I’m sure we all heard the ‘news’ (if you can call it that). Not one, but but THREE Hollywood Celebrities in the past week alone have confessed their love for anime.
That’s right. We have everyone’s imaginary boyfriend, Michael B Jordan professing his love for the Naruto series, John Boyega naming his favourite series as Bleach and Hunter x Hunter; and the most talked about of all, Kim Kardashian has been watching Darling in The FranXX. Does that mean that anime is for more than the basement dwelling nerds? Could it be that anime is…dare I say it, cool?
I got into anime reasonably late, in comparison to a lot of fans. Whilst there are a lot of fans that grew up with anime, and then naturally progressed into the genre and branched out as they learnt their stuff, I had a good period of about 5 years where I didn’t even think it existed. Sure, I watched Bleach (which I just found out ended in 2012!), but I was barely even conscious that this was an anime. I had it branded with the same brush as Xiaolin Showdown, which was the other cartoon I watched weekly growing up. Therefore, I never had the experience of ‘hiding’ my interest in anime, and never really knew the extent of people feeling ashamed of their hobby, so my view on this subject may differ to someone who did experience this.
With that being said, anime was still a niche when I got into anime in 2014 with the explosion of ‘Attack on Titan’s’ popularity. It certainly wasn’t unheard of for someone to like anime, but it was definitely still associated with a certain type of person, shall we say. Yet, when Attack on Titan was released, this all seemed to be forgotten. Everyone was watching it. Your crush, the pretty girl you saw at work, the big guy at the gym…there didn’t seem to be any discrimination in who was watching it. One can argue, in this case, that anime hasn’t ‘become’ cool with Kim Kardashian’s endorsement, but has actually been cool to an extent for a few years now. After all, this cross-over into mainstream culture has been repeated a few times after Attack on Titan’s success, One Punch Man, Erased and Your Name making waves throughout the anime community and beyond.
Even before this, even if someone wasn’t an anime fan per-se, you’d be hard pressed to find someone who wasn’t at least aware of shows such as Naruto and Dragon Ball. To this day, I’ve never seen a single Dragon Ball episode. Yet, I – along with a big chunk of the popularity – am well aware as to what ‘going Super Saiyan’ means. Surely an anime reference being so embedded into normal pop culture means that anime has been ‘popular’ to an extent for a long time?
That’s my thoughts on the matter, at least. Anime has never ‘not’ been mainstream, in my opinion. Sure, you might have to dig a little deeper to find people who will admit to watching High School DxD, but as a general, I’d argue that anime is probably on the same level of niche as science fiction TV shows. Star Trek is a show that has an intense and large following, and often gets shunned for being ‘nerdy’ and ‘uncool’. However, would we argue that Star Trek is neither popular or mainstream because of this?
What do you guys think of the recent ‘surge’ in anime popularity? I’d love to know your thoughts!
Until next time!