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In 2022, anime is far more than just a niche genre of Japanese cartoons for nerds. Anime has become one of the biggest and most lucrative sources of entertainment in the world. And after a brief decline due to COVID that hit every production company at the time, the industry is bigger and stronger than ever before. If you’re not already deep into one or more of the popular Japanese shows yourself, chances are you know at least one person, if not several dozen, who are in love with titles like Dragonball Z, One Piece, or Bleach. But just how big has it gotten? Do the numbers for anime compared to the numbers for American or European shows? Is anime only going to get bigger or could this be the peak of the ride?
The Biggest Year For Anime Yet
The Association of Japanese Animations has put out an official report showing more than 13% growth in the anime industry for 2021. The report states the total market value of the industry at nearly 20 billion US dollars. That’s 5 billion more than the GDP of the entire country of Jamaica. It also edges out the American animation industry, which has a total market value of around 18 billion dollars. This makes Japan the largest producer of animation in the world. And this isn’t slowing down anytime soon. The industry has done nothing but grow year-by-year for the entire 21st century. It took one brief downturn in 2020, something to be expected for the year the entire world briefly shut down. But now it is back and bigger than ever.
It feels like every year there’s a new anime going viral and garnering a massive worldwide fanbase. This year we’ve seen the meteoric rise of new shows like Chainsaw Man and Spy x Family. In the 2010’s we saw shows like Attack On Titan, Hunter x Hunter, and One Punch Man grow to be considered some of the best anime of all time.
Western Animation Declining?
As Japanese 2D animation has done nothing but grow in popularity and wealth over the years, American animation is on a sad and steady decline. 3D animation replaced 2D around the turn of the century, and the US hasn’t done much looking back since. Even with the ever-increasing popularity of anime, it doesn’t feel like American film or TV executives take much notice. Of course, they love to bring anime over, like with the recent Disney+ Star Wars Visions show that combines the popular sci-fi franchise with anime. But when it comes to actually producing modern 2D animation within the United States, we’ve yet to see a resurgence.