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Anime is a Japanese term for hand -drawn or computer animation . The word is the abbreviated pronunciation of " animation " in Japanese, where this term references all animation . Outside Japan , anime is used to refer specifically to animation from Japan or as a Japanese-disseminated animation style often characterized by colorful graphics , vibrant characters and fantastical themes. Arguably, the culturally abstract approach to the word 's meaning may open up the possibility of anime produced in countries other than Japan . For simplicity, many Westerners strictly view anime as a Japanese animation product. The earliest commercial Japanese animation dates to 1917, and Japanese anime production has since continued to increase steadily. The characteristic anime art style emerged in the 1960s with the works of Osamu Tezuka and spread internationally in the late twentieth century, developing a large domestic and international audience . Anime is distributed theatrically, by way of television broadcasts, directly to home media, and over the Internet . It is classified into numerous genres targeting diverse broad and niche audiences.