In regards to Hideaki Anno's comments, there are some anime fans who speculate that the anime industry in Japan will collapse. Others feel that anime isn't dying anytime soon. This, combined with working conditions for Japanese animators and the expensive business models with Japanese anime companies, had led fans to wonder if the Japanese anime industry can really sustain itself.

Now, before I go into depth in regards to the anime industry, I would like to point out that is some degree of bias in his statements, as he suffered clinical depression in the past and had his work Neon Genesis Evagelion bashed on due to the infamous ending and production issues, thus causing Anno to develop a more cynical view with the otaku. I would like to point out that DVD/BD sales should not be the only factor of highlighting a studio's success, as different studios have their own standards of "success" depending on how high-profile the anime title is or how high-profile the studio is.

With that in mind, this leads to his question: is the anime industry really dying?

Now, the anime industry is a really complex issue. There is a bit of a debate whether or not certain genres (harem, fanservice) or character archetypes (lolis, moe, tsundere) have any impact in regards to the state of the anime industry. There is a debate whether or not the expensive Japanese business model makes people having less incentive to support the anime they enjoy. But I will say is this, anime isn't going to "die" in the same sense that Anno is saying. However, I will say that the anime industry is radically changing.

And how is the anime industry "changing" you ask? Well for starters, TV stations are giving big budget cuts on several anime that are going to be success. This, combine with the increased popularity of internet streaming such as NicoNico, Crunchyroll, and Hulu, makes airing anime in television less feasible. In fact, the initial airing of Sailor Moon Crystal is aired online via NicoNico, Neon Alley, Hulu, and Crunchyroll. That, combined with Japanese TV station reluctance to air anime in primetime (aside from anime geared towards kids), makes it even harder for anime to get more mainstream exposure, as most anime that do get TV deals are often regulated to late night time slots. Thus, anime production committees have to rely on other merchandise to cover their production costs such as sleep pillows, figmas, and BD/DVD simply because the anime production committee can't get a suitable TV deal for them.

Now, I'm not saying anime TV stations won't disappear forever, having anime aired in TV stations is actually beneficial for anime production times. In fact, anime airing in TV is not about getting people to buy your anime (even if Attack on Titan didn't air in Toonami, it's highly wouldn't impact the BD/DVD sales), it's about getting the mainstream appeal. Ever wondered why many shonen titles such as Naruto, Bleach, Dragonball Z, Attack on Titan, Fullmetal Alchemist, and One Piece; and other titles such as Black Lagoon, Hellsing, Trigun, Sword Art Online, Kill la Kill, and Cowboy Bebop are popular among mainstream audiences in America? Ever wondered why the Digimon and Pokemon anime series are still ongoing? This is because many of these titles have aired in TV blocks like Cartoon Network, Nickelodeon, Disney XD, Adult Swim, and Toonami that have gotten appeal to the mainstream audiences. So much so that there are some folks in Hollywood who have either taken interest in making film adaptations of many of these titles, or have openly admitted of being huge fans of these shows. However, the problem is that anime, as a fan interest, still remains niche internationally and even in Japan. Which, of course, leads to my next issue with the anime industry, audience appeal.

The biggest problem with the anime industry is that anime are being produced that appeals to a particular niche audience instead of appealing to a wider mainstream audience. We have numerous fanservice heavy harem anime show that are still being made for the otaku fandom and character archetypes such as tsunderes and imoutos are still a big thing for the otaku. However, the problem with making anime that appeals to a niche audience is that business-wise, it's not that sustainable because they not only have to adopt to a more expensive business model, but they have to rely on other merchandise to help sustain it.

And of course, it is incredibly difficult to make anime that both Japanese and American audiences would enjoy. Anime being made that appeals to a certain niche Japanese audience will be very problematic if the anime is licensed internationally. The reason many of Shonen Jump titles are popular in both Japan and America is because many of these titles have appeal to a wider audience. Even Toonami has acknowledged that they have female fanbase for many of the anime titles aired in Toonami despite the fact that many of the anime aired in Toonami is meant to appeal to an adult/teen male audience.

In addition, anime production teams who make anime gear towards a more niche audience fail to put into consideration of different pop cultural tastes of different audiences. American audiences are more into "manly" action anime titles, while the Japanese are more into the "kawaii" stuff that wouldn't have the appeal in America with the exception of more niche anime audiences. Many of the anime that has appeal to niche audeinces are adaptations of manga, light novel, and video game works that are more or less considered a "widget" (trope!) series. As Digibro highlights in his video, it's very difficult to make anime that is considered to be "good" that would appeal to a wider audience. I would highlight more about anime audience appeal in a later blog post, but the last point I want to highlight is considered to be very subjective, and it's "good writers."

Simply put it, it's incredibly hard to create an anime that is completely original rather an something based out of a light novel, manga, or some existing medium. Now, I'm not saying anime based out of other mediums are bad, there are actually some anime adaptations I've personally enjoyed (Clannad and Toradora being the best examples).

However, it's really hard to find "good" writers that can create an anime that is completely original. Note that this is very subjective since some who is "good" varies from people to people. For example, I consider Gen Urobuchi and Hayao Miyazaki to be "good writers" in a sense while others don't like their works. Shinichirō Watanabe is considered to be a "good" writer by many western anime fans (also doesn't help to note that according Watanabe, some of his writings take inspiration from many western themes and works). However, the anime industry simply lacks "good" writers that can make something original.

Using Gen Urobuchi as an example, ever since Madoka Magica with the anime's unique take on the magical girl genre, many writers try to emulate Gen Urobuchi's dark thematic writing (yes, that includes Shiden Kanzaki, the LN writer of Black Bullet, who happens to be a huge fan of Urobuchi's and Nitroplus works) and hoping that such dark writing will get broad audience appeal. We have seen anime like Aldnoah.Zero, Day Break Illusion, Akame Ga Kill, and Psycho Pass season 2 having writers trying to match Urobuchi's style.

The problem with many of the Urobuchi-wannabes is that they lack qualities Gen Urobuchi's has that makes him a "good" writer. Urobuchi carefully construct his works with good character development, having a meaningful storytelling that makes sense, ties the plot to his utilitarian philosophy, and portray tragedies in a very respectful manner. Heck, Gen Urobuchi even wrote a sci-fi mecha anime film that doesn't have any of his usual dark, depressing theme writing, tragedies, or killing off a bunch of characters; yet we have a meaningful story and characters the audience can relate in the film. Simply put it, Gen Urobuchi is simply a "good" writer. Heck, Gen Urobuchi can even write a completely original romantic comedy coming to age slice of life anime and still be good because Gen Urobuchi knows what he is writing.

Despite Anno's comments on the anime industry. I don't think the anime industry is "dying" in a sense Anno is saying. I still think Japan has a strong cultural influence internationally. However, I will say that there will be radical changes with the anime industry within the next decade or so. Anime production teams may start to realize that they can't rely on TV deals anymore and shift towards using internet streaming to reach to a wider audience. We would have anime production teams create anime that would appeal to a larger audience rather than pandering to a smaller niche fanbase. We would probably see more anime original works and any anime that are based out of an existing medium must have some uniqueness to them (for example, Gakkou Gurashi, an anime adaptation from a manga that is going to air this summer, is probably one of the most unique Manga Time Kirara titles as the series incorporates your typical slice of life tropes into a zombie apocalypse). I wouldn't expect the Japanese business model to change a lot in the next decade or so, but I will say that anime industry will need to make some few radical changes in the near future.