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There was a time, not so long ago, when loving anime or manga was seen as nerdy or even worthy of ridicule. In 2021, things have changed.
From the popularity of Studio Ghibli films to Netflix commissioning their own anime series, Japanese animation and comics are becoming more mainstream across the world.
For those unfamiliar with anime and manga, let us explain. Anime generally refers to Japanese animated TV shows and films, whereas manga refers to Japanese comics and graphic novels.
While both are of course hugely popular in their country of origin, interest in anime and manga has been growing globally, as this Google search data shows.
We can see that search interest in anime was actually decreasing up until 2019 when levels stabilized. This was followed by a sharp uptick in March and April 2020, suggesting that the pandemic renewed interest in the medium. Come 2021 and searches are at historical highs with no sign of decreasing.
While there’s far less global interest in manga, it’s also seen a healthy increase in search interest since 2020.
It’s not just search interest that’s ramped up either. As more people have looked into anime and manga using Google, a jump in content published on the topics has followed.
According to BuzzSumo, It has been a bumper year for anime and manga articles. For the January to July period, 2021 has seen anime articles increase by 43% and manga ones by 30% compared to 2020. That’s a staggering increase, and one that’s been met with a very positive reaction.
Of the anime content shared to Facebook this year, 63% of reactions were “love”, with only 1% being “angry”. For manga content, these numbers were 55% and 1% respectively.
We also collected similar data around online mentions using Brandwatch Consumer Research. Here we found the same trends again.
Both conversations have seen growth since 2020. As we saw in the search data, a boost for the anime conversation coincides with the beginning of the pandemic, further supporting the idea that people turned to anime as Covid-19 took hold. It looks like manga mentions also saw a pandemic-induced increase.
While numbers are not as high now as they were at some points in the year so far, they remain far above where they were a few years ago. There is little sign of any sustained decrease at the moment.
Looking at the sentiment for these topics in online conversations, we found more positivity. For anime, 34% of mentions were positive this year so far, compared to 46% neutral and 20% negative. For manga, 31% were positive, 44% neutral, and 25% negative.
But don’t be fooled by that negativity as it’s by no means all anti-anime or anti-manga. Instead, lots of the mentions relate to people being unhappy with storyline developments, the end of shows, and other related complaints from fans.
So what’s next for anime and manga? It’s hard to say, but maybe we can get an idea by looking at Japan where both have been commonplace and widely popular for decades.
In Japan, there’s far more search interest in manga than anime, and the gap seems to be widening. As opposed to what we saw in the global data, it’s interest in manga that seems to be growing.
A quick note: the huge jump in manga search interest at the start of 2018 most likely relates to the Manga Mura website which received a lot of attention at the time. It hosted pirated copies of manga series, but was eventually shut down in April 2018, with the site operator now facing prison.
It’s possible that if anime and manga retain their popularity, we could see the latter take over the former as we see in Japan. This seems even more likely considering graphic novel sales are way up in 2021, paving the way for anime lovers to jump from screen to paper.
Whatever the case for the future, this boom in interest should mean great things for the industry, and will help to introduce some incredible shows, films, and comics to even more people.
This data originally appeared in the Brandwatch Bulletin. If you want in on the action, get subscribed now to get future editions straight to your inbox.