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As a teenage boy and a younger fan of anime, there were a lot of things that I used to not really think about when it came to the medium. Whether it be the art style which was significantly different to almost anything on TV at the time, or the diversity in topic and storytelling, anime always felt like a breath of fresh air. Sure, I enjoyed a lot of American cartoons and TV shows, but something about anime, much like with other people, really resonated with me.
Even now, as my attention span has shortened significantly and it has become a lot harder to sit down and focus on a single series, anime is still one of my obsessions. However, as is the case when people grow older, our views of the things we hold dear begin to change, and the types of anime which are most interesting change with them.
A recent video made by Gigguk sparked a bit of discussion online after he asked a producer at Studio J.C. Staff whether or not international fans have any effect on production, to which the producer basically said, “no, not really.” There emerged to major sides to the discussion. One side was happy with the response, arguing that a lot of western fans of anime only serve to change anime for the worse. On the other side, there were…well, people saying the opposite? To be honest, it mainly felt like an excuse for right-wing anime fans to air their grievances about SJWs or whatever.
Now, when having conversations like this, it is always important to separate the questions we’re trying to answer. The first is a question of empiricism, i.e. “Do international fans affect production?” It may be true that for J.C. Staff specifically that international fans do not have much sway in their numbers, but for a Studio like bones, which not only debuted “Space Dandy” in the west before airing it in Japan, and which also oversees IPs such as “My Hero Academia” and “Godzilla,” the answer is probably quite a bit different.
The second question is one of purpose or principal, in other words “Should international fans affect production,” to which the answer there is…it depends. At the end of the day, anime studios are businesses, and like any business in a capitalist system, they ultimately have to balance their principles with their need to make a profit. From their perspective, its a pretty simple math problem. Material aimed at a more international audience equals a larger potential fan base which equals more potential money.
Now, of course, it is a bit more complicated than that. While it is true that a series like Demon Slayer is much more likely to garner an international audience than say your typical ecchi harem series, the audience of that ecchi harem series is also much more likely to sink a couple hundred dollars into figurines and merchandise, because well, anime girls are attractive. Since studios do not often make much off the production itself, and rely on merchandise sales in order to recoup a lot of the initial cost, it makes a lot of sense why they would cater to an established audience. Granted, a lot of this has to do with the business model itself and just how much of a cut places like Crunchyroll, Funimation, and Netflix take, but that is somewhat of a separate topic.
Personally, while I understand why studios adapt the material that they do, the amount of “comedic misunderstandings” that occur in any given episode, even in shows that are primarily not about romance or sex, is annoying. So, as for my answer to this post’s question, yeah there are a number of things that could be changed about anime, whether it be the overuse of sexual comedy or the frankly alarming amount of underage-looking characters that appear in these situations.
While this is my genuine opinion, I wrote this post more as a launching board for discussion, so please do let me know how you feel down in the comments below, as there seems to be a lot of room for nuance on this topic.
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