Ask any industry insider, and they’ll probably tell you that they’re always looking for the “next big thing.” That is, they’re looking for the next Pokemon, the next Robotech, or the next Dragon Ball Z. They’re looking for that one special show that will ignite the passions of fans and non-fans alike. Nobody knows what this special series is, when it will hit, or how it’ll come about. We’ve seen many assumptions over the years, and numerous blind leaps of faith. We’ve seen airwaves get hammered with shows like Cowboy Bebop, Ghost in the Shell, and Bleach, to a degree of mainstream success.
However, the elusive “big thing” continues to elude distributors and fans alike.We keep searching, keep predicting, but it simply doesn’t seem to happen. I’ve been taking time to think about this lately, and I have to wonder if we’re looking in the wrong place.
Marketer Seth Godin has famously stated that businesses need a Purple Cow to become appealing to the greater market. In layman’s terms, products need to be remarkable to simply be seen by the larger market, let alone sell to this group. At this point, anime is no longer “remarkable” in any sense. We’ve gotten to a point where the mass market tolerates the medium, to an extent. The stereotypes of tentacle monsters and busty half-naked vixens are quickly becoming outmoded, and jokes toward the hobby have appeared everywhere, from stand-up comedy to Family Guy.
So, before we can find this elusive “big thing”, we have to remember just what makes anime remarkable. We have to find the special factors that would make an anime series stand out, and grab the attention of not just the fans, but of all potential audiences. This will not be an easy undertaking – it may not even happen in the near future. After all, we’ve already seen the market’s reaction to the moe movement, and we’ve seen collective yawns at “sure things” like One Piece.
At this point, all we can really do is look to what’s coming next, and try to find something truly remarkable. While anime will never become more than a niche hobby, it really is interesting to see just what will resonate with the market, and to follow the idea of such forces in general. The market is an impressive, unforgiving mistress. It can deliver great fortunes, and it will snatch them back just as quickly.
In the near future, I would like to speak further on this topic, and to see if I can tie the principles of the anime market to some of the teachings of Godin, Vanyerchuk, and Christensen. The anime market is a fascinating microcosm, and I hope you, dear reader, look forward to exploring it in a completely new light.