Anime: What We've Seen Part II

Posted by Ashley Sturgis on

Part II -  Compliments to Matt Doyle for his work contributing to my site.

Towards the end of the 90s, some more enduring franchises began to pop up too, with both Pokémon and Digimon making their debuts. Meanwhile, Japan was beginning to see a rise in Shonen titles. This didn’t really take in the West until we hit the 2000s though. With 4,038 titles produced (ranging from 238 in 2000 to 473 in 2009), Japan saw most releases falling broadly into the comedy category, but with action, fantasy, Shonen, and adventure titles fighting over the other top spots.

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While not devoid of comedy, you need only look at the US releases in the 2000s to see that the trend was different State side. This was probably the golden age for Shonen series in the West, with popular shows like Bleach, Fullmetal Alchemist, Naruto, and One Piece being hugely popular. At the same time though, we were getting everything from the 80s/90s styled Elfen Lied to 5 centimeters per second, and all the way back to kid friendly productions like Sonic X. So, while the primarily popular genre was different to that of Japan, one thing that remained consistent with Japanese trends was the increased diversity and competition for style of hit.

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Which brings us to the era that we’re edging closer to leaving, the 2010s. The upward trend in figures continued with 2010 seeing 549 titles being produced, and 847 in 2018. Where things really changed though was comedy has not really been ousted as the most popular genre in Japan as yet. Sure, action shows have maintained a steady second place, but humor is winning out.

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In the USA, this is not necessarily the case. I do believe that these last nine years have seen a rise in people being willing to watch subtitled releases as opposed to dubbed releases, owing in part to the changes that are sometimes made between the two versions. As a result, we’re seeing a lot more diversity in what people are watching. For example, while not among the top two in terms of the amount of series being produced in Japan, I’ve seen this referred to as the golden era of slice of life multiple times. When you see shows like Golden Time, Amanchu! and Flying Witch on people’s watch lists, it’s easy to see why. We’re also seeing shows like Attack on Titan becoming mega hits, leading to a rise in popularity internationally for Wit Studio.

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While the current market in the US is not devoid of comedy releases, these tend to be more polarizing. The genre is subject to individual senses of humor and values, so of course, different types of joke will land differently for different viewers. Perhaps it’s this aspect of the genre that has led to this diversion in trends. Either that or the sheer amount of content now available now, combined with anime being more mainstream a medium, has led to a natural fork for viewers.

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I’d be interested to know what you all think on the subject. Do you think there is now a major difference between viewing habits in Japan and the USA? What do you think will be the primarily produced genre in the 2020s? Let me know in the comments below. And if you want to read more of my pop culture musings, feel free to stop by where I run reviews on all sorts of things, spotlights on diverse books, and promote my sci-fi novels.

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