Why the Anime Industry Needs Otaku to Survive

  • Below is one question that may be faced by a huge ‘NO WAY!’ from fans considering the decent number of new and ongoing anime releases this 2015. Not to mention the fact that there are still many long running series that have a huge fan base in and outside Japan.


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    If we take a look at anime production in general, we could say it’s still in good shape. But following the recent industry reports featuring the decline on sales in a number of Anime Studios, the question as to how long anime can hold its ground comes as inevitable.

    When it comes to the success ratings in disc sales for instance, Anime News Network published a vivid tabular presentation showing how successful studios are in selling their works in a span of 10 years (2005-2014). The result showed a bigger number of those belonging to the least successful ones (15 studios), fueling more questions as to whether or not anime is nearing its end.

    Experts’ View

    It doesn’t help that notable anime creators like Hayao Miyazaki (Spirited Away) and Hideaki Anno (Neon Genesis Evangelion) seemed to be on the same page when it comes to expressing their views on how “Japanese animation is in decline” with factors like the growing number of “otakus” contributing to the suffering of the industry.

    But is the current anime culture really numbered? Interest and impact-wise, it may not. Many countries from all over the world are now investing on their own animation business. The real question would be: Will the Japanese animation business survive in the next couple of years?

    What Exactly is an OTAKU?

    While Mr. Miyazaki expressed his views about otakus, it’s also important to draw a clear line on the very definition of the term and how different cultures define it. In Japan, this term is considered as a taboo, with it’s popular association to habits or lifestyle that involves staying at home most of the time and avoiding any social interactions with people.

    In short, otakus are viewed as people who are so obsessed with one thing so much that they prefer to stay only within the confines of their homes.

    Westerners however, and perhaps other nationalities in Asia, may have a different connotation on the term. Apart from those habits like hoarding anime-related stuff, which are usually associated with otakus, people who are critical and mindful in watching anime, join intellectual forums and discussions online can also be included in this group.

    Instead of being antisocial, anime discussions have opened up a new avenue for viewers from different cultures to discuss subliminal meanings behind a series’ message, debate on certain points raised in an episode and even discuss potential ideas on how the story will end.

    So why does this industry need otakus?

    First, they contribute to the huge number of sales in various anime merchandise starting with the DVDs. And let’s face it. When it comes to business, sales matter.

    As long as there is a clear and profitable market to keep this industry going, then producers will have reasons to continue providing quality shows.

    Second, avid anime fans are the most active entities when it comes to engaging with other people from all over the world pertaining to anime-related stuff. Studios can create a knockout ad about their upcoming anime installment, but it is those otakus who spread the word to all media platforms they’re engaged in.

    And it doesn’t just stop with sharing recent updates through social media platforms. Many viewers specifically blog about it and share it with their friends, who then share the post with even more friends. Before you know it, the word has already spread like wildfire!

    Third, because in one way or another, the creation process of a full series has learned to draw inspiration from the very people whom it considers as its market. For an anime to be popular, it has to pique the viewer’s interest and somehow reach their emotions. And for creators to do this, market observation is a crucial point.

    Yes, market competition and changes in trends are putting more pressure on what is already a tough business in the entertainment industry. But with continued support from avid viewers, Japan’s animation will strive.

    It’s just like a ruler in one kingdom. Japan anime may be seen as a leader on its league. But without its people, the kingdom will fall in no time. Now, we wouldn’t want to see that, do we? So cheer up! There’s still a long way to go!

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