Does Anime’s Mainstream Success Lie in the Normal Feel of Mainstream Anime?

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

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.jpg

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.

Fooly Cooly

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!


13 thoughts on “Does Anime’s Mainstream Success Lie in the Normal Feel of Mainstream Anime?”

  1. This is pretty much true, western audiences aren’t going to take too kindly to a show like Angel beats, Highschool of the Dead, or any kind of “niche” anime. If the medium is to go mainstream they’ll need more shows like Black Lagoon, Gantz, Ghost in the shell, etc. The action in those does better with a western audience as opposed to a goofy anime, Moe or an ecchi anime

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I dunno… Every so often western audiences go for the good stuff, but even then it’s a niche. I think the main problem with western acceptance of such things is that anime itself is still a niche. Niche of niches rarely do well. Give it another few years, anime has to move from the fringes of the mainstream to full on mainstream before the niches can be explored.

      Which is also a roundabout way of saying, I don’t think anime has actually entered the mainstream. It’s certainly far better known than a couple of years ago… but (IMO) it’s still a niche. It’s a mainstream niche rather than a hobbyist niche, granted, but it’s still on the fringe.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Anime is definitely a niche since it’s animation. That’s part of the reason, the other parts are the political atmosphere and comedy. To a lot westerners the comedy in a show like Overlord would seem very odd and a lot of harem shows would put people off, at the same time the political climate in the west wouldn’t take too kindly to the sex laced tropes that are in many anime.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. True enough. A lot of series hardly get the attention that they deserve, while the juggernauts all get put in the spotlight. Real shame if you ask me, as there are so many good shows that the west hardly knows about 😢

    Liked by 3 people

  3. There’s always been the occasional anime that has found success in the west (though most of these were children’s shows such as Astro Boy and usually with heavy editing). And yeah, Japan isn’t concerned with what anyone outside of Japan wants. They make anime for Japan and if other people watch it or if it becomes popular that is more of a happy accident than a plan.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I dunno, there’s a long tradition of kid and teenage superheroes in the West. So, more Spy Kids and Power Rangers than Justice League or the Avengers. (And yes, I’m aware of the irony of including Power Rangers.) Not to mention the Teen Titans and Young Justice.


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