While anime shows did amass some success in western markets in the late-90s and early-00s, as well as in the 80s with smash-hit movies from Studio Ghibli, the degree of popularity back then doesn’t compare to the current fascination with animated shows and movies from Japan.
Obviously, the focus here is on the movies and series from Studio Ghibli, such as Spirited Away, When Marnie Was There, The Wind Rises, and From Up on Poppy Hill. Still, several other anime creators have made it big in English-language markets.
While there are hidden gems – like Hajime no Ippo for anyone with even a slight interest in boxing – the big hitters right now are Attack on Titan and Demon Slayer. The rise in popularity of such content is certainly influencing other spheres of pop culture, especially as it’s much more accessible now.
Rising popularity and sudden accessibility
There was a time when anime really looked to be taking off in western markets. The likes of Akira, Ghost in the Shell, and Spirited Away were running riot across screens. Some had English dubs and adaptations, others had subtitles, but intrigue began to fade as the properties became more difficult to find. It probably also didn’t help that English versions – as many who have ever tried to watch a Netflix-dubbed show or movie will know – don’t really capture the quality of the originals.
Still, in 2009, it was written that anime had become invisible on UK television, with the major channels barely touching anime and leaving it for more obscure channels and time slots. Even the channel Anime Central closed down in August 2008. The content didn’t go anywhere, though, with more active markets continuing to crave Japan’s exports. Soon, the internet and connected devices became strong enough to house and stream all of this content.
Early movers who dedicated platforms to bringing anime – in English and Japanese – to western markets via the internet have found tremendous success. The headline act is arguably Crunchyroll, which has soared from around 100,000 subscribers in 2012 to beyond four million worldwide last year. Funimation’s certainly not a slouch, either, boasting a vast library of the latest and greatest anime hits.
Now, anime shows can reach much closer to their full potential beyond the coastline of Japan. In the US, a report from CenturyLinkQuote found the preferences of each state. Further propelling the fandom is the culture that’s come with anime’s increasing acceptance, with convention culture being a big part of the experience.
Inspiring gaming and western movie creatives
Western markets have never been shy of embracing Japanese-made games, with the likes of Sony and Nintendo being among the biggest in the world. Games inspired by anime, though, have mostly been a bit of a niche. Still, game creators are increasingly drawing from the anime style and finding success when they infuse its artwork and tropes.
One line of online gaming that may not have been expected to draw in anime themes would be online casino gaming, in which even some of the best casino reload bonus platforms have a popular anime-styled game. If you are interested, they also have all the information and guides on reload bonuses, along with a full and detailed review of each casino that they recommend that offers this type of bonus. Reload bonuses are a way for users to get extra bonus cash after signing up, and many anime fans are flipping that bonus into Kaiju. Found on numerous sites, Kaiju has you play as a female cyborg HA-42 as you battle colossal beasts on the reels.
The more assumed swing of anime into gaming has been in video gaming. Many anime series have standalone games, but like the movie-based games of old, many looked to be cash-grabs in the past and present. Instead, the best use of the anime theme has been as an art direction or by following similar story styles. Genshin Impact – the free-to-play game with over nine million players per day – is the biggest example of this, with the Final Fantasy game series also drawing heavily from anime concepts.
While often panned as inferior to their anime inspirations, there have been a fair few attempts from Hollywood to bring anime into live-action. A recent example of this would be Ghost in the Shell starring Scarlett Johansson. Based on the immortalised anime movie of the same name from 1995, while the visuals were superb, it lacked the depth and story – by comparison, it was the shell without the ghost. In 2019, Alita: Battle Angel fared a little better, and Speed Racer is almost considered a cult classic now.
Anime has rapidly become the new hot topic in western pop culture, with Japanese animated content being enjoyed easily online, and its popularity inspiring other works of entertainment.