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Old 2013-04-11, 20:18   Link #1
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Under what circumstances is anime accepted by a more mainstream audience?

Niche entertainment has been known to blow up beyond it's immediate audience (adult dodgeball leagues, hip-hop music, to name a couple) What will it take for anime to be as common as other media?
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Old 2013-04-11, 20:33   Link #2
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For everyone's attitude to change regarding cartoons, which is never.
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Old 2013-04-11, 20:35   Link #3
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For everyone's attitude to change regarding cartoons, which is never.
You sure? Cartoons blew up among 20-somethings recently. Adventure Time, Regular Show, and any given Seth Macfarlane series are all examples.
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Old 2013-04-11, 20:41   Link #4
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What's the viewer %?

At least top the three 'Simpsons', Sazae-san, Doreamon and Chibi Maruko
18-25%.
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Old 2013-04-11, 20:45   Link #5
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I would argue that creators have to treat their audience with respect if they expect to get any in return.

An anime has mainstream appeal if it touches on universal themes that can be enjoyed by anyone regardless of the medium of storytelling. Studio Ghibli's animated movies are a prime example of this.

An anime that make full use of its strengths as a storytelling medium is as likely to catch people's attention is any other non-traditional form of mainstream entertainment (like video games, for example, which are also emerging as a platform for telling very compelling stories).

And by the above, I mean anime that seeks to exploit to the fullest its unique capacity for presenting ideas and emotions in abstract. Anime that seeks to be realistic, oddly enough, is likely to fail. Why make a cartoon then? Make a live-action movie or drama series instead.
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Old 2013-04-11, 20:59   Link #6
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Part of the problem is that saying "anime" is like saying "tv". If I show you a random series like Pokemon or Madoka or TTGL, you've learned almost nothing about "anime", only those three series.

Specific series with concepts and topics that already appeal to mainstream WOULD probably do well.

Toradora and Love Complex are pretty classic rom-coms ala Cary Grant/Audrey Hepburn. They've done well when I've shown them to non-anime people.
Strawberry Marshmallow, several non-anime women thought the series was darling.
K-On! is a coming-of-age and bonding story, a regular afterschool special.

As for the "cartoon" problem - that's more of a problem for older people and that portion of society that don't get much of anything - the "muggles". Those people who work in a pointless job, go home and eat pre-processed food, then watch American Idol and Inside Edition sitting passively on their couch. They usually make fun of anyone who does something different.

Screw them.
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Old 2013-04-11, 21:02   Link #7
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The problem is that anime itself is made for a Japanese audience, and even then, the Japanese view on cartoons is basically "crap for kids and perverted men". Even Ghibli isn't exactly "mainstream" here.

And lazy bums (as Vexx said, "the muggles") do make up a huge part of American society...people don't want to think about what they are watching; they want fast food entertainment.
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Old 2013-04-11, 21:45   Link #8
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I don't know, you guys are right but then I see shows that are so broad in subject like Psycho Pass, or even Haruhi that anybody would enjoy within reason.

It just sucks that people see the style, or some of the usual anime tropes (common ones that we're used to) and turn away. Anime has some genuinely great programs but we're [fans] the only ones who know.
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Old 2013-04-11, 21:46   Link #9
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Originally Posted by Write View Post
Niche entertainment has been known to blow up beyond it's immediate audience (adult dodgeball leagues, hip-hop music, to name a couple) What will it take for anime to be as common as other media?
The better question: Why would you ever want "mainstream media" to even ever take up the Animu? It'd only ruin the medium.
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Old 2013-04-11, 21:51   Link #10
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Pretty much what happened with hip hop. 90's hip hop is awesome. Now...uh...hahahah...no.
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Old 2013-04-11, 21:52   Link #11
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Pretty much what happened with hip hop. 90's hip hop is awesome. Now...uh...hahahah...no.
Truth, it's coming back though but it's kind of niche again lol. Nothing was accomplished if you think about it.
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Old 2013-04-11, 22:09   Link #12
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The better question: Why would you ever want "mainstream media" to even ever take up the Animu? It'd only ruin the medium.
That's a somewhat silly question. It's like asking why we would want video games to be "mainstream". Video games have come a long way from its earliest days as 8-bit or even text-only products, when only the "nerdiest of the nerdy" would love them. Triple-A titles today rival Hollywood movies in terms of scale, budget and presentation, and have become much more sophisticated products as a result.

