Animation is for children, is what an ignorant being would say.
Anime – referred to as animation in Japan – caters to an ever-growing audience with different stories; they are relatable, relaxing, adrenaline-rushing, and visually stunning.
Anime has something for everyone. Be it a kindergartener, a teen, an adult, or an elder, there are thousands of anime suitable for each age group with uncountable options.
While anime like Dragon Ball, Pokemon, Digimon, and Naruto among a few others, helped the medium of anime gain worldwide popularity. It was not until the late 2010s that the curve seemed to move upward at an astounding pace.
And with the recent pandemic and rise in online content consumption, the popularity of anime skyrocketed, and anime films began to have worldwide releases in places one would have never thought.
How do you know anime is getting popular? It is when markets like India, where animation is still known as a medium for children, have anime movies released in major metropolitan cities.
There are several reasons why anime is gaining popularity with each passing day. And you will know why through this article, where I have cited seven reasons and answers to some commonly asked questions you might have.
What Is Anime and Why Is It Popular?
For anyone outside Japan, anime is Japanese animation. While in Japan, anime means animation, be it from any country. The Simpsons, BoJack Horseman, and Dragon Ball Z are all considered anime in Japan.
There is no anime or cartoon debate in Japan.
Anime has several stories that are relatable to different people across the globe. There are genres like Slice of Life for those who enjoy the beauty of ordinary daily lives; for those who love fabricated reality, there are genres like Fantasy and Sci-Fi. Some genres and themes create thousands of anime to watch.
And here are seven reasons for the worldwide popularity of anime.
- What Is Anime and Why Is It Popular?
- #7 Diversity
- #6 Mass Production & Piracy
- #5 Presence of Online Streaming Services
- #4 Overcoming the Language Barrier
- #3 Releasing Anime Movies Worldwide
- #2 Social Media Hype
- #1 Free & Legal Anime on YouTube
- Why Is Anime So Addictive?
- Why Is Anime So Popular in America?
- Do Japanese Adults Watch Anime?
- Is Anime More Popular in Japan or America?
- Is Anime Popular in Korea?
- Is Anime Popular in China?
- What Country Is Anime Most Popular In?
- How Many People Watch Anime in the World?
- Is Anime Becoming Less Popular?
- Who Invented Anime?
- What Was the First Anime?
- Why Is Anime So Popular All of a Sudden?
- Why Is Anime More Popular Than Cartoons?
- Final Thoughts:
Genres branching into sub-genres, mix-matching genres, and out-of-the-box original anime in recent years have created an upsurge in anime popularity. There are so many genres of anime produced these days that it is hard to find an anime that is not suitable for you.
While the quality-to-quantity ratio has gone in the wrong direction; still you can find a couple of anime every season that not only excels in quality but also quantity (no. of episodes & seasons)
The diversity in anime has caught the attention not only in the domestic market (Japan) but also in the international market, allowing the world of anime to root its presence worldwide.
#6 Mass Production & Piracy
The production of anime is more than ever. There are so many anime produced each season that you can’t even finish a season’s worth of anime in time unless you’re a supernatural being (not kidding). On average, 40 to 60 anime gets produced each season, which means 480 to 720 episodes worth of anime, considering a minimum of 12 episodes per anime.
On top of that, there are long-running anime like One Piece, Detective Conan, and Boruto to catch up to. If you do a rough calculation, nearly 160 to 240 anime are released each year. And the number will keep rising considering the trend and companies looking to cash on the global uprise.
Yes, there are numerous options to choose from, but that may be the only good thing about mass production. Besides that, suffering production, overworked & underpaid animators, below-average quality episodes, and the distribution of the anime through several LEGAL streaming services are the cons.
But how is anime releasing through the OTT platform a con?
Anime releasing on the OTT platform isn’t a problem. But the problem is that a single OTT platform can’t license all the anime; you have to sacrifice watching the anime legally or buy more than a couple of subscriptions to watch that one or two anime.
That is why piracy still thrives and will keep on thriving because besides being an illegal and uncomfortable viewing experience, pirating anime does offer you every anime without any hitches.
Believe it or not, piracy plays a considerable role in anime making it big in the global market.
Isn’t pirating bad? Why are you talking about it in a positive light?
Because not everyone has the money to spend to watch anime, and one would even consider it if watching legally really helped the foundation of the industry, the animators.
