Whether we like it or not, anime is becoming more and more a mainstream phenomena. Shows like Attack on Titan and My Hero Academia are receiving significant attention, and Netflix, a streaming giant, has put 8 billion into releases this year, including the critically acclaimed Devilman. Fortunately or Unfortunately, that attention is not being split evenly across many of the new shows coming out.
Attack on Titan’s mainstream success can be attributed to its assimilations to currently popular trends. As many have argued, the Titans, the show’s main villains, so to speak, play on the same tropes that make Zombies in movies like World War Z do, and the show’s main lead, Eren Jaeger, fills the role of the aggressive male lead that fills most of popular stories.
My Hero Academia is no different. Marvel’s Cinematic Universe has created a hunger for hero filled stories among the popular conscious, and being one of the few Hero stories to reach the medium of anime, and the even less common achievement of being a hero story that is popular in Japan, it, of course, made it outside the anime community in the west. While on the surface My Hero Academia may seem to still be dominated by the culture of its origin, the group of super high school students known as class 1-A is still extremely reminiscent of Super Hero groups like The Avengers and Justice Leauge found in American comics.
Not often do shows considered classics by anime fans like FLCL or Gurenn Lagan escape the word of mouth inside the community. Even Ghibli films, which are undoubtedly anime and have reached lots of mainstream success, do not often get talked about as being apart of anime because their appeal is much broader.
What anime’s recent mainstream success really comes down to is its ability to produce shows that are far more accessible to western audiences. Sure, the continued success of anime in the mainstream and a growing community has allowed for more niche shows like Kemono Friends and Umaru-chan to continue being made, but it is not these shows that are driving the medium more and more into the mainstream.
What Japan wants and what western audiences want are a lot different. The west wants the next Game of Thrones or Walking Dead, while Japan is more than happy just getting another season of Idol Master. The reality is that anime’s mainstream popularity has more do to with shows that appeal to western audiences than anything that is particularly unique to the medium of anime.
What do you guys think? Let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading and bye for now, Friendos!