Anime’s Growing Presence in Pop Culture

When I was younger, especially while in middle school, I spent my days immersing myself in the world of anime.

Although I distanced myself from the genre as I grew up, I gave it another shot during the COVID-19 pandemic in which I was reminded of my love for the genre. Now, it’s all I ever watch.

Anime has grown increasingly popular over the last decade. One factor for its popularity is the quality of today’s shows in comparison to that of the early 2000s. Characters have better designs and backgrounds.

Consequently, anime has many more sub-genres, making it that much palatable to a variety of audiences.

One well-liked sub-genre of anime is referred to as shonen, which typically features a young male protagonist, thus appealing to an audience composed of largely adolescent boys.

Using the popular anime Naruto as an example, the anime starts with Naruto being a pre-teen who just graduated ninja academy. The beginning of the anime focuses on Naruto growing up without his parents as viewers are entertained by his silly shenanigans.

A more recent shonen anime is My Hero Academia. The beginning of the anime focuses on Izuku Midoriya, a teenager who is accepted into a hero high school with the purpose of becoming a hero despite overcoming his own setbacks.

Personally, I love shonen anime; nevertheless, I understand why it’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
Other anime genres include shoujo (young female protagonist geared towards a young female audience), slice of life (focusing on the protagonist’s life rather than a story plot), harem (the male protagonist has three or more female love interests), reverse harem (the female protagonist has three or more male love interests), yaoi (also known as boy love, focusing on two male protagonists in love), and yuri (two female protagonists in love).

Since anime is now more main-stream than it once was, it’s easier to find graphic novels, DVDs (Do we even use those anymore?), and clothing merchandise. If you walk into a Hot Topic store, I guarantee you’ll see tons of anime merchandise, ranging from T-shirts to figurines. Anime T-shirts are now even sold at popular retail stores, such as Target, Walmart, and Kohl’s.

The same is said for anime’s prevalence on social media. I feel like it’s easy to discover clips of unfamiliar shows that spark my interest just by scrolling through reels. Fans also make fanart or fan videos of characters and seeing those can get you to check out the anime, as well.

Anime has expanded quite fast from Japan to the United States, and it’s almost unbelievable to think that there was a time when it would take a while for the English dub to become accessible. Now, the English dub is available much quicker due to high demand.

If you are not an anime fan and want to try it, I suggest finding a category that appeals to you. If you are into blood and gore, try Attack on Titan. If you are into romance, try Fruits Basket. If you are into drama, try Remake Our Life. If you are into adventure, try Wandering Witch: The Journey of Elaina. For something horrifically scary, Mieruko-chan.

There is a kind of anime for everyone– don’t knock it until you’ve tried it!