The new anime season’s gotten off to an excellent start. From Basquash!, a rare international collaboration basketball-robot-themed anime created by Kawamori Shouji (Macross, Aquarion), and Thomas Romain (Oban Star Racers), to celebrations of anime’s history with shows such as Shin Mazinger and Before Green Gables, I’m finding this batch of Japan cartoons to be really fun and varied and imaginitive, just like last season’s. And the season before that, too. And so on.
As always, there are naysayers who will point out how once again the new shows are proof that anime has been on a decline and that it needs to capture the glory days of when anime was good. However, you might notice that the people who talk about anime’s golden days of quality are not all talking about the same period of anime, and begin to realize that anime has never hit some horrible slump no matter how much some would want you to believe.
Budget allotments may rise and fall, the economy may see dark times and periods of prosperity, and old staff may die or retire while new blood replaces them, but I feel like there are constants, such as the desire to succeed and the desire to express an idea, that make it so that there is always something to hope for with anime.
It’s one thing to be saddened that the types of shows you like are no longer being made. I for one sometimes wish that we would get more bad 80s OVAs and good 70s-style ultra-melodramatic shoujo, but I understand that this is just a preference, and I can appreciate every new anime that comes out and know that as a collective whole the anime industry does not want to fail. Yes, there are shows that are not good at all, and others that cater to niche audiences, but even within those shows and genres that are criticized as being vapid or devoid of content, progress is still being made. It might be the case that the popular shows are overshadowing the better ones, but this doesn’t stop the good shows from being good, and it certainly doesn’t mean popular show can’t be good either.
Criticism is necessary, as is discourse, as is the ability to express one’s opinions on shows and how the industry is doing. However, anime does not need doom and gloom, nor does it ever actually invite such a mindset when you look at it as a whole.