudo Sashin was three seconds long.

The Boom Of The Anime Industry

In light of World War II, the Japanese government tried to enforce its nationalism. In order to do that, it used Japanese officials supported animation art industry.

Henceforth, Japanese movie art strengthened cultural nationalism in the 1930s.

Markedly, Momotaro Umi No Shipnei was the first anime feature-length propaganda film ever. After that, Mitsuyo Seo created Momotaro Umi No Shipnei in 1945.

early Japanese anime movie showing two drawn animals
The frame from the first feature-length anime film Momotaro’s Divine Sea Warriors (1944)
By Shochiku / directed by Mitsuyo Seo – Screenshot from the film., Public Domain.

What Inspired Anime Artists in 1970s?

In other words, the world has become a global village and, industries started to cooperate. For instance, one of those examples was Walt Disney and Japanese cartoon art.

In particular, Walt Disney has inspired Japanese animators during the late 20th century. As a result, Japanese animation authors created Astro Boy, Lupin III, and Mazinger Z.

In conclusion, Japanese anime artwork has changed the world of the animation industry.

Now go and check out who was the first superhero ever.