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The freefall of Japan’s anime industry

By Peter Dyloco

Since its introduction more than half a century ago, anime has risen to become one of Japan’s most recognizable cultural icons. It has served as the initial contact between individuals and Japanese society, and has brought us the likes of Gundam, Pokemon, Astro Boy and Dragonball Z. Anime films like "Akira" have gone on to become cult classics, while the works of Hayao Miyazaki have been lauded as masterpieces around the globe.

Now, however, the industry is running the risk of becoming extinct.

To the casual observer, Japanese anime doesn’t seem to be faring for the worse. Such couldn’t be farther from the truth. Many Japanese who have considered a career in the anime industry have been put off by insanely low wages and the long, tedious hours required of its animators. As a result, the number of individuals working in the anime industry (and consequently, the number of anime series produced by the Land of the Rising Sun) peaked around mid-decade and have declined year after year. After year. After year.

It has reached a point where anime is bordering on the point of irrelevance. The lack of fresh faces in the industry has led to lack of innovation and save the occasional gem ("Code Geass" being such for myself), the same basic plot keeps getting recycled. People notice and go, “Hey, haven’t I seen this before?” generalize that the same must be true of all new anime series and move on from anime into other forms of entertainment. Less people watch new series, there’s less money to entice new animators and the cycle of decline continues.

It doesn’t help that new anime series are increasingly being directed towards niche audiences (“little girls” may give you an indication of what that means). I really don’t understand the reasoning behind it. It’s a cul-de-sac. The focus has led to a plunge in profits for anime studios and has made new anime series ridiculously difficult to understand unless religiously followed. And most mind boggling of all, they keep doing it! I know it takes creativity to make something truly artistic and sometimes that requires a bit of “encouragement”, but producers in the industry really do have to get off whatever they’re smoking.

Then there’s the whole economic aspect of the issue. The shrinking number of workers has led to a mass export of anime-related work from Japan. And by work, I do mean work-work. Jobs are going to Vietnam, India and Thailand, where tedious in-between frames are drawn and sent back to headquarters in Japan for final assembly. A shrinking number of jobs coupled with a shrinking number of workers can’t be considered a good thing.

You also have China and South Korea, which in their economic rise, have created a whole host of rival anime series in competing (with the Japanese) for the hearts and minds of anime lovers. I’m not against healthy competition. In fact, I’m all for it. The Japanese anime industry, however, seems to have turned inward and has refused to compete, and have basically given both the Chinese and the South Koreans the keys to the kingdom.

As with all other forms of entertainment (save maybe theater productions), piracy continues to take a huge chunk away from the bottom lines of anime studios. Such ultimately affects the developmental budget of future anime series and the future of anime as a whole.

So, what would I like those influential in the industry to take away from this article? Get your act together. Stop making lolicon, little girl series for otakus and focus on the more lucrative mainstream market. Stop committing cultural harakiri in outsourcing jobs to developing countries. And for pete’s sake, stop treating your animators like slaves and give them decent wages.

And you, Japanese government (I’m looking at you, Minshuto), stop seeing this as a minor issue and put some funding into the industry. You can afford to inject trillions of yen into the economy but can’t scrounge up enough to save part of your cultural identity?

Kira Yamato from Gundam SEED once said, “There are some things you can’t protect without fighting.” As part of Japan’s cultural identity and a tour de force in Japan’s soft cultural power around the world, both the government and anime studios have to realize that this is one of those things.

© Japan Today

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You also have China and South Korea, which in their economic rise, have >created a whole host of rival anime series in competing (with the >Japanese) for the hearts and minds of anime lovers.

With all due rspect I point and laugh at Japanese anime. But I'm rolling on the floor LMAO when it comes to SKorean and Chinese anime. NKOrea on the other hand could probably produce some cool anime. Although everything would be about how great Kim is.

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I'm just here for the Code Geass reference. Woo!

Interesting article though. I agree with a lot of this, I stopped watching a lot of anime a long time ago. Too much of the "moe" genre. Though you would never know that these guys weren't making money, what with all the expensive merchandise they sell on the side. I stop in animate every now and then, and it's ALWAYS crowded.

I don't know if the government should fund it though. Hm. I mean, it IS a minor issue. It's not like anime would disappear forever, I honestly doubt that.

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Why does all japan anime have a cute furry talking sidekick. Or a sidekick that is really annoying ?

And when they talk it's annoying and N-O-T cute.

Also I really don't like the power ranger style action or the bug face looking costumes. Is this the 1970's or 2010.

Japanese's cartoons are going back in time.

1980's was cool but now things changed.

