The first, and most obvious factor is the fact that anime is a foreign good. The fact that it’s something that isn’t normally available immediately creates a sense of mystery and intrigue. A different culture leads to different customs, and different norms that are represented. Holidays, settings, even the little intricacies of school life and public transportation are represented differently from western norms. Of course, anybody who says that this is the only reason that they watch anime is a dirty liar. Many fans are attracted to a combination of the art and storytelling styles, as well as the broad variety of titles available.
The art style should be familiar to many of you dear readers. The stereotypical exaggerated eyes, small mouths, and limited animation emphasized by “speed lines” and crazy visual indicators like sweat drops and “face-vaults”, in which the character falls suddenly in surprise. While yes, these are all elements to shows in some form or another, the overall style varies greatly between shows. For example, titles like Cowboy Bebop, Yugo the Negotiator, and Tokyo Godfathers use lower-key settings, and portray their characters as mildly stylized exaggerations from reality. On the other hand, a show like Dragon Ball Z or Naruto would go in the opposite direction and encompass many, if not all of the popular genre stereotypes.
And then, there’s the blood, sex, and violence. Due to more lax restrictions on media, anime titles are able to show moreof the popular taboos. Breasts, gore, and gorings are all fair game, especially in late-night shows. And, in the case of certain titles, like Tenjho Tenge or Ikki Tousen, all three are shown with reckless abandon.