Remember how hard it used to be to watch anime? Depending on where you called home, it was once difficult, if not impossible, to check out the latest shows. It was only a couple of decades ago that people were trading DVDs (and before that, VHS tapes!), and the idea of a simultaneous release seemed like a far-fetched fantasy.
Well, time marches on, and now anime is easy to find and watch. It’s now so accessible that, according to Variety, Netflix says that over half of its subscribers watched an anime show or movie last year. That’s impressive, and a good indication that, yes, of course, anime is mainstream.
(In 2021, Netflix released forty anime titles. That’s a good number, but note that, as Anime News Network points out, the streaming service’s definition of “anime” isn’t limited strictly to cartoons made in Japan. “Netflix classifies Japanese animated titles as well as several Western animated titles as ‘anime,’” writes the site.)
While those viewing percentages might be impressive, Netflix also pointed out that a whopping ninety percent of its Japanese subscribers watched anime last year. (I know I did!) When you check the top ten most-viewed charts on Netflix in Japan, it’s packed with anime.
“At the same time, interest in anime has grown worldwide, and more than half of our members globally tuned into it last year,” said Netflix’s Kohei Obara at AnimeJapan 2022. “From diversifying our slate to bringing back fan favorites, we want to continue growing our members’ discovery and love for anime, both in Japan and around the world, with this next chapter of anime on Netflix.”
Will these numbers continue to grow? Probably! It will be interesting to see how much they do over the coming years. Because as long as anime is easily available, people will watch it.