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How is Anime Created? (Find Out)

Anime has become an international phenomenon over the last 30 years— all thanks to its diversity.

The art style, and spectacular storylines. Any newbie fan can catch up with its on-point colors, graphics, and story dynamics. 

A scene from an Anime
Anime focuses on exaggerated visuals and facial features to bring more emotion to the storyline

Whenever you watch a new Anime show or the old one, a question must have popped up in your head: how are these kinds of animation are made? You see—Anime is the byproduct of a time taking creative process that not only requires tech but also art.

This beautiful combination of a good story, art, and 2D animation results in Anime.

Organizing creatives is a difficult process yet you see plenty of shows released every year. But how do they do it? Creating Anime is as chaotic as your first day at work. Anime underworks goes through a lot of paperwork, revisions, and missed schedules. 

How is Anime made step by step?

Making a sketch
Anime creation is a multi-step complex process

The Story Lays the Foundation

Just like a building’s foundation is laid upon concrete, an Anime’s foundation is laid upon its story.

Every Anime has a story, which is mainly inspired or adapted from these three source materials:

  • Manga
  • Light Novels
  • Original Scripts

Usually, Mangas and light novels are used as source materials since they already have a full fledge fanbase for example many shonen Animes are inspired by the Manga series published in shonen jump magazines.

Once the story is finalized, it is converted into Anime-appropriate script material. Keeping in mind the episode lengths, story pacing, and other issues that are not an issue for mangakas or novelists.

The directors and writers work together to design a script that is acceptable to the studio in question and once the studio is satisfied with the script the next stage starts.

Pre-Production Stage

Every Anime has to go through this phase before becoming a fully fledge production. In this phase, several factors are taken into consideration such as how long the Anime will run, the cost and revenue, streaming platforms, etc. 

Pre-production begins with the idea or proposal for a new Anime and continues until the Anime is ready to begin production. All project planning and financial preparation take place here.

The producers of the show are in charge of obtaining story rights, recruiting the necessary staff, and obtaining financing from various sources. They are the ones who must coordinate everything so that the real show can be produced. 

Layout Designing

Layout designing is where the actual production begins.

Since Anime requires no real ‘camera’ scenes, therefore, artists create layouts with the help of storyboards to give an insight into how the idea or background should look like.

The Key Animations

The key animators create the keyframes which are the backbone of a smooth motion picture or scene. From creating a fight scene to scenery, key animations are a basic thing in Anime. 

Films show us 24 frames per second or more to give the appearance of seamless motion. This would indicate that 24 drawings are required for every second of animation! Because Anime normally has just two or three important frames every second, those extra frames must come from someplace.

Swapping the Work among Artists

You might have figured it out a little now that only a significant part of the key animations are done by senior artists the major part is outsourced to secondary artists sometimes as cheap labor to other countries like South Korea.

These artists use the key animation reference and create the other designs to formulate the complete animation framework. 

To be honest, in-between artists are often underpaid, as are most folks in the Anime business.

Fortunately, they don’t have to draw every frame for every second of the film. Drawing a separate cel for each frame in a given second is known in the industry as “animating on ones.”

That kind of smooth motion is only reserved for high-budget projects or certain situations (such as combat scenes) that warrant extra effort. The majority of the time, a show will be animated on “twos” or “threes.” To put it another way, just every second or third frame is animated.

Transforming Digitally

In this era any animation no matter where it begins, always end up in Digital Media.  Once the animation has been taken care of, everything has to be colored.

According to the layouts the cells are placed on the backgrounds. Now CG is used in Anime. Once it is done everything is filmed as a composite to create the final masterpiece. 

The Final Touch

After the animation is completed voice actors breathe in life to all the silent characters. The final work is sent to the dubbing studio for voice tracks. Ambient audio effects, music, sound effects, and other audio works are done in the dubbing studios.

After that, Your Anime is finally ready to be broadcasted. I have explained this whole process in a very broad manner although there are thin complexities that vary from Anime to Anime. However, the basic process remains the same for Anime series, movies, and OVAs alike. 

You may get a sense of a particular animator based on their drawings (shapes, the types of details they prefer to add, and so on) and timing. It’s difficult to put into words, but I believe the parallels between all of the works included in this Video are obvious, given Hironori Tanaka’s particular aesthetic.

Hironori’s distinctive art style can be identified easily

Can anyone create an Anime?

Anime is short for Japanese animation which implies that any animation made in Japan is called Anime.

Whereas animation in a broad sense can be created by anyone. However, it is not a bed of roses you’ll have to overcome a lot of hurdles to get past the creative process.

Even if the story is ready to be produced the creative process is what makes it a bumpy ride for animators not only in Japan but all over the world. 

There has been a stigma attached to Anime that only Japanese art forms will be considered Anime, but Avatar, RWBY, and other franchises have shown that with strong titles, even western-made animation may benefit from riding the Anime train on occasion. 

What is the 1st Anime?

The Dull Sword, a silent short film released in 1917
The Dull Sword, a silent short film released in 1917
Title Namakura Gatana
Created ByJunichi Kouchi
Releasing year1917
Duration4-minute silent short film
About the Dull Sword

The first Anime ever created was the Namakura Gatana. Although this 1917 short film was long lost it was finally found in an antique shop in Osaka, Japan. 

It tells the story of a samurai who gets his hands on a blunt sword and bullies his town’s people with it. It was digitally restored in 2008 with the assistance of Natsuki Matsumoto, a visual culture scholar who possesses the film’s nitrate positive.

Matsumoto’s restoration was thought to be identical to the original film. In 2014, a newer nitrate was discovered. The nitrate version contains the first half of the film, whereas Matsumoto’s version has the second half.

The Dull Sword is the only one of three works regarded as a predecessor of Japanese animation films that still exists.

This short film was the building block of the creation of Anime in Japan. Then in the late 1960s, Osamu Tezuka gave it a much-needed boost with great shows like Astro boy, Jack Black, Princess Knight, and Kimba the White Lion. 

How did anime come to be?

Shimokawa Oten probably published the first animated film in Japan, and hence the first anime, in late 1916 or early 1917, using chalk and lasting less than five minutes.

The confusion stems from the fact that the majority of early Japanese films were disassembled after the reels were completed.

The films were silent, but they were almost undoubtedly accompanied by live music and “benshi,” storytellers who stood by the screen and recounted the picture for the audience.

Which anime is the oldest?

The Dull Sword, the first anime produced in Japan that has survived to the present day, was released on June 30, 1917; however, it is debated whether the title was the first to receive that accolade.

Three industry heavyweights created the first anime short films. Oten Shimokawa was a political caricaturist and cartoonist who worked for the Tokyo Puck magazine. Tenkatsu hired him to create an animation for them.

He was only able to make five films, including Imokawa Mukuzo Genkanban no Maki (1917), before returning to his old career as a cartoonist. Jun’ichi Kuchi was another renowned animator during this time period.


  • Anime is created by a long process of story writing, pre-production, animation, and then the final touches. 
  • Although Anime refers to Japanese animation, anyone can adopt this art style as an inspiration to create something new. 
  • The first ever Anime created was a 4-minute silent film named Namakura Gatana—The Dull Sword.

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