Paradigm Shift: How Has Anime Changed Over the Years?
I find it’s interesting to study a subject by looking at the paradigm shifts — the events that forced fundamental changes — that happen in a given industry. In my personal history with computers, I’ve played ASCII games and learned BASIC on the mainframes at my mother’s work, programmed 6502 assembler on Atari 8-bit systems, got my first floppy disk drive in 1983 (this was during the days when we’d punch holes in floppies so we could write data to the other side), witnessed the rise of mouse + GUI computing, and saw hard drive and laser printer prices fall from $12,000 to $100, adjusting for inflation. Let’s look at some of the “paradigm shifts” I’ve witnessed in the anime world, and see how has anime changed over the years…
- First anime growing up: Speed Racer, which had a big finale in which Speed discovers that Racer X is really his missing brother Rex. I was enthralled.
- Space Battleship Yamato, aka Star Blazers. A dark space opera in which worlds are lost or saved by the actions of fallible characters.
- Macross (aka Robotech) taps into the craze for transforming robots which began with 1975’s Brave Raideen, but plants another seed in the minds of fans: a love of 2D idol singers. This would prove to be a bigger innovation for the industry than any transforming robots.
- Back in the day, boys watched sentai (fighting five team) anime while girls magical girl shows. Then Sailor Moon showed us the way to enjoy both at the same time.
- The move from hand-painted cels to digital coloring, which took place in the first decade of the 2000s. Fittingly, the last anime to make the change was Sazae-san, the feel-good show about a Japanese family that’s been running nonstop since 1969.
There’s been another paradigm shift happening in the industry is the change from physical to digital distribution of manga. And some good news: the All Japan Magazine and Book Publisher’s Association reports that in 2017, sales from digital manga surpassed physical manga for the first time. How do you read your manga?
So, how has anime changed for you, as you’ve been a fan? Tell us on Twitter!
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