Dragon Ball is boring ! All these cartoons are boring !!!!

Voltron and Robotech was the best series from japan anything else is sub par.

Pokemon destroyed the cartoons. It's just so predictable

One Piece series is so difficult to understand. They are pirates or space pirates or what the fock ? What the he'll are they ?

I tried eat hing it with my children. The children and I are totally lost.

apanese anime in the 1980's was cool and innovative.

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No money in Anime anymore. These companies use old distribution methods. They need to short circuit the fan-sub pirating by getting episodes out soon after they air in Japan. Anime distributors in the US have been dropping like flies over the last 5 years and that's not helping out the creative side of the equation. $0.99 cent episodes sold with days of the original air date.

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I watched an episode of Code Geass with my niece on TV, I'm not too sure if homoerotic British?? imperialism with gigantic robots is everyone's cup of tea but shows with eccentric themes like this don't disappoint viewers who don't watch anime on a regular basis.

However remakes of classics like Gundam Seed fail to carry their weight unlike the original production they are based on. In Seed, I was expecting a retooling of Tomino's MS Gundam for the modern age,that I got but sadly in the form of a wreck caused by the producers and writers when they tried to appeal to the female audience. For viewers who've never watched Gundam before, this show may seem 'pretty' but for those who remember the original series well, the show is 'atrocious' to say the least. The show didn't need to have 'Gundam' in the title at all, in fact the word itself is only mentioned twice or thrice throughout the show.

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I'm with whiskeysour.

Even as a child I thought Charlie Brown and Looney Tunes were great. still do. How cool is the jazz music in "A Charlie Brown Christmas"? When I watched Speed Racer [mahagogo] as a child I wondered why the animation was so strange and poor - had no idea it was from Japan. If ever I watch animation from Japan, I still feel the same way. I don't get it.

Now, I think I'll have a whiskeysour.

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I think a lot of the charm has been lost as anime caters to the horny otaku set rather than trying to appeal to broader audiences. A lot of the characters are characters we've seen before a million times and the plots are highly unoriginal.

I'm not a fan of crap that doesn't make sense on purpose and then pretends to be "deep" (Akira) but at least it would be more original than a million Evangelion clones or series where one guy has his pick of a dozen very different girls who inexplicably love him. Or "loner flies a robot" series. Or "young, inexperienced guy flies a robot" series. HEY LOOK, I JUST DESCRIBED 95% OF ANIME!!

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Still lots of good Anime out there but those have never been mainstream and are still not now.

Look "Akachan to Boku"(which is a great hit in the ME). There is a LOT of stuff out there that is NOT geared towards the Otaku.

Mention Code Geass, Evalgelion or Gundam Seed to the hardcore Otaku and you will get sneers, ditto for most of the maid, etc stuff.

Granted a lot of the pioneers of Anima have died or are retiring.

Now if the would just get rid of CRAP like Naruto, Bleach, One-Piece, etc to open up broadcasting slots we might get some good anime on TV.

But for truly good Anime OVA(Mamoru Oshii did the 1st one/know it?) was always the stable.

Nah the Anime Industru just needs to readjust itself and move away from being akiba centric(as I call it). Doubt they will regain their high-point from late 70's to 80's though easily.

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I hate anime except for Sazai-san...and of course Ampanman. He rocks.

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The freefall of Japan’s anime industry

Hardly-- it still has its avid fans, or perhaps the people behind the Japanese anime are short of inventiveness and ideas to draw newer markets.

Rotten Tomato gives the Astro Boy movie adaptation 48% (While it isn't terribly original, and it seems to have a political agenda that may rankle some viewers, Astro Boy boasts enough visual thrills to please its target demographic.)

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Zenny, stuff like Naruto and Bleach are great - they're the easily digestible anime that anyone can get into. It's a staple that the industry needs. There needs to be a certain penetration of the child market in order to foster that enthusiasm as the kids grow up. Otherwise they'll give it all away as the world bears down on them.

Has anyone seen Arakawa Under The Bridge? Speaking of piracy, I've just seen a few episodes on youtube, but it cracked me up. Very ironic, self-referential sort of anime that pokes fun at Japanese stereotypes. Would it sell? Barely. But I enjoyed it...

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Anime was great because it had vision. The idea of space colonies was invented in Mobile Suit Gundam back in 1979, and it inspired a generation with ideas of colonising other planets.

The robot suits we're just seeing becoming a reality were also first thought up in Anime.

I think that's what's missing in modern anime, the vision.

