Main article: History of anime
Anime began at the start of the 20th century, when Japanese filmmakers experimented with the animation techniques that were being explored in France, Germany, the United States, and Russia. The oldest known anime in existence was screened in 1917; it was a two minute clip of a samurai trying to test a new sword on his target, only to suffer defeat.
By the 1930s, animation became an alternative format of storytelling compared to the underdeveloped live-action industry in Japan. Unlike America, the live-action industry in Japan remained a small market and suffered from budgeting, location, and casting restrictions. The lack of Western-looking actors, for example, made it next to impossible to shoot films set in Europe, America, or fantasy worlds that do not naturally involve Japan. Animation allowed artists to create any characters and settings.
The success of Disney's 1937 feature film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs influenced Japanese animators. Osamu Tezuka adapted and simplified many Disney animation techniques to reduce the costs and number of frames in the production. This was intended to be a temporary measure to allow him to produce material on a tight schedule with an inexperienced animation staff.
During the 1970s, there was a surge of growth in the popularity of manga—which were often later animated—especially those of Osamu Tezuka, who has been called a "legend" and the "god of manga". His work and that of other pioneers in the field, inspired characteristics and genres that are fundamental elements of anime today. The giant robot genre (known as "Mecha" outside Japan), for instance, took shape under Tezuka, developed into the Super Robot genre under Go Nagai and others, and was revolutionized at the end of the decade by Yoshiyuki Tomino who developed the Real Robot genre. Robot anime like the Gundam and Macross series became instant classics in the 1980s, and the robot genre of anime is still one of the most common in Japan and worldwide today. In the 1980s, anime became more accepted in the mainstream in Japan (although less than manga), and experienced a boom in production. Following a few successful adaptations of anime in overseas markets in the 1980s, anime gained increased acceptance in those markets in the 1990s and even more in the 2000s.