The 15th of April is World Anime Day, a day dedicated to the appreciation of the art of Anime. How fans do this will vary, with some spending time watching their favourite TV shows and films, whilst others don full cosplay garb for a more outlandish display of patronage. However, one thing that we can be sure of is that in 2020 there will be no conventions, no Comicons, no gatherings of any sort, Anime related or not and as such all celebrations will need to take place from the comfort of our own homes.
What is Anime?
Anime is a Japanese term that unsurprisingly means animation and can be applied to any form of animated media to come out of the country. Nowadays there is a recognised aesthetic that we all associate with Anime, the sort of drawing that you see in cartoons like “Pokémon” or “Yu Gu Oh”. However, strictly speaking, as long as a cartoon is made in Japan it can be called Anime, and strictly speaking (again), a cartoon can have the Anime aesthetic but if it is not made in Japan it’s not really Anime.
A Brief History of Anime
Anime can trace its roots all the way back to the beginning of the 20th century. Whilst there were some very early forms of animation that hold similarities to Anime, the fathers of Anime: Ōten Shimokawa, Jun’ichi Kōuchi and Seitaro Kitayama began their work around 1910.
The earliest example of Anime is thought to be a short film called Katsudō Shashin that was discovered back in 2005, with many believing that it originated in 1907. The film is only 50 frames long and consists of stencil drawings made directly onto celluloid. It lasts 3 seconds and there is currently no clear evidence to suggest it predated the first verified screening of an Anime production taking place on April 15, 1912. This is the date that many see as the birth of Anime and is the reason why we celebrate it today.
Few of the very early animations have survived, with most of them being chopped up for single frame pictures at some point down the line. The most accessible early point in Anime history would be the beginning of the 1930s where the animations being made were little more than an attempt to ape what was coming out of Walt Disney’s studios at the time. Cartons like “Chikara to Onna no Yo no Naka” released in 1933, the first Amine production to include sound, looked strikingly similar to the cartoons making their way to American cinemas at the time.
Full length animations began to spring up in the 1940s, but it wasn’t until the late 1950s that they became common place, with the Toei Animation and Mushi Production releasing a full length feature each year from 1958 and helping to establish the Anime aesthetic we are all familiar with today.
1963 saw the birth of Astro Boy and Anime’s move into the American market as restrictions were lifted that allowed imported films into the country and from that point on Anime began to slowly sweep its way across the states, setting the foundations for the huge success that would see Japanese animation become the phenomenon that it is today.
However, it took almost 2 decades for this to reach fruition. For much of the 70s, animators in Japan focused more on TV than feature lengths and the influences tended to come from the other side of the Pacific ocean, with much of the material being released in the late 70s a reflection of the huge cultural influence that Star Wars was having across the world.
This all changed 1984 with the release of “Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind”. Whilst this might not be the first full-length production from the now lauded Studio Ghibli, it was the first huge hit for the film-makers and it was the first time that Anime was seen as a real art-form. From this point on Amine film-makers became more ambitious and more confident to explore Japanese culture as they did so.
This led to a swell in martial arts related films and TV shows, with the 90s big hit, Ghost in the Shell, a huge influence on the Matrix movies that would become a massive success towards the end of the 90s.
From here things just got bigger and bigger with TV shows like Pokémon hitting the big time in ways that had never been seen before. Now Anime was cashing in on an unprecedented scale. Pokémon spawned TV shows, films, computer games and an array of merchandise that made other cartoons pale in comparison. With Pokémon, Anime didn’t just compete with the biggest names in the animation business, they utterly thrashed them.
And then, in 2016, Anime completed the final part of the jigsaw with the release of “Your Name”, a movie that took the world by storm and has since gone on to become the highest grossing Anime feature length film of all time, taking nearly 360m dollars at the box office, edging it just ahead of the 2001 classic “Spirited Away”.
As of today Anime is recognised the world over and grows in popularity every year, making one of Japan’s most successful exports.
Other than just being made in Japan, what make Anime Anime?
Before I move on to how Anime looks, I’ll start with the written conventions. Most Anime is complicated. Even the stuff for kids tends to have a less than straight-forward narrative. Twists and turns, surreal moments and high adventure are almost always the order of the day. Anime tends not to be something you can properly appreciate whilst distracted.
For years now, we’ve realised that cartoons don’t just have to be for kids but the Japanese realised this way before the rest of the world caught on. In Anime you can expect adult themes. Violence, sex and possibly even some drug taking. Quite simply there are a number of Anime films out there that are not intended to watched by children.
