Guide to Anime history and anime in Japan. Learning a little bit about Japanese culture and history can go a long way towards helping your enjoyment and gaining the understanding of anime especially if you’re planning to visit Japan. With the success of anime and manga in western culture, where did it all begin?

Firstly it is important to realise that anime is Japan’s version of the popular Disney animation which we all still watch today. With the technological advancement in animation, Disney provided a medium for family entertainment in the early 1920’s. Subsequently, early Japanese animators, like their western counterparts, followed Disney’s lead and made their shows primarily for children. But for anime the now famous Osamu Tezuka, created the Japanese phenomenon of Manga and Anime. Tezuka had studied at Disney’s productions, and his comics made extensive use of cinematic devices easing the transition from comics to animation.

Anime History – First Superstars

Tezuka was not only an innovator in Japanese animation, he also first studied at Disney’s productions and soon created Japan’s first animated star: Tetsuwan Atom, better known to westerners as Astroboy. On January 1, 1963, Tetsuwan Atom was first broadcast on Japanese TV, and soon after that Astroboy appeared on American television. At the time, television in the west was rapidly expanding and broadcasters were eagerly seeking content. Because the characters in anime appear western, it was easy to create American versions of Japanese-made shows simply by changing the names of the characters.

The popularity of anime and manga has helped westerners gain a broader understanding of Japanese culture. Fans now collect their favourite anime series or visit comic book stores that stock all the latest ranges of manga and anime.

Anime Conventions

Anime conventions such as Anime Expo, Otakon, and JACON, started in the early 1990s and are currently held annually in cities across Europe, Asia, and the Americas. Many convention attendees take part by dressing up as their favourite anime characters. Known as Cosplay, it means costume and play. People with this hobby create their own costumes, based on their favourite game, animation or comic book character. Moreover, Japanese artists, voice actors, film directors and musicians are invited to the conventions. As the popularity of manga and anime continues to grow, so does the world’s knowledge and understanding of Japanese culture.

Anime Events to visit

A few manga and anime grand events are held in the course of a year. In particular, the AnimeJapan (formerly known as Tokyo Anime Fair), held annually at Odaiba’s Tokyo Big Sight convention centre.

Another event is Comiket, a huge comic book fair which attracts hundreds of thousands of people. It is held biannually, also at Tokyo Big Sight.

Anime Shopping - Akihabara at Night

Anime Shopping – Akihabara at Night

Anime Shopping in Japan

Manga and anime related items have a huge following in Japan and if you’re visiting Japan then places like Den Den Town of Osaka and, more prominently, in Tokyo’s Akihabara district, will you find everything you ever wanted.

Tokyo is home to many anime related attractions:


Akihabara is the centre of gaming, manga and anime culture in Japan. With its electronics shops, maid cafes and anime stores, it is a paradise for any self-proclaimed otaku.
Hours: Store hours vary, typically 10:00 to 20:00

Nakano Broadway

Nakano Broadway is a shopping mall with stores that specialize in anime goods.
Hours: Store hours vary, typically 12:00 to 20:00