The more you enjoy a product, the more you would want as many people as possible to enjoy it like you do. That's only natural. Why would I want to deliberately keep something niche? That smacks of elitism, which isn't wrong in itself, but it's worth asking why anime should be so "exclusive" a product that only the "special few" should be allowed to enjoy it.

In the end, it's quality that counts. You don't change the attitudes of your audience by insulting them for "poor taste". The onus is on creators to change market opinion rather than bitch about it.

Last edited by TinyRedLeaf; 2013-04-11 at 22:20.
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Old 2013-04-11, 22:26   Link #13
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Seeing anime on tv cable like Toonami, DVDs being sold at such diverse places like Best Buy and Walmart and the fact that bookstores were still around last decade is about as mainstream as anime will ever get.
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Old 2013-04-11, 22:30   Link #14
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Seeing anime on tv cable like Toonami, DVDs being sold at such diverse places like Best Buy and Walmart and the fact that bookstores were still around last decade is about as mainstream as anime will ever get.
Right, if anything the mainstream appeal is declining seeing as Toonami's return landed it at a MIDNIGHT slot of all times. Like...come on that isn't even fair.
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Old 2013-04-12, 00:20   Link #15
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For anime to go mainstream in more non-Asian nations, the "face" of it would have to change somewhat, and some of its content offerings would need to reflect that changing face.

The "face" that's already there can largely/entirely remain, but the face of a more modern Spike Spiegel, and a more modern Major Motoko Kusanagi, would need to become important added parts of "the face" of anime. And then those faces would need to represent actual anime shows that can become gateway shows for new audiences.

But... the likelihood of this happening anytime soon is very, very slim, imo. And it's completely out of the hands of any of us here right now (well, unless somebody here actually has close contact with those inside the upper echelons of the modern anime industry in Japan).

Since it's completely out of our hands, I personally have little interest in discussing it. If it happens, great. If it doesn't, I'll continue to enjoy what I can of this niche entertainment medium, and hopefully "what I can" will include at least a few shows each season (which thankfully has been the case for most seasons over the past few years).


I don't know enough about Japan to hazard a guess of what would make anime go more mainstream in Japan itself.
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Old 2013-04-12, 01:12   Link #16
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Originally Posted by GDiddy View Post
Seeing anime on tv cable like Toonami, DVDs being sold at such diverse places like Best Buy and Walmart and the fact that bookstores were still around last decade is about as mainstream as anime will ever get.
I've seen an entire two sections of movie modular dedicated entirely to anime at WalMart before. Two whole sections of nothing but anime (that doesn't sound like much, but for our store it basically got the same space as other sections). It was there for a couple months, even. It's not the most popular thing there ever was by any means, but it's not exactly a quiet industry.

As the number of anime conventions and conventions in which anime has a place grows, it becomes increasingly difficult to claim that it's not popular. Anime and JRPGs also tend to mesh, and many JRPG players have watched anime and vice verse. I don't feel like I can use my local area as a point of reference, as for some strange reason I don't have to actively seek out other anime lovers to find them because I just keep running into them.

Honestly, I think we often underestimate the popularity of this industry in the U.S. If I were to pick any one limitation to the popularity, it's that this industry doesn't really exist in this country. This industry is an import. If we had hundreds of studios producing large quantities of anime in English, for our own markets, you can bet it would be a much bigger thing. Essentially, it would be video games (which is a great comparison for the anime industry).
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Old 2013-04-12, 01:34   Link #17
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The better question: Why would you ever want "mainstream media" to even ever take up the Animu? It'd only ruin the medium.
Pretty much this. I don't mind a more mainstream anime for "normal" people here and there, but many of anime's appeals come from its focus on certain niche audiences.

