We all have shows that we adore for various reasons. Whether it be the plot (Seikon no Qwaser), the deep characters (Lucky Star), or just the right dose of humor, there’s usually at least one show per season that you look forward to every week on the edge of your seat.
While most people can easily identify why they enjoy a specific show, what qualities drive them into legends? Generally once per year an anime will skyrocket its way into the upper reaches of coveted popularity. Why?
Much to my surprise, I discovered a cozy little Japanese/Anime import shop at the local mall a few years ago. I quickly pegged it as a lost cause, but now it is a buzzing, successful store that is no longer strange to stop by if you’re hanging out with your friends. I typically visit a few times per month to see if there’s any new figurines or nendroids (Sadly 90% of them end up being fakes). While I was there, I noticed an array of huge posters on one wall, all easily recognizable titles like K-On, Haruhi, Code Geass, Full Metal Alchemist, and even some Vocaloids.
Upon seeing these, I started to wonder… What exactly made each of those shows so popular that they would become such big titles in Japan, even to the point of being marketed here in the U.S.? Each anime had its own distinct qualities, and there was no obvious correlation. Besides that, why were some top-selling animes like Bakemonogatari, who dominated the blu-ray sales charts until late 2010, not being dubbed and marketed?
Now I obviously can’t judge what makes a show popular by whether or not it gets marketed in English, but it got me wondering about both ends of the spectrum! I couldn’t decide why a show like K-On would propel to the top, leaving another like So・Ra・No・Wo・To in the dust. Arguably, So・Ra・No・Wo・To has a much more engaging plot, dynamic characters, and beautiful scenery crafted based on a real village (I forget where). The reason I compare the two is because as many people know, the character designs for the two shows were so similar in style that it was humorously labeled “K-On goes to war!”. A funny coincidence? I couldn’t ever decide.
In the end, you can explain some facets of popularity based on how the company markets the product and builds the show. Many people claimed that Shaft may have skyrocketed their Blu-Ray sales by leaving parts of their show cut and unfinished (albeit, in an acceptable and interesting manner except for the Nadeko arc) . I couldn’t explain big titles like Haruhi and K-On personally. It boils down to what makes a show popular to you. The more people it appeals to, the bigger it becomes.
So tell me! What about an anime makes you come back for more?