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Although 2020 will go into the record books as one of the world’s most challenging years in a century, some bright spots are available to see. If you’re a fan of anime, the way this media took the globe by storm has got to have you wondering what might be coming down the creative pipe.

The first anime wave to reach the United States hit in the 1960s. Although Japan gets credit for it, Americans had access to it almost simultaneously. The first significant hit show for Americans was “Astro Boy,” which was called “Mighty Atom” overseas.

“Astro Boy” premiered on January 1, 1963, in Japan. NBC began showing the English adaptation in the United States in September that year.

The success of “Astro Boy” created another adaptation for the English audience from “Kimba the White Lion.” Industry experts believe it was the inspiration for Disney’s movie “The Lion King.”

The 1970s Brought Space Wars to the United States

Although the anime craze seemed to stop in the U.S. after 1967’s “Speed Racer,” the 1970s did see a resurgence late in the decade thanks to “Battle of the Planets” and “Star Blazers.” With many fans finding an interest in space dramas and star wars, the love of science-fiction with anime took off to new proportions.

Those shows would set the foundation for the robots of the 1980s to influence anime.

Otaku subculture was responsible for keeping anime’s flames alive for several years, with most shows coming to the United States on imported VHS tapes. Some recordings were fan-dubbed to help English speakers understand the dialogue.

If you looked for mainstream hits during this time, “Robotech” was easily the most influential show. What made it unique for the American audience was that it was actually cut from three different series that aired overseas.

Thanks to the efforts of the 1980s, sentai and mecha shows found a home in the United States. You can still find titles like “Voltron” getting made with new episodes. Western audiences may not have had the same exposure to anime since the 1960s, but that doesn’t mean people have fallen out of love.

Scott Larson