Have you ever fallen in love with an anime? Not with a character, but with the entire anime? The concept, the story, the soundtrack and yeah, the characters too. Just the interconnected assortment of arts to come together in a beautiful whole we call anime. Maybe it sounds weird to you. I should be a bit more concrete.

your lie in april
I’m afraid to watch Your Lie. I cry very easily

Have you ever come across a show that makes your heart race when you watch it? You get butterflies in your stomach at the anticipation of the next episode. When it’s on, everything else disappears and you exist in your own little bubble universe, just you and your beloved series. You can’t think of any better use of your free time than to spend it with this anime. In a word, you’re in love!

I’m truly banking on this being a somewhat common phenomenon or else those last two paragraphs must make me sound like a true nutjob. For some people, that won’t be too big a change.

I know that it can be embarrassing to be upfront about your feelings, so I’ll go first. I fall in love with anime all the time. I start thinking about the show at random times, like in the middle of meetings. Don’t tell my boss. Also, I have too many meetings so I gotta do something with my headspace.

Those of you that have been reading this blog for a while may think I’ve just gone on one of those aimless tangents I tend to take. But not so, I do have a reason here. Kinda… Because I love anime, I have been trying to find ways to give back to it.

anime gift
here, take this!

In 2015, there were a few rumblings, often prompted by industry veterans, that anime was dying. Or at least that it was dying in Japan. And these worries remain to this day. Generally speaking, the two main arguments are, firstly, that the anime industry has become jaded and predictable. Essentially that truly original anime is no longer being made and that we are simply getting the same old stories with updated graphics. This has led to a loss of interest in the medium.

I’ll admit this argument never bothered me that much. For one, anime being a visual medium, I think you shouldn’t underestimate updated visuals. They are an important part of the experience. For two, if you just stubbornly keep on breathing long enough, you’ll eventually hear people announce the death of just about every artistic medium and subcategory available. Music died a few times first Napster killed it then Spotify, and individual genres such as country or rap have been dead for years due to their inability to evolve or being eaten by pop or something. Both music as a whole and country and rap as genres are doing o.k. And I think animation will survive as well.

As for it having lost its freshness and originality.  This is another argument I’ve heard so often with little basis that I can’t bring myself to just accept it blindly. Recent anime like ACCA-13, Land of the Lustrous, Eccentric Family, Made in the Abyss or even Houki, all feel new and fresh to me. Neverland may be cliché in general outline but the characters are designed in unexpected ways. Man, I love anime! And even more classical titles are still very enjoyable.

love lab fun
and that’s what counts!


The second argument, however, holds a lot more weight for me. A drought of talent and resources could take down the industry. That’s a bit dramatic of course but it’s no secret that the anime industry isn’t the most…let’s say a “comfortable” environment to work in. Salaries are unimpressive while hours are punishingly long. There is not that much in way of incentives for a job that is very difficult to do. And if anime as a medium simply isn’t considered that interesting in Japan for the newer generations, than you could conceivably run into a workforce crisis.

I should probably tackle this question of anime popularity. The fact is, by most measures, the popularity of anime is growing and rather impressively as well. There’s been an undeniable and marked industry growth consistently happening every year since those articles started declaring anime as dead. It’s important to note, however, that most of that growth has been on the international market. In Japan, the numbers are much less impressive. The industry is still growing mind you but at a much slower rate.

I couldn’t find proper demographics tables so I’m unsure whether fans are likely to get into the industry themselves some day or way past that. Besides watching anime doesn’t mean you want to work in anime.

This post started out as a slightly uncomfortable glimpse into my personal delirium and segued into a superficial dissection of growth trends in the anime industry. Fantastic! How do we tie it all up?


do not image search for tied up anime characters – just don’t do it

OK For the umptieth time this post, I love anime. And although I don’t think it’s likely to die soon, I do fear certain trends in the industry may lead to less anime or at least, less quality anime. As a fan, I want to do something, no matter how small, to help.

A lot of sites and articles I read about giving back to the anime industry basically boil down to give money to anime or advertise it. A lot of people actually suggested starting an anime blog which made me chuckle. The advertising part is easy but I’m not quite sure how impactful. Tell people about shows you like, on Twitter, Reddit, whatever the biggest platform you can get onto is. Basically, keeping anime relevant in the public eye is a way to make sure it endures. Of course, I am happy to be an anime ambassador, but I would hate to think this little blog is the extent of my contribution.

The idea of investing in the industry by buying the product seems like a good one but I live in Canada. That means that my merch money mostly goes to distributors or resellers. Buying straight from Japan is punishingly expressive in shipping if it’s even available. I am thinking of paying for a few anime streaming services even though I will never be able to get through my Crunchyroll and Netflix lists. This shows enthusiasm for anime and actually funnels a better percentage of the money straight back into the industry. Collecting manga or DVDs is something I would like to do more. Availability is getting better but again, it’s not the best.

