This week I am exploring my initial and present reflection of the popular Asian cinematic genre, Anime. During the current pandemic, my sibling and I have been exploring different genres in streaming services, which has led to me watching Anime series on Netflix. Anime originally came from the English word “animation” (Japan Info 2015), is a Japanese cartoon and has been very popular and influential in Asia from the 1980s to the present (Wai-ming 2002).
From my perspective in Australia, Anime is considered a niche interest in western cultures. However, since my progressing interest in Anime, I have realised that my reflection may be false and that Anime is not to be considered a niche at all. This makes me raise the question of how popular Anime is in western cultures? How popular is Anime in Asia? What digital transactions are involved within the Anime universe?
Within western cultures, Anime in the past has been considered a niche market due to its lack of access. As explained in the ‘Artifice’ (2017), Anime never officially made it outside of Japan and could only be found on bootleg versions, streaming services, with fan subtitles. However, as its popularity grew and the rise of the digital age advanced, streaming services such as ‘Crunchyroll’ and ‘Animelab’ have created an easy-to-use streaming service with affordable access. For example, ‘Crunchyroll’ has accumulated 20 million subscribers since it was founded in 2006, and shows no sign of slowing down (Artifice 2017). This has enabled the viewing and access of Anime more seamless in western cultures, and with some subscriptions fees, it has created a successful financial transaction towards Asia.
In contrast, Anime is a booming form of entertainment in Asia, especially China. According to Quintinio (2020), China is the top country where anime is most popular because of its 1.40 billion population density and strong economy that rivals the U.S, makes Anime viewership 81% in China.
The culture surrounding Anime in Asia is a lot more expansive compared to western countries, for it has sub-cultures such as comic café (manga kissha), comic rental, dojinshi (amateurish manga) and cosplay (costume play). These sub-cultures have penetrated the consumer culture in major Asian cities (Wai-ming 2002, p. 1).
Some Anime further pushes economic gain through promotional displays of different products or services in their stories (Wai-ming 2002, p. 1).
This financial success continues to increase alongside the social transactions involved with Anime. With this culture comes large fanbases which leads to social transactions online and in-person through conventions. Anime conventions are large gatherings that may take place over a period of days, in order for fans of anime and manga to show their passion and dedication, including talk panels, displays of cosplay and merchandise (Japan Info 2015).
Although the popularity of Anime is continuing to increase in western cultures, it is not near the substantial scale of popularity within Asia. Considering its continuing growth of popularity, Anime may no longer be considered a niche within western cultures within the next couple of years and will continue its success globally.
AGMacdonald 2017, ‘Why Western Culture is Beginning to Embrace Anime’, The Artifice, weblog post, 7 August, viewed 27 August 2021, < https://the-artifice.com/western-culture-embrace-anime/>.
Funimation 2019, Excited One Piece GIF, image, GIPHY, viewed 27 August 2021, <Excited One Piece GIF by Funimation – Find & Share on GIPHY>.
Japan Info 2015, How Has Japanese Anime Influenced the World?, Japan Info, viewed 27 August 2021, < https://jpninfo.com/31964>.
Quintinio, M 2020, ‘Top 10 Countries where Anime is Most Popular and Why!’, Epic Dope, weblog post, 22 September, viewed 27 August 2021, < https://www.epicdope.com/top-10-countries-where-anime-is-most-popular-and-why/>.
Wai-ming, N 2002, ‘The Impact of Japanese Comics and Animation in Asia’, Journal of Japanese Trade & Industry, vol. 1, pp. 1-4.
2 thoughts on “Anime and Asian Digital Cinema”
Reblogged this on Digital Asia.
Hey Kirsty! I thoroughly enjoyed reading through your blog post about anime and digital cinema. I agree that the rise of technology and the digital age has helped this type of content reach new audiences outside of Japan. Antique (2019) states that “more efficient devices and compressed audiovisual formats enabled faster data transfers that saw the Internet become the major conduit for the circulation of intangible goods”. I’d say that the internet and the availability of streaming services have encouraged Western cultures to engage with Anime and digital cinema from Asia. But still, like you said, anime in Asia is a lot more expensive compared to western countries. Nevertheless, there is still an amazing opportunity for fans of anime to share their interests and engage with other fans on the internet (eg. fan accounts on social media).