I do completely agree though that the distribution methods are archaic and outdated. Lots of small movie companies are generating seed funds by releasing a pilot online and setting a donation target for the next episode, producing them as funds become available, then releasing them online for free to donors (with non-donors paying per episode). No clunky physical copies, just pure downloadable digital goodness.

And the best part? If a series sucks the fans kill it, not some producer in a network company who couldn't tell good television if it got up and kicked him in the nuts.

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saborichan - Try "Gin-Tama", "Fairy-Tail" and simialr anime. They appeal to a large audience as does "Keroro Gunsou".

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No one is buying anything except clothes and apple products, something needs to be done to the entire economy, anime very much so since it is cultural. I could name a bunch of other cultural things being propped up by the government, why not anime?!

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I think a lot of the charm has been lost as anime caters to the horny otaku set rather than trying to appeal to broader audiences. A lot of the characters are characters we've seen before a million times and the plots are highly unoriginal.

I agree: when I was a kid it was cool cars transforming into awesome robots. Now I don't WTF it is.

I wouldn't shed a tear if anime dried up. Maybe more people would return to normal (i.e. we wouldn't have girls referring to themselves as "ore" anymore)

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You know what? They are comic books. They started out as comic books, then people made them something bigger and better, and then they moved on. Don't try to revitalize the industry, let the Chinese and Koreans sweat and struggle to squeeze blood from a turnip.

They are comics again. Until somebody does something grand and worth copyrighting, the whole industry will just keep sliding.

If I were an illustrator/story teller, I would make my own series, or eight or nine, in my own time, and then go about shopping that. Any other route and you are going to get violated in that business.

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Why not graphic novels? Focus on storytelling and cut the cute.

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Naruto rules! My family has been watching it every week for years. The recent Pain series was an all time epic.

@Zenny11 you can't deny the massive fan base Naruto has. Your niche tastes may be too highbrow for Naruto, Bleach and One-Piece fans but those series survived because of their popularity. Anime is a very dog-eat-dog industry and those shows fought their way to the top.

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Good fanbase or a sponsor that pays for new episodes to be aired?

All people anime fans I talk to refer to a group of people called "Narutards" and shake their heads.

Those series just haven't progressed storywise much and are just as repetitive as Dragonball.

Gimme Patlabor, Votoms, Dougram, Mospeada, Orguss, Maison Ikkoku, etc over that.

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Yes of course all the anime fans you talk to… The tens of millions of fans are just not enlightened like you. Why can’t they just see how right you are?

“Gimme Patlabor, Votoms, Dougram, Mospeada, Orguss, Maison Ikkoku, etc over that.”

Whoa set your time machine back a quarter of a century! Welcome to the 21st century.

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Considering that my wife worked in the Anime Industry and I got worldwide contacts wth anime and kit-producers and fans.

I take my contacts info and views as many of those people been fans or involved with the Industry for 25+yrs.

But one problem that the Anime Industry is that it takes too long to get an anime licenced for the overseas market if they get a licence at all.

By which time the makers of anime goods are already focusing on newer series. Also many animes are only designed to run for 1 or 2 season and after that the story is told and finished.

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Never like DraganBall because it drags on and on and on and on...... Just get the fight over with.

Like Ghost in the shell. Macross is OK, Gundam (only UC0079)

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That is the problem with anime that fans are complaining about in the first place. So called professionals like yourself thinking that fans are too stupid to decide for themselves what they like. Things you like are not popular and things you hate are massively popular.

For example Patlabor just flat out blows. They just tried to make it too deep, political and artsy to the point where it was just boring. Just recently I even rented a Patlabor movie and the whole family fell asleep watching it. I watched all of it more or less and it is very forgettable. I will take reruns of Macross/Robotech any day.

I am willing to put up my Naruto against every single title you mentioned to a vote for popularity. Would you be surprised at the outcome?

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Yeah, keep telling me how bad my tastes are.

Heck, Votoms blew so much that they released "Votoms: Pailsen Files" last year and another new series is coming up soon. Who do YOU think requested those = the Fans.

Hope you didn't rent Patlabor 3 because the one was bad like Terminator 3.

But Patlabor has a big enough fan-base to span multiple Tv-series, OVA and movies.

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I love Japanese anime. On that note, does anybody know when...or if...a new series of "Hajime no Ippo" is coming out?

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I'm so out of touch. I grew up with Ribbon no kishi, Guzura, Paman and Speed Racer.

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Zenny11; If you like Patlabor, get a copy of the game on the Mega Drive. retro classic, the art work on the case and manual is good enough to pay for the purchase. Anime is too dumbed down these days, but like most music and tv. I don't think downloading is good for the industry. Getting fans into the product by offering a quality product that makes them happy and want to share with pals is the best thing.

