According to recently released figures by The Association of Japanese Animations (AJA), in 2016 the anime industry raked in 2.9 trillion yen (which equates to around £19.4 billion over here), the highest income the field has ever made!
The main boom in profits came from the rise in popularity of theatrical releases in places outside of Japan like China and the West, such as animated phenom Your Name which became the highest grossing anime film of all time last year, taking in over £270 million since its release last November (to put that into perspective, that’s £50 million more than Spirited Away made in cinemas, including numerous re-releases in the 15 years between its initial launch and Your Name’s), as well as overseas home video sales seeing a significant upswing. This seems to have also gone hand-in-hand with merchandise sales, which have also experienced growth.
This trend looks set to continue, with the AJA recognising the potential of the Western market. This should lead to even more theatrical releases, a wider selection of Blu-rays and DVDs being available, and maybe even live concerts and voice actor events becoming far more commonplace in our neck of the woods.
It’s excellent news to see an industry that we love and have championed support for finally seeing some real growth, and I hope this movement is more than just a craze. The story does, however, beg some rather important questions. With Hollywood leaning more and more on the Chinese and East Asian market because of increased box office returns there, and as a result Western movies being changed to appeal to them, will we start seeing the same in anime? Could we begin seeing a shift in anime to appeal to a broader Western audience, and in the process lose some of its Japanese sensibilities and charm? And then, of course, there’s the very real issue of underpaid animators. Are they going to start seeing a fairer wage now there is more money to go round, or do the increased profits just go to justify the poor working conditions? Or do we just need to chill and enjoy the fact that this really is just good news in a time where we don’t get a lot of that? We certainly don’t have the answers to these questions, but we’d love to hear your thoughts, so drop a comment below or hit us up on social media.