Within the anime community, there are many sayings that I have a bone to pick with. Actually, listing them all and discussing why they bother me is worthy of a post on its own. But for now, one phrase disturbs me to the point where I feel a great need to shed some light on it; that phrase being ”The Savior of Anime”. People saying an anime or a studio will save the medium and industry is wrong because it is statistically incorrect and due to the fact that anime is still a new art form that is growing larger. Of course, people using this phrase as mere comedy just to tell a joke is understandable; a laugh or two never hurt anyone. Fans saying it with sincerity raises red flags because they are misinformed due to ignorance and lack of confidence in their hobby. Sure, anime has issues, but as the years pass by, it is indeed growing.
Media franchises in Japan often sell well or at least enough to keep the project going with sequels and spin-offs. Since they are of worth, this means their anime projects are most likely successful. This is good news for the anime industry as well due to studios making more anime, which keeps the flow of productivity going. Franchises like Love Live, Idolm@ster, and even WIXOSS return with new works that become popular once again to respond and deliver for its dedicated fans. According to the sales list by Anime News Network, Love Live sold over 8 billion yen between the dates of December 20th 2015 to December 11th 2016. The sales include products involving only blu rays, DVD’s, music, novel, and manga. So, what does this have to do with anime? Well, everything! Outside of TV broadcasting, the industry gains from blu ray and DVD sales, even if slightly. Media franchises doing well means possible anime adaptations, which helps bring in blu rays and DVD’s for sale, then the profit begins.
To read more on the sales list, click here!
Besides media franchises supporting anime, other shows via manga or light novel adaptations and originals sell a decent amount to help keep the industry afloat on its own. Someanithing, a website that contains many yearly and weekly sales list of anime blu rays or DVD’s, shows that series which have aired within 2016 are selling fairly well. For a more detailed look, the site even has a mid-year sales list that offers insight on how much a series that aired earlier sold. With more information about the anime industry coming into light, we can see that it is going strong.
If you don’t believe me, perhaps the numbers over at Someanithing will convince you here!
I’ll touch more on it later, but the influence of anime crossing over into the west contributes to sales of anime. Major companies such as Crunchyroll, Funimation, and even Sentai Filmworks are the result of how anime has impacted the U.S. With streaming and blu rays available, it is evident that there are fans who are consuming the medium.
A New Art Form
Anime, believe it or not, is still a new and growing industry. It is continuously developing because of new people arriving and making new content. Different evolving styles and ideas are being put into practice in order to create something innovative. Of course, anime’s history sure has come a long way too and is what I consider nostalgically fun. It all started 100 years ago with Oten Shimokawa and his work that involved chalk which was a 5-minute short. You can read more about the history here, but as time passed, each era had a new innovative addition towards anime and made it what it is today. You may think to yourself, “Well, 100 years is a long time! Surely they were able to do as much as today back then with all of that time!”. In actuality, that isn’t true, especially in the grand scheme of things. Humanity is currently able to further progress in life because we are inventing technologies that speed up the process. In the past, such technology were not available to creators, so they had to use different means to express their art. Using said means, they were able to slowly expand the art and make new ideas over periods of time. A few examples of ideas were the insertion of syncing sounds, adding color, making character models move, and albeit used for war propaganda, film creation. As time continues to pass after the time of this post, more anime will be produced and some may become beloved.
But what about they? The creators. Part of what makes anime great are the people who gather to make such wonderful art. From writers to directors and animators, so many faces do so much to give us great content, which in turn inspires newer talent to arrive and deliver fresh ideas. Whether if its legends such as Osamu Tezuka or Kazuko Nakamura, the first woman animator, and even Hayao Miyazaki, all of them have started and lead an era of anime that helped inspired infamous names such as Hideaki Anno, Mamoru Oshii, and Satoshi Kon. The cycle continues with inspiration as recent directors such as Masaomi Ando, Makoto Shinkai, and Yoh Yoshinari are stepping up to release or adapt popular works. When looking at it from this angle, anime doesn’t need saving because of motivated newcomers coming into the spotlight. This repeats that cycle of continuing eras and inspiration being handed down to newer generations. Of course, with animation studios hiring new faces, it is unlikely anime will die out.
