Does anime going mainstream scare you?

Does anime going mainstream scare you?

This question popped into my head upon reading some of the comments on the Cowboy Bebop movie thread, and more recently I was reminded about it a comment on my Shoko Nakagawa post earlier in the week.

Does anime going mainstream scare you?

Scare may not be the right word. I believe communities feel strongest when they are not part of the majority. Close groups feel more intimate. While I wouldn’t exactly call the anime community a small group, it is rather small compared to more mainstream communities. The size is what binds us together. It’s what makes us visit the great blogs and websites to find out the latest anime titles and cool stuff from Japan.

However, in order for the anime community to remain alive and vibrant, it needs to grow. Companies need to get their titles and offerings in front of new eyes… and pockets. At some point, the close-knit community feel is going to disappear. While this may sound dire, I believe it’s a by-product of a needed change.

One of the in-direct benefits I suspect will happen is the price of anime will become cheaper. Most anime fans simply don’t have the income to purchase titles from stores. Most fans here in America especially are too young to even legally have a job. When boxed sets can easily exceed $200, it’s not surprising that torrents and watching anime from streaming outlets like Youtube and Veoh have become a common practice.

Does anime going mainstream scare you?

So, theoretically, if a company can move more product, they can afford to have a lower price per unit. This means cheaper anime for everybody. Now that example assumes that the company actually cares about the community, and will sacrifice a bit of profit to help their brand name.

I ran a poll in the Cowboy Bebop post asking,

Is FOX trying to capitalize on the growing anime market with these live action adaptations?

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As of right now, 53 people believe yes, FOX is trying to capitalize, while only 1 person thinks they are not. I find it hard to believe they are not trying to capitalize on the growing anime industry. And personally, I don’t have a problem with them doing it. I do have a problem if they don’t do it right! While many people hate the fact that these companies are making live action versions of great classic anime titles, the ultimate goal is to bring exposure to works of art that they may have never seen otherwise.

I personally believe the anime comunity as a whole needs to look at the bigger picture, and what is best for the community as a whole. Take a step back from how it would make you feel having everyone around you talking about the latest episode of One Piece, or the latest shonen Naruto manga. Sure, you may not feel as special as you once did. If you choose to be concerned about you, and not the community as a whole, imagine how you would feel if your favorite anime wasn’t around because it was no longer a viable business.

Do you agree?

What do you think?

Written by xorsyst

Comments are closed.


  1. Louis, I think you make a very important point in your post and I may have to stop and think more carefully about this recent trend which has so far just made me angry and resentful.

    I have to say, however, that I believe my ultimate concern is still a valid one. Namely, that this is nothing more than the next big, money-making fad for Hollywood; a fad that serves very well to invigorate a movie-making business that is clearly lacking fresh ideas and meaningful content. So far, I have not seen directors and producers working together to share an amazing art form with the world. Instead, I see ordinary businessmen trying to capitalise on other artists’ talent in order to fill in the gaps between each of their multi-million dollar blockbusters. In other words, it doesn’t seem to be great anime and manga that drives them– it’s simply a so-far un-tapped money-making resource.

    The question I ask– what happens to popularised anime once Hollywood discovers the next fad or resource? Won’t the anime industry be chewed-up, spit out and hung out to dry? What if the industry and its fans then suffer from a depletion of excess earnings and a sudden loss of temporary, fly-by-night hype-dealers and ends up far worse-off than before, struggling in an over-inflated post-craze aftermath? :-(

  2. I do see your point, and I agree that we have not seen directors and producers working as closely with the original artist and producers to produce something that satisfies everyone.

    However I don’t really consider anime a fad (I know you don’t either). Just as books are adapted into movies, I see anime being used in this way. Books will still have their loyal fans. Books will still sell. Anime will be the same way. I don’t see an “aftermath”. I see the cup as half full, not half empty ;)

    I can see Hollywood bringing the actual story to the masses. I can see how people are against it looking at it as companies just trying to make a buck. But at some point, the anime community has to compromise. We can not move forward if no one is willing to try out new ideas to move the community to greater heights. Off the top of my head, I can’t think of another way to really push the community to the next level… to bring the attention to this great community that is off the radar to most.

    Ideas and attempts are what we need, this is just one of them.

  3. I’m trouble organizing my thoughts, but basically no, it doesn’t scare me. Why? Because I don’t believe it will ever happen.

    We have to consider that anything foreign, including Anime, has a “cultural odor” that the mainstream isn’t used to. Consider the Japanese humor and cultural nuances and how long it took to acclimate yourself to them. I’ve been watching Anime for years and I still don’t completely understand some of the more common gags and references.

