By Marri Lynn
The new face of Saturday morning TV
The momentum of the anime movement began to pick up in the 1980s with such titles as Dirty Pair, Dragonball, Kimagure Orange Road, and Ranma 1/2. Ranma 1/2's author, Rumiko Takahashi, is one of the richest women in Japan today, and her success is definitely demonstrative of the devotion of fans to particular authors and the series they produce.
The 1990s saw a veritable explosion of titles that were awarded acclaim and recognition that lasts to this day. Studio Ghibli caused Japan to weep over Isao Takahata's Grave of the Fireflies and delight at Hayao Miyazaki's My Neighbor Totoro and Laputa, Castle in the Sky. Sailor Moon and, later, CLAMP's Cardcaptor Sakura cemented the magical girl series as an inseparable aspect of anime's growing diversity. Katsuhiro Otomo's Akira, Hideaki Anno's Neon Genesis Evangelion (above), Masamune Shirow's Ghost In The Shell, and Chiaki J. Konaka and Yoshitoshi ABe's Serial Experiments: Lain showed the growing maturity of the genre with their emotionally complex plot lines and handling of darker moral issues and questions related to our developing technological world. Hayao Miyazaki's Princess Mononoke was among those first important anime films to air in North American theatres in collaboration with Walt Disney Inc., and the director's following release of Spirited Away opened western eyes to his works, and encouraged interest in previous Studio Ghibli films and the vast sea of anime itself. The official Hollywood seal of approval came in 2003 when Spirited Away won the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film.
While skeptics still accuse anime of being a children's entertainment with cookie-cutter art styles and little novelty, one need only dig a little deeper to see this isn't the truth. Anime has inspired such whimsical art like that of Yoshitaka Amano, best known for his work on Vampire Hunter D, not to mention a host of contemporary budding artists whose first doodles were an emulation of their favorite anime character. With the timelessness of anime's core characters and stories and its visual appeal, it's easy to see why a new generation of North American children has fallen in love with the new face of Saturday morning.
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