Quote:
Originally Posted by TinyRedLeaf View Post
That's a somewhat silly question. It's like asking why we would want video games to be "mainstream". Video games have come a long way from its earliest days as 8-bit or even text-only products, when only the "nerdiest of the nerdy" would love them. Triple-A titles today rival Hollywood movies in terms of scale, budget and presentation, and have become much more sophisticated products as a result.

The more you enjoy a product, the more you would want as many people as possible to enjoy it like you do. That's only natural. Why would I want to deliberately keep something niche? That smacks of elitism, which isn't wrong in itself, but it's worth asking why anime should be so "exclusive" a product that only the "special few" should be allowed to enjoy it.
Video games (and consequently, anime) getting more accepted by the mainstream isn't all a good thing. Sure, you get bigger budgets and more detailed graphics, but those aren't the most important parts of a game.

Several recent AAA game titles have been the subject of scorn from the gaming community for their extreme efforts to reach broader audiences. You get many claims that large game publishers (like EA and Activision) are dumbing down their franchises for the lowest common denominator (sometimes called the Call of Duty audience). Hardcore fans feel alienated by game developers who simplify or change game mechanics or aesthetics to apparently copy off of successful games with easier gameplay.

And let's not forget fiascos such as the recent release of SimCity 2013 which not only had a draconian always-online DRM implementation for its single player mode, but was completely unplayable for the first week by the majority of its paying customers due to server problems. The game itself has a multitude of problems that are absent in previous SimCity games, such as absurdly small city sizes (you might as well call it SimVillage), lack of terraforming options, and traffic errors. The main reason Maxis/EA released such a weak game was because they thought that most of the huge audience they marketed it to would buy it regardless of details. And they were right; the game was a large success in sales. This was followed by countless complaints from paying customers who couldn't play the game they were supposed to own and couldn't get a refund. This would almost never happen with a small game franchise dedicated to a niche audience.

Of course I want the anime I love to be appreciated by a wide audience. But at the same time, I want them to appreciate them for what they are, and I don't want to see the medium as a whole sanitized for the typical frat boy or 40-year-old woman. If it isn't possible to expand the audience without dramatically changing the medium, then I'm fine with anime's limited audience. As much as your typical generic harem and romantic comedy tick me off, I'd gladly let them stay if I could keep my adorable cute girls, school uniforms, and iyashikei slice-of-life shows.
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Old 2013-04-12, 01:39   Link #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Traece View Post
I've seen an entire two sections of movie modular dedicated entirely to anime at WalMart before. Two whole sections of nothing but anime (that doesn't sound like much, but for our store it basically got the same space as other sections). It was there for a couple months, even. It's not the most popular thing there ever was by any means, but it's not exactly a quiet industry.
I've heard this from a significant number of people online now, so I don't doubt that it's true for many a WalMart. However, I've also read about how bad anime DVD/Blu-Ray sales have been in America, so it honestly boggles my mind. Something doesn't quite add up here.

If anime DVD/Blu-Rays aren't selling, then why does WalMart so often stock a lot of them? Or if they are selling, then why is there not more reports of this? Why did the American marketplace for anime DVD/Blu-Rays implode?
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Old 2013-04-12, 03:01   Link #19
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Marketing.

I don't think they just knew how to really appeal to western audiences when trying to sell them over here, though this also has to do with the fact that certain shows aren't going to be doing well here, so they can't just send everything over.

But really, polish and presentation matters a lot. That is why you can sell turds and disguise it as food (McDonalds, etc....) So I'm sure they could spin anime in a way to appeal to big crowds. And of course one can look at professional wrestling, which everyone knows is scripted and arguably just as ridiculous as certain anime, but people watched it anyways because it was entertaining and "cool". Point is, if a geriatric wearing yellow and red "fighting" in a ring against people half his age and people still are willing to watch it and treat him as a pop culture icon, well, I'm sure they can do something for anime, at least more than right now.

