The anime of the 1990s may be seen as a reaction to that of the 80s. The superficial but highly stylized anime of the 80s gave way to the more literary and narratively complex anime of the 90s.

Since the 2000s have been characterized by cute, indulgent anime that panders to the most juvenile tastes of hardcore fans, and anime blatantly designed to sell trivial merchandise to obsessive collectors, the anime of the next decade may be significantly reactionary. While I have no firm basis for this theory, I can suggest that perhaps the defining theme of anime in the 2010s will be serious, dramatic, adult oriented anime.

In fact, there may already be signs of an approaching movement toward anime featuring adult characters, and anime targeted at older viewers. Singular examples which have seemed isolated may, in fact, be the early harbingers of a new trend in anime production.

Within just the past two years anime titles including Gallery Fake, Victorian Romance Emma, Angel Heart, Zaizen Jotaro, Ergo Proxy, Seirei no Moribito, Coyote Ragtime Show, Kemonozume, Taiyo no Mokushiroku, 009-1, Bartender, Hataraki Man, Souten no Ken, Moonlight Mile, Mononoke, Shigurui, and Paprika have either targeted young adult and adult audiences, or have featured entirely or mostly adult casts. The upcoming Ookami to Koshinryo anime may also fall into this loose category, considering that it’s an fantasy focused on economics instead of magic or swordplay.

While this list may seem long, it represents only a small minority of the total amount of anime released in the past two years. But these types of anime may become more prevalent. In another few years today’s anime fans’ interest in indolent, juvenile anime may wane.

As today’s fans grow older, they may expect anime to grow with them, leading to an increased development of serious, dramatic, and literary anime, and an increase in anime starring adult characters rather than anime filled with children or school age teens.

Ultimately, however, it’s up to Japanese viewers to determine the future direction of anime. As a foreign observer, I can speculate, but it’s primarily the Japanese viewers that anime is made for who will influence the development of future anime trends. Anime recognizes and responds to the interests and attitudes of its contemporary Japanese viewers, so it’s presumptuous for foreigners to attempt to predict or influence Japanese trends. More at: AN

Join the discussion 7 Comments

  • timlim says:

    nice review. Thumbs up!

  • stukasa says:

    What I find equally interesting is the way that people define trends by decade, as if every trend fell neatly into a ten-year lifespan. That said, there definitely are some noticeable trends in TV, music, art and literature, and anime is no exception to that. While some of these trends are a reaction to previous trends, other may be caused by the changing nature of the industry, the social climate or even the fanbase itself. Just look at TV shows and movies produced in the U.S. in the past five years. There are many that feature terrorism and/or the Middle East. This was not a reaction to previous trends but a shift based on the social climate following the 9/11 attacks. Similarly, it can be said that…oh, looks like my time is up. Time for me to get back to work! Hopefully you know what I was trying to say. :prop:

    ware4me;5348 wrote: The upcoming Ookami to Koshinryo anime may also fall into this loose category, considering that it’s an fantasy focused on economics instead of magic or swordplay.

    Oh dear god, kill me now. ;D (j/k, econ majors! XD)

  • ware4me says:

    Well, I guess this happens everywhere, it depends on the culture and the time, but certainly a lot takes some trends, and TV is a good proof about it. :p

    Yeah, can you imagine an economic based anime? :drop:

  • stukasa says:

    ware4me;5404 wrote: Yeah, can you imagine an economic based anime? :drop:

    A swordsman, a witch and a catgirl set off on a journey to restore market equilibrium to a kingdom devastated by unequal distribution of income. Coming soon! (b^_^)b

  • ware4me says:

    Maybe we can give Alan Greenspan a good role in this one… after all, he is unemployed :weep:

  • LittleVexy says:

    stukasa;5437 wrote: A swordsman, a witch and a catgirl set off on a journey to restore market equilibrium to a kingdom devastated by unequal distribution of income. Coming soon! (b^_^)b

    I want that! When is it coming out? @.@

  • stukasa says:

    LittleVexy;5439 wrote: I want that! When is it coming out? @.@

    As soon as market demand for it is high enough!

    (in other words, never :p)

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