The characters tend to have exaggerated facial features, with huge eyes that can in some cases take up roughly half of the character’s entire head. The head itself is often unnaturally large and hair will normally be somewhat plentiful an often brightly coloured.
Add to those facial features large teardrops when scared, frightened or embarrassed and a few other less than subtle extremities and you have characters that wear their emotions firmly on their sleeves.
Amine might have ventured into the digital realm but in most cases hand drawn pastel colours are still the most popular means to bring the characters and their world’s to life.
There is undoubtably more to say about the characteristics of Anime but those are some basics and, ultimately the main rule is that if the animation is made in Japan then it is Anime.
The Best Japanese and Anime themed Slots
For the purpose of this article there simply are not enough slots that have the Anime styling I have mentioned above to make a list of 10. Or perhaps a more accurate description would be there are not enough good slots out there to fill a list of 10.
For this reason I will be sticking with the spirit of Anime and creating a list of the 10 best Japanese and/or Anime themed slots that we can find. And without wasting any more time, here they are:
Shogun of Time
The Shogun of Time slot is a Microgaming release from 2019 and it finds its way onto this list because, if you didn’t already know, the Shogun was Japan’s military leader. Not the Emperor but in some cases just as, if not more, powerful. In this instance that ancient tradition has been combined with time travel, giving this slot a juxtaposing meld between the very old and the very new. With this slot you get Free Spins, Stacked Wilds and a Split Reel feature.
The Our Days slot is another Microgaming release and is about as Anime as any slot you are going to find on this list. Of all the slots here it is probably the weakest, but I felt it had to be included given the number of Anime boxes it ticks. You get Free Spins, respins and Wilds but despite being Anime I guess you might want a more vibrant aesthetic.
Rage to Riches
The Rage to Riches slot gets a place on our list for its depiction of another Japanese cultural leviathan. The main character might be a giant gorilla but there is also a giant Lizard in this slot, one that you crush buildings with, in a fashion reminiscent to that of Godzilla. The slot comes with some excellent features but the star of this show has to be the extremely low house edge.
The Matsuri slot is based on a Japanese festival that takes place at night. As such you can expect lanterns and fireworks, masks and ceremonial dresses. Festival foods make up the symbol spaces and you get a number of related bonus features, involving catching koi carp as part of a click and reveal game and you get Free Spins that come with expanding lantern Wilds.
The Moon Princess slot is the 3rd Play ‘n’ Go release to make it onto this list and it does so because of its Anime aesthetic, and the quality entertainment that this game has to offer. It is a relentless slot that has a winning formula we have come to see time and time again from the team over at Play ‘n’ Go. You get 3 different characters who all have their own random feature, all add something unique to the Free Spins and all come as high paying symbols. If you are into slots I suspect you will have played this one before, such is its reputation.
The Koi Princess slot might be the only Net Entertainment representation that we get on this list but it has to be considered one of the best slots here. Gaining a stunning 10/10 review from us back when it was released, we were impressed by how good the slot looked, the number of features that has and the value for money that it has to offer. With this slot you get 4 different random features, a bonus feature, Free Spins and Wilds. This is one that has battled the ravages of time and still looks the part today.
The Yokozuna Clash slot might not look quite as good as so many of the other Yggdrasil slots out there but you will be hard pushed to find a slot anywhere that offers nearly this much entertainment. The slot plays out like a computer game, with levels to complete, bosses to fight and prizes to be won. This is an exciting slot that makes the very most of its theme and is one I believe you’ll be coming back to time and time again.
The Hanzo’s Dojo slot showcases Yggdrasil’s powers of design in a truly stunning looking slot. The slot is set in the Dojo, filled with ninjas, samurais and sumo wrestlers, all of whom come here to train to become the best in their class. With this slot you get two different Free Spins features and you get Wilds that can expand to fill the reels. Your Free Spins come with various modifiers, helping to make this a slot you will not be forgetting any time soon.
Wild Chase Tokyo Go
The Wild Chase Tokyo Go slot is a simple but very effective slot set in the heart of Japan’s capital. In this slot you get respins and super respins and you get Wild symbols. That might not sound like all that much but when you consider how good this one looks and take into account the value for money on offer this is an excellent piece of work.
The Sakura Fortune slot takes its name from a Japanese tree famed for its stunning cherry blossom. With this slot you can expect the pinks of those blossoms to the main source of colour and your main symbol is a female samurai warrior. There is nothing too complex happening here in what is fundamentally a simple but effective slot. You get Free Spins, Wilds and you get respins, all of which add to how stunning this slot looks.
Leave a Reply
You must be logged in to post a comment.