A report describes the changes in robot anime over the years from Astro Boy to Neon Genesis Evangelion.
A recent translation by AltJapan Co., Ltd., has made a report, titled "Japanese Animation Guide: The History of Robot Anime," covering the history of robot anime in Japan available for English-speakers to read. The Japanese government first made the report available last year through Media Arts Current Contents, a government-affiliated portal covering manga, anime, and video games. Written by anime critic Ryusuke Hikawa, writer Daisuke Sawaki, and Sunrise's head of cultural promotion Koichi Inoue, the report is 90 pages long and was commissioned by Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs. The English translation does not include the third chapter.
Hikawa opens the report with a preface on the background of anime in postwar Japan and its expansion in the 1970s, as well as its spread of influence today. "Japanese Animation Guide: The History of Robot Anime" seeks to properly depict the past and current state of anime culture.
Robot anime is one of the largest and most popular subgenres of Japanese animation. It includes several large franchises like Gundam, Macross, and Evangelion. Its popularity has spread outside of Japan and even inspired movies like Pacific Rim.
The first chapter focuses on robot anime's cultural history from its rise in the early 1960s to its ebb in the mid-1980s. The second chapter examines the relationship between anime studios and toy makers, and the final chapter offers a long list of robot anime shows and movies in chronological order.
"Japanese Animation Guide: The History of Robot Anime" is available as a PDF in English and was originally available in Japanese from Media Arts Current Contents. Future reports along a similar vein are possible for the future, Hikawa notes in the preface, pointing to the magical girl subgenre as another field that could be analyzed to "convey the richness of Japanese anime culture to future generations."