There is no smoke without fire. People pirate because there are many problems the legal streaming services don’t consider solving. It’s all about business to them. Take, for example, the Crunchyroll Originals; if I remember correctly, only Tower of God was the decent one among the other horrifying releases.
The truth is piracy helped many audiences in different countries to enjoy the medium of anime where the medium isn’t available legally, neither physically nor digitally.
#5 Presence of Online Streaming Services
Streaming services play the middleman between the manufacturer and the customer. If not for online streaming services, anime wouldn’t have gained worldwide popularity.
Netflix was always the key player in sowing the seeds of anime globally, as it catered to millions of households worldwide. And Sony gobbling up major anime-only OTT platforms, putting it under the banner of Crunchyroll, shows how the popularity has risen for Sony to spend so much money.
If Netflix is known for original TV series and films, Crunchyroll – owned by Sony – will soon be known as the Netflix of anime.
And if that wasn’t enough, Disney is slowly entering the anime market one step at a time, making it the safe way. Star Wars: Visions is a prime example of that.
#4 Overcoming the Language Barrier
Though subtitles are the way to enjoy any form of media in a foreign language, dubbing in your regional language helps you to get into that media. And for anime, it isn’t any different.
Not everyone can read the subtitles and enjoy their time watching anime; for such an audience, dubbing is the way to go.
And with time, the quality of dubs got better, which helped many to become anime fans. Thanks to those dubs, getting into the world of anime was easy.
While dubs may not be accurate all the time, as they tend to change dialogues to adjust to the humor and relatability of the particular region, it does get the message across pretty well.
#3 Releasing Anime Movies Worldwide
A decade ago, watching your favorite anime movie in a theatre near you was a dream. But a decade later, most metropolitan cities around the globe receive anime movie releases, either a few months after the Japanese release or, if lucky, the films will release around the same time.
And nothing is more fascinating than watching your favorite characters in action in a theatre near you with your weeb friends.
Bringing anime to the theatres made anime a local entity from a foreign one, and that’s what contributed to the rising demand for anime movies in the theatre.
Blockbusters like Demon Slayer Movie: Infinity Train, Gintama: The Final, and Jujutsu Kaisen 0 Movie prove that.
#2 Social Media Hype
Nowadays, discovering new anime is easy. Thanks to social media apps like Instagram Reels, TikTok, and YouTube Shorts; finding new anime isn’t a time-consuming task.
The 20-30 secs fan-edited clips catch our attention, and you can find the name of the anime in the comments. The next thing you find yourself doing is watching that anime.
And, we all know how vast the audience is on platforms like TikTok and Reels, so discovering things ain’t no problem. The rise of such social media platforms has helped the popularity of anime skyrocket.
#1 Free & Legal Anime on YouTube
Why do people choose to pirate anime and not subscribe to legal streaming services? Because the majority of streaming services don’t change their subscription prices according to the country and are expensive considering geo-blocked content. On top of that, they don’t help the animators all too well.
So, what can you do to enjoy free anime legally? You can subscribe to YouTube channels like Muse Asia (they’ve individual channels for most Asian countries), Ani-One Asia, AnimeLog, GundamInfo, and Anime Made By Bilibili (if you love Chinese anime, commonly known as donghua).
These channels provide free anime episodes with ads, and you can also choose to buy a membership if you want to support them. The arrival of these channels in Asia meant the discoverability factor increased. New people got into anime without going to spammy piracy sites.
Why Is Anime So Addictive?
The answer is quite simple. Anime shows the things we can only dream about, like delivering justice, good winning over evil, and getting superpowers to fight the bad guys.
Anime gives our brain a serotonin boost and a much-needed break from reality. Besides that, the animation, the internal monologues, and the beautiful OSTs of the anime we often add to our playlist make anime so addictive.
Why Is Anime So Popular in America?
Let’s get this obvious reasoning out of the way. The availability of anime through various online streaming services like Crunchyroll, and Netflix and TV channels like Toonami played a huge role in anime getting popular in America.
If you look at the popular anime series in America that gained social media posts, great word of mouth, and tons of hype in recent years are Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Jujutsu Kaisen, My Hero Academia, and One Piece.
An average anime viewer in America likes simple and entertaining anime with great animation. In short, a classic shonen anime is a way to go, and in recent years these anime have delivered that on demand.
Do Japanese Adults Watch Anime?
