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.
Tag: Mushi Production
The History of Mushi Pro – 3 – The beginning of the end (1967-1969)
With the huge debt left by its former acting director and the end of Mushi’s partnership with NBC Enterprises, the studio found itself in an increasingly difficult financial situation from the second half of 1967 onwards. Things would only get worse from there, and every attempt to resolve them ended in failure as Mushi failed to produce any success. By 1969, the signs were clear: the studio's downward spiral could not be stopped.
The History of Mushi Pro – 02 – Anime business (1965-1966)
While I’m hesitant to speak of “golden ages”, if Mushi Production had one, it was certainly the years 1965-1966. Still riding on Tetsuwan Atom’s prodigious popularity, the studio considerably expanded its personnel and activities. It launched production of new, ambitious TV shows, notably the first color TV anime, Jungle Taitei, and seemed to reach unprecedented artistic heights. But at the same time, the atmosphere at the upper level was getting worse, as Osamu Tezuka started realizing the situation was getting further and further away from what he originally envisioned for Mushi, and the anime industry knew its first deaths. Mushi’s success was not just built on the vision of ambitious and passionate creators, but also on frustrations, failures, and human lives.
The History of Mushi Pro – 01 – The Road to TV Anime (1960-1965)
Osamu Tezuka, the God of Manga, is also the father of modern anime - not only did he coin the word, his Tetsuwan Atom was the first animated TV serial in Japan, and pioneered the “limited animation” techniques still associated with anime. Or so the story goes. In actuality, things are far more nuanced: the goal of this first article is to show that, and narrate the events that led to the completion of Atom in all their complexity. I hope to achieve that in mostly two ways: avoiding teleology - that is, the idea that Tezuka’s goal was to make TV, “limited” animation from the start - and shifting the focus away from Tezuka as an individual.
Anime background art: Takamura Mukuo, Katsumi Handô, Hiroya Yamura, Shûji Konno roundtable – Translation and commentary
A 1981 roundtable focusing on anime background art, featuring Takamura Mukuo and his colleagues Katsumi Handô, Hiroya Yamura and Shûji Konno. Followed by a commentary on the sociology of background artists and the changing roles of anime background art through time.
Japanese Animation, 1937-1958: or, more notes on Akira Daikuhara
The origin and core of this piece is my personal interest in Daikuhara, but it will not be another biographical piece like my previous one. I will rather explore the area which I wrote the least about last time: Daikuhara’s pre-Tôei work. More generally, this will therefore be an exploration of Japanese animation production from the time of the Sino-Japanese War to Tôei’s first animated feature film, The White Serpent - that is, an exploration of roughly two decades of animation in Japan, from 1937 to 1958.
The History of Tatsunoko – Conclusion: Tatsunoko diasporas
suo Yoshida’s death from liver cancer on September 5, 1977, is generally understood as a turning point in the history of studio Tatsunoko. Although his sickness was known among the studio’s top brass, few, if any, were aware of its seriousness, and nobody expected that their leader would be gone so soon. Because of Yoshida’s stature within the company - that of a kind, paternalistic and appreciated boss, but also the face and name of Tatsunoko - this was no doubt a traumatic event for many. Aside from the mark Yoshida left as a person, however, there remains a question: did his death really change anything for the studio as a whole?
The History of Tatsunoko – 4 – Difficult times
hern stands out among studio Tatsunoko’s productions for its unusually dark worldbuilding and dramatic intensity. It was also perhaps one of the studio’s most difficult productions - a direct result of the difficult context it was made in. In earlier articles, I highlighted Tatsunoko’s position in regards to industry-wide aesthetical shifts, such as gekiga anime or mecha animation. This time, it’s time to focus on changes in business practices, staff policy, merchandising and politics - all things that were triggered by one of the most important crises faced by the anime industry throughout its history.
The History of Tatsunoko – 1 – Early Days
anese animation studios whose origins go back directly to the so-called “first anime boom” - that is, the development of TV animation. For that reason, Tatsunoko’s first years are chronologically distant and the stuff of some legend: after all, wasn’t the studio one of the pioneers? Didn’t they contribute to forever change the way animation would be made, first in Japan and then in the entire world?
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.