Someone was knocking Akira, don't know why it's a gem. rember having it on vidfeo in early 90's and it turned some of my mates into fans of the genre, Making quality like that and keeping to that standard time after time is hard work but would benefit all those involved in production and the customer.

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Hehe, I grew up with Captain Future, Heidi, Tom Sawyer, Marco, Vicky the Viking, etc.

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And Fantomas but I don't know the name in Japanese.

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I can only stand Crayon Shinchan.

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Thx, will look into that, Patlabor was never an action series nor about the labors. Got the footage from the proposed life-action movie too, pity never got finished.

Akira was big overseas, in japan it is less seen as such a good anime and such a mile-stone. Personally prefered Spriggan.

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As stevecpfc said many anime are dumped down or run too long(ditto for many standard tv-series), IMHO.

Macross F was nice but bassically told the same story as the original TV-series.

Mamotte Shugo Getten I enjoyed but the 2nd series(OVA) was a rehash of the 1st season using a gimick that she lost her memory.

Keroro Gunsou(Sgt Frog) stopped being funny a few season back and will stop soon.

Gundam let it die already, please. Ditto for Evangelion.

Myself not into sports anime or anything by Clamp. Some interesting animes on after midnight at the moment. Quite enjoy "Working".

Of course tons of kids anime like Pokemon, Beyblade, Gakuban, etc.

I like the quirkier stuff like Gin-Tama, Fairy-Tail, Soul-Eater, .hack, World of Golden Eggs, etc.

Another good recent series was "Vicorian Romance: Emma".

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“Yeah, keep telling me how bad my tastes are.”

Well actually Zenny11 you were the one mentioning how bad everyone else’s taste was and that they should like what you like because you were such a professional and you know otakis that agree with you. I was saying your tastes belong in a previous century. You can always go to museums to watch that stuff.

Naruto rules!

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For some reason it seems I've been liking stuff produced by Key. Kanon, Air, and Angel Beats were very good IMHO.

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^ I second Key.

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Anime like art is a reflection of it's time and audience. Anime in the 80s was heavily influenced by American pop-culture such as Star Wars, Star Trek, and American films, because much of the Japanese youths were really into American stuff.

Nowadays, it's more uniquely Japanese. Anime is more geared toward adults(otaku) who watch it as an escape. Shows paint a more exciting picture of life that is prettier than the hard work-loaded, Japanese adult world. This is why most westerners who got into anime a decade ago are turned off by the new stuff- it lost it's western appeal. So anime in the west is certainly on the decline, but anime in the east is still remarkably going strong. K-ON! and Haruhi still selling tons of merch tells me that...

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1.) You are the only one that called me a "professional". Nice twisting of things. 2.) All yout posts had "hidden" barbs and spins. Like the barb that I should go and visit a museum. 3.) Most Anime Fans to think that those series I mentioned been running too long.

Finally I got to say you don't seem to have a real clue as to what fans think and waht is going on in the scene.

Like why they have reduced the numbers of showings for Naruto or why Bleach and One-Piece are out of major time-slots now.

Agree with Firetribe. One reason why I mentioned the licensing delays.

Even in the west Anime like Sailormoon, Lupin the 3rd, Dragoball, AMG, etc are still big sellers and there is a demand for more merchandise from those.

Time to invest in some anime museums overseas. ;)

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some good anime out there, but havent watched any in years, except for "Summer Wars and some Ghibli movies this year". Cant find any good series that pique my interest anymore, used to watch Denno Coil but the rest is too girlish or too geekish for me, need fun anime. Ah another one that jumps to mind is "Jungle Wa Itsumo Hale Nochi Guu" briliant stuff.

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Right now the Anime Industry outside Japan is growing, but shrinking within Japan. But I guess the definition for Anime here needs to be clarified. In Japan Anime refers to anything animated, so it also covers Batman, etc cartoons.

West often tends to use a different meaning for the Japanese words like Mecha(overseas big robots, Japan anything mechanical).

So many smaller Studios today focus on the niche sectors as there is still lots of money there, they can't quiz people overseas so their primary target will be japan.

Another problem is overseas release vs local(licencing issues, etc), right now there is a delay in overseas releases.

So many Anime fans overseas get their fill via torrent sites, fansubs, etc. Some companies now offer licenced/legal subbed versions 1hr after the broadcast in Japan but that is PPV.

Having spoken to insiders many are reluctant to go international as over the years the market has shown not to send enough money back to justify the costs. I.e. Lots of people overseas watching but few paying for licenced Dvd's, etc Back to the issue of getting the stuff licenced and distributed on-time, and the wheel keeps spinning.