    But let’s say that Hollywood eliminates all these aspects, as if they were stains on an otherwise nice shirt. Imagine if, in a Naruto movie, Naruto loved eating hamburgers rather than Ramen? Or what if he threw “ninja stars” rather than “shuriken”? These seem rather minor alterations, but you can bet there would be a hundred of these alterations. We couldn’t even be sure that anyone BUT Naruto would keep their Japanese name. After all, the Sailor Moon dub changed most of the characters’ names to appeal to a mainstream audience, and the sketches for the Evangelion movie show the main characters with Western names. Would you, as an Anime fan, even care about the movie at that point? Could someone who enjoyed this movie like the Anime or Manga, which is completely different?

    I still think that, of all the Anime available, Cowboy Bebop is likely the most Western in design and themes, and will therefore require little alteration. But this is the exception, not the rule.

    (I have more thoughts, but I may have to take a few days to organize them into a blog post)

  4. If ‘Westernized’ anime becomes extremely popular, then the hardcore true-to-the-original-Japanese-style-anime loving fans will have a new mission: To filter out the phony crap from the real stuff and support and promote ‘True’ anime.

  5. I’m not scared at all. It’s a logical and necessary step in the evolution of the anime industry in America.

    It’s not like there hasn’t been a growing trend of live action adaptations in both Japan and America for some time now. Japanese studios have had big success with live adaptations like Death Note. In the U.S., James Cameron has been working on a live action version of Battle Angel Alita for some time (now onhold), ADV’s live Evangelion adaptation has been in pre-production forever, and there’s even rumors of a live action version of Kite coming through Hollywood. As things get more popular, it’s inevitable that they’ll get more mainstream (remember back when “alternative” music was actually alternative?).

    But it’s important for anime to get into theaters in a way that more people will accept. Global anime sales were down 7% last year. The current fanbase either isn’t buying, or they’re getting older and no longer care. The industry needs new fans, and major motion pictures have proven they can do that. Hollywood movies revived the ailing comics industry (despite early concerns from hardcore comic nerds), and they’ll probably boost awareness and acceptance of anime. It’s a good thing.

  6. No it doesn’t scare me. Primarily because I’m a fan in the sidelines instead of an actual otaku. I’m interested in where the anime industry will go in the future. I’m sure anime will retain its “true” look in Japan but if altered for the eyes of westerners, then only “real” anime fans will despise it. Others (including me) will simply not care. I tend to seperate shows as I watch them. For example, unlike alot of hardcore fans, I can watch a cartoon and judge it. Next I would watch a live adaptation of said cartoon and treat it as something entirely different even if I know its the same as the cartoon version. Otakus think a live adaptation of thier favorite anime will ruin it for them. That said, I’ve seen cowboy bebop. If this new movie will flop, it will nbot damage the series’ reputation in my opinion.

  7. I’ve noticed a growing trend in anime series getting licensed as soon as their air in Japan, and manga catching up very close to the Japanese counterpart…but the whole idea of anime going mainstream doesn’t bother me. After hearing the Cowboy Bebop movie news, I wondered if there will be anymore anime series getting live action treatment, like Fullmetal Alchemist…but it would probably be kind of expensive to make, lol.

  8. in till there is storyline that westerners can believe that is dark compelling with matching western characters and voiced in english that is marketed towards adults then mainstream adoption won’t happen

    in till then your animes will be viewed as wierd fucked up cartoons by the Japanese. Because westerns can’t relate to the screwy story lines or characters that anime betrays

    having kids with powers that fly around or live in computer games or have metal robots or w/e isn’t how to make adult drama

    (my view of anime looking in from outside I have a few friends that are like you lot an this is what I see)

  9. the whole foundation of otaku culture is borrowing ideas when you think about it, and it’s not like the japs haven’t made any manga in to anime then anime into live action, it’s only natural progress that this “mainstreaming trend” is crossing a cultural barrier.
    hollywood has had a lot of let downs, but there are still artist out there devtoted to their arts and producers devoted to the artist.
    the wachwoski brothers is a good example, look at what they did for matrix (1) and speed race…… i just prey they don’t pull a dragon ball like remake on something as priceless as akira….

  10. I prefer it not being mainstream, it just seems more personal that way. though if it is mainstream that means more ppl will want to buy it which means there will more out ther for us. But one of the things that rly pisses me off is ppl who only get into anime cos their friends or every1 else is. With anime not being all that well known it sorta seems like a secret society for awesome ppl who share a passion for something.Answer: Yes, anime going mainstream DOES scare me.

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