When people hear the word anime, many tend to think about cartoons such as Doraemon or Fullmetal Alchemist or famous movies like Your Name or A Silent Voice. In truth, there is a huge gap between these two categories. The illustration, the music, and the main idea all differ greatly. The cause of this difference in style can be traced back to historical trends in the genre of anime.
Criticism from audiences has shaped the way anime has evolved. The production technology artists now have also affects the ability to make complicated scenes and enhance the quality of the videos.
Anime published before 2006 were focused on glorious battle scenes. Series like Saint Seiya and Neon Genesis Evangelion are perfect examples of the action-oriented trend. However, because they are so good, other anime could not surpass them in quality and popularity, and so companies began to aim for a different style of story and art.
In 2006, the release of The Familiar of Zero opened the generation of “Harem Anime” (or anime where the main character has multiple girls that are in love with him). From 2006 to 2011, producers focused on making all kinds of Harem Anime, making plots that both mirrored society and offered possible alternatives to our reality. Famous anime such as White Album 2 or Clannad were all published during this period.
In 2012, a reign of terror struck the anime industry. The series Infinity Stratos, (also known as “IS”) broke a jaw-dropping record: the sale of 33,813 blu-ray DVDs. Most anime series up to that point had sold around 3,000 copies. However, IS has a ridiculous plot and relatively bland settings. For example, in other similar anime, the main character is always the the star of the show when it comes to battle scenes, but in IS, it’s not the main character who beats the antagonist, it’s a few of his girlfriends – who barely need the main character’s help at all.
The problem is, IS is not very good. Still, in spite of IS’s reign of terror, some fabulous anime were also released in 2012. Sword Art Online, Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day, and Angel Beats were all giants published that same year. Certainly, all of these would qualify as Harem Anime, but because of the overproduction of this genre, people started to get fed up.
This dissatisfaction really broke out in 2014. Suddenly, popular anime were all centered around girls, and Harem Anime were given negative reviews. In response, anime like Is the Order a Rabbit?, Love Live!, and Fate: Kaleid Liner all showed the rise of “yuri”, or stories about the love lives of girls from all walks of life.
Harem Anime and “Yuri Anime” are the two main competitors in the market now, while the action packed battle scenes take a backseat to drama and romance. Audiences now want to see plots that allow them to put themselves inside the narrative and become one of the characters, which explains the lack of battle scenes.
Audiences from different generations have various preferences about anime, which leads the changing trends in the industry. These trends also show us the potential for change in people’s minds. Before, Yuri Anime was exceedingly hard to find, but now that society accepts homosexuality more, Yuri Anime have proliferated. This trend brings the acceptance of homosexual activity to a wider audience which, one could argue, makes the world a better place. The ultimate direction of the anime trend still remains unknown, but the positive energy the art form can bring to society is clear.