17 May 2021 3:28 PM +00:00 UTC

Is Anime Going Mainstream? Why 2021 is the Biggest Year Ever for Anime

Credit: Ufotable

Since the global pandemic happened, almost everyone ended up going on a journey in search of new interests and hobbies that would be doable within their own homes. From taking care of plants to baking, working out, and unironically downloading TikTok, everyone seems to have found their new thing. Among these newfound interests is a source of entertainment that has continued to expand globally: anime.

Originating from Japan and derived from the word animation, anime has been around for more than 50 years now. Yet it was still considered a niche as of recently. If we were to backtrack to over 10 years ago, you'd probably be considered weird for even liking anime. The most popular ones that people might have been familiar with back then would be anything by Studio Ghibli, the studio behind award-winning films Spirited Away and My Neighbor Totoro. I myself have only been an anime fan for a couple of years, and Ghibli movies are an excellent gateway towards exploring different types of Japanese movies and series.

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Credit: Studio Ghibli

Nowadays, people are generally familiar with this type of storytelling. Anime is continuously dominating the world of pop culture—there's a rapid increase in demand from US audiences and it's being talked about all over social media. Official merchandise of numerous anime titles is being sold all over the world. Nearly everyone knows what Attack on Titan is—even parents in their 50s. That person who made fun of you for watching anime as a kid? They're probably watching now too. The new Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba movie, Mugen Train, has dominated the international box offices, ranking as the highest-grossing anime movie.

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How is Anime Leaning Towards the Mainstream?

One of the reasons behind this is how easily accessible anime is now through numerous streaming platforms. There are tons of websites where you can watch anime (some of them are free!), making it more accessible to fans globally. According to an article from The Wall Street Journal, Netflix reported that "more than 100 million households around the world at least watched one anime title on the streaming site in the year to September 2020, growing by 50% from a year earlier". With Netflix adding Studio Ghibli films and classics such as Neon Genesis Evangelion the past year, their wide range of genres of anime caters to old fans and new ones alike. They even plan on launching 40 new anime titles for 2021.

Besides that, other streaming platforms are also expanding the range of anime titles their subscribers can choose from. According to Crunchyroll, they had over 3 million premium members around the world, whose favorites included Black Clover, Jujutsu Kaisen, Boruto: Naruto Next Generations, and My Hero Academia for the year 2020.

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Credit: Bones

Endless Storytelling With Great Visuals

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Considering the wide array of genres that anime has, there's definitely something to watch for everyone. There's isekai, shōnen, shōjo—the possibilities are endless. The different types of plots and characters give us multi-faceted stories that tackle all the complexities of human emotions. Whatever mood you're in, there's surely an anime to watch for that.

Do you think anime is going mainstream? Let us know in the comments!

Related: How to Start Watching Anime 2021: Why You Should Watch and Where to Begin