The Wall Street Journal posted an interesting article along with the video above about the current state of the anime industry. I’m sure everyone’s heard of the decline in sales for the past few years, but they also discuss the low wages of animators and competition from China and South Korea. There was a big online discussion a few of years ago about the unglamorous life of animators and seiyuus (which Riuva did a nice job summing up), so the ridiculously low paying wages and long working hours were really no surprise to me. Regardless, it’s still a worthwhile read, especially if you aren’t aware of how poorly things are going on the other side of your weekly anime fixes. The video also gives you a good idea of what Akihabara and the inside of a studio are like.

Note: If the video doesn’t start for you, try pausing it and pressing play again.


  1. The recession is probably to blame for the declining sales. Fortunately, Japan is on the road to recovery, though it might be slow.

    Hopefully, the optimists like those mentioned in the article can turn things around.

  2. Thanks to my glorious extended family, I usually end up back in Tokyo atleast once a year…it’s been like that for the last 25 yrs. So besides having to be bored with them for 1-2 months a year, I pretty much had to come to terms with the nation’s economy. 3 of my cousins worked in the industry for a while & the last one gave it up about 3 years ago. From all the complaining I had to take from them, I ended up wondering how anything made it to brodcast.

    The industry itself is really a tight-knit group that doesn’t nearly expand as much as it should during progressive times & usually end up working together during recessions. It’s kinda sad when you know that multiple struggling companies are behind the measily little check you get each week.

  3. I can relate to them. The beautiful outsourcing word. Even my cell company outsources the customer support hotline. Is evil; hopefully some of them will survive the downturn of the recession and better times will arrive. I barely know Japanese, will hate to be forced to learn Korean or Chinese if the industry collapses.

    Island esper
  4. its such a shame that an industry as popular as anime suffers from these kind of problems. seeing as how you can basically get anything online for free these days i guess it really isnt suprising that sale are exactly high. Im going to start learning japanese next year and when im fluent id be more then willing to buy enough manga and anime to fill up my bookshelf. Great informative video divine, i really wasnt aware of this problem until now.

    BTW i can see how bakuman isn’t exactly realistic now.

  5. One thing I don’t agree with on the article is that anime is becoming more violent and dark to try to grasp for new viewers. Despite what the past entries before this one suggest, most seem to be brighter series this season.
    Also I don’t think Youtube cuts into their profits at even half of what the writer might have thought. I certainly don’t go to Youtube to watch anime, the only anime tolerated there is Spanish subtitles (apparently it’s fine as long as you don’t steal from North Americans).

  6. Before calling the pay a robbery or declaring the inevitable collapse of the industry, ask yourself why – except for some notion of justice and fairness – should a company pay it’s animators more than what the animators are willing to work for? Unless there is a great deal of productivity to be had due to extra pay – and this is unlikely – higher salary will only away the company profits. Sure, one can claim that something bad will happen in the long-run like Korea or China will take over the Japanese anime market, but higher pay will not help prevent this. In fact, higher salaries increase outsourcing and substantially reduce the relative cost of foreign productions.

    Setting the issue of pay aside, the issue of slow death of the anime industry is most likely overblown. Anime is a part of entertainment industry and as such has to compete with game consoles, MMORGS, manga, etc. Observant person will note that both manga and anime are suffering the decline in audience and this decline can be – at least partially – explained by the increased prominence of the computer related entertainment. If you were to return 10 or 15 years ago, you would note how difficult it was to spend considerable amount of time and – more importantly – money on computer games, consoles, online subscriptions and such. The place these things occupy today was a decade ago occupied by anime and manga. But whereas the medium of computer entertainment progresses with the advances in technology, neither manga nor anime can do the same or at least not at the same rate. Thus, the decline of these two elements of entertainment industry is predictable.

    However, this decline is not a prelude to death. Instead, one can expect the output of anime and manga to drop to a new equilibrium level and a few companies to close – as Gonzo did. The result would push the company incomes up and the salaries would follow though they would still remain meagre for reason I described in the first paragraph.

    As a final note, consider that both anime and some manga are closely tied to a specific demographic – teenagers and young adults. The decline in birth rates since 70’s would – roughly speaking – correspond to a decline in the number of people in anime’s target demographic. This would predictable generate a decrease in sales.

  7. @Grant:

    Yeah, the article is completely wrong when it comes to the dark violent part. Anime in the 80s was probably the most violent out of anything I’ve ever seen. It got alittle better in the 90s & was downright cheery in this decade except for a few dark clouds. Of course the quality of animation is worlds over the other 2 decades so the quality of violent scenes has also gotten better. But they have to be blind if they think anime has gotten MORE violent over the hell I’ve seen in prior decades.

  8. The recession is definitely adding fuel to the fire, but in reality the animators and seiyuus had always been having it tough for years. What’s even more depressing is that it probably won’t get any better either. As said, anime is a niche market; it’s only able to stay afloat because of the meager support of otakus, yet the otakus themselves aren’t really well off either. The industry is hanging over a cliff right now, and animators are the ones getting crushed underneath trying to hold it up.