Of course, I live in a country where people cry when they see a nipple, so... honestly the work's cut out for them.
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Old 2013-04-12, 03:04   Link #20
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I think a lot of people have touched on the key points that I would echo. I think that nowadays people in general are not so afraid of the anime art style (in a broad sense), as it's been around enough now that most people (at least from certain age groups/demographics) will get it. But the most important thing to remember is that, whether it's in Japan or wherever else, anime is in competition with popular culture, and people have limited time to take in entertainment. And, by the way, "popular culture" has a much higher budget and reach (media presence) than anime ever will.

For example, I personally don't have Cable/Satellite TV or Netflix (etc.), and am basically ignorant of most of the new American TV shows I hear people raving about. I hear that a lot of shows are very well-produced and engaging, and I bet I'd probably enjoy it. Likewise, there are a lot of videogames out there these days that are extremely well-produced and engaging in all sorts of genres. Nevermind all the other sorts of pass-times I could have. All these things and more are potentially in competition for my time and attention, and they're using the power of the media and word of mouth to try to get my attention. The only reason I'm here is because I basically turned most of that other "noise" off, and i found in the past that there were things I found in anime that I didn't find in popular culture.

For anime to really go "mainstream" you'd have to first answer the question in reverse: what sorts of content/stories that would appeal to a mainstream audience are best told as anime? Given that most people have a more natural acceptance of cinema, and a still-engrained view that "cartoons are for children", you're left with a pretty narrow list of cases where it's worth the effort to overcome the trends, or where your specific audience is more likely to accept it. So that's why things like the Halo Anthology, Afro Samurai, and so on actually do sell well to as-close-to "American mainstream" as you can get. It has the anime aesthetic, but is linked directly with popular culture (popular franchise, popular actor, etc.) and is targeted specifically at an age group/demographic most likely to accept it. It's not trying to take Japanese culture (particular niche culture) and make it mainstream elsewhere.

(By the way, I used the American market as the example, but I think the same basic principles generally apply in many other countries. Local popular culture tends to trump imported culture, except maybe for Hollywood with its huge budget and reach.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
If anime DVD/Blu-Rays aren't selling, then why does WalMart so often stock a lot of them? Or if they are selling, then why is there not more reports of this? Why did the American marketplace for anime DVD/Blu-Rays implode?
It's not so much how much stock they have on the shelves, it's more how fresh/complete is their inventory. There have been a lot of anime SKUs over the last ~10 years, so even if they tried to keep just one of each title, they'd easily fill that much space. (How many of the shows have been sitting there for years and they can't get rid of it?) And it's not like nobody buys anime at all any more... but there's still considerably less money to be made compared to years back. Shows used to get released as singles (3-4 episodes/disc for ~$30 each or more), and now are released as boxsets from just a bit more than the single used to be (usually $40 for the box). So in order to keep selling enough volume to warrant the store shelves, they had to cut the price dramatically compared to the "boom days". Even if they theoretically sold the same quantity per SKU, the gross revenue is much lower.



Incidentally, I did a search to look for previous similar threads, and I found one interesting one from nine years ago that gives an interesting perspective from back when things were still on the up-and-up.

One random ironic post:
Quote:
Originally Posted by CC Ricers View Post
You can get DVD sets of Family Guy and The Simpsons at $40 for over 25 episodes. The day that legitimate anime becomes that cheap is the day that it is mainstream.
Or it was decided that this was the only way retailers could sell enough product to give it shelf space in the first place. Ah the benefit of hindsight...

(Of course, now you have some distributors going the other way, but they have a big benefit: 100% online distribution means bypassing traditional retail completely.)


Other threads...

"What is mainstream anime?"
http://forums.animesuki.com/showthread.php?t=113046

"Why shows like Baccano, Samurai Champloo etc. not produced anymore?"
http://forums.animesuki.com/showthread.php?t=111442

(The latter may not seem directly related, but it touches on why the industry isn't producing more shows that are generally considered more friendly to Western markets.)
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