A few days ago, somebody asked me a simple question: “Why? Why do you continue to follow anime, to write about it when so many have moved on?”
It’s a question that makes one think, though. I’ve been covering anime for ten years! I’ve been watching for over twenty! I saw the rise and fall of ADV, and personally covered the burst of the great anime bubble. I’ve seen cels get replaced by digital animation, and I’ve seen at least three voice actresses become that actress. Megumi gave way to Rie Takana, who ceded the role to Aya Hirano.
In that period, the anime landscape has changed greatly on the surface. Sci-fi epics and light-hearted comedies became fanservice action shows and harem fantasies. These, in turn, led to to the maid shows and violent late-night fare of the early 2000s, which became the Moe boom of today. Fansubs transitioned from tapes to downloads, and the price of anime continues to plummet even today.
Many argue that things have changed – that anime has somehow become better or worse over the years, that the changing of times have led to a change in overall quality. On a 100% surface perception level, they’re right. Those who argue that anime has gotten worse are correct, because there’s simply less of a buffer between us and Japan nowadays. In today’s market, it’s rare that shows don’t get releases in some form or another. So, while we get fewer cases of “the one that got away”, we also end up being exposed to the types of shows that weren’t released in the west before. We’re seeing more B and C-grade titles than before, which gives the perception of lower quality. Those who argue the opposite are also right, in a way – with such a large pool of titles available, the greats tend to shine brighter, and distinguish themselves more strongly among the rubbish.
Below the surface though, anime’s overall quality hasn’t changed much. We still see hits hit by the year, and countless diamonds in the rough. Incredible titles like Birdy the Mighty: Decode, Eden of the East, and Darker than Black continue to hit the market, and the medium continues to change and evolve as the years go by.
I guess I never fell out of writing because I’ve always found something to love in the anime market. From the incredible content, to the community, to the fascinating flow of industry news, there is always something to talk about. The industry continues to play out like an incredible epic, and passions continue to burn throughout. And, so long as this passion continues to burn, I’ll be there. So long as there’s an industry and a reason to chronicle, I’ll be writing. In ten years, this has become part of who I am. It’s become a part of my life, and it’s something that I don’t think I’d ever like to give up.