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Is Anime Mainstream?

Jack Berry, Managing Editor

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With the mainstreaming of other previously nerdy media (such as superheroes and video games), and the internet and streaming services allowing media and culture from across the world to be viewed at the press of a button, one has to ask what other niches are seeping into pop culture? One of the most prominent contenders is anime, or for those out of the loop, Japanese animation.

While gaining a significant following in its home country of Japan, anime never really caught on in America until the 1980’s and especially the 1990’s with titles such as Dragon Ball Z, Speed Racer, and Astro Boy.

However, only Dragon Ball Z really made it to the mainstream and one show isn’t exactly representative of an entire medium. Over the 2000’s shows such as One Piece, Bleach, and the ever popular Naruto made it to America, but none of these were mainstream and even those who were really interested in these shows didn’t watch much else from the medium. However, then streaming came along…

In 2012 Netflix gained steam, especially with younger audiences who turned to the streaming platform for their entertainment which set the stage for anime to become more popular in the west.

2 shows became featured on Netflix’s streaming service that would become breakout hits for the medium, Sword Art Online and Attack on Titan. Both of these were stories where you felt anyone could be killed off at any time, and with the popularity of shows like The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones and movies like The Hunger Games, it’s not hard to see why these took off. These shows showed western audiences for the first time that anime wasn’t just a thing for kids, or a campy action adventure story. It could be dark or serious and tell great stories too. This and the rise of Crunchyroll, a streaming site dedicated specifically to anime, allowed people to look for similar shows and spread anime farther than it had ever been before. This leads us to today, where shows like One Punch Man and My Hero Academia are becoming popular among the youths, but is it really mainstream?

I’d argue that while anime is steadily gaining more followers, it isn’t mainstream… yet. Anime already has quite a following among teens and young adults, and I think as they get older they’ll remember that and spread it to their kids, and with the popularity of Netflix and it adding many new anime to its service in the near future and making anime-like shows of its own, I think its safe to say soon Naruto may be as popular as Iron Man or Full Metal Alchemist or as well known as Assassin’s Creed.

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You Can't Hide That Falcon Pride!
Is Anime Mainstream?