  9. Quite disappointing indeed. However, this bigger push towards a large foreign fanbase vs a decreasing local fanbase might make them rethink how anime is distributed and treated overseas. This may mean more sites like Crunchyroll or faster DVD times.

  10. A real eye opening report. I’ve been somewhat aware that the economy in Japan has never been what it used to be back in its heyday even before the recent recession (Japan had been in a major slump for years, bu my understanding), with a lot of people in the younger generation working dead end, part time jobs while the older try cling to their jobs.

    The day of the salaryman working 20+ years for a single company and retiring with benefits is over, both in Japan and in the West (unless you count the military, heh). No wonder you have entire groups of younger Japanese simply giving up to become jobless drifter bums or sponge off mom and dad at home til they’re 35 years old.

    This should open the eyes of those Western otaku who think that Japan is this unrealistically glorious utopian anime wonderland. It’s a nation, just like any other, with its fair share of social unrest and economic problems.

    As to the current state of anime, I can only assume that the prevalence of the Internet may have something to do with its decline as well. Outsourcing has always been a part of the anime biz for as long as I can remember. Just look at the end credits of any anime these days and see how many Chinese and Korean names outnumber the Japanese ones.

  11. That’s a real pity… I’m surprised nobody mentioned pervasive illegal downloading and online streaming of anime and manga being the cause of the decline. I believe that there is actually sufficient and even demand for such Japanese entertainment, but some people are unwilling to pay for the goods given there is a cheaper (or rather free unless you’re being scammed) alternative, especially since poor law enforcement over piracy means that the risk of getting caught is quite low. The lack of demand in Japan is not much of a surprise too given that income levels across japan is quite low relative to the cost of living. Support the artists people!! We should help sustain the industry if we want to continue enjoying anime and manga! XD and kudos to all the artists for their unwavering passion!

  12. Now I guess why Kyoto made Haruhi’s endless 8 happen when they have such a shitty budget. I mean their quality was a little down =/. Without any ideas to bring on the table, you never know.

    Jason Isenberg
  13. LOVE U! i was about to do a small report on “how has recession hit the anime/manga related product in western country in contrast to in Japan, where anime/manga arent a niche market” for my explore marketing practices module XD…well thats one or two more references….

  14. Want to see how animators were 15 years ago? Watch Golden Boy.

    I don’t believe much has changed in the Japanese anime industry. For reasons of decline in sales, I complete agree with Deckard in his earlier post.

    And about the foreign competitors mentioned in that article it is just ridiculous. Even if China or Korea were able to produce high quality animations, they are not, and never will able to compete with Japanese animes. That is determined by the society. Though I do know there are some good anime/manga companies in Taiwan or Hongkong, but that is nothing new either, been like that for the last 15 years already 😛

  15. More people should have been aware of this….in the 1990s anime production companies could have had a 20 million yen budget per episode.Today, its half that amount for some people,not to mention the effects of inflation.

    I buy stuff, when I can, to support the industry,but there isn’t much I can do since people who actually buy stuff like me are a minority.It’s not that fun to shell out 10 bucks per imported manga at Kinokuniya anyway =/

  16. Isn’t expansion the answer? There are tons of fans outside Japan, the problem seems to be that the Japanese don’t care about enough about licensing their product in the exterior for a decent profit.

    I’d like to think that, if the companies begin making a good profit, there would be increased wages for their employees. Maybe I am a bit naive for thinking that. 😉

  17. In my opinion, declining popularity indicates that it’s time for an industry to evolve.

    I’m sure almost everyone here remembers how those cheesy idealized Disney animated features were popular back in the 1980s to the early 1990s. And then their popularity began to decline; no longer would we see classical animated movies become box-office hits like “Aladdin” and “The Lion King.”

    But animation was far from dead. In 1995, “Toy Story” was released, marking the advent of a new age in animated film: the age of CGI. Backed by new age computer tech, coupled up with more modernized stories, animation was given new life. And that’s basically the current status quo for American animated feature films. Dreamworks released hit series like “Shrek,” while Disney continues its success in the animation industry through its’ ever-innovative Pixar Studios(I’m thinking about the rather unconventional recent hit “Wall-E”).

    If that example isn’t convincing enough, we can take a look at the video game industry. Back when my dad was a kid in the 1980s, in the early days of video games, due to restrictions of technology graphics were poor, and game play was simple. Stories were also simplistic. Yet video games were still very popular. One major reason for this was because video games were still something new. In other words, the novelty factor.

    As time went on, games continued to evolve at an even faster pace than ever. Technology improved rapidly, leading to the capability to produce better graphics, and the old simplistic story lines just wouldn’t cut it anymore because people had seen them all. So it led to new innovations, like the incredibly popular Gameboy color (A huge improvement in graphics compared to earlier handheld consoles-I mean COLOR on a handheld. At that time it was groundbreaking technology). It also led to a new breed of video games with more innovative game play, and better story lines (Think the beginnings of the “Final Fantasy” franchise.)Games today are a completely different animal compared to what they were back in the early first-gen days of the Magnavox Odyssey and its progenitor peers.