Also many production houses now prefer to issue new series via OVA, etc.

In short right now the japanese market gets tired pretty soon of a series often before it even gets well known overseas.

So the Studios/Companies would need to focus and produce for 2 markets(local and foreign) but don't have the funds to do so.

I named a few good Anime, "Victorian Romance: Emma" is based on a hihgly acclaimed Manga and appeasl to a wide audience(no cute ladies, no robots, etc).

There are many series like that out there but they don't get the air-time due to perceptions local and overseas of what Anime should be like.

I also named a few series I like that have NO story-line but are great fun to watch.

Even today on standard Japanese TV they manage to show something like 30~40 Anime/week and those cover all ages and Interests.

The fansub and pirate goods market really hit the Industry over the last 20 years and people now making illegal fansubs available soon after a show is aired = no money that goes to the makers.

Yet, people proclaim a show rocks and they want more but won't wait nor pay. Catch-22 for everyone.

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Forgot to add.

Biggest Anime/Manga outside Japan is France, followed by Germany, Ialy and the ME(not in order).

The target audiences also vary between the various overses markets. Ex.: Lupin the 2rd(different name) is huuge in France and Italy, France also buys maybe 90% of the Saint Seiya goods released.

The USA market is fairly small compared to others.

Also Anime been manufactured(on request) for european, etc markets for decades. Many of us watched series and never knew they were "Anime, etc".

Real Otaku market within japan is the 40+crowd(usually succesfull in business and got cash to spend) and they care little for anime aimed at age 13~16crowd.

Said all I wanted to say here.

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You are obsessed with injecting otakis into the anime discussion. You seem to think that their “avant guarde” guard ideas of popularity should become the mainstream of anime today instead of what most people feel.

I hate to break it to you but your romanticized idea of otakis being rich successful 40 something’s is just a bit off. The recent news had one being caught with 3,000 women’s underwear and another for killing an ear cleaning girl and her grandmother. Otakis are generally viewed as socially deficient with many of them still living with their parents.

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Exactly. There's a name for those where I come from but I don't think many will be happy to hear it ^^

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Yeah, pull the other one it hatheth bells on. I don' t care how you or others view Otaku(get that right). Guess you don't even the true meaning of the word.

If you are in japan I can introduce to some Oraku as well as Animators, etc.

Give me your input on "Soul Eater" and some other current anime besides Naruto.

Pls, no Gurren Langaan that one was bad.

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Code Geass is great, would definitely recommend!

Please stop waving your epeen around in every thread Zenny, I'm surprised you will troll about even anime. Lighten up!

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Anyhow Otaku/Otaki are the same words. It is pretty obvious that if you spoke Japanese you would know this.

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BTW, NO-ONE in JAPAN uses OTAKI, unless to refer to a certain company. ;)

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Otaki is a name, even my 10yr old son knows that and laughs at you.

Not sure where you lifted your little piece of wisdom from and if you were a true otaku in japan you would know an animator or atleast a manga-ka.

There are tons out there and most japanese have some form of contact with one. Considering that most japanese at one time draw or even publish their own Doujinshi.

Done here.

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Japan has some great anime but that was back then now its a very small percent of well made anime (in my opinion.) But they can rise again just stop making girly romance crap all the time and make something that all types of anime fans would enjoy.

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surprised no one mentioned filler. Easily half of any series is filler now (Flashback!) or some other such nonsense. It drives people away then those who wait patiently are only rewarded with a thumb in the eye. Either have a series or not

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The Filler has always been there in many animes(granted got worse) like all the transformation and costume changing scenes. Heck, Cutey Honey nearly got banned for it as she went starkers.

But agree many new series have a boring story-line, no characters with depth and little character development during the story-arc.

People will hate me for that but a good example is "Gurren Lagaan":

I watched the series as everyone was raving, most of it was repeats of the same basic line and combats(just using bigger weapons) very little character growth and some characters like Yoko, etc could have easily been dropped.

I sat through it all waiting for the goodness but all I got was repeats of what I had seen already dressed up slightly different.

Said that the really good Anime always made up a small part of the whole but in the last 10 years there hasn't been much good stuff.

"Freedom" was good as were a few others but most never went mainstream.

Just my view.

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Raise the music standards, please.

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Ok, granted I might be spoiled but I grew uo with many of the greats.

"Angels Egg", "Dallos"(not the horrible dubbed version that chopped 1/4), "Jin-Roh", "Ideon", "Crusher Joe", etc.

So I like many other Otaku will set the standard against those and many other good Anime past & current.

