Welcome back, tourists. Chances are that anyone reading this is probably either already a fan of anime just looking to further explore it or someone on the outside looking in.
I have talked already on this column about some of the misconceptions surrounding anime, as well as some of the best anime of the last decade. However, one topic that I have alluded to in the past is the size of anime, both the community and industry, as a whole.
Both, at least over the past decade, have grown tremendously. The industry’s total size has reached about 19 billion dollars. On top of this, the rise of fans internationally, although largely located in the western hemisphere, has meant a surge in the community as a whole. All of this has led to many speculating that the increased exposure is actually bad for anime in the long run.
Back in August of 2017, anime-centered YouTuber Gigguk released a video called “How Close is Anime to Mainstream?” where he comments on both the rise in fans and growth of the industry, concluding that anime is on the cusp of breaking through to a wider audience. Nearly two and a half years later, it feels safe to say that anime has indeed made that breakthrough.
From celebrities like Micheal B. Jordan openly talking about his love for series like Naruto Shippuden — and even making a commercial with Viz Media — to companies like G-kids now regularly releasing anime films in theaters, the term mainstream sounds pretty accurate.
However, many have argued, including Gigguk, that mainstream success could be bad for anime as a whole because the medium might start to lose what made it so interesting in the first place. Many fans find the medium entertaining due to its odd choice of story, character, musical and animation approaches. However, by definition, anime going mainstream might mean dulling some of the edges of anime’s wild nature.
While in theory this argument makes sense, in the years since that video’s release, anime has seemingly only gained more personality. A good example of this is the fairly popular series “A Promised Neverland,” which tells the story of what looks like an innocent orphanage that turns out to be a farm created by demons for harvesting humans. The three main characters, Emma, Norman and Ray, lead the kids on a mission to escape into the outside world, where they hope to find a safe haven.
There is also the phenomenally inventive 2018 series “Golden Kamuy,” which features Sugimoto, a Russo-Japanese war veteran hoping to find the money to get a doctor for his late friend’s wife and happens to stumble upon the secret to a hidden stash of gold which can only be unlocked by obtaining 24 pieces of a map that were tattooed on the bodies of various criminals.
I could go on for quite a while, but I think the point is clear. While the involvement of major corporate money has definitely gone up, like the money Netflix has been putting into anime productions, it does not mean that the incredible diversity anime enjoys has diminished any. The only thing that anime’s mainstream success really means is that more people get to enjoy it.
Jack Scheibelein is a sophomore majoring in English. He can be reached email@example.com.
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