Database for Animation Studies

10 References for Understanding the Psychology of Animation

Yokota, Masao

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.

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.

This reference develops the theory of the “emotional valley,” which holds that the main character in an anime tumbles into the world of unconsciousness after intense feelings. Then, the protagonist meets someone who will render aid and who has entered this unconscious world from outside. Finally, there will be an awakening and the main character will develop into a greater personality.

Yokota, Masao
Nihon University

Yokota Masao is a doctor of medicine and doctor of philosophy (psychology). Currently, he is a psychology professor at Nihon University, College of Humanities and Sciences; President of the Japanese Psychological Association; President of the Japanese Union of Psychological Association; and a board member of the Japan Society for Animation Studies. He specializes in clinical psychology and video psychology. His writings include Animēshon no rinshō shinrigaku (The Clinical Psychology of Animation) (Seishin Shobo), Animēshon to raifu saikuru no shinrigaku (Psychology of Animation and Lifecycles) (Rinsen Book), Dai hitto anime de kataru shinrigaku (Psychology as Relayed by Major Hit Anime) (Shin’yosha), and edited works, such as Animēshon no jiten (Dictionary of Animation) (Asakura Publishing).


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.

The following list of recommended references was selected and written by researchers and experts trusted by the Research and Education Committee; however, there are, of course, other important animation study references that have not been included. This list was prepared by members of the Research and Education Committee to examine more closely certain references. (Authors: Kayama Takashi, Sugawa Akiko, Nakagaki Kotaro)