According to Eiichi Yamamoto, the years 1970-1971 represented Mushi Pro’s “second golden age” . There seems to be some truth to this statement: the number of new productions was at its highest, and the quality of some of these is undeniable - Ashita no Joe, in particular, stands as one of the studio’s greatest achievements. However, just as had been the case during the “first” golden age - the time of Jungle Taitei - artistic excellence developed in a context of frustration, hostility and hardships.
Toei and early TV anime – Part 2: the rise of gekiga anime (1966-1968)
Many of Tôei’s promising artists, who had for the most part worked on Fujimaru, were determined to follow up on the possibilities the TV show had opened. This meant making a decisive move towards “adult” animation, that is complex storylines, visual experimentations, and a kind of animation that would go beyond the simplistic, round and friendly shapes of the characters of so-called “TV manga”. Just like young manga artists in the 60s had rejected Osamu Tezuka’s "story manga" style to create their own graphic novels called gekiga, artists in Tôei would slowly start making the move towards what would later be called gekiga anime.
The Kanada style in context
It is tempting, as is always the case with great artists, to imagine Yoshinori Kanada as a solitary shooting star who appeared and revolutionized Japanese animation from nowhere, a pure genius whose inscription in a historical context is almost irrelevant to understanding his work. The very nature of this project goes against such a vision, as it aims for two things: 1) not just evoking Kanada, but all those he met and inspired, and their own careers, and 2) a history that takes into account not just the artists, but the evolution of their styles and their relationships with the general context of the animation industry at the time.