    I don’t think any older video game fans here will have forgotten the video game crash of 1983 due to an overflooding of games and consoles. Unimaginative, generic games and consoles led to poor sales, and companies that could not keep up with the shift in consumer preferences left the video game business, like Maganavox and Coleco. This necessary culling of the obsolete allowed the more innovative and adaptive companies to thrive, most notably Nintendo with the NES, a versatile system which allowed it to amass a humongous library of games.

    As time goes on, we see a continuation of this trend. In the mid 1990s, Atari dropped out of the console market, with their final console being the Atari Jaguar, then followed by Sega, in the early 2000s (Though production would continue through 2006 in Japan), with the Dreamcast being their final console. Companies that fail to innovate and evolve fail to capture consumer attention and are forced to drop out.

    Fast forwarding to the current seventh generation of video game consoles, we see how the incredibly innovative Nintendo Wii has been a huge hit, despite criticisms about its technological inferiorities to the X360 and PS3. Also, the games that continue to receive the best ratings are consistently the ones with the most innovative gameplay, (like the Halo trilogy), or innovative storytelling and graphics (Like Uncharted 2 and Metal Gear Solid 4).

    People’s attention spans are limited. If companies keep on feeding us with the same stuff again and again (1983 video game bust), eventually we’ll get bored, and they need to come up with something new to get our attention again, whether it be more modern stories and advanced graphics, or innovative gameplay.

    The same concept applies to anime. From what I’ve read, popularity (specifically DVD sales statistics) seems to have peaked somewhere during mid-2006, and henceforth has been slowly declining, with many of the best-selling series being older ones. My opinion is that this is an indicator that fewer new series are making good impressions on the fans, which means it’s almost time for an industry overhaul. We’re seeing it happen even now, with many companies facing severe financial problems (Like Gonzo’s reorganization woes, and Genoen USA shutting down).

    Am I saying that we’re going to see and “anime crash” just like the 1983 video game disaster? The answer is, no, I am not postulating such a scenario, nor do I think that it is highly probable- certainly it is possible, but highly unlikely, since the declines in anime revenue have been relatively slow and steady. What I do suggest, however, is that there is going to be a decline in the popularity of anime for a time, until a gem of innovation like the NES or Toy Story comes along and revolutionizes the industry.

    Some people say that fansub groups contribute significantly to loss in anime revenue. This is definitely true, but Hollywood also take major revenue hits from illegal online downloading- and Hollywood is thriving, with more grandiose, diverse and high budget movies coming out every year. Rather, my opinion is that there will always be a certain percentage of revenue lost through piracy. It’s inevitable. But if you are popular enough in the first place, it won’t matter; you’ll soar above it all because profit margins will still remain large enough.

    So what makes a certain show stand out? There are so many shows nowadays with the typical shounen battle-anime fare. That in itself doesn’t make it bad, but if that in itself is all there is, then it IS bad. Code Geass was flawed in many ways, but was still very popular because its crazy plot twists were very innovative. Clannad was a very popular slice of life series, because it did a very good gob at evoking emotions. Haruhi and Lucky Star set a new bar for comedy series. Gundam 00 was well received by critics because its themes were very much in-line with our current day terrorist stricken world. What I’m getting at here is that these series were popular due to the fact that they all had an innovative “X-factor.”

    It becomes progressively more difficult for people to come up with new ways to make something interesting over time. Eventually, there comes a point where the industry in question must be redefined in order to keep it interesting, just like how “Toy Story” revolutionized the animated feature film, and how the NES (and the Wii) redefined the gaming experience.

    Sooner or later, there will come a point when this will happen with anime. A profound, groundbreaking change will cause popularity again to rise to a peak, repeating the entertainment cycle. (My name for this phenomenon 😛 )

    I really don’t think that as anime fans we have very much to worry about, because anime is a very versatile media. It is a visual media, which means that it is only limited by the writer’s creativity and animation technology (Which is expanding rapidly). It isn’t like board games which have many physical and technical limitations (Now being overshadowed by more versatile media like video games and television).

    I don’t think this “anime renaissance” is due in the immediate future, but it will come eventually, maybe in the next 2-3 years I estimate, and when it does we will see amazing things like we have never seen before.

    That’s just my educated guess on the matter.

    WOW, that was long. Never intended it to be like that, but I guess i just got caught up in it. And, in case anyone reads this and wonders how old I am, I am not an old geezer who owned a Magnavox Odyssey as a kid. believe it or not, I just turned 20 last month 😛

  18. I’ll attempt to paraphrase Sentinel’s wall of text.

    Anime/Manga is just another thing going through the motions. It starts small, becomes big, then becomes too big (too many carbon copies), then shrinks and finally stabilizes.

    Right now, Anime/Manga is definitely in the “too big” stage. Just compare the sheer quantity of Anime vs. SHOWS in North America. We can look back and see the comic book and cartoon days of North America. Those old franchises are certainly not dead, but right now they’re nothing compared to what they used to be. New franchises spring up then die pretty much on a yearly basis, save that one franchise every so often that lasts for an extra year or two.

