Anime, or Japanese animation, has been a popular form of entertainment for decades. But what was the first anime ever made? The answer to that question is a bit complicated.
Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors (1945)
One of the earliest examples of anime-style animation is a short film called "Momotaro's Divine Sea Warriors" which was released in 1945. This film was created during World War II and was meant to boost morale among Japanese soldiers. This animated film was created as a propaganda piece to show the Japanese public how the Japanese military had won such decisive victories in the South Pacific. It tells the story of young Japanese boys from their school days to joining the army and fighting against Japan's "enemies," and it shows how the animals in the jungle—meant to represent the residents of the Asian countries conquered by the Japanese—welcomed the Japanese army's "liberation" of them from their western masters.
Astro Boy (1963)
However, many people consider "Astro Boy" (1963) to be the first true anime series. Created by Osamu Tezuka, "Astro Boy" was a landmark series that helped to establish the anime genre. The series follows the adventures of a powerful robotic boy and his friends as they defend the world from evil. The plot revolves around Astro Boy, an android young boy with human emotions created by Umataro Tenma following the death of his son Tobio. Astro is eventually sold to a robot circus run by Hamegg, but is rescued by Professor Ochanomizu. Astro becomes Ochanomizu's surrogate son, and he creates a robotic family for Astro, allowing him to live a normal life like any other human boy while accompanying him on adventures.
Another important early anime was "Japan Sinks" (1973), which was one of the first anime to use a more realistic style of animation. The series was a critical and commercial success and helped to usher in a new era of anime.
So while there is no definitive answer to the question of what the first anime was, these three examples give us a good sense of the evolution of anime over the years. Whether you're a fan of classic anime or modern anime, there's no denying that anime has come a long way since its early days and remains one of the most beloved forms of entertainment around the world.