Fantasy, animation and Japan go back a long way. The medium of animation, with its protean possibilities of transformation, mutability and visual wonder, has been linked with fantasy since its inception. 1 Animation enabled artists to create immersive realms that defamiliarized the material world and allowed audiences to enter into uncanny but still credible forms of alternative reality. In America and Europe, Winsor McCay’s oneiric world of princes and dragons in Little Nemo in Slumberland (1911), Georges Méliès’ féerie-based fantasy adventures, and the many cartoon iterations of the traditional fairy tale Snow White attest to the powerful connection between the medium and the fantasy genre. 2 In Japan, animators were not slow to use their own country’s rich tradition of legends as inspiration for animated works. Other initial inspirations came from Hollywood, especially Disney cartoons, which traditionally emphasized comedy and cuteness. But Japanese animation ultimately went in different directions from American cartoons, not only becoming a crucial part of mainstream 159popular culture in both television and film, but also exploring serious and often challenging subjects, including cultural loss, coming of age, death—on both a personal and a mass scale—and even worldwide apocalypse. Japanese animators used the genre of fantasy, often mistakenly seen as escapist, to explore the many insecurities and anxieties of modernity, allowing viewers to confront difficult and complex issues.