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Answerman - What Happened To The 90s Anime Boom?


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SailorPluto1313



Joined: 26 Jan 2016
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 1:13 pm Reply with quote
Yeah anime has definitely changed! 15 years ago when I was in elementary school, only me and like one other girl knew what anime was, and now I'm sitting in college classes and people bring up anime examples in my English classes!

It's so exciting to see anime commercials show up at the movies here and there, and it seems like bookstores keep expanding their manga section. 10 years ago, the manga section in my Barnes & Noble was just 1 small book case, and now it takes up a whole section and just keeps wrapping around to the back! It's amazing!

Having the opportunity to see movies like Spirited Away and Sailor Moon the movie in theaters is something that I never would have imagined 10 years ago and the experience is unforgettable! I'm very excited to see things like Crunchyroll's anime movie night that starts in April (I think) and just the fact that anime is so easy to own/stream.

Ahhh...what a time to be alive...glad I stuck with it for so long Very Happy
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ultimatehaki



Joined: 27 Oct 2012
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 1:29 pm Reply with quote
I know I wouldn't be an anime fan without that boom. I was an elementary school student back then eager to get home and watch toonami. When it got taken off I didn't watch it for like 6 years until my junior year when I tried looking for these nostalgic cartoons I remember watching when I was younger and finally learned what it really was.

The boom definitely had a lasting impact.
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Lactobacillus yogurti



Joined: 17 Aug 2011
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 1:49 pm Reply with quote
In Latin America, we also had an anime boom in the 90's, probably even before the USA, as we got series that arrived there much later (Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon, for example).

But here, what caused anime to become an underground, almost taboo thing, was that angry, boring aunt that would always tell you to behave properly and never have fun: RELIGION. Evangelists would call it 'a work of the Devil' and even created fake 'Satanic' meanings for the names of characters (I mean, reading that Dragon Ball's Ten Shin Han meant "Glory to the Evil Lord" when I knew it was the name of a Chinese dish made me want to bang my mitochondria against the wall!) just to scare people off and get them back into church.

But here, what scared everyone off was Evangelion, being shown at prime time in one of the public channels. Not a good series to showcase, to be fair... Parents complained and children were left without options...

Oh well.
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maximilianjenus



Joined: 29 Apr 2013
Posts: 1556
PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 2:05 pm Reply with quote
from what I understand/have in teh mid 2ks, disney,nick and cartoon network pushed really hard to televisa/tv azteca, so anime got given less importance; since anime was quite mainstream in mexico in teh mid90s/early 2ks, not so much in video sales but in regular tv; we got the big hits like sailor moon, dragon ball, saint seiya, captain tsubasa (and I mean, BIG , wiht licensed merchandise, movies in movie teathers and any other parameter you can ask about) as well as the not sopopualr but stil ariign during the day anie like, zenki, sailro moon, card captor sakura, slayers, etc...
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Kikaioh



Joined: 01 Jun 2009
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 2:21 pm Reply with quote
This article expresses pretty well my own viewpoint on the history, and how much things have changed over the past couple of decades. Culturally and spiritually, the anime scene has transformed quite a bit from way back when I first got into it (mostly to my chagrin) and my personal fandom unfortunately has largely moved on to other realms of nerddom. I still love the older works though, and there's usually a series every year or so that catches my attention, so it's not entirely gone for me yet.
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Greed1914



Joined: 28 Oct 2007
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 2:28 pm Reply with quote
The thing I find very interesting is that even though we are well past the Anime Boom, it is far easier to legally view anime than it was during the boom for me. I remember being quite upset that Toonami was being relegated to once a week, and that G4 was dropping its Anime Unleashed block because TV was the main, if not only, method for me to legally try anime before paying $20 for a four episode disc. Now, I have access to more shows than I can even get around to watching.
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Zalis116
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 2:48 pm Reply with quote
I know I can definitely credit the heavily-localized, semi-infamous dub of the first 2 seasons of Sailor Moon being on TV for getting me into anime, even if I didn't actively join the fandom until 2003. I mainly remember DBZ as endless yelling and power-charging, and I was a bit too old for Pokémon when it hit the big time. But Sailor Moon fit the part of being something different, and I don't even think it was the "boom anime babes that made me think the wrong thing." It just fit the niche of being an action cartoon with comedy, romance, and emotional moments, at a time when Western animation was well into the Ren & Stimpy-inspired Grossout/LOLRandom era.

