Hey! Welcome to the very first Anime influences America series of posts! I, Star, will be breaking down some of the history of anime in America. I understand this is a huge history so I will start with beginning of the hype for our generation and grow from there. (Just to keep this simple, it’s a history lesson haha.) Here we go!
I figured it would be best to break this up this up via decade. (And from here I can create future posts about each channel, year and streaming services )
We here at, YCK are millenials in our mid-twenties which means we’re starting with the
Such a colorful time for television in general. And depending where you were some of us got a wide selection of anime from the moment you woke up to the last thought before you fell asleep. For me that meant, Sailor Moon in the morning, Pokemon in the afternoon and Dragonball Z at night. I remember particularly begging my mom to stay to watch the next episode. (It’s a miracle I slept at all.) But I can safely say, all three were a HUGE part of my upbringing and to most Americans it was just a show that kids watched. Mind you, back than there were no streaming services so if you missed an episode on TV sometimes they would play the last episode a half hour before the new one. (But that wasn’t always the case.) There was a lot of scrubbing for the editors in America since Producers and Distributors often thought that themes and concepts in some of these shows were too forward/sexual/gruesome. That often resulted in weird translations and sometimes skipped episodes.
But I guess without google riceballs became donuts in Pokemon and Sailor Uranus was cousins to Sailor Neptune, definitely not dating… SUS. Us, cultured kids definitely knew what was up. Later Cartoon Network launched the oh so famous, Toonami that allowed shows to play later in the night that were completely kid friendly. With a rise of adult fans, this became the first of many Anime Conventions and the beginning of the Cosplay trend.
Daytime television decided America could handle much more content so we started to get shows like Digimon, Yu Yu Hakusho, and Card Captor Sakura right school ended. While older shows started to die down Pokemon was still at an all time high. Becoming McDonalds toys in happy meals and it’s very own movie sold on VHS (meaning tapes not DVDs). In the next 5 years, anime was in a major incline. With the broadcasting of 4kids that brought us, Shaman King, Sonic the Hedgehog, Bobobo Bo bobo and Cartoon Network that gave us, Yugioh, Zatch Bell, and some Japanese inspired shows like Puffy Ami Yumi which definitely created interest in JPop and JRock. At this time Youtube also started to ramp up with AMVs.
There were a few sites that helped to make a staple in the world of online streaming. Episodes airing without subs the day of, and subs coming out anywhere from a few days to a week later. Truly was the birth of a revolution. The rise of Newtype magazine and manga being sold in national bookstores like Barnes and Noble and Borders which gave Americans first-looks at production and upcoming shows. Stores like Suncoast sold boxset VHS tapes and DVDs dubbed and subbed. Shows like Naruto, Ouran High School Host club, Bleach, Paranoia Agent, Eureka Seven, Blood+, Code Geass, Inuyasha, Full Metal Alchemist (just to name a few) were all watchable on Cartoon Network’s Toonami and that shaped a whole generation.
When 2009 ended, many anime distribution companies in America had gone under. This made anime dub scarce for a while. Until Funimation seized the opportunity to buy up all the rights to the dropped shows and as a monopolizing marketing scheme resold those boxsets as “S.A.V.E” collections.
Anime was back and more popular then ever. Toonami started showing more than one anime which gave young adults and teens something to keep up on live television. Unless they wanted to wait for the boxset to be available at the store for binging purposes, or to buy and resell becoming the secret boxset dealer at your high school’s anime club. With all that being said, anime was more widely known but not widely accepted. JPop and JRock really started ramping up which opened the world to KPop and KHip-hop with girl and boy bands of all types. It also started to influence our fashion trends with the rise of hashtags and Instagram. By 2015 anime was more wildly accepted amongst the younger generations while there were still folks that swore against all things anime and hiding the fact that they came from those weeby roots. Then the rise of anime came with the extensive use of streaming services, where the very people that bullied others because of their weeby interests start to gain interest in anime of all kinds. Which brings us to now. Anime and J/K music became common knowledge and popular media and fashion can be found in various clothes and streaming services.
Reminder to everyone, that this post is based around my experiences and fact checked on Wikipedia. I hope this was help to some and a walk down memory lane for others. Anime definitely influenced the person I am today and honestly, I wouldn’t have it any other way.