Back in the day, the consensus as to what is and isn’t anime was clear. If it was an animated show or movie produced in Japan, it was anime. If it was made anywhere else, it wasn’t. There were shows that had anime aesthetics, such as ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’, which have sparked years of debate. But the general agreement was that, while they had the look, they weren’t anime.
This mentality was brought on by one simple factor: rarity. Ten years ago, anime was much harder to get your hands on. People often forget that, before the streaming era, getting a proper, official translation for a series was often rare. Thus, people became a lot more stingy in regards to what ‘counted’. It was a niche, and people became extremely attached to it.
But times have changed. The market for anime has expanded to an insane degree thanks to the streaming era. New fans are introduced to anime every day thanks to Crunchyroll and even Netflix! With this new, ever growing influx of popularity, more and more big studios from around the world outside of Japan have started to take notice.
Take RWBY for example. Despite being an almost entirely 3D show, many people consider it to be one of the first true western anime series. Sure, its popularity has dwindled over the years. But it still holds a prestigious place in the hearts of many anime fans.
But RWBY still came out in a more controversial time. The western scene of anime still had a lot of room to grow. Luckily, it continued to grow and grow.
Netflix’s Castlevania series is another prime example. It shares in the traditional anime aesthetic, this time in the more traditional 2D style. It does help that it’s adapting a classic Japanese video game series. But the large majority of the staff is undeniably western.
Now, I haven’t gone very deep into the scenes elsewhere across the world, like China or Thailand. From the little I’ve seen, they seem to be going in a very similar direction to the west. They too are embracing the now iconic aesthetic of Japanese animation.
It isn’t just the loo, either. Part of anime’s unique charm is the storytelling behind them. They have a level of creative insanity that no other medium has. Whether it be an action-adventure series or a slice-of-life drama, anime has something so indescribably unique to it. And that’s been leaking over to other areas of the world as well.
Granted, it is far from a flawless style of storytelling. Most anime, especially long-running series, are based on comics published chapter-by-chapter every week. Often times, the authors behind them aren’t prepared for the story to last for as long as they do. As such, the plots can be poorly thought out, filled with retcons, and loaded with inconsistent characters.
Despite being a problem, it is part of the charm. And other countries are just as eager to keep up.
Once again, look at RWBY. It focuses primarily on giving the audience an exciting display of action a few times per season. But the plot, characters, and even the setting are very poorly thought out, and just as poorly executed. Just like a lot of Shounen shows!
There’s a reason we describe anime as trash. But we still enjoy it regardless.
Back in the day, it was very black and white. If it wasn’t Japanese, it wasn’t anime. But times have changed. Anime is bigger than it’s ever been, and the market is growing along with it. The number of consumers has exploded. And with it, the number of creators across the world making it has grown to accommodate.
Anime is no longer an exclusively Japanese thing. If it has the look and soul of anime, then it is anime. Where it comes from no longer matters.