But it's as if something happened in the early/mid-00s that decoupled the increasing popularity of anime from increasing sales. Wonder what that could've been...

Quote:
Most people pretty much know what anime is, and don't need to be convinced that it's not all kids' shows or porn.
*
The real fans never left (just look at convention attendance numbers), and now new fans are coming into the market in surprising numbers.
Unfortunately, it appears there's still some distance to go, as the "Why don't anime movies get wide releases?" thread suggests.

Though with anime conventions, it seems like they're often viewed as cosplay events and general nerd gatherings with a bit of anime on the side. So they're attended by significant numbers of non-anime-fans simply because anime cons are more numerous and cheaper to attend, being distributed throughout the country in smaller or mid-size cities, as opposed to the few major Western-media events in the big (and expensive) coastal cities. Heck, the con I staff for used to get feedback saying "There's too much non-anime stuff, needs more anime panels," and now it's "too much anime stuff, you should drop 'Anime' from the convention's name and be more inclusive."
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leafy sea dragon



Joined: 27 Oct 2009
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 2:53 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
Ultimately, anime in the late 90s was a fad. And the thing about fads is that, even if the underlying thing that people are excited by is a really good thing, the excitement of a fad attracts a WHOLE BUNCH of people that aren't really fans. They're there because other people perceive it as cool. They're there because people are talking about it. They might like it a little bit, but they don't love it. They soon lose interest, and get distracted by the next shiny thing that comes along.


The thing about fads, though, is that they always create a permanent boost in whatever it was, for as long as that whatever-it-was continues to exist. People get into something that's newly become popular, and there will be at least a few people who become longtime fans through it. I have never found an example of a fad that died and went back to the same levels of obscurity it had before (with the exceptions of things that become fads the moment they become available, like Pokémon). It always left the subject with a larger fanbase. Most people will lose interest, but some will stay.

SailorPluto1313 wrote:
Yeah anime has definitely changed! 15 years ago when I was in elementary school, only me and like one other girl knew what anime was, and now I'm sitting in college classes and people bring up anime examples in my English classes!


You can see it quite well in the generational gap: People who were already adults in the 80's and 90's more often than not still have a hard time comprehending anime. Same with people who choose to go into old media, like movies and literature.

Lactobacillus yogurti wrote:
In Latin America, we also had an anime boom in the 90's, probably even before the USA, as we got series that arrived there much later (Dragon Ball and Sailor Moon, for example).

But here, what caused anime to become an underground, almost taboo thing, was that angry, boring aunt that would always tell you to behave properly and never have fun: RELIGION. Evangelists would call it 'a work of the Devil' and even created fake 'Satanic' meanings for the names of characters (I mean, reading that Dragon Ball's Ten Shin Han meant "Glory to the Evil Lord" when I knew it was the name of a Chinese dish made me want to bang my mitochondria against the wall!) just to scare people off and get them back into church.

But here, what scared everyone off was Evangelion, being shown at prime time in one of the public channels. Not a good series to showcase, to be fair... Parents complained and children were left without options...

Oh well.


Oh, we definitely had that backlash in the United States too. They targeted Pokémon, saying that the kids playing the games caused strange phenomena to happen like car antennae springing up and such. It got to where the Pope himself took a good look at the franchise and said that he didn't see anything Satanic in it and, in fact, helped foster social relationships. So those people turned to Harry Potter.