    So right now what’s needed is something new. I have no idea what that new thing is, but it’s what’s needed to move the industry forward.

    —–end paraphrase—–

    Ok, so a cheap apartment in Japan doesn’t go that far below 100k yen (source: per month for rent. The average low-end pay is 1,100k yen. So right now I’m lookin at a guy who can’t even afford to pay for rent (by these numbers, he falls short!) from his job. Forget food, he’s beggin for scraps. Yikes.

    I think there is definitely a cutoff point where it becomes highway robbery. If a guy can’t even cover rent, something is wrong with the job.

  19. I don’t think Fansubbers have that big of a downer on the industry, I think it goes a bit higher then that. Japan isn’t very good at outsourcing some of its anime to the world, theres a lot of anime you just don’t get here in the West so of course were going to fansub it and not buy into it. If Japan was a bit more better with its DVDs and anime on the English/American TV then I think it could get better reveue from us. As fans i think we would pay for what we like its just what we like usually doesn’t come to us here so we can’t really.

  20. The useless financial sectors and property business are making a shitloads of money. These useless shit create no real values, just cheat people and they get filthy rich.

    Animators who contribute real value are suffering from low wages and living a hard life.

    I offer a suggestion to Japanese government, charge 99% tax for all the useless garbage in financial and property sectors.

  21. OK – now I feel bad about downloading fansubs. Though I’ve often wondered why aren’t the studios themselves trying to reach out more aggressively to fans outside of Japan? Personally, I’d never pay per episode, but I’d pay a subscription to a service that I can download episodes or watch them online – if there was a broad enough selection.
    I really enjoy Japanese animation so I’d be willing to come out of pocket..

  22. @Xercies

    Very good point. This is exactly what I’m trying to say as well. For example:

    The last Bleach movie. I would have gone to the movies – seen it a couple of times, taken my kids – etc. But there was no movie release in the US.

    OK – so no Movie release in the US. I’ll buy the DVD when it releases…..oh wait..they are not going to release any English subtitles for the DVD?? Oh well…. time to pop the torrent.

    As you said Xercies, I think fans would pay. I know I would. They just need to make it available to us…

  23. You know…

    If more anime for the mainstream audience was made… As oppose to fanservicy pro-moe, anti-shonen garbage like Seitokai no Ichizon, Kampfer, and Nyankoi… Then more people would buy anime.

    A matter of fact: If more shounen anime was made and more adult anime was licensed, they wouldn’t have this big a problem.

  24. I whole-heartedly agree with Sentinel. The main problem with anime now is that the second you read about a new one, you know the type of story, how its going to be presented, the plot, the characters, & even the ending. People generally HATE predictability in entertainment. Its not that entertaining at all when you know what’s going to happen. That’s even more-so with anime which is mostly 95% derived from manga, novels, & games.

    The need for a overhaul is apparent but the funds for it just isn’t there. Not only that, but the otaku community that powers anime is a group built on the foundation for being in a lifelong rut. It’s a group that doesn’t accept change too often, if at all. Lets take CGI for example. Its a technology that’s readily available in Japan right now at a much cheaper rate than it is here in the states. Its even been used to produce entire OVAs as well as ‘interesting’ effects in some series. The only thing about it is how much of the otaku community just abhors it. They say things like its out of place & that it makes the show seem cheap & crappy. How are you suppose to make the necessary changes to keep your industry growing when the group that supports it doesn’t want it. However, other such innovations that are on the genre content level are very welcome. But its kinda hard to innovate scripts & styles when those guys are being paid 10 grand a year 🙁

    That’s the basic voice that anime producer are hearing right now. They can only make do with the superlative yet gradual change in animation quality that has taken place over the last 5 years. As long as that doesn’t hit the wall any time soon, we can expect more great animation to come, despite the rut that the current Japanese otaku community is dedicated to

  25. It doesn’t help sales when the price of a dvd in Japan is at least 3500Y (or about $40 USD.) That’s outrageous by all standards.

    To help boost sales, import the anime to the US; have US DVD manufactures create vast quantities of DVDs, export back to Japan, sell at a lower price; plus the US will get access to all of the anime as well, therefore, more DVD sales in the US. Even better, they can then export to the rest of the world for even more sales. Everyone benefits.

  26. I think we must avoid the mistake of stereotyping Japanese anime fans according to what they are usually portrayed as in the media. I am almost certain that there are a large number of otaku who are actually quite well off.

    An excerpt from Wikipedia: The former Prime Minister of Japan, Taro Aso and Shoko Nakagawa are otaku.(For what info from an open edit wiki is worth of course,but even so, there must be SOME truth to this statement. It shows that well off Japanese people like anime too.)

    Ironic how the otaku who are anime’s main source of support are portrayed so negatively by it. As foreigners (I’m American :P) living far away from Japan, the only exposure that we get to Japanese otaku culture is through the media (primarily anime itself). And we must remember that the purpose of anime is to entertain, NOT to portray truth. If perpetrating stereotypes will get ratings up, you can bet they’ll do it.