Contrary to common belief most Otaku are NOT interested in teen heroines, sexy girls, etc. This is a belief that been fostered by people like Danny Choo and similar programs, etc.

Anime music always been tricky as they use many unknowns.

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Tv just remined me.

Not sure who came up with the bright idea to produce "Dragonball Kai".

Now a new series of "Dr Slump" or "Arare" would have been better, IMHO.

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All I know about Anime is on "Adult Swim". The newer ones seem to be horribly repetitious with recycled characters. I'm waiting for new "Ghost in the Shell". Probably gonna be waiting a long time......

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I remember Astro Boy (Tetsuwan Atom), Gigantor (Tetsujin 28-go) and Kimba the White Lion (Jungle Emperor). I like the classics as Maison Ikkoku, Kimagure Orange Road, and Fushigi Yuugi. It is interesting to see the cultural difference especially when series as Sailor Moon got translated into many cultures especially for yuri characters as Sailor Neptune and Uranus. But like any other cultural icon, anime reflects the times in which they were made. There seems to be an over all trend to darker stories. But there are lighter ones as Ikkoku Meiro no Crosee and Usagi Drop although since these are current, how light they will stay is still up in the air. Those who have kids may like Usagi Drop. There are graphically beautiful ones as You are Under Arrest (Taiho Shichauzo), Air, and Tenchi in Love (movie). Key seems do nice visuals but then they started in hentai games. I do like their original 13 episode Kanon. As for translation work into English, I thought Fruits Basket and His and Her Circumstances (Kareshi Kanojo no Jijou; Kare Kano). Did like last year's Cross Game. Anime is like the movie industry, you only get a couple of good ones a year and sometimes none. And, what you like is dependent upon you taste. As for outsourcing, I always think it's a mistake. Outsourcing a Cultural Icon as Anime overseas is just criminal. Hollywood has never done that for good reason.

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Whiskysour. One Piece is a classic. Just because you don't understand it doesn't mean it's "hard to understand" and they're pirates. I"m an avid fan of One Piece and I've seen countless people try to degrade a story that is so misunderstood by people who never took the time to sit down and read the first few volumes. I'm sure if it was so bad it wouldn't have lasted 14 years in production. A 500+ episode anime series, 11 movies... Yeah, it's so bad. >_>

I agree that new anime needs to step it up, branch out to other demographics, and have new fresh ideas. I see nothing wrong with throwback art styles, though. And there is definitely nothing wrong with the super sentai (power rangers) series... by the way, super sentai isn't ANIMATED. So I don't know why it was even brought up.

I'm sure things will change around, but if anime becomes extinct, then oh well. We still have records of it to look back on it. You never know, it could be revived if it really does go away.

Oh and I definitely agree with paying the animators more. If they get paid better, we'd have less shitty animation for good shows.

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...peaked around mid-decade and have declined year after year. After year. After year.

What a disturbing writing style.

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As bad as American movies and television is right now. Japanese animation is'nt that bad. At least the anime networks have not begun re-working old movies and TV shows like America (case in point, the new spider-man movie reboots a series of movies less than a decade old). Maybe American movie producers should finally look to Japan's anime for some fresher ideas than the regurgitated garbage they have made recently. Some of their better movies have come from American graphic novels, so it would not be that difficult to adapt some of the better anime of the past.

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Back in the mid-90s when I first got into anime, I really enjoyed OAV/OVA series because they were short, and usually began and ended within about six or seven episodes or so, and some of the shorter TV series that only ran for maybe one or two seasons (so about 26 to 52 episodes give or take). But a lot of the most popular anime now is just too long, and has been running for a decade or more. Way too long for my tastes. Especially since most of the shows that are targeted towards the shonen demographic (pre-teen to mid-teen boys) use the same basic formula.

This usually consists of an enthusiastically energetic, happy-go-lucky, childish, innocent-minded hero with a big appetite and a lot of heart and determination (despite a lack of brains), who may be naive and idiotic but never gives up and always tries hard to become the very best at something. He is often paired up with a foil to be his rival, someone who is cool and unemotional, intelligent and calculating, cynical and jaded, often the silent loner-type, and who usually thinks strength is everything and that friendship just holds him back, and will likely either be a villain-turned-ally or a rival who later betrays the hero and becomes a villain. Then there's a female love interest, who will either have a crush on the hero, or the hero will have a crush on her, but since it's a shonen anime there won't be much focus on romance so usually the relationship never goes much further than having an unrequited crush (generally if it's the female who has a crush on the male hero, he will be the type of hero who has no interest in love or romance or is just totally oblivious; if it is a case of the hero having a crush on the female, then usually she's either equally oblivious or is actually in love with someone else, usually the hero's rival).

