Anime now!

How is Ja­panese an­i­ma­tion hold­ing up in 2016? An­drew Os­mond sur­veys the field and finds ag­ing su­per­heroes, hun­gry gi­ants and Ping Pong champs

ImagineFX - - Contents -

Ja­panese an­i­ma­tion in 2016: ag­ing su­per­heroes, hun­gry gi­ants and Ping Pong champs.

round a quar­ter cen­tury has passed since Neo-Tokyo ex­ploded in Akira. That’s when Ja­panese an­i­ma­tion be­came a

thing around the world, in that peo­ple be­came aware of it be­yond a hand­ful of fans. Many of you read­ing this will have grown up in that in­ter­val, get­ting into anime through Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, Death Note or Ghi­bli. In the same pe­riod, anime has evolved with new trends, styles and hits – al­though it’s du­bi­ous to talk of hits in such a niche mar­ket.

Be­cause anime niche, and has be­come even more so in the frag­mented me­di­a­verse of the 2010s. Most anime la­belled “anime” abroad weren’t made for Ja­panese cine­mas or prime-time view­ing. They were made for

A grave­yard TV slots in the small hours, get­ting about 0.4 per cent of Ja­pan’s TV au­di­ence. Even Naruto, which plays at 7.30 in the evening in Ja­pan, would strug­gle to get five per cent of TV view­ers.

The only true anime block­busters are some of Hayao Miyazaki’s films re­leased by Stu­dio Ghi­bli. Spir­ited Away was Ja­pan’s top cin­ema release ever (do­mes­tic or for­eign) for more than a decade af­ter it opened in 2001. But Hayao has re­tired, at least from fea­ture films. The same seems true of Ghi­bli it­self, though Bri­tain will pre­sum­ably get the stu­dio’s last nonMiyazaki film, When Marnie was There, based on a Bri­tish kids’ ghost story. In Ja­pan, Spir­ited Away was sup­planted as the top release by Dis­ney’s Frozen.

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