    Am I saying that there are little or no otaku who fit into the stereotype? No, I’m not. All I’m saying is that, the percentage of otaku who are actually as the stereotype portrays them is almost certainly significantly smaller than what we think it is. In fact, I’d probably wager that there are more average young Japanese salarymen who watch anime than poor, starving ronin living in mom’s basement (The stereotype in harem anime).

    Which comes to another mistake of the industry: They’re trying too much to appeal to this demographic with too many of this kind of anime being produced instead of diversifying genres to make it more mainstream. It’s good to focus, but let’s face it, these guys are a subniche, and a POOR one at that. You are not going to make much good revenue off of them, if ANY at all…

  27. Here in Canada, we have Naruto, Bleach, and Pretty Cure.
    If you order american channels as an extra package on satellite TV you MIGHT be able get access to:
    Now and Then Here and There, Gurren Lagann,Monster, Basilisk, Mai-Hime, Scrapped Princess, Planetes.
    Seriously, Now and Then Here and There? They just started airing a 10 Year old anime.
    It has to do with Canadian broadcasting laws and our population size so we honestly don’t get anything.

    If anything, me and most Canadians downloading help the anime industry since we still end up buying merchandise that we never would be able to own. (Even our manga sections in stores only contain a couple hundred volumes at best and most are in french!)

    Canadian broadcasters protect Canadian products and subsidize their productions, its what Japan should be doing if it doesn’t want to lose to their neighboring countries (as does Canada vs USA)

  28. In Japan, the term ‘otaku’ doesn’t just refers to those 2D lovers but it covers a wide margin of folks who are into anything, & I mean anything. That’s the main misconception with westerners. Every year I end up coming back from Japan with $4-5,000 worth of junk from swords to fancy electronics. But hardly any of it is from the 2D kingdom except for a few models or figures. Let put it this way, if you any average mall in Tokyo and ask anyone if they was an otaku they’d most likely say yes…& by all means, if you do happen to be in Japan, talk to many people as possible & a great deal of people in Tokyo know some English. They just love foreigners.

    This is coming from a guy with a American father & Japanese mother. I spent my first 19 years in Japan as a grey-eyed, blond haired kid that everyone just knew I had to either be from the states or England. In other words, Japanese people have just as many misconceptions about foreigners as foreigners do about them.

    But there is some truth in those misconceptions. We all know Comike is hell, but I still go every year because I would be bored out of my mind if I didn’t. The same is true for Akihabara, but its more of an electronic mecca than an otaku kingdom. Its ridiculously hard to find any place dealing with 2D in Akiba. All the good places are all small & stuck in some alley. But if you go there enough, you’ll figure out where to get all your LEs.

    But the portrayal of 2D okatu for westerners is the fault of the 2D media itself. First, we have the Japanese 2D media glorifying 2D okatu as fat guys with no gf, backpacks full of wall scrolls, cameras in hand, who go nutz over anything moe. As crazy as that stance may be, 2D okatu seem to love it – they even see that as the zenith. Then we see the 1 or 2 shows/reports that popup every 2-3 years or that try to give an update on the 2D scene. That youtube spiel above is basically about mainstream 2D otaku that give their all for the hobby. There are much higher level of addiction then that but most Japnese guys & gals would entertain us by calling themselves ‘fill-in-the-blank’ otaku just to be able to use the pharse.

    I think that comes from them wanting to screw around with what westerners see as otaku w/o totally blowing it out of the water. Either way, it would be nice to see the Japanese 2D media stop joking around with the term as much as they do…although they really just do it for laughs more than anything.

  29. @ Tyrenol

    I disagree with you. It depends on people’s taste. You talk as if all shounen series are gift from heaven and anything else is just garbage.

    @ Megas

    Yeah, I think that the media more than likely do the portrayals just for fun rather than anything serious. That’s how popular culture is. They tend to portray thing either for fun or rather reflects what people thoughts are about certain group of people. For instance, people tend to think that all asian people are slit eyes and know king fu which for many times in the past, that’s how asian were represented in movies even thought that’s hardly the truth.

  30. @ Silver

    But that’s not true at all (about shounen being “gifts from heaven” and anything else being garbage). It’s mainly about psychology:

    There are works by people in the industry with more talent, yet works by people with less talent are selling more and making more than those with more talent.

    Also: The top anime franchises in Japan are usually pro-moe (ala KyotoAnimu, SHAFT, Bancolding$, and so). While the top franchises in the US are Transformers, GI Joe, Marvel/DC comics-based, and book-based (Harry Potter & Twilight).

    It’s complicated, a gamble; and it’s rare for “lightening to strike twice.” And if companies like Geneon, Bandai Visual, Kadokawa Shouten, and ADV (dang near) had closed down in the US; it’s basically an important tell-tale sign that everyone should pick up. (That niche anime titles will NOT sell well with the required percentage of American audience.) Ya think?

  31. I think if the studios tried to pull a hulu then that could help them out in terms of revenue. There are tens of millions of consumers of anime outside japan that either get their fix through streaming video, downloads, or buying box sets. My guess is that the majority of us watch it online/download it for free, but if they offered it via a hulu type service many individuals would even be willing to pay a small subscription service.