Other characters then join up, usually worthy opponents who are defeated during the course of the series. Then each season or arc follows the same basic format: the characters have to collect a bunch of items, fight in a tournament, rescue a kidnapped friend/relative/love interest, or get involved in some big war between two or more factions, all part of the overall goal of striving to become the very best in the world at whatever it is the series is focused on (sports, card games, spinning tops, board games, martial arts, ninjustsu, piracy, training monsters, etc), which usually comes with an elite title once obtained. Then to prepare for the challenges of the current season/arc, the characters usually will one-by-one receive new "powerups" by finding some old master and/or going about some kind of over-the-top training that grants them new techniques, or teaches them new ways to use old techniques, or they'll somehow obtain new and better weapons or equipment, or whatever it is. Finally, by the end of the season/arc, the main villain's minions are defeated one by one in a face-off between the heroes and the bad guys, resulting in the climactic final fight in which usually only the main protagonist is able to defeat the final villain (but with the emotional support and encouragement of his friends, since despite being strong in their own right the hero's allies are never strong enough to take down the final villain because that's the hero's job), thus proving him one of the strongest guys around. In some cases though the villain won't be killed off, but instead will be inspired by the hero and join him (if the fans like him a lot, though villains becoming good guys usually results in them becoming a lot weaker than when they were villains it seems).

And then, inevitably, the next season/arc begins, in which a new villain/opponent appears who is even more powerful than the last, and the formula of training and questing to receive powerups or new allies begins all over again.

This formula isn't necessarily a bad one; it just becomes very predictable and repetitive when a series runs for a long, long time. It would be nice if they changed things up a bit to keep some aspects fresh, instead of always assuming what all pre-teen and mid-teen boys want or don't want to see.

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Akira, Bubblegum Crisis, Armitage III, Azumanga Daioh, Death Note, Cardcaptor Sakura, Elfen Lied, Ghost in the Shell, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex, Kurau Phantom Memory, Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Rosario+Vampire, Serial Experiments Lain, Silent Mobius, Tokyo Magnitude 8.0, all these are names of anime I learned to love... and the list will surely increase.

It's also evidence of an art of extreme diversity. It should never be left to die, ever.

I do which they would make more cyberpunk anime, like in the late 80's/early 90's though.

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I only got into anime this year, and I'm quite surprised to hear that the industry is in decline. It is a shame really, as I quite enjoy it. I had hoped to get a job writing anime, but so far I've had no luck. None of the companies seem to have any openings. Not that their websites make it easy to even find that out. It seems they only want Japanese writers. Which is a shame because I have three projects which as far as I can tell are all unique, and quite mature. It will probably sound naive and arrogant of me to say this, but I would like to think that my projects could in some small part at least help to revive the industry. I doubt that I could achieve much (if anything) on my own, but maybe my works could inspire others. But I guess I'll never find out, if I can't get a job. I'm not sure what to do with my ideas though. Maybe I could try an American company instead. But I can't help thinking the Japanese companies would do a better job. Maybe.

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the legend Hayao Miyazaki was right when he said that anime quality nowadays keep getting worse & worse, that they even have to resort to these cheap fan-service strategy/tactics, just to keep unfortunately many shallow anime fans today entertained & watch & follow the anime.

the young kids generation of today sadly is being 'brainwashed' into simply just accepting whatever/anything that is thrown to them in what's currently "the trend" or "popular" anime/manga nowadays/today, without they even KNOWING that high-quality anime/manga with actually REAL GOOD stories, theme, substance actually USED TO exist back then, ie: anime/manga with very bold, daring, & actually real mind/thought-provoking, deep philosophically (& conceptually, psychologically), examples: Neon Genesis Evangelion, Ghost in the Shell, Serial Experiments Lain, Paprika, Paranoia Agent, etc.

I swear, anime / manga today / nowadays too often or almost ALWAYS contain such cheap, shallow stuff like moe, yaoi, yuri, harem, idol, fan-service stuff , and the anime theme / subject / topics / story nowadays / today also sucks , MOSTLY revolve around idol theme (like AKB48 'fan-service' stuff again) , eg: Love Live , or even Swords Art Online (SAO) , although initially I feel could have so much potentials, in the end is ruined because of cheap, shallow "romance, Kirito - Asuna sex / love / fan-service" stuff again! this frustrates me so much, and drives me mad !

Does anyone else here also honestly feel the same / similar ? ie: do you feel that anime nowadays sucks ? anime today sucks ?

