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A Rising Tide: The Impact of Global Anime Culture

Today, anime is not just a genre; it is a pivotal part of global pop culture, resonating with diverse audiences far beyond its initial reach. Its impact is evident in high-fashion runways, blockbuster screenings in Hollywood, and streaming playlists worldwide. The unique ability of anime to adapt and thrive in various forms has made it a critical medium for cultural exchange and economic innovation. This article explores how anime has woven itself into the fabric of global culture, reshaping industries and redefining entertainment consumption for a new generation.

Anime in Fashion

Anime has influenced fashion and served as inspiration for Streetwear and Luxury brands alike. COMME des GARÇONS released an Akira inspired collection in 2013, followed by Supreme and Akira in 2017. Both of these collections were well received and showed the power of cultural capital that anime has in mainstream western fashion and have an impact on future demand for anime based collabs. These early releases helped move anime from its niche based fandom and highlight how anime would become a powerful influnece in culture and fashion in the years to come. The Supreme collaboration was particularly appealing because it tapped into the nostalgia of fans who appreciated the gritty, cyberpunk aesthetic of Akira that aligned well with Supreme’s edgy brand image.

In 2021 & 2022 there were notable releases from Dolce & Cabanna for JJK, Pokemon and COMME des GARÇONS, Gundam X Nike, Sailor Moon x Vans, Adidas X Attack on Titan, Louis Vuitton X Final Fantasy and DORAMEON X Gucci to name a few. In casual fashion Uniqlo has and continues to partner with popular anime series like Dragon Ball, Naruto, and One Piece to create T-shirts and other apparel featuring iconic characters and artwork.

Your first reference to anime fashion may include cosplay, where individuals dress up as their favorite characters, and should not be dismissed. This subculture has influenced style trends from major brands that aren’t just looking to collaborate, but rather tap into the ethos and culture. In this vogue article, there is a clear link to the popularity of sailor moon in the early 90s and the preppy chic clothes we see defining the generation. Anime isn’t just content and entertainment, it is a cultural foundation for style, products, and connection across global borders. When we see anime in this light it makes sense that it continues to be a driving force in the trends we see come about.

Anime & Film

Demon Slayer the Movie: Mugen Train did over 500 Million Dollars globally becoming the biggest blockbuster of 2020 while most of the world was locked down with the corona virus. Unlike many other genres within film, the anime industry had one of the lowest contractions in value during this time. The success of the film is linked to its deep emotional storyline that focuses on universal themes such as family sacrifice and resilience. It also helped highlight the potential for anime films to compete with Hollywood productions on the global stage, influencing how studios perceive and invest in anime projects.

Studio Ghibli won the best animated feature academy award for Spirited Away in 2003. Their success cemented the studios reputation and influenced many others in how they create and develop anime. Best known for their dedication to artistic integrity and storytelling, an approach that resonated with the global audience of their first release in a decade with The Boy and the Heron. The film topped the box office domestically in the US and is the fourth highest grossing anime film in the United States, it was also the most successful for the studio. The fact that the film grossed over 130 Million globally (at a time when box office performance was and is struggling) is another indication of how influential anime has come and how it could have a tangible economic impact on the global film industry.

Netflix continues to search for strategic content to attract and retain a wildly diverse global audience, and anime has been a big focus. We saw anime originals that included Castlevania: Nocturne, Black Clover: Sword of the Wizard King, My Daemon, Skull Island and more were all added to their content library. As the largest streaming service in the world, Netflix’s embrace of anime will continue to have an impact on the proliferation and acceptance of the medium as well as drive demand for bigger budgets for animators seeing the success that films and shows can have.

Anime & Music

The fan base of anime isn’t secluded to the visuals alone, music has had a significant impact on the genre. The Cowboy Bepop soundtrack by Yoko Kanno set a precedent for jazz in anime and also influenced western musicians and filmmakers. LiSA, who sang "Gurenge" (the opening theme for Demon Slayer), have topped Japanese music charts and gained international fame. In fact many OST (original theme song) have become as iconic as the shows themselves. Similarly to Netflix’s ability to expose a global audience to diverse cultural content, Apple Music and Spotify have anime focused playlists that are indicative of the broad and continual growing cultural appeal.

Daft Punk and Leiji Matsumoto's Interstella 5555 is a full-length feature film made entirely of anime music videos set to Daft Punk’s album "Discovery." It tells a story using the music as a narrative backdrop. Released in 2013, the film has generated a cult following among both Daft Punk and anime fans and is still cited today as a groundbreaking work that influenced other artists to pursue similar multimedia projects.

The Gorillaz have long been associated with animated music videos, and while they aren’t specifically anime, they are heavily influenced by the medium. These music videos have held up over time in a similar way that 80s and 90s anime is still sought after, an argument could be made that anime is one of the most culturally adaptable formats.

The Undeniable Impact

As we have explored, anime's reach extends far beyond its roots in Japanese entertainment, influencing a myriad of facets within global culture. From fashion and film to music and digital innovation, anime has not only inspired creativity across industries, but has also driven economic growth and fostered a deep sense of community among its diverse fan base. In fashion, collaborations between high-profile brands and anime franchises have not only validated anime's cultural significance, but also sparked trends that resonate with consumers worldwide. This blend of pop culture and haute couture illustrates the versatile appeal of anime aesthetics in global fashion markets. In cinema, anime has redefined what can be achieved in storytelling, with films like Demon Slayer: Mugen Train demonstrating that anime films can compete at the box office globally. Moreover, the continued success of studios like Ghibli underscores the universal themes and artistic excellence that anime brings to the global stage, transcending cultural and linguistic barriers.

Music tied to anime has carved out its own niche in the global music scene, with soundtracks and theme songs gaining international acclaim and influencing artists across different music genres. This sonic element of anime not only enhances the narrative impact of anime series and films but also deepens fans' connection to the stories. In essence, anime is more than just a form of entertainment; it is a powerful cultural exporter that has shaped and will continue to shape global cultural landscapes. As we look to the future, the influence of anime is poised to expand even further, promising new innovations in how stories are told and experienced around the world. This enduring impact highlights not only the artistic value of anime but also its significant role as a cultural bridge in our increasingly interconnected world.

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