Yes, Japanese adults watch anime. Not every adult watches anime, but among those who do, they love to stick to a handful of anime rather than watch thousands of them.
Among the elders who watch anime, Sazae-san is a common name. Some elders watch anime because of their grandchildren.
Sazae-San – the longest-running series – has a strong presence in Japan, and understandably so. While animation style, action, and story matter to the viewers in the west, in Japan, it is all about how much they relate or connect to an anime.
One thing you can hear the elders saying is that Sazae-San takes them back in time. They relive their childhood memories through the longest-running anime in the world.
Is Anime More Popular in Japan or America?
When it comes to the popularity of anime, there is no other country that can beat Japan.
How to measure popularity?
The percentage of viewership is important in measuring popularity, but the presence of that thing in your day-to-day life shows how popular it is.
And anime is extremely popular in Japan compared to America, considering the ads, products, merchandise, exclusive anime shops, and national & international events using anime characters as their mascot.
Is Anime Popular in Korea?
Yes, anime is popular in Korea. Anime like One Piece, Dragon Ball, Naruto, and Pokemon are well-known, among many others. In fact, many anime studios in Japan have often outsourced work to Korean animation studios for decades now.
Is Anime Popular in China?
Anime popularity in China skyrocketed in the late 2010s, and Chinese web giants like Alibaba and Tencent invested billions of dollars in anime streaming services and animation studios. China even produces its anime known as Donghua, which is well-received in their market besides the animation from Japan.
What Country Is Anime Most Popular In?
Undoubtedly, Japan is the country where anime is most popular.
How Many People Watch Anime in the World?
Roughly 100 million people watch anime worldwide. Keep in mind these numbers are not accurate but are rough estimations. And these numbers are growing as you read this sentence.
Is Anime Becoming Less Popular?
It’s the opposite. Anime is becoming so popular, and the demand is so high that the studios are co-producing series to meet the demand. While the popularity of anime is good, it also has some negative aspects.
Firstly, the studios are mass-producing anime without any regard for quality; very few deliver quality. Secondly, the overwhelming demand meant production failure and worsening working conditions for the animators.
There are many others, but these are the most noticeable ones. And, without any doubt, the popularity will keep rising with manga – the source material for most anime these days – available locally around the globe.
Who Invented Anime?
Hekoten Shimokawa, Jun’ichi Kouuchi, and Seitarou Kitayama are called the fathers of anime. However, a 3-second animated clip found later in 2004 tells that the one behind it might be the founder of anime, but as it was a private work, there is no record to identify the creator.
What Was the First Anime?
Namakura Gatana (1917) is said to be the first-ever anime. However, it might not be the very first, as many works and records during that time got lost and destroyed due to the Great Kantō earthquake in 1923.
And Katsudou Shashin (1907) is believed to be the first animation ever released, but a private work without any record is hard to engrave in the pages of history. It was in the early 2000s that the anime’s existence came to light.
Why Is Anime So Popular All of a Sudden?
The question should be,
“How did Anime become mainstream all of a sudden?”
People didn’t start watching anime just a couple of years ago. Anime had millions of loyal viewers for more than a decade. Because of anime like Dragon Ball, Naruto, Death Note, Pokemon, and other anime released around the late 90s, people got into anime.
And to answer the sudden rise in popularity, the pandemic resulted in people looking for diverse content. During that time majority of them got into anime as an alternative to TV series and films.
Why Is Anime More Popular Than Cartoons?
Anime is more popular than cartoons because of the variety anime brings in terms of animation and stories.
To some people, there is no difference between anime and cartoons, but to someone who likes to go by definition, anime isn’t age-specific and has something for every age.
In general, the target audience of cartoons is likely kindergarten children who can enjoy them without complexity, but there are cartoons targeted specifically toward adult audiences like Bojack Horseman.
In short, anime’s library is way too huge compared to that of cartoons. And one can find their favorite genre with too many options, which isn’t the case for cartoons.
The popularity of anime will keep growing until the stories and animation becomes too repetitive with a lack of creativity. However, that is not going to happen anytime soon.
With Sony engulfing every anime OTT platform, Netflix creating anime originals, and anime movies released worldwide, anime is more mainstream than ever. I hope you keep enjoying anime as you always do.
With that, I conclude this article. If you have suggestions, feedback, or recommendations, feel free to reach out to averagebeing’s Instagram handle.