In the video of Vsauce2 it is mentioned that

Prussian blue ... it reinvigorated Japanese wood block painting, which went on to influence manga which led to Japanese animation

The phrasing makes it sound like the invention of this Prussian blue is one of the key factors towards the development of Japanese animation or anime.

But was this invention really a key factor towards the creation of anime? Or did this Prussian blue really have a an effect to the creation of Anime at all?

  • 5
    A quick preliminary research: Wikipedia on Prussian Blue certainly leads to aizuri-e, one kind of Japanese woodblock prints. How much it influenced manga development, not yet researched.
    – Aki Tanaka
    Sep 16, 2017 at 15:04
  • i would assume mass production of Manga since you etch the wood with the design and use that as part of the printing press and more copied being produced gives it greater possible exposure which alot of anime is based off well selling manga. but obviously this is an assumption and i don't know hoe before this manga was mass produced for the public
    – Memor-X
    Sep 17, 2017 at 3:52
  • The phrasing implies that the colors effect had a indirect effect in popularizing wood block printing which eventually indirectly lead to manga and subsequently anime. But there are no direct ties between the color and anime. It's also a very broad topic to cover.
    – кяαzєя
    Apr 26, 2018 at 2:18

3 Answers 3


The Logical Fallacy that A implies B

This is an example of a "false cause" or "post hoc ergo propter hoc" fallacy.

i.e. "A occured, then B occured. Therefore A caused B"

Some examples:

  • "The rooster crows every morning, therefore the rooster causes the sun to come up.
  • "Hospitals are full of sick people. Therefore hospitals make people sick."

In this case:

  • "Prussian Blue was used in woodblock paintings. Woodblock paintings were the precursor to manga. Therefore, the invention of Prussian Blue was critical to manga's creation"

The Actual Claim - A was faster than it could have been

We can break down the statement from the video:

Prussian blue reinvigorated Japanese wood block painting, which went on to influence manga which led to Japanese animation

If we look carefully at the facts from this sentence:

A: Prussian blue reinvigorated Japanese wood block painting

B: Japanese wood block painting went on to influence manga

C: manga led to Japanese animation

These are presented by the video as to seem to be connected, but they are not necessarily.

Let's imagine that artists took 100 years to perfect Woodblock Painting, then 100 years to develop Manga and another 100 to Anime. The entire time being 300 years to create Anime (note: these timelines are entirely made up)

Vsauce is implying that this first stage was invigorated and perhaps moved faster than it may have without the introduction of Prussian Blue. Maybe it would have taken 80 years to perfect Woodblock Painting instead - leaving us with a total of 280 years before we got to anime for the same process.

What they are saying isn't incorrect, but it is worded as to give Prussian Blue a false importance.


The new availability of blue ink did allow some new stylistic choices for authors, as an alternative to black. We can see artists chose this sometimes in other areas than Japan.

Sketch by Giuseppe Arcimboldo


Honestly no, it's like saying that a certain type of pen led to anime and manga, or that the printing press led to their eventual creation, sure it could help make the experience much better and easier, but they aren't necessarily creation sparkers. Prussian blue just gave us a new cool looking color to use in anime and manga, but was not key in its development. Our desire and interest for storytelling along with our fascination in artistic expression is more linked to the creation of anime and manga, definitely not Prussian blue.

  • 3
    Do you have any sources or references to support your answer? Speculations are allowed as long as they are supported by facts and as long as the references/sources used are cited or credited properly.
    – W. Are
    Mar 24, 2019 at 18:02

Irrelevant to anime.

Anime as we know it was invented 1963 with the release of Tetsuwan Atom. The critical part about that specific anime isfound behind the scenes.

The creator Tezuka Osamu invented various cost-cutting techniques, like having a 90s Opening scene and a 90s Ending scene; that's 3min you can reuse for every episode! He also popularized the production committee approach of funding, distributing the financial risk among a couple of large companies.

This approach essentially created the anime "industry". Prior to that there was no industry.

Thematically, anime of that time do not have much in common with modern anime, though. The roots of modern stories go back to Ashita no Joe (1970) and some contemporaries which laid the foundation for anime like Dragon Ball, Naruto, One Piece etc.
..and to Ursusei Yatsura (1981) which is essentially the grandfather of RomCom anime. Most of the themes that are still used today were introduced with Urusei Yatsura.

Of course, every genre has its own grandfather, but it all goes back to the 1970s and 1980s, while the technical aspect goes back to Tetsuwan Atom.

  • 2
    Got any sources for this?
    – Makoto
    Feb 23, 2022 at 18:07
  • I am the source. Or do I have to publish this elsewhere for it to count as a proper source?
    – Ocean
    Feb 24, 2022 at 17:27
  • I mean, even researchers are required to cite their sources on these sorts of things. To suggest that anime was only ever created starting in 1963 is a bold claim that historians would have assuredly noted somewhere; I'm just asking you to provide those sources to back this claim up. Empirical observation that anime came about in 1963 isn't authoritative enough 'round these parts.
    – Makoto
    Feb 24, 2022 at 17:30
  • Not sure what you are looking for. Tetsuwan Atom simply was the first proper anime series, ever. Before that animation from Japan was very, very different in style (small eyes, very big noses) and mostly consisted of short "movies". This isn't really a topic historians bother with, but you can just check yourself for anime before Tetsuwan Atom to see what I mean.
    – Ocean
    Feb 24, 2022 at 17:41

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