It’s important that we trace back the history of anime in India to understand its failure as an entertainment source here.
The discontinuation of Animax and Toonami put an end to the budding anime culture in India. Although anime was not available as entertainment on TV, there was an exponential growth in fans throughout the years.
It comes as a surprise that anime is still branded as a cartoon.
Indian animation industry goes way back to 1957 yet nobody recognizes nuances in cultural animation.
The style of animation in anime differs from that of animated shows in India. The themes and cultural representation in anime exposes India to a different culture. Just like television shows with various genres – anime does have different genres aimed at both adults and kids.
But cartoon has become synonymous for any animated show or film here.
Let’s go over the watershed events that took place in this field to get some clarity.
Animax And Cartoon Network
Source: Deviant Art
Animax India was the Indian unit of Anime Asia, a Japanese anime channel owned by Sony and distributed by Sony Pictures Network Pvt. Ltd.
The channel broadcasted a range of anime targeted at 15-25 year olds, which became popular during the 2000s.
Initially in 2004, Animax India began with a 12 hour Hindi feed targeted towards kids from age 7-14 but upon the merging of the programming field with Animax Asia, their programs and demographic changed.
Animax India slowly shifted to subbed anime from English dubbed anime.
By 2012, Animax reverted back to its old logo and focused on anime instead of shows from its sister channel – AXN. Yet the same year, problems started surfacing. #
DTH channel providers started de-listing Animax from its channels due to inability to pay carriage fees.
In 2016, Animax made it back as a television channel. Sadly, it ceased broadcasting in India on April 18th, 2017. Sony Yay, a kids’ channel, replaced it. Currently, Animax is accessible through a Sony LIV premium account.
Toonami was the kids’ programming block of Cartoon Network.
Turner International India owned Cartoon Network and in turn, Toonami as well. In 2015, Turner International India launched a separate channel called Toonami which was another destination for anime fans.
It aired anime such as Inzauma Eleven and Dragon Ball Z. Toonami discontinued on 15th May, 2018 leaving no space for anime on television.
Today, Indian anime is available on digital streaming platforms such as Netflix, Prime Video and Crunchyroll.
Reasons Behind The Decline
The significance of understanding why Animax was not successful is a dire one. With more clarity on its decline, we can work on the solution for more accessibility of anime in India.
- Animax’s failure to pay its carriage fees to DTH channel providers is due to the fact that it had low TRP.
- The low TRP is due to the lack of good marketing and commercial advertisements on part of Sony.
- Animax was misjudged as a kids’ channel and therefore, the adult content gathered some concerns from the society.
- Sony wanted to indulge in the hot market for kids television. They replaced Animax with Sony Yay – a kids’ channel.
- Animax got shifted to a digital platform because it was aimed at a tech savvy crowd.
- The confusion of anime with cartoon can be attributed to its lack of popularity.
- Broadcasters preferred to put original content rather than just fill programming blocks.
Solutions going forward:
- With growing social media groups and exposure to anime through Netflix and Prime Video, the market for anime has grown. Animax Asia must be informed of the massive market in India. It is a step to bring anime in India.
- Petitions can be made for upcoming Studio Ghibli and anime films to release in India. This progress would work two ways – show Japan it has a market in India and also, introduce people to anime on a broader scale.
- Just like Adult Swim, Channels can have an adult programming block which would differentiate anime from cartoons directed at kids.
- Anime didn’t gain as much popularity here as the rest of the world due to misconception regarding it. Bad Marketing is also to blame.
- We can try to gain the attention of distributors such as Sony Entertainment Pvt. Ltd in making Animax or their premium account more accessible to their targeted audience.
Progress Through The Years
There has been considerable improvement in attempts to bring anime to India. We can see Influencers like @dancing_kitteh_ from Filter Copy try to spread awareness about anime and Japanese culture.
#IndiaWantsAnime movement created by animate_dubbers and KnowSenpai has gained international recognition.
#IndiaWantsAnime began with a petition to bring Makoto Shinkai’s upcoming film Weathering with You to India and garnered response from the production crew of the film and Makoto Shinkai himself.
BIG NEWS : Guys we did it! It has been confirmed that “Tenki no ko” will release in India! More details will be disclosed on Monday!
Thank to EACH AND EVERY one of you of this small community for making this happen!
This is our win!#indiawantsanime #senpaiknows pic.twitter.com/IHfMmQesPP
— knowSenpai (@KnowSenpai) August 8, 2019
Currently, the movement wishes to be a stepping stone to bring anime to India.
What are your thoughts?
I’m an avid fan of anime, Marvel, DC. Most of the time, you’ll find me playing my Ukulele and singing songs. Action Figurines, manga and cosplays are enough to grab my attention.