  32. @ Megas

    Very insightful.

    These negative stereotypes are often done in good humor by producers, or by the demand of popularity. Drawing parallels to something closer to home, I’d compare the Japanese Otaku stereotype to Hollywood’s Black Sidekick streotype(Think Rush Hour’s Chris Tucker). Both are are horrible misrepresentations of certain segments of society, and also very negative ones at that. But the media in question still perpetuates them because they’re seemingly entertaining, and appeal to the public in some (perverse) way.

    As to why the stereotypical moe loser-cum-hero might be appealing in Japan, I think it probably has something to do with Japanese culture. Japan has a very collectivist society, where it’s more of “for the good of the lot” than “what I can accomplish as an individual.” Look no further than the use of school uniforms and high company loyalty in Japan for proof of this. But the youths of today’s Japan are more and more influenced by western culture due to globalization, and this is beginning change. They want a little more individualism, yet society is controlled by the previous generation that isn’t willing to give it to them. (This view isn’t simply a product of my own speculation, it’s the opinion of many of my Japanese friends.)

    The typical moe anime hero is someone who chooses to cut himself off from society in order to pursue his own interests. He’s completely oblivious to the social constructs of his school, or even that of his family. He’s someone who dared to rebel against social norms, rejecting them completely despite knowing the consequences. There’s no wonder that this “uber individualist” hero would be appealing to Japanese youths who want a little more individualism, but know that it will cost them dearly to violate social norms. I’ve even read some mangas where the loser-hero is used as an OPPOSITE construct to send across a “moral” about how it is bad to oppose societal norms.

    Of course, that most certainly isn’t the case here in the west. Western culture is already very individualistic, so these moe anime heroes are obviously not going to appeal to us nearly as much. When we westerners think about individualism, we think about Dirty Harry-esque characters who will cross any and all social boundaries for their beliefs. I daresay these characters would be deemed as too extreme by many Japanese, even the youths. That’s why you don’t get many animes like “Requiem for The Phantom” but rather there are plenty of “Nyan Kois” and “Clannads.”

    This leads to another point. If the Japanese anime industry wants to take the next step and become a worldwide phenomenon like Hollywood, they need to diversify. They need to find ways to make anime appealing to people of different cultures all over the world, rather than focusing on the local Japanese niche. They need to start “Thinking big.” Hollywood went through this change, and became a worldwide phenomenon from simply an American one. Today, nowhere else in the world will you find more diverse and ambitious cinematic productions.

    In the globalized world of today, the most successful industries are ALWAYS those that hold some form of international appeal. In my opinion, although it has enjoyed a certain amount of success internationally, the anime industry has only touched the tip of the iceberg. In order to grow, the industry needs to realize that Japan is just one small island in this large and diverse world, and become more open to change.

    I’m not saying that anime should abandon Japanese culture altogether, but rather they should find a way to make Japanese culture appealing to the rest of the world (Exactly what Hollywood does a good job of with American culture)- which is exactly why the Pokemon franchise was so successful.

  33. @ Tyrenol

    Oh, I see what you mean now. Yes it would be a gamble but also who are the real audiences? Who are they marketing their stuff to? If they only focuses on what’s popular in their country, they will miss out on their American market who seemingly like the shounen genres more but if they do that, what happen to the people in their country who supposedly is the real main audience? In the end, if they want more money, they should start to focus more on the wants of the international market but if that doesn’t matter to them as the main audience is still Japan and part of Asia, they could continue on the path on which they are on. Am I right in what you are saying?

    However, there seems to be a discrepancy in that it’s not because they are not churning out enough shounen series but for some other unknown factors (I have not really done that much research into this) because as the article had stated, it would seem that as years go by, there are starting to be more and more anime fans rather than less as we would expect if Japan’s taste don’t coincide with us as less people would buy it. It’s either because the entire world’s economy is going down, less and less young people in Japan, some unknown internal factors in the industry itself, or some external factors such as downloading really HQ anime from DVD rips and Blue-ray rips. It’s really hard to know right now but whatever it is, I sure hope it won’t continue like this. Beside, perhaps they should still sell DVDs but less of it and focus more on like online streaming services or something. I’m sure people are still buying merchandise as you can’t really download that online but for videos, HQ versions of it are quite abundant and you could even burn many of them off to DVD and hard to tell the difference.

  34. i guess Wall Street(US) greedy pig + i hate CHINA(FUKING LOUSY FUK COUNTRY).

    they post mean they going to ask mpaa to get $$$$ from fine CAREFUL!!!(The Wall Street Journal posted an interesting article along with the video above about the current state of the anime industry)

    U.S now no $$$ trying to GET money from ANYWHERE!!!

    China is fuk country i don’t like at all.

    Japan is the best anime creator in the world I DON’T like foreign(CHINA and Korea) fuker to kill off japan anime market.

    ORIGIN of Anime is from JAPAN!!! NOT FROM FUK CHINA!!!