I can definitely see Evangelion being a target of the Bible-thumpers though. Angsty teenagers fighting angels. Those people would have REALLY freaked out if they knew about Shin Megami Tensei.

Greed1914 wrote:
The thing I find very interesting is that even though we are well past the Anime Boom, it is far easier to legally view anime than it was during the boom for me. I remember being quite upset that Toonami was being relegated to once a week, and that G4 was dropping its Anime Unleashed block because TV was the main, if not only, method for me to legally try anime before paying $20 for a four episode disc. Now, I have access to more shows than I can even get around to watching.


The thing is, though, it's harder for something that streams to catch public attention than something that airs on TV. You could randomly channel-surf and stumble across something, whereas streaming relies mostly through word-of-mouth, which can only spread as far as the fans are willing to talk about. (I'm seeing more traditional advertising for streaming shows though. Sneaky Pete ads are on bus stops, buses, billboards, and such around here.)

In addition, streaming is basically cable TV's narrowcasting taken to a new order of magnitude. You can watch what you want to watch and keep it to yourself and create a lineup catered to your individual tastes. While that's good for the individual, it means that, on top of social media circles, most people now exist in echo chambers or bubbles isolated from people who are fans of other, completely unrelated things. This applies to all other media too. Gone are the days when every cool kid in school listened to the same music, or people would flock to libraries for that hot new book. Something could have an audience bigger than when it was well-known and the talk of the town but still be underground because said audience stays quiet and doesn't (or can't) make itself known.

In short, the mainstream itself is different from before and may be disappearing outright. That doesn't mean booms can't still happen (as with Pokémon GO last year, for instance), but the barriers are much higher now.
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EricJ2



Joined: 01 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 2:57 pm Reply with quote
Usually, this question comes out as "What caused the 00's Anime Bubble?", and that's another discussion.
But what caused it is what streaming sites like Crunchyroll and Funi.com later made obsolete, namely that you HAD to buy your anime on disk to watch it.
Which caused companies to start licensing any new premiering titles while they were still airing in Japan (the same way we watch simulcasted sub streams on CR), and sell them as 4-ep. single disks, which caused both the audience and retailers to mutiny.

And, as Justin points out, buying a new series because it looked good on Suncoast shelves seemed like an adventure, and a new passion if it was good, and an unforgivable $30-35 ripoff if it wasn't. (Which, during the early days when companies could only get short series, features and OAV, it usually wasn't, in retrospect.)
We didn't know the tropes yet, so the mix of action and humor on Martian Successor Nadesico could be a completely new experience, and....oo, remember when you HAD to get someone to watch Eva?? Rolling Eyes
Now we get to sample everything for free, see a few of the more familiar jokes coming, and it's only the audience-selected cream of the crop that gets to become a national pop phenomenon.

And, of course, the now-familiar topic that Japan didn't beat up on, marginalize and socially blame their otaku for every national problem--remember when the worst you could say about an anime otaku was that he probably wore a geeky Char helmet, but still had a job?--watching anime was still a major TV industry, and the shows were designed to appeal to everybody because the industry's economy depended on everybody watching it.
There was much less fan service to far-flung fans who (they imagined) only wanted to see "one" thing in their shows, and be treated like the national dirt under everyone else's shoes for liking it.
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EricJ2



Joined: 01 Feb 2014
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 4:07 pm Reply with quote
Zalis116 wrote:
But Sailor Moon fit the part of being something different, and I don't even think it was the "boom anime babes that made me think the wrong thing." It just fit the niche of being an action cartoon with comedy, romance, and emotional moments, at a time when Western animation was well into the Ren & Stimpy-inspired Grossout/LOLRandom era.


