Portal:Anime and Manga
The term anime is derived from French "dessin animé" for cartoon drawing, and "l'animation"; it was then adapted to Japanese, short for "animeshon", the Japanese pronunciation of the word "animation". This is because, before the Americans, the French were more familiar with Japanese cartoons and manga and for a time were Japan's primary consumer. Of course, once this art-form carried over the Atlantic, the rest was history.
It may come as a surprise that the classic anime "style" is in fact lifted from American animation. Anime's trademark visual style is shared with Manga (Japanese comic books and graphic novels); in both cases, it is inherited from the post-World War II work of Osamu Tezuka, who is arguably the father of modern Japanese commercial art. Tezuka was strongly influenced by the work of Walt Disney, and adapted the Disney style to Japanese sensibilities. (Other sources say the greatest influence was actually Betty Boop, who was one of Tezuka's favorite characters.) Subsequent creators of graphic works copied his style, resulting in the familiar "large eyes" look that characterized anime and manga for so many decades since the 1950s. (On this topic, fellow artist/author Shirow Masamune has said, "I've heard that some people complain about the large eyes and small noses and mouths in Japanese manga. But I don't see a whole lot of difference when I look at Disney characters.") Tezuka's work essentially created both manga and anime as they are known today. His seminal creation—and the one most Americans are likely to be familiar with—was Tetsuwan Atom (Mighty Atom). It's perhaps better known in the English-speaking world as Astro Boy.
Note that the creator of Astro Boy remarked that the Japanese wanted to be blonde and blue-eyed. This is the best evidence of the reverse of what is happening today: the Japanese liked the drawings of Walt Disney (of humans) because of the American looking people, and the Japanese fascination with American culture of the time.
Akira (sometimes spelled AKIRA to differentiate between the work and the title character) is the name of a post apocalyptic sci-fi manga first released in 1980 and its movie adaption released in 1988. It is the most recognizable of Katsuhiro Otomo's works.
In July of 1988 (or at 2:17 P.M. on December 6th, 1992), a mysterious black-domed explosion destroys Tokyo and sets off World War III. Thirty-one (or thirty-eight, depending on whether it's the manga or the film you're dealing with) years later, the rebuilt city, now known as "Neo Tokyo" has fallen into decay.
Two rival biker gangs, the Capsules and the Clowns, are having a turf war one night, when one of the youngest Capsule members, Tetsuo, almost literally runs into an escaped government test subject. Moments later, the test subject is taken back into custody by the army. However, they also decide to take Tetsuo with them. He then becomes the newest test subject for the "Akira Project." But when Tetsuo's powers awaken, the combination of an inferiority complex harbored since childhood with power beyond Tetsuo's wildest dreams waste no time in driving him insane. He escapes the lab and goes on a super-powered rampage through Neo Tokyo, killing and destroying everything in his path. It falls to a handful of people, including Capsule leader and Tetsuo's friend Kaneda, to put a stop to the destruction.
To establish that a Big Fancy House belongs to a family that is both traditionally Japanese and exceedingly wealthy, one can show many aspects of the home that seem extravagant. There's the big yard, the high fence, the sheer size of it. But for something that just screams "Rich Japanese Family" you need The Thing That Goes Doink.
Studio Ghibli ("jiblee") was founded in the 1980s by celebrated Japanese Anime directors Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata in the wake of Miyazaki's overwhelming success with Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind. Studio Ghibli is known for its incredibly rich and detailed animation, exacting attention to detail, and imaginative plots (frequently involving flying scenes, a personal favourite of Miyazaki's).
Ghibli was recently rated as the top brand in Japan, and is a household name even among non-Otaku. New Ghibli films are consistently the top grossers for the year in Japanese theaters, and recent releases such as Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke have gained a mainstream following in North America (in part thanks to a distribution deal with Disney). The studio tends to focus on films rather than television series, but it is frequently the "gateway drug" for new Anime fans. Ghibli is also like Disney in that Ghibli maintains their animation staff as full-time employees instead of the typical Japanese practice of employing freelance artists paid on a piecework basis.