  35. I hate DUBBED English anime totally spoil the whole show mean make me feel that no need to watch this horrible show.


    why japan don’t want to spread their anime to the world because some of f… will overtake his anime market example > china and korea most fxxx is china(i hate)

    DO you know that U.S FXXX come get us fansub world n fine us example mpaa! dmca! to get money! so that why they don’t sell some of their anime to west side because of that+ many of the anime will license due to FXXX U.S Funimation get fansub a FXXX Letter.

    AND currently Our fansub world FXXX hate U.S

    (they will miss out on their American market who seemingly like the shounen genres more but if they do that, what happen to the people in their country who supposedly is the real main audience? In the end, if they want more money, they should start to focus more on the wants of the international market but if that doesn’t matter to them as the main audience is still Japan and part of Asia, they could continue on the path on which they are on. Am I right in what you are saying?)

    First FXXX STARTed this FXXX letter of fine $5000 is from singapore > company > ODEX company then it send to the whole WORLD to take notice(currently i check singapore level of democracy is near 0% and freedom is 0% resident unhappy 100% currently not showing+ i know other country too.) then the WHOLE world of !Fuker! company get mpaa N DMCA to FXXX FanSub world + A FXXX NASTY fine example US$5000 and above!!!

    please WATCH What YOU SAY!!! u don’t know about the FXXX GREEDY Company SO ON………………………………………….

  36. TO let Fansubbed world live forever

    RULE no 1

    NEVER spread anime to streaming site to prevent DMCA MPAA FXXX fansubbed

    RULE NO 2

    PLEASE don’t ask why that anime didn’t reach your country you should know why.

    RULE NO 3

    Keep it TO yourself and DON’T SPREAD to let whole world know!

    RULE NO 4

    Please know that the way you get to watch anime is at the COST of Fansubbed RISK!!!

    Rule NO 5

    finally the last rule

    !!!DO NOT SPREAD Rumour TO Anime Distribution COMPANY!!! or else our FANSUBBED world Say goodbye forever

  37. @ Silver:

    Hey. We all have different tastes. And apparently, it’s now the loss of the anime industry for not tapping into these other audiences. 🙁

    @ hellknight:

    You ingrate. Spend a month in some war-torn African country before you do/say anything else.

  38. k2000k:
    Sounds like you’re describing Crunchyroll. However, their paid service isn’t well-received by everyone. There are still a lot of people who won’t pay $0.17/day to watch anime with official English subs on the same day it airs in Japan.

    Everyone else:
    I agree that anime has fallen too much into various cookie-cutter norms, making the media boringly predictable for a lot of people. I think in western cultures, viewers want to be surprised and see something different, whereas Japan is content with sticking to what’s worked in the past and milking it for way too long. The most zealous fans swear by it, the majority of fans just accept it, and the rest are quick to ditch anime altogether.

  39. maybe if they brought back the 80s era feel and stop with this soft core hentai bs and having all these harems + big breasted girls type of animes they would be getting a little better. Every season has these boring cliched crap over and over again. No I don’t want another to love ru, I want action and something dark like casshern sins. Enough with the loli crap already.

  40. Stories like this make me wonder why someone with a well-established and successful musical career like Maaya Sakamoto keep doing so much anime. At least it explains why you see voice actors doing so many roles in so many different anime.

  41. Divine:
    That is true, however there is the alternative in he method of hulu, were instead of subscription there is either a longer commercial break prior to the show, or shorter clips during. A lot of anime lovers will resist that as well, however, it behooves both us and creators to find a method that fulfills the needs of both parties. And I am totally on board with the need for anime need to expand past the cookie cutter norms. We have seen that the genre is able to touch on pertinent social adult social matters.

  42. I would like to also state the western media is little better than anime companies in terms of dishing out the same old junk over, and over. Look at the flurry of realty roommate shows, spoiled teenagers reality shows,and the dozens of incarnations of CSI and Law and Order. Even more recently look at the addition of another Seth MacFarlane show, I enjoy all three of his creations, but by and large they are merely slightly different takes on the same concept.

  43. @k2000k

    That’s just it. The scale of western media is just so large that they can afford to tweak shows to make them appeal to different demographics. Do you like more drama in your crime series? Watch CSI New York. Or are your preferences more purist? Watch the original CSI. If you like a little courtroom drama thrown in, go watch Law and Order.

    And Seth McFarlane. Family Guy is very popular among white households. So what does he do to try to capture the African American demographic? He creates the Cleveland Brown show.They’re both very similar shows, but the goal wasn’t to make them unique, but rather it was to attract different kinds of viewers.

  44. Anime just tries to focus on certain niche demographics, rather than skilfully tweaking certain aspects of the show to appeal to the general public the way American production companies do.

  45. The Korean a Chinese participation in anime is not new. now many japanese studios work with foreings animators support because that means a lower cost for the productions, the animation of today is globalizaded, for that reason i don’t understand some people to hate China or Korean animation…

    It’s good see the participation in the animation market of other countrys because that means more production and more quality, in near future you will see more animation of Europe or SudaAmerica.

