The Inspiration of Dragonball and Dragonball Z

                        With Dragon Ball Z (or "Dragonball Z") hitting the top of the anime series charts, many anime fans have asked what it was that inspired the artist to create this truly exciting series. Dragon Ball Z has taken the world by storm and there is no question that Japanese manga artist, Akira Toriyama created an anime series that has been pure pleasure for fans throughout the world. The Dragon Ball series has sparked the creation of dozens of best-selling video fighting games, popular the world over. Not only can you buy the Dragon Ball video games, including Dragon Ball GT, there are also myriad sites to obtain cheats and walk-throughs for all the games.

But what inspired this incredible mixture of fantasy and imagination? What has taken Dragon Ball beyond others for anime fans and placed it at the top of the ranks? What are its roots?

As a child, Akira avidly watched anime, a style of Japanese video cartoon animation. When he was 10 years old, he moved into manga, which is the Japanese word for comics. He assimilated his inspiration from other sources as well. Growing up as a Jackie Chan fan, a key stimulus for Dragon Ball was Jackie Chan's first movie, Drunken Master.

How did he come to make it in the manga world? It all started with submitting a story to a monthly contest for amateur artists, and although he didn't win, the editor later hired him. After a year of hard work, he became a pro. Doing manga, he feels, can bring out his individuality since he creates both the story and the art.

The incredibly illustrated attacks that come to fruition in Dragon Ball Z were inspired by an ancient art in China, Chi (also spelled Ki), which means Universal Life Energy. Chi is usually formless and invisible, but in manga art, Toriyama gave it form so it is easily grasped. In Dragon Ball, another well-known attack is called kamehameha, for which our anime artist did many poses himself and chose the best.

Plot developments and characters were often inspired by letters from readers, such as one character, Vegeta. Toriyama found that he was often inspired by the feedback of his fans and used the advantage to spark the imagination in his anime series.

Influenced by Walt Disney's works such as 101 Dalmatians, and the work of another manga artist writer and illustrator, Osamu Tezuka (creator of Astro Boy and known as the "Walt Disney of Japan"), he made his creations come alive in Dragon Ball, perhaps inspired by the aforementioned, but truly the creativity of his own mind. The Dragon Ball anime series has likely been the inspiration of other manga artists in its own right.

When asked what materials he uses in creating his art, he responds that he used to use quill pens and color inks, but today uses a Macintosh. And who can question the efficiency in modern equipment in exceptional anime and manga.

And with a new re-mastered Dragon Ball Z Season One (the first 39 episodes restored) coming in as the best selling series to date, Japanese artist, Akira Toriyama will most certainly be known as the most inspired manga artist of his time.

Anime vs Manga

                          If you are a magna fan and reading up on the latest anime and manga releases and the history of the subject, you will find there has been a lot of confusion between anime and manga. Oftentimes, fans will ask others on forums or on blogs or in chat rooms what the difference is. But this is like having the blind lead the blind in most cases.

There are experts who visit these sites and can answer questions intelligently, but since they do not usually leave links to back up their claims, it can be unclear if what they say is true or if they are really experts. If you go to an online encyclopedia, you often find so much information to wade through with so many big words, it's hard to fully make sense of it all.

Suffice it to say that manga means Japanese comic books, or in other words, those drawn-on-paper cartoons originating in Japan. Similar to the American comics with Superman and Spiderman, these comics were often made into different series and are still produced in quantity. Anime is animation, or you could say, the animated versions of manga.

Any animation actually needs to start out as a cartoon drawing of some kind. Manga artists create the characters and story line, then their drawings are made into animated film. The animation process is long and detailed, and takes a number of talented people to bring off the final product. The artists who originally create the character, his personality and the scene where the action takes place play a large part in the production of the anime.

Sometimes, besides the creator of the manga itself, studios take the artwork and make the backgrounds and other details with the labors of other animators. These drawings are combined and photographed or scanned as one piece, making an entire scene with the character, extras and the sights of a modern city or whatever is being portrayed. Thus anime is created.

Rumko Takahashi created the popular series, Inuyasha and Ranma ½. She does the original drawings and assists in the animation process along with other artists in the studio that produce the final anime. And so it is with many manga-kas (manga writers).

Which came first, manga or anime? That is easy to answer in studying the history of cartoon drawing. In Japan, the most famous manga artists were in production in the 1940s, for they were producing cartoons regarding the World War in progress at the time. That doesn't mean there weren't other cartoonists prior to this time. Certainly there were.

In the U.S., comics were in vogue early on. As early as the late 1700s, Benjamin Franklin started the first editorial cartoon. This soon expanded to the longer comic strips, the first of which was drawn by Richard Outcault in 1895. Then in the 1930s there were the debuts of such heroes as Superman and Batman.

The Rurouni Kenshin Anime Review

                          Nobuhiro Watsuki's Rurouni Kenshin, also known as Samurai X in its English-dubbed version, became one of the most popular Anime series. It was derived from the Manga (a term for the Japanese comic book) that was published in 1992 by Shueisha in Japan. Although the TV series started around 10 years ago, this Anime is still a popular title up to the time this article was written, and probably will still be popular for some years to come. There are a lot of reason why this anime is so popular but the main reason is that it is somewhat different from most of the Anime series that came out. Like any other popular Anime series, it has a hero with an interesting character, has an exciting plot, a mix of comedy, drama, and awesome fighting action. But what separates this Anime from the others is that its fiction lies behind a factual history. The setting and the events in the background do exist and can be found in the records of Japanese history.

