Anime and manga are Japan's most prominent cultural exports.
Liana Sharer, who is associated with the University of Michigan and describes herself as an artist, Shoujo guru and writer, writes the following about the history of anime and manga.
The Beginnings of Anime and Manga
The term manga was created by the artist Hokusai, a prolific artist who lived from 1760-1849 and left over 30,000 works. He was the creator of the woodblock The Great Wave, his most famous picture and the one most closely identified with traditional Japanese art. His new term for some of his artwork was made of the words "man," meaning "in spite of oneself," "lax" or "whimsical," and "ga," meaning "picture."
The first examples of what might be called "manga" were picture scrolls created during the 6th and 7th centuries by Buddhist monks. The scrolls ran continually, using common symbols such as cherry blossoms and red leaves to indicate the passage of time. The most famous of these works is Choujuugiga, meaning "animal scrolls", a work that depicted animals behaving like humans and satirized Buddhist priests.
In the early 17th century, woodblock prints gained popularity. The most popular ones were called ukiyo-e, portraits of the "floating world." These illustrations were generally salacious images of scenes from the red-light district, though they also depicted the age's pleasures, such as the latest outfits and the most popular places to visit.
In the late 18th century, kibyoushi, or "yellow-covers," gained popularity. These were stories for adults where the dialogue and text were placed around illustrations. They contained a wide variety of subjects and were frequently contriversal - more than one kibyoushi was banned for satirizing the authorities.
When Japan was opened to the outside world, European artists introduced shading, perspective and anatomy. They also introduced word balloons and separate sequences. Also, new printing techniques were introduced at this time that were more efficent than woodblock prints. Under European influence, Japanese started making humor magazines similar to Punch, the most famous of which was Marumaru Chimbun in 1877.
(article continued at umich.edu link below)
It has been 110 years since the very first anime was released, and Fact File's YouTube video below gives a comprehensive look at the biggest points of those years!