    For example now Planet 51 from Spain and The dolphin story of a dreamer from Peru are pre-candidate for next oscar…

    See you guys

  46. @ -X-

    Because it’s oh so fashionable to hate on China these days, if you go by the fear-mongering media. Purists will always find some reason to harp on something. I recently saw the Storm Riders anime movie and thought that it was nicely animated for a Chinese effort; the use of CGI and all.

    And I do agree that we need more shows that shake the normal conventions of anime/manga stories these days. Stuff like Death Note was unique and became popular because it flew in the face of normal shounen and shouja fare. The use of CGI still has a ways to go in anime because I don’t feel there is a good enough effort on story and characterization (similar to how Pixar does it; their creators have said time and again that story and characters are much more important than pretty imagery). Stuff like Appleseed looked nice but the stories… meh.

  47. I feel bad for the animators, for a lot of them I bet this was their childhood dream job. People don’t go into animation to get rich, but you should a least get enough to pay for food and rent. Hate to say this, but if this the reality for Japan’s anime industry, then maybe it’s time for some serious change. Personally, I wouldn’t mind seeing new anime from other Asian countries if indeed that’s where all the work in going.

  48. Aside from China and Korea, there’s also a lot of interest in the anime genre from countries like Singapore and the Philippines. Tons of talented artists who draw in the manga style from there. Globalization is here to stay, like it or not. Japan either needs to adapt or die, simple as that.

  49. I just hope that Japan recovers and starts producing even better anime, as I’m waiting for even better ones to be released…I sincerely hope that the workers in the anime industry get paid as much as they should be for all their hard labor. T_T Please don’t shut down anime industry! :O

  50. I personaly feel that fanhubs and websites that allow everyone across the globe view anime for free are to blame. this is the dent that needs to be wiped off completely to save anime. Of course, the industry is tough, its always been. Salaries didnt change…its the internet that will kill anime as we know it. INTERPOL should close these websites. Just like what happened to Naptser and on-line free music download.

    Anime is for a specific set of fan. Im still unclear why ppl whould watch an hour of anime on a computer, in an uncomfortable setting and get this, in viewed in low resolution!

    An anime fix will get to the real passionate, and will purchase DVDs, im a passionate collector and love the library i have – i never once used a computer to do this. As for the anime piracy well….they can find other things to rip off on-line.

    Gimme my lazyboy and an HD TV. press Play.

  51. Thanks for blogging this. Although I do read that thread and knew this stuff already, it’s great to get it out to everybody. This is why Hirano Aya is concentrating more on singing and TV now, since she gets much more money for it. I remember the penny dropping a couple of years ago when her blog made it clear that she took the train to a job, rather than a taxi, despite the risk of being recognized.

    I find it hard to blame anybody here, since the companies are not making that much money, either, as far as I can tell. And although I feel badly for the Japanese animators, I feel good for the Korean and Chinese ones. Personally, I think anime today are better than they ever were, but I guess that’s a matter of preference.

    By the way, this is part of the reason I have little patience for people who complain about money-saving techniques in anime, such as long still shots, etc. People like Shinbou have to do that to actually make money and be able to make more anime.

  52. Definitely fansubs, internet, and torrents are to blame. They need to figure out creative ways to get the content distributed and get paid at the same time. If you can’t beat the fansubbers and torrents, you gotta dish out the stuff quickly around the world.

    Japan’s system is just too slow to adapt to today’s world.

    They show anime on TV in Japan, they should also start broadcasting out around the world in major markets by cutting deals with Cable or TV operators to have advertisements.

    I know a lot of people today who watch anime, aren’t true anime fans. They watch it because they can DOWNLOAD it for free and easily.. that’s why the industry is on the decline.

  53. Well, tbh.. there is a stigma with anime as well. Not only that, too many people compare their shows to shows they’ve seen long ago when they were kids. When they were kids… Different trends have come out as well as well as the fact that different (sorry I have to say this, but it is true for some of the anime populace) crazies or shut-ins have appear adding to that problem.

    Well, then again, our world loves to rant on the negatives which doesn’t help as well. Plus sometimes, you can notice some companies are trying to milk money rather than let writers create a wonderful story. It’s how society runs now a days, too be cheap and gain economical profit (mind u I’m using economical profit as anything from happiness to money to a niche to place feelings upon)

    Seriously, people need to get out there not to stereotype anime with fan services, kiddy cliche, stupid ideals. Some are, but that’s the culture, and it’s not true for all animes as there always one with a good story. Or that perhaps jokes are within the Japanese culture as well. Although the producers as well, need to come out with less fan service and better story as well. We each play a role in helping the anime industry to become better. Really we both do and I hope that Japanese viewers realize this as well to help the lively hood of those fellow animators

    (Btw, I’m pretty damn sure that a lot of us watch or stream American tv on our computer as well cause seriously, people just watch the stream and are done with the show as well, which you could also say is a problem as well. Streaming just as easy as downloading lol, although usually the American companies are smart to make sure that seasons are streamed for so long to make people by DVD lol).

    Sora no Kaze

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