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Eastern Entertainment Domination: the Growth of Anime in the West


Anime has been on the rise since the '90s. Unfortunately, it barely gets the attention and praises it deserves. With many popular shows and movies, that I've grown up watching, being extremely influential worldwide, like Dragon Ball, Naruto, Howl's Moving Castle, andSpirited Away. These shows were always ignored and underappreciated by big mainstream companies and the media. 

From someone who is an admirer of such culture and have accompanied Japanese entertainment, I can share reasons for why anime has always been pushed under the rug: Anime is short for "animation", which usually leads people to believe their shows are for children or to not believe that an animated film can actually carry a deep and well-written story. For western countries, it is very common for anime to be associated with Disney or Pixar animated movies, whose main audiences are children.

The anime fanbase has grown significantly under the radar through the years, becoming one of the most-watched sources of entertainment. Crunchyroll, an anime-only streaming platform, announced at the beginning of 2021 that they reached the mark of four million paid users around the world and over 100 million registered users. Their rise has been in the eyes of other platforms since it is not the only place in which the anime audience has been growing. Netflix and Amazon Prime, have closely followed their rise and are noticing how anime can be a big investment.


This reveals the growth of a community and how it is impacting other cultures and companies. According to Cartoon Brew the Anime Industry grew to a record of 24.1 Billion in 2019, a rise of 18% from 2018 an all-time high. Your Name the current highest-grossing anime movie, conquering many fans all over the world including me. In Brazil, Your Name was a huge success, and when the movie was taken out of Netflix, fans repeatedly asked for its return. Their constant demand to be able to watch and rewatch this romantic paranormal movie was heard by Netflix, making them add the movie back to its platform


At the end of 2020, Netflix releases a year review in which they announced that their anime audience rose 100%. John Derderian, Netflix's director, claims that whenever an old or classic anime is added there is always a serious engagement growth from their audience. Not only that, but significant growth has been observed over the years when animes that are currently airing were added. Derderian also shared that there are subscribers that are using the platform predominantly for anime.

The aspect of a community plays a major role in the influence of anime popularity. Anime watchers were usually downgraded, which led them to stick together and become a strong community. They really enjoy being surrounded by those who watch the same show or read the same manga. They use social media like Twitter and Reddit to share how they feel about the last episode that came out and also discuss their theories. So, having people discuss on a show for example: "Have you seen the new season of  Seven Deadly Sins ?"; "what do you think will happen with the  character? "Is not only good publicity to the show but to the platform as a whole. It promotes their show and has people signing up to either watch the anime being discussed or sign up to watch similar shows. It is easy for me to remember the number of friends I have made by bonding over Dragon Ball or One Piece. When we share the same passion it helps us to be more confident with things that are not that appreciated by others. Not only it is a way of making friends, but as an anime watcher, we also recommend shows to people that haven't watched them. So we share, and popularize, the shows that we enjoy with people that will probably like them and they reciprocate by recommending a show dear to their heart.

The anime fandom has proactively driven the streaming services to add and make more anime shows. The anime community has always been very faithful to their favorite shows, and are very compassionate to each other. When their show is added to any streaming platform they will watch and rewatch it many times, letting the platform aware of how many people are engaged in the show; thus, encouraging the investment of creating more anime. As Derderian stated, there is growth with anime, not a peak, growth is substantial, as it illustrates that people are watching the show continuously and will stick until its last season. Where peak shows that something was popular for a long or a short period of time.

The main difference between anime and animation is that anime pays more attention to the design of the setting and characters whereas animation pays more attention to motions and movements. In anime the artists value the visual effects of their drawings, everything is done with a great deal of attention especially with details. The character's clothes, facial expressions, body movement, and the use of a wide range and vivid colors make the animation more attractive. In general, they wanna convey a realistic show through the use of animation. They bring real-life problems and aspects to their show that people can report to, generally creating a more mature story to engage their audience.

Animation or cartoon is the process of making the illusion of motion and changes using a rapid display of a sequence of static images that minimally differ from each other. Their target audience usually being toddlers, children, and pre-teenagers. Cartoons usually focus on bringing a more humorous and silly aspect to it, which can be seen in the drawing of their characters to the clothes they wear or even by having a more exaggerated reaction and emotion. Their stories are more adventurous and comedic-focused, without touching more serious topics or having much character development.

Avatar: The Last Airbender, a Nickelodeon TV show, is heavily based on anime art style and storytelling; although, still carrying some western cartoon characteristics of drawing. It presents a deeper plot aimed at an older audience, who can report to some of the difficulties the characters face. Its popularity has grown dramatically from when it aired in 2005, and it has expanded its audience since it was added to the Netflix catalog. Netflix has started to produce their own American-anime shows, like Blood of Zeus and Castlevania, as well as producing animes directly from Japanese studios, like Great Pretender

As someone who deeply enjoys this kind of content, I am very excited about what is to come. Either with anime's that comes directly from Japan and are distributed by the streaming platforms as well as western cartoons being spired by anime. At the end of the day, the community is the one winning, because they are getting more of the content they love as a result.

Muriel Pianowski / Writer and Editor at Social Songbird

A Philosophy & Religious Studies major, who loves to write, research, reading, with a very eclectic taste varying from fantasy to manga. Also very passionate about traveling, acting, and storytelling.

Eastern Entertainment Domination: the Growth of Anime in the West Reviewed by Muriel Pianowski on Saturday, April 10, 2021 Rating: 5

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