And the "underground" 80's anime of UY, Dirty Pair, early DBZ and Macross/Robotech broke out when US cartoons were still either commercially-syndicated toytoons or the continuing afternoon syndications of Hanna-Barbera and cheap-PD Paramount Casper/Popeye.
If you hated seeing vintage H-B cartoons on your local station, the new screwball anime comedy of Rumiko Takahashi blew open your comic doors of perception, and if you did appreciate the comic afternoon genius of Yogi Bear, The Flintstones and the old Bugs Bunny classics, UY, Ranma and A-Ko took the offhandedly surreal comic-timing to the Next Level.
And, of course, one of the reasons we preferred the Thundercats and GI Joe/Transformers to the static Archies-era "head turns" of Filmation's He-Man was that the new 80's action series, which had to deliver a lot of strip episodes on short notice, were outsourcing to dynamic Asian studios used to keeping images moving, and fans could use those action series as gateway drugs to the real action anime imports. (If you could get someone to watch Robotech or Star Blazers long enough to get over the "Ew, it's dubbed, it's obviously a cheap foreign import!" issue.)

As for the 90's Ren & Stimpy/post-John K. era--when cartoons stopped being commercial and mainstream, and started becoming private "clubhouses" for immature or stoner art-school animators to do 10-yo. belches--those of us underground anime fans from the 80's who'd started grabbing a few early-90's converts found their converts having to take sides:
You couldn't really in good conscience be a fan of both Sailor Moon's buoyantly optimistic ditziness or Tenchi's sentimental harem-screwball humor and Spongebob's American-cable "Am I ANNOYING you enough yet?" 10-yo. regressions, and if you could, you had a lot more diversity of taste than most people. In most cases, either you still didn't watch anime because it was "too geeky" and didn't want to be associated with Sailor Moon or Pokemon fans, or you literally watched 90's anime to RUN SCREAMING AWAY from 90's US cable cartoons.
(As Warner found out when Disney made as much money with a limited 750-screen arthouse run of "Spirited Away" in 2002 as their own studio did trying to find mainstream 2300-screen breakout-love for "The Powerpuff Girls Movie" that same summer.)

Problem is, now we have that 90's Sailor Moon generation that went to art-school and become cutesy self-indulgent US cable-cartoon animators that want to make Spongebob look like Sailor Moon.
Resulting in shows like Teen Titans (the 00's version) trotting out the fangirl fan-tropes--"Look, someone sighed a mushroom-breath and sweat-dropped, and then they all fell to the floor! Anime smile + sweatdrop "--or doing Steven Universe or Star & the Forces of Evil as "an anime magical-girl series" that still.....looks like a sniggering, hyperkinetic, kitsch-annoying CN series that doesn't know whether it likes its characters or hates them.
If we have young fans watching Adventure Time because they think it "looks like" what they associate with anime...ADV Houston, we've got a problem.

Quote:
But it's as if something happened in the early/mid-00s that decoupled the increasing popularity of anime from increasing sales. Wonder what that could've been...


Again, it was the decreasing sales--from the rising per-episode disk prices and the disappearance of retail outlets to find them--that decoupled the mainstream fandom. That, and the fact that everyone else was getting hooked on the shows you could watch on CN Adult Swim for free--and the Bandai/Pioneer companies using it as a free outlet--until AS became rather....infamously not interested in anime anymore.
In the US cable-anime industry, there was life before Shin-chan, and life after. Sad
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Spawn29



Joined: 14 Jan 2008
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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 4:23 pm Reply with quote
I was born in 1991, so I was lucky enough to discover anime at a young age. I remember seeing Samurai Pizza Cats, G-Force, Speed Racer, The New Adventures of Gigantor and the Fox Home Video Release of My Neighbor Totoro in 1994-1995. In 1996, I discover Saturday Anime on Sci-Fi and finally knew what anime was. I would remember seeing anime at my local video stores and going to collector shops as a kid. I love that feeling seeing all these different types of anime at the time.
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I_Drive_DSM



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 4:25 pm Reply with quote
I feel the collectability aspect of anime that's been mentioned should be emphasized more and why the 90s in particular was a very unique time as an anime fan.