Speaking of studios…
Anime studios have their own ways of animating and creating designs; this rids of any misconceptions that all anime look alike. There are distinctions when analyzing shows made by different studios. For example, if you looked at a Doga Kobo show and compared it to a show done by Madhouse, differences will be apparent in style. This proves that people working in them are creating new and diverse content. Each studio has their own voice; something that makes their works unique. Anime being a new art form is a reason why shows by different studios stand out and when new animators better their craft, they too will develop something innovative.
Another way anime is a new art form is how it incorporates different aspects of other entertainment. If you want art, then it’s here. Backgrounds and character designs vary with versatility that shows passion went into making it. Whether you’re looking at P.A. Works’ gorgeous atmospheres or designs by Yukiko Horiguchi, skill for drawing human models and sceneries are apparent. Throw in some music and the work improves to give it that kick of sound, which blends well with the art. Music, like anime, comes in many styles, so hearing what composers will create is always a treat. From Yuki Kajiura’s grand suspenseful orchestrations to Kenji Kawai’s combination of electronic and natural instrumentation, each composer has their own scores to work with. How they blend together with anime is one creative feat worth admiring.
Animation itself is a respectable and hard-earned skill. There are so many animators currently trying to better their craft in order to contribute to anime. You can see this by just watching how anything moves in a show. Depending on what the series has to work with, characters could be moving at incredible speeds to fend off against an enemy. On the other hand, you might see a group talking with emphasis on body language, eye gestures, and facial expression to display realism. The time and effort it takes to make something move fluidly is overwhelming, especially if you have a keen eye for details. A vast amount of animation styles exist and explanation on them alone is worthy of a post. As the industry continues to grow larger, more styles will be born to convey that anime is in no need of a savior.
Screenwriting in anime is a shaky thing to cover in detail. Unlike composers or animators, there isn’t a vast pool of talented writers to dish out a story. Not to say there aren’t any good writers, but majority of them are overshadowed by directors. Still, for anime, writers like Mari Okada and Gen Urobuchi are recognized for their own individual styles of writing and narrative structure. Being a writer in general is not something that is easily accomplished, which could explain the lack of talent. To write a major project, you must already have a name for yourself or use connections. Being a well-established mangaka or light novel author are good credentials and knowing chief staff in a studio that is willing to give you a shot helps as well. Anime screenwriting is barley starting to get attention and is something I hope continues to grow so that we can get more interesting stories. Who knows, maybe Tomohiko Ito’s Script Room production group project will help discover new talent.
After the time of this post, fellow blogger karice has offered more insight on how anime screenwriting production works, so be sure to check them out since information on writing for anime is coming into light, which deepens our understanding on production even further.
Expansion into western audiences has helped anime develop into what it is today. Obtaining viewership from overseas not only spreads popularity, but further expands the industry, which keeps it going. Usage of online streaming via Crunchyroll and Funimation has massively impacted how fans from across the world watch anime. In the past, shows were available only through fansubs, DVD’s, or whatever Toonami had on their block. In the past decade, the increase for demand of anime has sparked an entire generation to help deliver and share the medium. Now, we have a wide variety of series available to stream at any time. With other streaming platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime interested in getting shows that air every season, we can see that anime is not nearly close to dying.
Although streaming anime on both of these platforms are not as easily convenient to watch for consumption, they are indeed legally available to stream and pave a way for show to be available in the U.S, despite the hassle.
A Passionate Rant
I feel I have stated enough evidence to support my claims that anime doesn’t need a savior and that it is statistically incorrect to believe so. Since anime is something I cherish deeply, I honestly can’t believe people are saying it needs to be saved. I will be fair, If you’re joking around and using it without any sincerity, then fine. But to those who actually believe it needs to be saved, I will be harsh and say you have no business calling yourself a fan. I mean, how do people even come to conclusions like that? Every part of anime has its own voice and is full of creativity that is still experimental, so how does that need saving? That’s like saying a new budding flower needs to be regrown from the ground up. Also, the idea of a studio saving anime is stupid too. All studios are unique in how they make anime. What makes one studio out of the many the savior? In case you don’t get the memo, there is no answer to that question. I love Trigger; it is one my favorite studios, but they are not saviors. No one is. Before you blurt out that anime needs saving, ask yourself 4 questions:
What are the current sale numbers for anime?
Is anime still coming out with new content every season?
Are industry names taking giant strides to improve their work?
Do you still love anime?
If you fail to seek any answers to the questions above, then you have failed as a fan and consumer.