Anime is a Japanese style of animation that is featured in many popular TV programs and films. The contemporary anime style originated in the 1960s in Japan when artists who drew manga-distinctly Japanese comics-began to translate their work into animation for TV and film. This new style became immensely popular in Japan, and by the 1980s, the popularity of anime had begun to spread to other countries. By the beginning of this century, anime was one of the most popular styles of animation worldwide.
Original anime productions were influenced by popular American animation. Early productions used traditional cel animation techniques like their American counterparts. Japanese anime artists developed their own styles, however, and began to focus more on the quality of the artwork and less on the kind of fluid movement characteristic of American animation. In the 1990s, some anime production companies began using digital techniques, drawing cels with computers rather than by hand. A few anime films combined traditional hand-drawn animation with computer-generated imagery. Many recent anime productions are created entirely with digital processes.
Although anime styles can vary greatly, some aspects of the style, particularly in the design of characters, are so consistent from one production to the next that they've come to define anime for many viewers. Characters typically have proportionally large eyes, for example, and some characters have distorted body proportions. Anime characters also usually communicate emotions and reactions with a set of expressions and gestures that is largely consistent across productions.
The subject matter of anime programs varies greatly, too. Japanese anime productions often draw on history, folklore, mythology, literature and other traditional sources, while some of the most popular anime shows around the world fall into the fantasy, adventure and science fiction genres. Some anime is intended for young audiences, but many anime productions revolve around distinctly adult themes and are intended for mature viewers.