It’s all pretty boring though. I’m wondering if there isn’t a better or at least a more exciting way to support the anime industry. While researching this post I did come across a project I found exciting 2018 Animator Dormitory Project. I’m still researching it myself so please do your due diligence before donating but if you know of any initiatives like this, I’m very interested. Do you have any other ideas for giving back to the medium we all love? Let me know!



33 thoughts

  1. I write a blog and that’s pretty much it. I don’t really talk about it much in the real world. Plus my chosen field does not always see anime in high regard.

  2. “I’m afraid to watch Your Lie in April. I cry very easily”

    Oh man. You’re gonna be all kinds of wrecked if you ever decide to watch it.

  3. I’ve heard Trigger has a Patreon and so do some other animators. I remember Terumi Nishii (who’s worked on Pokemon and Jojo’s: Diamond is Unbreakable), for one, has one, but she, like you mention in your post, was dissuading international anime fans from going into the industry on Twitter…which I think is kind of giving mixed signals. (I don’t really know how Patreon works, but hopefully it does work.)

    As to the “death” of the industry, I don’t think it’s going to die any time soon…the boom was only about 20 years ago in most of the Anglosphere and it’s been popular for longer than that in Asia, France and South America (not sure precisely where in South America, though). I’ve also seen a bit of a renaissance in what anime and manga I can get in stores without having to ask my library to get them from online stores first. I’m just worried how low birth rates will affect both the creation and consumption sides, though…

  4. First of all I don’t think it’s possible at all to to be an anime fan and not have this occur at least once. I would say I primarily go on forums and the like to share my love for shows having no “real life” friends who share my passion for it like I do. I also hate when I finish shows I become obsessed with I tend to struggle to find another to feel this void! 😆 As far as shows not being unique this is ridiculous considering I tend to watch and fall in love with shows that are unique, some of which are very recent. I would love to support the industry more through merchandise but agree with this being complicated. I think your idea to pay for streaming services is always a good one. Awesome post! ✌🏻

  5. I’ve been thinking about this throughout the day. I guess I show my love of anime by writing about it and only watching what I can find through legal streaming services. I guess there is my small anime collection as well.

    Still, it’s hard to see how the western market over here in the states helps out with media production in Japan. I would like to help out a lot more if I can. Maybe I should wait until I have a constant stream of money flowing for that though :(.

  6. I’m still in love with Samurai Flamenco in a way that hasn’t happened since. Manglobe’s death was profoundly depressing, even if it’s not really as well-regarded as other studios. I’m still hoping for another Samurai Flamenco to come around and capture my heart, but I grow more and more pessimistic by the season.

  7. So where’s your money going? Who gets what when I buy a Dvd? I simply don’t know. If a production model is broken, then throwing money at it just keeps the problems afloat. Not throwing money at it is no alternative, though, since it all goes under. What then?

    I’ve been watching anime long enough to say that I’m not that worried. Really good stuff is always rare, and entertaining shows are never that hard to find. I’m saying this is a bad season, but really that’s contextualised through fluctuations I expect. There are enough fun shows to watch.

    And the gaming production model can’t be that broken when we get games like The Liar Princess and the Blind Prince, which isn’t my genre, but still makes want to buy a current-gen console:


    Tell me this doesn’t look awesome!

    I’ve been half aware of the Animator Dormitory project since 2017, but I’ve never really looked at it in detail. If it takes some pressure off animators et al. it’s great, but if it re-inforces the idea that animation is a 24 hour job (because you live in an animator-only dorm, and only live here because your an animator, home’s not a place where you can be just yourself). On the other hand, the project is also looking to expand the jobs animators can take on – being less dependent on mind-numbing jobs like non-stop inbetween animation is a good thing. (The art on their page is great. My favourite is the ramen shop drawing.) My overall impression is positive. Btw, their 2019 page details the problem with the current production model: Basically, production committees are a way to avoid financial risks, but they tend to give too little money to the studios, with the studios not getting any of the profits (if they’re not in the committee). It’s hard to figure out how to reward the people making anime rather than the people making money, and this project may well be one way.

  8. Hmm I love anime and I show it by writing about it. I don’t think there’s any way anime is dying, but I also don’t expect it to ever be as mainstream as other media forms. It will probably go in and out of popularity, like you were saying, but continue to survive. As for recent years though, it seems to be like there are more and more people than ever in the US watching anime, especially younger people. But that’s my perspective and I can’t really back it up or quantify it. Anyway, this was a really interesting post and I like how you ramble a little and then bring it back together. Your image captions are always funny or cute, too.

  9. I write a blog about anime, kinda shows my love.

    I fell out of love and then back in love with anime, and it has been a wonderful experience. Though I am very aware of the dark side of fandom, and I always keep a healthy emotional distance from the things I enjoy. It is necessary now that the internet has made such things common place.

    As for the state of the anime industry? I’ve made my thoughts clear on the dangers of anime becoming “mainstream”, and aside from the work practices of the animators, which is frankly out of my ballpark, I have little else to say.

