The Current State of Anime

With the explosion of anime’s popularity, the market for Japanese animation is ever-expanding. Subsequently, anime as an art form has become more accepted. The new trend is likely due to audiences’ increasing appetite for entertainment that is unique and expressive. 

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Animation studios in Japan, such as Mappa and Wit, analyze internet fan bases and plan the release of projects accordingly. The western audience presents an opportunity for these companies to reach new heights in revenue. This makes them eager to launch higher-quality productions. In general, the last wave of productions, as well as upcoming ones, are slowly being recognized and garnering publicity.

The leading genre in the anime industry, shonen, is pioneered by animators like the aforementioned Studio Mappa. Shonen is an action-adventure anime that originally targeted young boys but is now enjoyed by a wide viewer base. 

Mappa has taken over long-running shows including the highly popular series that will finish this year, Attack on Titan. The studio will also release the second season of the highly acclaimed supernatural battle anime, Jujutsu Kaisen. The Mappa trifecta is completed with the newly released Chainsaw Man, which is arguably the studio’s crowning achievement in terms of animation, story, score, and voice acting. However, these three shows are only a drop in the bucket compared to the ambitious schedule Mappa has planned for the rest of 2023. 

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Regardless of genre, high-performing animes tend to bring a fresh perspective to animation styles that already saturate the industry. Shows like Mob Psycho 100 are able to top the charts by focusing the animation on fluidity in the characters and environment. 

A cartoon-like aesthetic saves money and time for a team of animators, but more importantly, makes a show stand out. Another success that contrasts Mob Psycho’s light humor and cast is Cyberpunk: Edgerunners Studio Trigger. The show similarly uses a broad color palette but has a much more violent and grittier theme by far. Edgerunners exemplifies the potential that anime has in popularizing other forms of media. It was adapted as the TV version of the Cyberpunk game and seemingly revived the hype around the original series overnight.

Finally, there is the impact of Blue Lock, which is an anime about soccer players training to become the best in the world. Blue Lock became culturally significant due to its close release to the World Cup, and thus cornered a nearly untouched audience of sports anime fans.

The common denominator in the success of these anime is their expressive nature and extremely talented animators. The modern studios manage to take a form of media that was once labeled as bizarre and garner popularity for it that competes with traditional live-action television.

Written by Thomas Bell

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