The first generation of Anime began way, way back at the dawn of the 20th century, when Japanese filmmakers were experimenting with techniques that were coming about in the west. Many have been lost to time, but the three second Katsudo Shahs from 1910 (figure 1) was recently unearthed in a Kyoto antique shop.
A prominent animator of this period was Jun’ichi Kouchi (figure 2), who was considered the most technically advanced animator of his time. One of his works, 1917’s Namakura Gatana, a popular attraction at the time, told the story of a samurai’s unfortunate purchase of a shoddy samurai sword.
By the 1930s, technical innovations had progressed, making it easier to create longer, more complex animations. Often the style of these works mimicked the classic look of Disney shorts of the era (figure 3), a necessity due to the fact that the Japanese could barely produce a product that could compete with the Americans.
1933 saw the release of the very first talkie Anime, The Dance of the Chagamas (figure 4) At this time, it was largely difficult for animations to find funding, so the bulk made in this era were educational films for the government, and eventually propaganda films for Japan’s military once WWII was in full gear.
pic by wiki