Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Should anime creators strive to reach a worldwide audience?

The following quote comes from Metal Gear Solid creator, Hideo Kojima...

Do we really need to succeed worldwide? That's what I'm really wondering about. Everyone talks about overseas, overseas, but nobody's really thinking about what needs to be done if we want to succeed. We get obsessed with thinking about worldwide because we've had previous success with games and anime worldwide, but none of those successes matter nowadays.

Mr. Kojima brings up a very interesting point about games and anime.  We'll focus on anime for the purposes of this article.  

Having worldwide success for any form of entertainment is a fantastic thing.  It's always great when more and more people appreciate what you do and where you come from.  To know that you've found an audience in the world for your creation is a great thing.  The problem comes when you try and aim to please everyone around the world with whatever you're working on.

I think it's pretty safe to say that anime has a bit of an issue with worldwide appeal.  There have been a few break-out hits, but they are very limited in numbers.  Most of the anime content out there appeals to those in Japan, and others around the world that are more on the open-minded side of things.  There are some cultural barriers in all animes, but sometimes there's just too much for the majority of people to follow along with.

What should anime creators do if they want to go after a worldwide market?  Should they make their vision for a particular anime more worldwide friendly?  Is it right to compromise your idea just to see it reach a wider audience?  Is there something to be said for reaching out for a very specific market and delivering something niche?  


  1. I guess that the creators have to decide at storyboard level whether to allow references that any county can pick up i.e. Cowboy Bebop has a great many american references in it, or to be strict and not allow certain animes to be available for localization. I always hope for any series to be made available worldwide and with streaming sites like Crunchyroll and Anime On Demand we are still able to see them.

  2. I dont think they should. I think a lot of the appeal of anime is how unique it is. When Astro Boy and Speed Racer burst onto the scene in the 60s they were so well regarded and liked because they were unique. Same goes with Gatchaman, Yamato, Gundam, Akira, Ghost in the Shell, Evangelion, etc

    It goes on and on. Anime is great because its anime! Its ok to build on themes from other genres and other styles but anime needs to be unique. The moment anime tries to "americanize" itself it starts to lose its initial appeal.

    However, there should be at least some care taken to keep it at an understandable level for foreign audiences. If a concept is simply "too Japanese" then it might hurt the product. Take Pom Poko for example. There is no way that could be shown in theatres here. People wouldn't know what to think. Its a fantastic film but its limited by its odd content (tanukis with large testicles transforming into yokai). You need to be very open minded to understand and appreciate pom poko.

    In the 1950s and 1960s Toho took notice of how popular their Godzilla series was in America so they started to bring in American actors onto the Japanese sets. This was a controversial move but it allowed Toho to keep control instead of having a terrible splice job happen when they sent the film overseas. An interesting solution to this problem IMO.

    In the end, I think it just needs to be balanced depending on your intended market. Some shows are a great fit for a global audience- others aren't. But hopefully with cheaper distribution services like Netflix we will see more risky anime that might not otherwise see release over here.

    thats my two cents.

  3. Yeah I don't think the creators should try to to apeal to everywhere. I agree that it would compromise their ideas.

    Though, it does annoy me when animes make such big deals of puns and such. I just want to slap them and be like NO ONE CARES ABOUT YOUR STUPID KANJI MODIFACATION PUNS!!!

  4. Anime's problem with worldwide appeal isn't the content, it's the distribution and marketing. The Japanese companies are still notoriously difficult to deal with in regards to licensing and let's face it, most anime trailers STILL suck. They have a problem with trusting their western partners to sell the product. They need to get over this mistrust or sink.