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It's too bad, but animators are subject to same outsourcing and wage pressures as most people. Even worse when it's something you don't need a degree today, and when so many starry-eyed amateurs have got their sites set on it.

As far as preferences, that is subject to economic forces, too. Maybe you could sponsor dojinshi titles you like, amplified with crowdsourcing, and get something worth watching?


Frungy: Anime was great because it had vision. The idea of space colonies was invented in Mobile Suit Gundam back in 1979, and it inspired a generation with ideas of colonising other planets.

The robot suits we're just seeing becoming a reality were also first thought up in Anime.

Do you have more details? Because ...

Space colonies and powered exoskeletons were both invented in 1800's (wikipedia says). Heinlein's Starship Troopers was published in 1959.


Mobile suits (モビルスーツ mobiru sūtsu?) are the technological machinery (mechas) that is the basic namesake of the Gundam universe. ... The name "mobile suit" is believed to be a reference to the terms "mobile infantry" and "powered suit" from the Robert A. Heinlein book, Starship Troopers.


Powered armor has appeared in a wide variety of media, beginning with E. E. Smith's Lensman series in 1937.

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@Niki Wonoto I don't really know if that's really the case. Anime with deep stories, thought provoking stories or specific themes still exist and are still being produce. Anime like Attack on Titan, Psychopass, Mushishi, do fit in this category. So I think the problem lies in not having searched enough.

I have also a question about what do you consider "old" and "like it USED to BE". Everything depends on this particular sentence. If you consider that something that has been produced 10 years ago like Paprika (2006), well anime like Psychopass, Attack on Titan or Mushishi won't fit in your category of "old" anime. And if you consider anime from the 90's to be "old", well you have a lot of counter examples as the ones you've just sited.

Where you are right though, is that "Moe" anime are quite numerous nowadays. These anime tend to follow a recurrent storyline or tend to use similar characters thus having you hate the anime.

However, the reason anime studio choose these types of anime is because, they are generally successful and appealing to the Japanese audience and that's where all the problem are (and I will now give my point of view on the various points of the article). The anime are originally made for the Japanese demographic and not an American, European or other country"s demographic. The studio can't take any risk and will take what seems to be working among the Japanese population (in manga, novels or games in rare cases). So if you want to blame someone, you need to blame the Japanese population for loving these kind of anime and not the government for not trying to protect the studios or the studios for making a certain type of anime.

And as for the outsourcing of Japanese animation studios, 92% of the anime production studios are located in Japan. Even if it is true that some parts of the anime are produced in foreign countries ( China, India or South Korea), they are used when they are really behind schedule. Finally, I highly doubt that China and Korea is going to be a threat to Japan. Korean animation and Chinese animation isn't that developed yet. Moreover, even if they manage to develop great anime, the Japanese television won't show the Chinese or Korean anime like they don't show any American or English series in Japan. It will maybe affect other countries in their choice of what to watch, but not for the Japanese in making anime.

So to resume, anime are made for Japanese people, serious themed anime are still made, Chinese and Korean anime won't change in the way things have been working up until now for the Japanese animation studios.

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I was debating on writing a comment after reading all of the previous comments. I agree/disagree with various statements. I do find a lot of absolute statements to be abrasive. But I won't go into that.

First of all, I think this happens so many times, with a comment thread, where people get so off topic and the obligatory pissing-contest ensues, but again, I'll refrain from commenting on that also. Well, directly, because I kind of back-handedly already did.

Just to give you my background, I was in 7th grade when Robotech first aired on American TV in 1985 and watched it from the start. I also saw Akira in 1988, un-dubbed, un-subbed, raw and it changed my then 15 year old mind forever, although I had no idea what anybody was saying. Therefore, I have to side with the 80s decade as being my most treasured era of anime. To me Dirty Pair, Shirow all of that stuff to me defines manga/anime, but that is subjective and I can't say that is the case with anyone else. I was into it in the 90s, with Bebop, Evengelian, Sailor Moon and all that stuff to. I even stayed with it in the 00s, and took note that things were changing and have always been evolving. The internet seem to play another role in all of this, but I don't want to blame it as the catalyst for what I think is wrong.

I would say, for me, the last 5 years, I just can't get into any show. There isn't anything that appeals to me. I'm not saying that the stuff now is inferior to the old stuff, because it's not. It's just different. I agree with Sato and Myazaki, I agree with the author of this article. I think there are a lot of things going on and nothing in particular is the soul culprit. I don't think Anime will die, it will evolve and is evolving. I'm not sure I like were it's headed, so I'm not a huge follower currently. Maybe something will come out I can get excited about. I just hope it happens in my lifetime.

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