Database for Animation Studies

10 Books/Articles to know History of Animation

Watanabe, Yasushi

Before World War II, Taihei Imamura’s Manga Eigaron [A Study of Comics and Films] was the only literature on animation. In recent years, there is much literature to read. I recommend literature based on my impressions while reading them, rather than as general source materials. Other than those 10 books I chose, L. Martin’s Of Mice and Magic and Takuya Mori’s Teihon Animation no Gyagu Sekai [General Reader: World of gags in Animation] were two memorable literature sources. It might be presumptuous for me to recommend my coauthored book, Nihon Animation Eiga Shi [A History of Japanese Animation Films], but I am proud to say that the Library of Congress in the United States has purchased it.

Mori, Takuya. Animēshon Nyūmon, Bijutsu Shuppan-Sha, 1966.

This is a recapitulation of a series of articles written by Mori, an animation and film critic, entitled “douga eiga (animation) no keifu” [A geneology of motion pictures (animation)] that appeared from September 1962 to October 1963. Unfortunately, his critique of Disney animations, which can be regarded as a hallmark of his writings, was censored and entirely cut by Disney.

Tomono, Takashi and Mochizuki, Nobuo. Sekai Animēshon Eigashi, Parupu, 1986.

This is a major revision of a series of articles, entitled “Sekai no Anime Shi” [A World History of Animation], which appeared in the monthly journal “Animage,” published by Tokuma Shoten Publishing as written by an animation historian, Tomono and Late Mochizuki. The history of animation around the globe, which was recently added, remains of great academic value.

Gomi, Yōko. Animēshon no takarabako, Fusion Product, 2004.

This is an impressive series of critiques by Gomi (maiden name: Tomizawa), the then-Chief Editor of a coterie magazine, “FILM 1/24.” Gomi evaluated animated works—Japanese or foreign, long or short—from a balanced perspective without favoritism. She was honored with the Ōfuji Noburō Award in Anime Division in the Mainichi Film Award.

Imamura, Taihei. Manga eiga ron, Daiichi Genbunsha, 1941.

Published for the first time in Japan, this is of high academic value as a study on animation. As an enthusiastic film fan, Imamura regularly visited a news film theatre established in Tokyo, analyzing and evaluating short Disney Fleischer animation films. He should be rightfully acknowledged as the first person to focus on animations.

Yokota, Masao. Dai hitto anime de kataru shinri gaku: `kanjō no tani' kara tokiakasu nihon anime no tokushitsu [Psychology as Relayed by Major Hit Anime: The Characteristics of Japanese Anime That Resolve the “Emotional Valley”], Shin'yōsha, 2017.

As avpsychology professor at Nihon University, Yokota analyzed box-office animations from a psychology perspective. He interpreted films like Your Name, In This Corner of the World, and Frozen, as well as intricate situations in the Forest of Labyrinth in The Great Adventure of Horus, Prince of the Sun, by the late Isao Takahata.

Takahata, Isao. Manga eiga (animēshon) no kokorozashi ―`yabu nirami no bōkun' to `ō to tori', Iwanami Shoten, 2007.

Late Takahata released many books. In 1955, he was moved by a French animation called La bergère et le ramoneur and was employed as a producer by Toei Douga (Current Toei Animation Co., Ltd). This is the only literature source where he gave a detailed analysis of La bergère et le ramoneur, which provided impetus for his becoming an animation director and its remade version, Le Roi et l'Oiseau.

Watanabe, Yasushi

The author was born in Osaka in 1934. As an expert in the world history of animation, he specializes in Walt Disney (the person) and Disney animation from the 1920s to 1940s. He is an honorary member of the Japanese Society for Animation Studies. In June 2014, he was awarded the Special Prize during the first anniversary for the foundation of the Japanese Society for Animation Studies. In November 2014, he won the Lifetime Achievement Award in the Animation Division in the 18th Japanese Media Arts Festival. In March 2018, he won the Merit Award in Critics Subdivision that was newly established under the Animation Merit Division in 14th Tokyo Anime Award Festival.


Initially I was thinking about “10 References That Shaped Japanese Animation Studies,” but I revised this list to references from early animation studies through the early 1980s. I’ve grouped the list into five parts: (1) Works in the early 1960s including translations that were the “classics” of their time; (2) Works in line with the legendary F&FF circle that are as a fundamental references for animation proper; (3) Experimental cinema, experimental animation, and original works; (4) Film history and animation history, and (5) Film and visual studies, which are fundamental to this area of research (+x are listed as titles only).

Recently it has become easier to research animation history due to theavailability of prewar and wartime animation online. But even so, there has notyet been sufficient research into the several decades between the beginning ofdomestic animation in 1917 through the establishment of Toei Doga in 1956.This list focuses on the period before Toei Doga’s establishment and presentsmemoirs and critical biographies about animation producers, as well as booksthat offer clues for a deeper understanding of their work.

Animation has various psychological effects on the people who view it. Receptivity to animation depends on the viewer’s developmental stage, and animation can play a supportive role for people who have mental issues. On the other hand, an animator’s psychological developmental themes can have demonstrable effects on the animation, and this aspect can be explained in psychological terms. Moreover, animation can be understood as a clue for deciphering the mental issues of the modern age.