x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Required reading: anime

An Emirati company is working to bring the first Arab-speaking anime characters to UAE screens. What is the history and significane of anime?

AnimeIf animation studio Alter Ego has its way, the world’s first Arabic-speaking anime characters will soon hit UAE screens.

Alter Ego has created an anime series called Torkaizer, about a boy called Ahmed who visits Japan and learns to control a giant robot; the stage is set for Ahmed and his robot to become righters of wrong on an epic scale.

The series creators – both share the name Ahmed Mohammed Al Mutawa – were inspired by the Japanese anime they watched as children: classics such as Future Boy Conan and Grendizer, that are remembered by generations of children in Japan and across the world. So what are the origins of anime and how did it become a global cultural force?


For a broad-ranging introduction, turn to Simon Richmond’s The Rough Guide to Anime (Rough Guides, Dh62). While Japanese animation pioneers – “anime” is an abbreviation of animation – began in the early 20th century alongside their counterparts in the West, the instantly recognisable anime style was established in the 1960s and influenced by manga – the Japanese comic book genre with roots in the 19th century.


Osamu Tezuka is credited for establishing the style we now call anime, including the trademark “large eyes” and the giant robot or “mecha” genre. Read the definitive The Art of Osamu Tezuka by Helen McCarthy (ComicArts, Dh113), to learn why Tezuka is called “the god of manga”. Tezuka’s seminal comic Astro Boy (Dark Horse, Dh62), first a book then an anime television series, is considered a foundational work.

Today, Japanese anime is a multibillion dollar global industry. Read Susan Napier’s Anime from Akira to Howl’s Moving Castle (Palgrave Macmillan, Dh118), for an overview of contemporary anime. Immerse yourself in the work of Hayao Miyazaki’s The Art of Miyazaki’s Spirited Away (Viz Media, Dh113). Miyazaki’s 2001 anime fantasy film Spirited Away won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature.


If all this has created a yearning to visit the home of anime, grab Hector Garcia’s A Geek in Japan (Tuttle Shokai, Dh85) to read one man’s excursion into anime and Japanese popular culture.


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