Anime, defined as Japanese animation in English countries, dates back to the start of the 20th century when creators like Oten Shimokawa, Jun'ichi Kouchi and Seitaro Kitayama were producing animated works in Japan. Known as the fathers of anime, these early animators worked throughout the 1910s, laying the groundwork for future animators in the country.
Early anime was not for entertainment, however, but instead served as propaganda for the Japanese government. It wouldn't move into the entertainment field until after WWII when companies like Toei Animation and Mushi Production were founded. Influenced by Disney films, these companies started creating feature-length animated films, but they wouldn't really hit their stride until they reached the television market in the '60s with shows like "Astro Boy" and "Speed Racer," both of which became some of the earliest anime viewed by English audiences.
Not long after the first shows reached Europe and the United States, anime began to diversify, expanding into genres like robotics and kung fu. These became staples of future Japanese anime, though neither the stories nor the characters would be limited to these genres. Having more clearly defined itself by the '80s, anime became a hit around the world in the decades that followed.
How well do you know the characters that have defined Japanese anime since it became a global phenomenon? From shows like "Dragon Ball Z" to movies like "Spirited Away," there are a slew of interesting anime characters to remember.
When you're ready to reflect on some of these brilliant anime series, get started and see if you can recall the characters who defined them.