Suginami Anime History, from “Astro Boy ” to “Mobile Suit Gundam”

In May 2021, the box office revenue for the Japanese animated film, “Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba the Movie: Mugen Train”, has broken the record for feature-length anime, “Spirited Away,” exceeding 40 billion yen in Japan. It has also become very popular overseas, and was released in the US, Hong Kong, Australia and other countries.

According to the Report on Animation Industry 2020 issued by Japan Video Association, the total income of the Japanese anime industry has reached around 22.8 billion dollars, increasing continuously for 10 years since 2009.

As a matter of fact, of the approximately 400 animation companies in all of Japan, there are as many as 138 animation production companies (as of 2016) in Suginami, Tokyo, the most concentrated area of animation companies in Japan. These Suginami companies have done much to support the animation industry as a whole, which has been growing larger annually. The beautiful visuals of “Demon Slayer” were created by Ufotable Inc., a comprehensive video production company in Suginami. Why not trace back the history of anime masterpieces born in Suginami?


“Astro Boy”: The Birth of TV Anime

The first animated film in Japan is said to be ” The Story of the Concierge Mukuzo Imokawa” from 1917. Disney’s feature film “Snow White” was released in Japan after World War II, and was a big hit. Osamu Tezuka, who loved Disney’s films, established his company Mushi Productions in Nerima Ward in 1962. From 1963, the TV anime “Astro Boy,” about a robot boy with human emotions, started being broadcast. In those days, it was the first world’s trial to broadcast a half-an-hour anime program every week. In order to save the time, general mouth movements out of synch with the voices were used. This method is called “limited animation” and is still used even now, and can be seen as an advantage in overdubbing voices in other languages.


“Tokyo Movie,” the first animation production company in Suginami

“Astro Boy” was so popular that each TV station started broadcasting one animated film after another. As a result a number of new animation production companies were founded.

In October 1964, Tokyo Movie, the first animation production in Suginami, Tokyo, currently called TMS Entertainment Co.,Ltd., was founded in Suginami. This production company has created many famous works like the movie version “Lupin the Third, the Castle of Cagliostro” (1979), which was directed by Hayao Miyazaki.

In 1965, “Little Ghost Q-Taro”, the first anime produced in Suginami, made a big hit because it had a heartwarming story and caused simple laughter. As many more works were made, Tokyo Movie alone could not fill up the growing demand for animated films and series. So many companies that specialized in backgrounds, finishing touches, and filming were founded in Suginami.


“Mobile Suit Gundam” became a social phenomenon 

In 1979, Sunrise Studio (currently Sunrise Inc.), an anime production company in Kami-Igusa, Suginami, created anime “Mobile Suit Gundam,” about a gigantic robot used in a futuristic war. The story focuses on mainly on the relationships between characters, and it was so popular among young people that it led to an anime boom. Soon plastic models, soundtracks, and related magazines began to sell very well, which established the foundation of anime business.

Even now, many of the anime works created in Suginami or other parts of Japan are viewed by many people of all ages and genders. “Anime” is loved as one part of the Japanese culture.

Suginami Anime 2 will introduce the masterpieces created by anime production companies in Suginami such as Bones, Inc. and MAPPA Co.,Ltd. so be sure to stay tuned!




Suginami Gaku Club (Japanese website)
The birth of an Animation Town

The Association of Japanese Animations (Japanese website)
Animation Industry Report 2020 Summary