Before DVDs and digital video files the only really viable way anime fans could enjoy anime at home was through VHS. And you may ask well what's the point you're getting at; everyone had VHS. It's true pretty much everyone had VHS in the 90s, but in America anime on VHS was a VERY expensive hobby. Most tapes of TV and OVA series gave you 60 minutes - two episodes - and cost anywhere from $20-$35 depending on the publisher and whether you got dubs or subs. I remember standing around in Suncoast for some time really mulling over what I was going to spend my money on. We make jokes and memes about subs over dubs and whatever, but dubs were near always much cheaper that subtittled tapes due to them having a lower production cost (it was much more difficult back then to produce hard subs into footage). In particular most of what I bought was dubbed simply because I was much more comfortable spending $20-$25 rather than spending $30-$35. It sometimes got even worse. Imagine spending $20-$30 on just 30 minutes of footage; happened quite a bit with ADVFilms releases or anything in the adult genre.

This price point also is what tended to push OVAs and movies during this time. People were not necessarily willing to pony up $20-$25 to own 12 or 13 tapes for a series and really stay with it. It was a difficult thing to do. I remember towards the later portion of the 90s when DBZ was really being pushed and pretty much every friend I knew that was an anime fan freely admitted obtaining every tape was going to be difficult. OVAs and movies on the other hand were typically very short and you could get a good anime fix for the same amount without worrying about cliffhangers or further material.

I remember the first anime DVD I bought in very early Y2K - I actually still have it - which was Knights of Ramune. I actually bought a DVD player around that time specifically to move into anime DVDs, since buying them was much cheaper than their VHS counterparts. That DVD of Knights of Ramune contained the whole series in both dubbed and subtittled formats for something like $30. I was completely blown away.
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Spawn29



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 4:29 pm Reply with quote
I still remember when all anime use to be in the family section at Blockbusters and Hollywood Video in the 90's. That's how I rented Appleseed, Ushio & Tora, Slayers, Ah My Goddess OVA, Those Who Hunt Elves, Night on the Galactic Railroad, Kiki's Delivery Service, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Tenchi Muyo!, Super Atragon and many more. I even remember when my Summer Camp show Episode 1 of Record of Lodoss War OVA.

Last edited by Spawn29 on Fri Feb 10, 2017 4:44 pm; edited 2 times in total
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John Thacker



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 4:34 pm Reply with quote
EricJ2 wrote:
As for the 90's Ren & Stimpy/post-John K. era--when cartoons stopped being commercial and mainstream, and started becoming private "clubhouses" for immature or stoner art-school animators to do 10-yo. belches--those of us underground anime fans from the 80's who'd started grabbing a few early-90's converts found their converts having to take sides:
You couldn't really in good conscience be a fan of both Sailor Moon's buoyantly optimistic ditziness or Tenchi's sentimental harem-screwball humor and Spongebob's American-cable "Am I ANNOYING you enough yet?" 10-yo. regressions, and if you could, you had a lot more diversity of taste than most people. In most cases, either you still didn't watch anime because it was "too geeky" and didn't want to be associated with Sailor Moon or Pokemon fans, or you literally watched 90's anime to RUN SCREAMING AWAY from 90's US cable cartoons.


You could pretty easily be a fan of 90s anime and the 90s Animaniacs, Batman: TAS, the Tick, the X-Men, and others, though. (Many of which John K didn't like at all.) I feel like you're shafting 90s US animation here.
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BethanyP



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PostPosted: Fri Feb 10, 2017 4:44 pm Reply with quote
I reckon a lot of the kids of the new millennium tend to forget or not realise just how foreign Japan was before the internet really kicked off. So much of what is common knowledge, Japan-wise, in nerdy circles now we wouldn't have recognised at all as kids in the 90s.

The internet tends to create bubbles, which is great for fans of things like anime since that bubble is also a space to talk about something no-one else in meatspace would be interested in. But I've noticed it also gives some people the impression that their bubble is a bigger one than it really is
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