Superman. Batman. Spider-Man. And dozens of other western comics have hit it big in terms of film sales, popularity and overall success.
There isn’t a single person on the planet who doesn’t know about the above comics.
Even adults these days know about (and even love) western comics. Because they don’t see it as something designed only for children.
It’s more than that.
This is especially true when you consider characters like The Joker from Batman.
- He’s profound in the way he expresses his opinions of the world.
- His thoughts make you think on a level too deep to be considered childish.
- And a lot of what The Joker says is enough to educate even the oldest of people in our society.
Characters like The Joker and plenty others have given western comics the worldwide recognition anime can only dream of.
I guess you can thank powerhouses like Hollywood for that, since they literally run the world when it comes to films.
So why is anime still lagging behind compared to western comics?
After all – anime is just as thought-provoking, deep, meaningful and inspiring. With subjects and depth even the film industry can’t match, in terms of variety.
In my mind – there are 3 simple things the anime industry lacks compared to comics.
Think about it…
What does the average person respect more:
- or Anime?
Anime isn’t respected like that yet, and that plays a BIG role in terms of popularity and mainstream success. I can prove with 1 little exercise.
Go out and ask the average kid you see (or person) which is better: anime or comics?
9/10 they’ll say something like: “Anime? You mean those weird, childish Japanese cartoons? Comics like Superman beats anime “any day”.
And that’s the issue: It’s still seen as a childish medium and has struggled to win people over… Because some people can’t look past the animation and see anime for what it actually is.
Under the layer of the animation is meaningful, powerful life lessons. With a range of other elements and subjects any fan can appreciate on multiple levels.
And it doesn’t help when you have people like this British Journalist claiming “anime promotes Paedophilia”.
Related: Is Anime A Bad Influence?
2. A Strong Brand
Continuing from the last point – anime lacks a strong brand (on a global scale at least).
What is a brand?
- What people think or say about you (or a thing).
Western comics as I mentioned earlier, have HIT IT BIG in terms of film sales, popularity and success. Adults of all ages (not just kids) love and adore Superman, Batman, Deadpool and many other western comics.
And if you were caught walking down the street with a comic T Shirt? The average guy would proudly give you a high five.
Try doing the same thing with an anime T-shirt, and watch the glaring, judgmental looks the average person will slap you with.
Hardcore anime fans might disagree and say: but anime is loved by millions of people internationally. Well that’s not the same thing as being loved in general by the public eye.
When people think of anime, they think childish cartoon, and then they shake their head. And probably throw up at the thought of ever watching an anime series.
That’s animes brand.
And until that changes – it will struggle to get in the hands of millions of more people, and succeed the way comics have. Especially in terms of money, which the anime industry only makes around $250M a year after so many years of existence.
That’s pathetic compared to so many mainstream industries. Especially the film or comic industry itself.
3. Marketing and distribution
THIS is the anime industries BIGGEST weakness.
It’s TERRIBLE when it comes to marketing and distribution.
Lets take for example – websites like Funimation.
Have you ever seen this image before?
This is the image that pops up when you try viewing various anime shows (DBZ included).
So WHY does this happen? It’s partly due to GREEDY licensing restrictions on Japans behalf.
It’s also the reason why Piracy exists. Why pay for something if you’re not even getting the best service?
And that’s not issue with marketing and distribution – anime is VERY hard to access.
Legal sites like Crunchyroll have a limited catalogue. A catalogue so limited that it’s not enough to satisfy a large portion of anime fans. Because who cares about a service that provides about 10% or even 5% of the ENTIRE anime catalogue?
Not everyone is interested in all that mainstream crap like AOT, Death Note and Angel Beats (it’s an objective fact).
Can you imagine signing into your Netflix, only to find out you can’t watch everything in their catalogue?
While that might happen on a small-scale, it’s incomparable to the laughable catalogue streaming services struggle with in the anime industry.
Not that it’s their entire fault (Japan is the culprit), but this is the end result.
Japan mostly thinks of itself when it comes to anime (how many shows are dubbed for example? not many).
And they’ve yet to truly go all in on an international scale. Almost as if they’re holding back, or just unsure of how to take the industry to the next level while making it all work (legally).
But whatever the case, until the marketing and distribution problem is solved, expect piracy and anime in general to gain the global recognition/success it’s capable of.
What are your thoughts?