Anime, sometimes referred to as Japanimation, is a popular form of Japanese illustrated media. Anime is often used interchangeably with Manga, a series of comic books and graphic novels in the country. But why is anime so popular in Japan. Well, here are several facts:
- Anime Is Everywhere
- So Many Genres to Choose From
- Anime Is Highly Commercialized In Japan
- It’s A Symbol of Japan’s Soft Power
- Anime Started In Japan
- Passionate Fan Base (Otaku)
- Iconic Characters
- Elaborate and Interesting Story Lines
Anime is mostly characterized by the illustration of colorful high-quality graphics and pulsating characters. But how popular is anime in Japan? Well, for starters, Japan has 430 major anime production studios. In 2017, the local anime industry generated up to $19 Billion in revenue. According to estimates, over 60% of the world’s animated TV shows come from Japan. With these stats, it’s no wonder these illustrated comics continue to dominate Japanese entertainment. Let’s now delve into the factors driving this popularity.
Anime Is Everywhere
A lot of people understand anime as Japanese comic books or graphic novels. But the culture of anime goes far beyond that. Anime is literally everywhere. It teaches people how to sort their garbage, how to behave on the subway and so many other things. Anime has also found extensive applications in product marketing and promotions.
Because of the colorful graphics, anime makes products look enticing. In essence, you don’t have to buy a Manga series or DVD to enjoy anime in Japan. You can come across it anywhere, even in your daily shopping routines.
As a result, this constant image of anime has somewhat endeared Japan to these graphics. Consequently, people feel more relatable to anime productions. This has eventually made them extremely popular in the country.
So Many Genres to Choose From
The variety of anime available in Japan is simply endless. There is probably something for everyone. So, there are of course the general genres. We are talking about action anime, thrillers, romance, fantasy, comedy, horror, and others. You also get age and gender-specific anime series too like adult-rated or children’s anime.
However, some genres are a little bit weird and you will only find them in Japan. For example, “Harem”, an anime genre that involves male protagonists surrounded and loved by so many female characters, is very common in the country. Yeah, that is a full genre of anime! But there is more.
“Ecchi” and “Hentai”, adult anime genres that feature sexual and erotic themes are also available. Let’s also not forget “Mecha”, a genre fully dedicated to robots. In essence, these numerous genres provide impeccable variety. They also allow people looking for specific themes to get exactly what they want. As a result, anime production has managed to appeal to people with different interests.
Anime Is Highly Commercialized In Japan
It’s hard to imagine that a series of cartoons could inspire an entire entertainment genre. But that is exactly what anime has done. Anime is a full commercial industry, generating billions of dollars each year in revenue. As we have already noted above, Japan has more than 430 major anime studios spread all over the country.
Studios traditionally work on their own projects. But if an animation series requires more money to produce, they can team up. On average, producing one episode of anime costs somewhere between $100, 000 and $300, 000. The anime DVD market is also highly successful. Anime DVDs account for over 70% of all DVDs sold in Japan each year.
There is also an anime worker’s union. It’s called The Japanese Animation Creators Association. It represents the interests of all workers in the anime industry. To put it simply, Japan’s anime is not just a guy sitting down with a pen and making comics. It’s an entire commercial industry offering genuine career paths to hundreds of thousands of people.
It’s A Symbol of Japan’s Soft Power
Japan is proud of its world-famous anime. The same way it’s proud of its national flag and cultural heritage. Anime has grown to become one of the most notable Japanese cultural exports. For that reason, it is held in very high regard among locals. Japan’s anime shows are so popular around the world too. Over 60% of all animated TV shows broadcasted globally can trace their origin to Japan.
These productions have also generated massive revenues on a global scale. For instance, Pokémon, a Japanese anime series, is the highest-grossing media franchise of all time. Pokémon has been packaged and sold in different broadcast media including gaming.
Nonetheless, the series has generated more revenues than the Marvel Cinematic Universe and even Star Wars. With this global acclaim, anime is seen as the ultimate symbol of Japanese soft power. This is something a lot of people in the country love to be associated with.
Anime Started In Japan
This point is a bit obvious. But because of its significance, we thought it might be nice to just reemphasize it. Anime started in Japan and the country controls a huge portion of the global anime market. So, naturally, you’d expect something to be extremely popular in its place of origin. Well, anime does not disappoint in this regard.
Early versions of anime started to take shape in Japan as early as 1906. Anime was even way popular in Japan before the advent of the modern film industry. But it was until the 1980s when anime became full mainstream media in the country.
During the 80s, there was a massive boom in animated production across Japan. The world was also noticing. In the last four decades, amine has established itself as a global film genre, and it has Japan to thank for all this success. It is also because of this rich history and success that anime has entrenched itself in Japanese society.
Passionate Fan Base (Otaku)
Anime also has a very strong and passionate fan base in Japan. This passion rubs off to the rest of the population. The anime fan base is sometimes associated with “Otaku”. This is a local term generally used to refer to people with a strong interest or obsession towards anime and Manga. Otaku is significantly covered in the Japanese media, sometimes in a negative light.
Nonetheless, this enigmatic characterization of Otaku in the media has enhanced the popularity of anime and Manga significantly. Otaku subculture was born in Japan in the 1980s during the anime peak. Ever since the community has grown incredibly fast in the country.
People who identify as “Otaku” may have a wide range of obsessions towards pop culture. But anime and Manga is a huge pick for most of them. Based on current estimates, the economic impact of the “Otaku” subculture is worth $18 billion each year.
Japan’s anime goes all out to develop and present incredible iconic characters. There is just so much thought that goes towards character development. The ultimate goal is often to present recognizable and relatable characters that will eventually be so endearing to fans. The strategy for most anime studios is to develop sought off folklore style characters.
Once the popularity of these characters has peaked, additional plotlines will be developed around them. Character names and images are also used with branding merchandise across Japan. No doubt different characters appeal to different people. But some anime characters have gained recognition across Japan and the world over.
For example, Itachi Uchiha and Sasuke Uchiha, two brothers from the popular Naruto anime series, are extremely popular in Japan and the world. Let’s also not forget Pikachu in Pokémon, Godzilla, and others.
Elaborate and Interesting Story Lines
The iconic characters and incredible colorful graphics in Anime are great. But there is one other component of Japanese anime we can’t ignore. These animated series also feature interesting, complex plots and storylines.
There is always a rich story in the background that will keep you glued. These stories are also quite diverse. Some are more relatable to everyday Japanese life. But others are just fantasy and some even futuristic. Either way, you always get something interesting to read and follow.
Japan’s Influence on Global Anime
We have exhaustively highlighted some of the reasons why anime is popular in Japan. But now we must also look at its global influence. Japan’s anime has gained a massive global following. This success has come even in countries like the US, where DC Comics and Marvel dominate the industry.
According to reports, the Japanese anime industry grew for consecutive years since 2014. Exports of Japanese anime have also tripled over the same period. Global demand is driving much of this growth. Online streaming services like Netflix, Prime, and Disney+ are also opening up new doors for anime success.
These platforms are giving the world access to Japan’s anime series on a scale never seen before. With all these factors, one thing is clear. Japan’s anime industry will continue to dominate the global market in the foreseeable future.