I don’t know about you guys, but I’ve seen a lot of lists of anime for the past decade recently. Yeah, I can’t help myself from feeling intimidated. At this moment, I can’t really see myself making one for myself because I’m still watching a lot of anime from the beginning of the decade right now. Not to mention that the fact that I still find it incredibly hard to make any sort of top anime list. I know that I have a collab in motion where I and the other party create a top five anime list. Even that is hard and very tentative got me because I feel like my favorites change from day to day. Life is so hard when you watch way too much anime for your own good.
So with that in mind, I thought I would look at some trends that appeared and became fully or at least mostly realized in the last decade. Why? Because some of those trends that appeared are still going strong. Possibly stronger then any of us really wanted. Some innovations that aren’t anime even changed the way we as an audience think about it and consume it. It’s kind of crazy to think about right? Ten years. A lot of things can change in ten years. It’s kind of nuts really. Let’s explore five of probably thousands.
Like all my list things, this isn’t going to be a top six list at all. Just six things that I’ve kind of noticed. This is going to be biased and I’m leaving things out because I’m limiting myself, so please give me what things you think changed anime as a medium from techological and trending aspect down below.
Technology and Streaming
If there is one major thing that has changed the way we consume anime and other media, it’s the appearance of fast and wireless internet, handheld computers called smart phones that have appeared the decade before last being fully utilized, and streaming services. Before then, it was hard to watch anime online because you were stuck on your computer watching anime in parts on YouTube or some sketchy website with tons of viruses to watch what you wanted. Television and disc releases were the best way to get what you wanted.
Now, you can watch anime anywhere as long as your phone has a good 4G connection somewhere. Along with the fact that you can watch episodes of anime hours after they’ve appeared in Japan. I know that Crunchyroll takes claim of being the service to do this first. Sure, fine. Whatever. I’m pretty sure if they didn’t, then someone else would have and not much would have changed. Crunchyroll was there at the right and time. Now, the anime flood gates are open and we can watch whatever from Japan. The only loss of value is anime no longer feeling as special as it used to be.
Gundam Unicorn and beyond
I don’t know about all of you, but Gundam Unicorn felt like a massive experiment from Sunrise to see if the Universal Century was sellable in this current decade. They put a lot of heart, work, and passion into this product from 2010 when it appeared onward to see whether or not it caught on. I suppose it did. Ever since the appearance of Gundam Unicorn, there have been all sorts of Universal Century OVAS and I’m mostly happy with what has appeared. Mostly, because it’s obvious that Sunrise is still going the Unicorn direction in some ways. Looking at you, Gundam Narrative. Hopefully that’s not what happens with Hathaway’s Flash.
With Unicorn, a series that is love with the Universal Century, came Build Fighters which is just a love letter to Gunpla and Gundam in general. The way everyone sold their packages was very different from the last yet similar. That lead to Sunrise experimenting with all sorts of Gundam content too. Like, the Romance of the Three Kingdoms Gundam thing exists and we can’t forget about Thunderbolt. How can anyone forget about Thunderbolt? It’s an experience that I need to talk about some point on here. We can forget about Twilight Axis though. That was pointless.
Madoka Magica and “dark” magical girl series
There is no doubt that Madoka Magica was a massive hit. It exploded in ways no one expected. I also feel while Gen Urobuchi worked on things around the same time that were great like Psycho Pass and Fate Zero, I feel like Madoka Magica was the thing that put his name on the map. Madoka Magica took a lot of usual magical tropes and played around with them in interesting ways. I refuse to say that it was a deconstruction because I don’t believe those exist and dark magical girls have existed before this show, but this was the show that popularized the “dark” angle for most audiences.
Ever since Madoka Magica originally stopped, I’m not counting the series and the spin off that is appearing soon, there has been some sort of dark magical girl series in one form or another at least a few times a year. I didn’t watch most of them, but I have read a lot of people’s thoughts about them. Maybe I should change that. But from what I’ve read, there were some have been good, some have been bad, but I couldn’t say that many of them stood out as well to me as much as Madoka did because it did create some big waves. Either way, I think this trend might stick around a little longer.
Sword Art Online and afterwards
For some reason, Sword Art Online got popular. I am never going to understand that part myself because I tried it and it’s just not for me. With that said, I think that there has to be something said about it and the appearance of isekai anime. I know that Sword Art Online isn’t an isekai anime. I mean, it’s about characters locked in a video game kind of/sort like .hack//sign. Yeah, this thing has a small thing that has happened before. While .hack//sign was popular, I think it’s easy to say that Sword Art Online is in power now and we can’t stop it.
That being said, I do think that this character being locked away in a video game world until being let out did play a strong part in where isekai anime is now. Not older isekai, modern isekai. Now there are way too many of them to count and I honestly can’t dig into these either. Why? Because I felt like all of them have a similar sort of plot and characters that I just don’t care about them anymore. Even the unique ones like the bookworm isekai really does almost nothing for me. Being over powered in another world is just incredibly boring to me. Yet here isekai is growing and becoming more popular for some reason. shrug
The Fate Franchise Growth
I don’t think I need to describe this one too much because it’s uprising has been powerful. This franchise based on a horny visual novel has grown so much. In the 2000’s, we only had the 2006 fate/stay night series and the bad unlimited blade works movie. The 2010’s started with Fate/Zero which lead to the Unlimited Blade Works series, to EVERYTHING. The mobile game, adaptations of side stories, and all sorts of craziness that I can’t help but liking really. Those Heaven’s Feel movies are amazing. No more comments necessary. Just keep them coming.
JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure breaking obscurity
If there is one series that came completely out of nowhere in the early 2010’s to now in some way, it’s JoJo’s Bizarre Adventure. That’s not only because of the first two parts getting an anime adaptation and then becoming a huge thing, but because each part had so much love, care and passion to them. JoJo becoming a household anime name to anime watchers everywhere is such a fun thing to happen to this manga that started from the 1980’s and is still going. I completely dig it myself. Each part is special and lovely and unique and I’m glad this happened even if the community behind it is pretty annoying most of the time. Nothing wrong with the anime itself.
So there you go. Those were the trends from the 2010’s that really spoke out to me. I know that Attack on Titan was a trend, but the hype sort of left as the amount of time between seasons left it behind. The growth of Masaki Yuasa was a thought I had to, but he’s been around longer then a decade. The newer UC stuff is different because Sunrise found there is passion for it still out there.
I could have talked more about sports and shonen jump anime and manga too, but those have always been popular anyway. Still, I’m sure there are things that I’ve missed. What sorts of anime trends have you seen and found love in? Or what trends do you have seeing? Both answers are legitimate to me honestly. We can all complain about something, so why not do it here?