        1. WQell that depends on Geography – it is currently the second most popular form of Media in the US and has shown the largest growth over the past few years. It’s still lags a bit in some european countries though.

          1. Huh, I didn’t know it was the second most. Well then I suppose it has in many ways entered the “mainstream.” Thanks for the info!

            Yet I don’t think it has entered the culture mainstream. Hollywood hasn’t sunk it’s teeth into the stories (yet) and the cultural grand-standers and opportunists. on both sides have yet to turn their sights on it. That to me is the arrival of the mainstream.

            1. So you’re concerned with US mainstream mainly. Should be safe for a while. I think streaming platforms will likely keep purchasing overseas made work.
              Then again youtube got bought out pretty quick so I might be wrong

          2. Ditto on the geography thing. USA is just so dang big and every state differs, is all. Maybe there’s a lot of people, but what if all those people were in L.A.? Not a lot of anime lovers in, say, Ohio.

            1. I’m not sure the media analysis maps are pretty even. What you should ask though is what anime they’re watching. That’s a different question.

            2. That’s very true. Shounen anime is very big in my country. I’d wager 80% of the country in all demographics have watched Dragonball Z extensively.

              The depressing stuff I like though? Very few people have watched due to lack of streaming services.

  10. If and when the bubble bursts for anime, I hope it leads to something like what happened in video games. The problem with anime is that there is WAY too many of it. If we could streamline our beloved animators into working on more quality shows instead of spread across a bunch of mediocre ones, we can be in a much better place.

    I show my love for anime by wearing it on my sleeve.

    Hi, I’m Lumi, I likeong walks by the beach and magical girls. It’s a nice conversation starter, trust me.

    1. I don’t know – the variety and loose oversight of the business sort of appeals to me. It leands itself to unpredictability. I have a feeling that streamlining into “quality” shows will create the eternal seuqal effect where everything will have a huge budget and so studios won’t take any risks anymore. Only stuff with a preestablished audience will get greenlit.
      That sort of the opposite that happened with the gaming indutry where indi studios sort of took over and you suddenly had the industry much more spread out through a great range of genres and investment levels which gave it new life. In my opinion

      1. I was more talking about the industry of gaming during the 80s, in the video game crash. Around that time, there was no structure to keep quality up, no way for people to know which games would be good or not. After that, the industry decided to introduce more creatives into the higher positions to keep quality up.

        You make a good point about the loose variety being a fun thing, but it also lends itself to a lot of shows being greenlit and thrown at the wall to see if it sticks. Maybe if the industry were more rewarding, this wouldn’t be an issue. However, many workers get taxed mentally and physically for an end product that doesn’t even turn a profit or stable interest.

        1. Maybe. So you wuld favour a more syndicated network type of structure.
          I’m still afraid it would absolutely stiffle the shows I tend to like most which have faithful but comparetively smaller audiences and do not translate well on paper.
          They are also not particularly marjketable as far as game tie-ins or merch so they would definetly be considered low quality.

          1. I guess I would. I am aware of the dangers it poses to stifling creativity, but what I hope for is a healthy rivalry between companies without interfering with the indie scene, much like video games. See Nintendo vs Sony for a healthy structured entertainment model. I don’t have to look for a bunch of different streaming services or yarhar fiddle dee dee. Honestly, I love oddball anime with a niche audience. JoJo was just that until last year.

            Maybe I’m just jaded by all the poor adaptations and unoriginal shows being thrown around.

            1. But then no undertale… No Steins Gate or Fate Stay Night…Maybe my tastes are just weird.
              I mean you can look at sony as a game distribution platform since it doesn’t really create games. A bit like Crunchyroll. While Nintendo would be like netflix original anime?

            2. Something like that yeah.

              No, I wouldn’t say no Undertale (God forbid, I’d die without that good shiz), but true, Sony distributes games, but they’ve at least been very diverse in what they choose to put on their platform.

              Okay, maybe the video game analogy’s a bit flawed, so I’ll drop it,whoops.

              To summarize:

              I think too much anime is bad because the quality of anime doesn’t justify the amount of work being spread out to the staff. There is a lot of burnout all around. I wouldn’t say that less anime is a bad thing. I agree, Seasonal anime is fantastic for picking and choosing what we want. However, this is at the cost of not only overworked staff, but also very poor adaptations getting greenlit because it’s popular in a niche audience but not QUITE popular enough to warrant a bigger budget.

              For every one good anime, you get 3 mediocre ones. Unlike video games, anime doesn’t have a long shelf life, so a lot of anime ends up forgotten by time.

              I guess what I’m saying is I wish it would slow down, because the anime industry will implode if changes aren’t made.

            3. I get you. I’m not sure if less anime is the way to go. I have a sinking feeling we’ll end up with nothing but black clover…But your point makes a lot of sense

            4. You mean the dark days of shounen all day every day?

              Don’t want that either. It just confuses me because the 12-24 episode format is perfect for more quality anime, but they still animate things as they come out instead of taking advantage of the fact they don’t have to animate weekly anymore.

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