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Japanese Pop Arrivals


1947 - Birth of modern manga

Known as the "god of manga," Osamu Tezuka (1928-1989) creates a graphic book called New Treasure Island, based on Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island. Despite the poor economic conditions in post-war Japan, the book sells 400,000 copies.

1956 - Godzilla

Released in Japan in 1954, the movie Gojira by Japanese writer and director Ishirô Honda tells an allegorical tale of the dangers of nuclear welfare. Two years later, an American version featuring a rewritten script with English overdub and the insertion of additional scenes starring Raymond Burr is released as Godzilla, King of the Monsters! The anti-nuclear message is removed.

1963 - Astro Boy

Osamu Tezuka's Japanese anime Tetsuwan Atom (Mighty Atom) debuts in the United States as Astro Boy, a powerful robot boy created by Dr. Boyton to replace his deceased son.

1967 - Speed Racer

Adapted from the Japanese anime Mach Go Go Go, Speed Racer is an automobile racer, who, along with his family and friends, races against the masked Racer X. The unmasking of Racer X was selected by TV Guide as one of the most memorable moments in TV history.

1975 - Hello Kitty

Founded in 1960, the Yamanashi Silk Center Co. began as a silk trader, but soon found that cute prints increased sales. In 1973, the company is renamed Sanrio (meaning "three rivers," a portmanteau of Japanese "san" and Spanish "rio") and begins focusing on the creation of character-based brands. Hello Kitty is released in 1975.

1984 - Transformers

Originally started as a line of toys by Japanese toy company Takara, Transformers expands into the U.S. market in 1984 through cartoons, comic books and movies. Good Transformers (Autobots) and evil Transformers (Decepticons) battle using their abilities of transforming from objects (cars, planes, animals) into intelligent robots.

1985 - Robotech

First aired in the U.S. market in 1985, Robotech is a series about three consecutive invasions of Earth. Giant robotic mecha (fighting machines) were used as Earth's primary defense. Robotech was one of the first American re-releases that retained the drama and complexity of the original Japanese anime series.

1986 - Nintendo

Japanese toy and electronics manufacturer Nintendo began developing videogame consoles in 1977, and first enters the U.S. market in 1986 as a home-gaming console along and 15 games including the original Super Mario Bros. game.

1991 - Shonen Knife

Music trio Shonen Knife formed in December, 1981. Creating pop-punk music with primarily English nonsense lyrics, Shonen Knife finds success in America as well as Japan with their first major release, 712, in 1991.

1992 - Sailor Moon

Sailor Moon is a 14-year-old who discovers she is the reincarnation of a princess of a kingdom on the Moon. She and her friends are given powers to defend the solar system against evil. Sailor Moon first popularizes the genre of "magical girl" anime.

1993 - Mighty Morphin Power Rangers

Intersplicing new footage with material adapted from the Japanese series Super Sentai, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers tells the adventures of a fighting team of humans who morph into superheroes to battle evil forces, often in the form of oversized monsters.

1995 - Pokémon

Originally a video game by Nintendo, Pokémon becomes a multi-billion dollar media franchise including anime, manga, trading cards, toys, books, and more. Short for pocket-monsters, Pokémon involves catching, collecting, and training hundreds of creatures and battling them against each other.

1995 - Sony Playstation

The Playstation is considered the most sucessful of the "fifth-generation" of videogame consoles. The fifth-generation is most noted for the rise of true 3D games.

2001 - Spirited Away

The film by Japanese anime studio Studio Ghibli, written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, wins the Oscar for best animated film. It is the first anime film to ever win an Oscar. Spirited Away is about a young girl who loses her way in a new city and finds access to a spirit world where Shinto deities go to relax.

2002 - Anime Network

Launched in 2002, the Anime Network is the first cable network dedicated to anime.

2004 - Hi Hi Puffy AmiYumi

An American animated series featuring the adventures of an animated version of the real-life J-pop band PUFFY. A dubbed version premieres in Japan on TV Tokyo's Oha Star in 2005.

2006 - Toonami Jetstream

An online anime video site produced by Cartoon Network featuring anime from the broadcast schedule of Cartoon Network as well as exclusive material.


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