I’ve loved anime for close to a decade now. During this time a lot of things have changed. Some of these changes have been small, e.g., subtle changes in animation quality and art style, whereas some of these changes have been considerably bigger. Today I wanted to discuss some of these bigger changes, many of which have come about in recent years, and how they’ve helped make this a great time to be an anime fan.
Anime has become more mainstream
It seems to me that within the past couple of years anime has become increasingly mainstream, intersecting with popular culture more and more every day. To demonstrate, this April Avengers: Infinity War and My Hero Academia teamed up to release a crossover trailer, which is pretty awesome! And more and more celebrities are coming forward to profess their love for the stuff, including John Cena, pro footballer, Mike Daniels, and, perhaps most surprisingly, Kim Kardashian, who claimed that Darling in the FranXX inspired her latest hairdo. So now, perhaps more than ever, it’s actually cool to be a geek. This may be due to the spread of geek culture. With the popularity of The Big Bang Theory, which celebrates all that is geeky, and big budget TV adaptations of comic books and fantasy novels (e.g., The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones), not to mention new superhero movies coming out approximately every time you blink, it is now a lot easier to come out as an anime fan in solidarity with the other, often rabid, fans of geeky powerhouses such as these. The swelling number and popularity of adult cartoons, like Rick and Morty, have also helped remove the stigma surrounding animated shows, which, in the past, people often dismissed as being just for kids. So whilst I have never been ashamed about my love of anime, just reluctant to discuss it with mundies, now I can gush about it openly, without worrying about having to defend it, which is a massive relief.
Anime has become more accessible
Which of you readers remembers streaming anime using good ol’ Megavideo? Remember only being able to watch an hour or so of anime before being temporarily locked out? Or struggling to make out what was going on on-screen in 240p all while hoping that you don’t get stuck in buffering hell? I remember them, but I certainly don’t miss them! And I never felt comfortable downloading my shows after my friend had all his tech confiscated by the police for doing just that… But whilst I didn’t enjoy streaming or downloading anime, 10 years ago there were no viable alternatives. But now, thanks to streaming services, like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, and Crunchyroll, for roughly $10-20 a month it is now possible to enjoy a huge selection of anime legally, in high quality, and often mere hours after it has aired in Japan. I’m also able to take pride in the fact that my subscriptions help give back to the industry and its content creators. And if I want to buy DVD copies of my favourite shows I need only visit my local Walmart. These days I can even pop to the cinema to watch anime, with more and more anime movies – and not just Ghibli movies – receiving cinematic releases in recent years, e.g., Mary and the Witch’s Flower and Your Name.
The content that is being produced is still excellent
Whilst there will always be people who argue that anime was better in (insert decade here), I think that there are still fantastic shows being released all the time. In the last few years we’ve had some amazing adaptations, some of my favourites being Erased, Made in Abyss, and My Hero Academia. There have even been some good original shows, like Little Witch Academia, Overlord, and last season’s A Place Further Than The Universe. Not to mention the recent glut in sequels to popular shows, such as the sequels to Tokyo Ghoul, Attack on Titan, and Food Wars. We’re even getting to see more of shows that I never thought we’d get to see more of, including Legend of the Galactic Heroes, Steins;Gate, and, later on this year, Code Geass. I, myself, practically peed my pants in excitement over the confirmation of a third season of Chihayafuru. Which new shows have you loved? And what sequels are you excited about?
To close out this rant… With it becoming cooler than ever, more accessible than ever, and (arguably) better than ever, it really is a great time to be an anime fan!