The whole story found in the 95 episodes of the TV series happened in the 19th century Japan in a period known as the Meiji Era, in its early years. The hero, a wanderer named Kenshin Himura, was once an skillful assassin for the Choshou clan (one of the oppositions to the Tokugawa government) and fought during the Bakumatsu war. After the war, he decided to change his ways and swore not to kill. During his journey, he met Kaoru Kamiya, a young girl who lived in his late father's dojo found in Tokyo, where they met their friends. That includes Sanosuke, an ex-gangster who was hired by a revenge-seeking menace to kill Kenshin. After their fight, Sanosuke also decided to join Kenshin's friendly gang.

Also there's Yahiko, a young thief adopted by Kaoru, and other interesting characters. Most of their villains were also warriors who can't let go of the old ways. Some of them are Aoshi Shinomori, who was once the leader of Oniwa Banshu (an elite group of ninjas back in the Edo Period), and Shishio Makoto, who was also an assassin during the war. The series can be divided into three parts. First is the Tokyo Arc, which is the sum of Kenshin's adventures that happened in Tokyo. Next is the Kyoto Arc, the one I consider (and I believe most Rurouni Kenshin fans would agree) as the main part of the whole series. Here, Kenshin and his friends travels to Kyoto to stop a terrorist group, lead by a former assassin, Shishio Makoto, from its evil plans to destroy the government. Following the Kyoto Arc are the final episodes where Kenshin and his friends continues their adventure. This TV series was aired on Cartoon Network and Animax.

On December of 1997, A Rurouni Kenshin Movie was released in Japan. It was entitled "Ishin Shishi no Requiem" (entitled Samurai X: The Motion Picture in the English-dubbed version). Here, Kenshin and his friends travels to Yokohama where they are caught between an attempt for a civil war against the Meiji Government. Two years after it's release, the first Rurouni Kenshin OAV (Original Animated Video) was released, entitled Tsuioku Hen (Samurai X: Remembrance). This OAV is an awesome 4-episode special for Rurouni Kenshin that shows the life of Kenshin as Hitokiri Battousai, or the assassin that he used to be. In several aspects, this OAV is very different from the TV series and the movie.

The graphics and animation is higher in quality and more life-like, the fight scenes are truly spectacular, and the story, dialogs, and everything is a lot more emotional. Most of the characters that appeared in the TV series weren't present and in the story, Kenshin had a wife named Tomoe Yukishiro. While this OAV supposedly happened before the TV series, the second OAV, entitled Seisou Hen (Samura X: Reflection) is set after the story in the TV series. This time, Kenshin was already married to Kaoru and they had a son named Kenji who is also learning his father's technique from the master, Seijuro Hiko. The main villain in the story (who also appeared in the first OAV) is Enishi Yukishiro, Tomoe's little brother. Seisou Hen was released in Japan on December, 2001.

Rurouni Kenshin is truly a work of art. No wonder why a lot of people considered this Anime as their favorite. For the past years that Rurouni Kenshin reached the peak of its popularity, a lot of websites that are dedicated to this Anime series had emerged. Some of them features episode guides, character profiles, and other information about the Rurouni Kenshin Anime and Manga.

Is the Anime Naruto Suitable For Kids?

                        Growing up from the US, most kids have grown up with cartoons such as Bugs Bunny and Popeye which portrays the good overcoming evil as well as satires that pokes fun of political figures in a none threatening way. For kids, the majority of the time these cartoons have provided a positive impact rather then negativity or problems.

With the recent months in the rising popularity of Japanese animation especially the series of Naruto, many parents are now worried that it may pose as a negative influence for children. Not only does it portray a lot of problems shown within society, it also contains a lot of adult humor as well. Is this something that we should allow our children to be influenced with? Will this type of influence give children bad ideas about the society or their engagements with one another?

Before we further examine this topic, we have to first understand the background of the anime Naruto. The story revolves around Uzumaki Naruto, a kid that has an inner demon of a nine-tailed fox who has once destroyed many villages until a powerful kage or a leader of a village who sealed his inner demon away through a powerful jitsu or a mystical technique of a ninja. The demon is then locked away and the story of Naruto begins with the life and adventure that he has to face. All the while knowing that the demon inside of Naruto may come out someday both from his friends and foes.

From the outer appearance and storyline, Naruto doesn't seem harmful for children nor is the general storyline provides any hint of negativity in anyway. However, with different Episodes there has subtle hints of sexuality. For one, he suddenly changes into a woman wearing a bikini from a man in ways through this Episode he seduced his teacher. In another Episode, various characters posses characteristic of a woman although by nature they are being presented as man.

For parents, these are major signs of red flags that tells parents that they are not suitable for children due to inappropriate content. I however on the other hand dare to say that it's actually okay for children to be exposed for these type of influences. Children nowadays are exposed to sex, violence, and crime whether it is from television or in the public area although some may minimize such influences. Whether you believe it or not, children pick things up rather quickly from adults. Instead of prohibiting negative influences, I believe parents should really educate kids at an early age the right and wrong and lead by example which is something that is lacking at large in causing a lot of division amongst the family and the society as a whole.

Even if we have successfully screened out the popular anime from our children in an effort to protect our children, is this eliminating the heart of the problem? I dare to say no and that we really need to examine ourselves in our communications with our kids in an educational way in light to talk about such events and things. Animations such as Naruto will only increase in this age of globalization and we need to learn how to cope with it rather then excusing ourselves from facing the true reality of this world. With proper education and support, I believe we can still enjoy anime the same way that we had enjoyed various cartoons in a positive manner with our children.

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