On the cusp of my 19th birthday, I've indeed hit a derisive age in my life. Almost too old to be a teenager, and yet, not quite the adult yet. But my own mortality is not what concerns me most about aging. Being an anime fan for a good decade, I have seen my own tastes mature and have noticed the adult in me questioning my viewing choices. Am I being left in the dust?
The gaming industry is met with a similar dilemma. What was once a vibrant and young atari fanbase has seen itself approaching the middle age. But what makes this state uncomfortably unnerving is that games are still touted for children and young adults. I myself see my own reflexes and muscle control dwindling from year to year. There are things that I am just not interested in anymore. But in the same way that the love for gaming never dies, I am married to the type of story telling that is only possible in anime. And while I want more of it, I am bothered by where the industry is headed.
As the onus on the studios to make money grows heavier, the inclination to produce only season-length series becomes more transparent. Even two season long (26 episodes) series are a tough find. On more than one occassion I have been asked to comment on the state of the anime industry, and in one season "it."
Two seasons: "It is not dying."
Three Seasons: "It isn't dying, but it is changing."
Though this is not to be taken as a knock on being concise. It is entirely possible to capture emotion and tell an inspired story in one season (AnoHana), but then again, you can't sell as much merchanidise for a melodrama as you can for a self contained, episodic samurai adventure. And that is what bothers me the most. It kind of rivals the "Indie Darling" aesthetic that can be found in movie theaters. Big budget movies like Harry Potter and Transformers exist in movie form for one reason. While it is entirely acceptable as an art, I am slowly losing interest. Really then, the question appears: can Anime be lucrative yet emotionally profitable? Modern cinema has yet to crack this question. Twilight has made its author and movie studios rich people, but is not a good movie by any stretch of the word.
The older I get, the more clout I realize I have. At Anime Expo 2011, I was interviewed, alongside other Asian Americans, by an industry researcher. One of her questions was: "How do you support the anime industry?" Though it seems like a no brainer, if you like a studio's stuff, you buy it. The more that anime fans understand this simple concept, the more great stuff we will have. This is not about to turn into a plug or an advertisement or this isn't a post to make anyone feel guilty about video piracy at all.
In a nutshell, we got ourselves into this mess. We are the only ones who are able to get ourselves out. I support good products and make a great effort to share them to fans new and old in the hope that one day, everyone will too.