Have you heard of the saying “What you Watch is What you Are”? If not, then have you been told how the TV shows you’re watching says a lot about your personality?
Well, these sayings are true to a certain extent when we’re talking about individuals. But what if you’re talking about people? More specifically, what if you’re talking about a nation?
If you want to know the estimated number of people watching anime in several nations, then look no further! Using the power of analysis and strategical thinking, I have ‘generated the data below using Google Sheets’ to estimate the quantitative information we need to make this list:
Table 1: Statistical Data of the Top Ten Countries where Anime is Most Popular
The quantitative data I’ve compiled to generate the statistics on each country only uses secondary data. However, my list is not generated by robots or machines. Rather, I chose to create my top 10 countries list based on the following:
- ‘Live Data of the World’s Population per country’;
- ‘Publicly available quantitative information from Statistica.com’, ‘SocialBlade.com’, ‘ParrotAnalytics.com’,and ‘BusinessOfApps.com’;
- ‘Google Trends’ is also useful, but I’ve only utilized it as a starting point or as a base for this research.
- And finally, to add a personal touch to this discussion, I’ve added my insights, general observations, and some of my experiences.
Google Trends is a good starting point, but I don’t want to rely on it to generate the top 10 countries where anime gained massive popularity.
After all, several Google services like YouTube and Gmail are banned on certain countries: China, North Korea, Cuba, Iran (and almost all Arab countries), Crimea (located in Eastern Europe), Syria, and Sudan (a country in North-East Africa).
Why it’s in this list: It’s in this list because ‘Spanish is the fourth most spoken language worldwide’ – only after Hindi but before French.
- Spanish anime websites appear in Google searches more than any other language after English and Japanese languages.
- Most televised anime shows during the 90s were also dubbed by Spanish locals. This explains why the number of animes dubbed in this language grew exponentially.
- Spanish-dubbed animes were also distributed to Spanish-speaking countries like Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela. If different nations can watch anime in their own native tongues, then anime fans of those nations would also increase.
Table 2: Several Spanish anime comments in YouTube pop up back in 2005 to 2010. Here are some examples with their English translations.
- YouTube’s comments section during 2005 (when the social media app was introduced) was also filled with thousands of Spanish words like the table below. It only goes to show anime’s massive popularity in Spain and other Latin American countries.
|YouTube’s Spanish Comments||English Translation|
|¡Amo el anime!||I love anime!|
|¡Goku es el luchador más fuerte de DBZ!||Goku is the strongest fighter in DBZ!|
|¡Soy Sailor Moon! ¡Te derrotaré con mi Moon Prism Power!||I am Sailor Moon! I will defeat you with my Moon Prism Power!|
Why it’s in this list: Japan is the homeland and birthplace of anime. If not for Japan, the global anime industry wouldn’t even be born!
- Other than anime originating in Japan, anime perpetuates Japanese people’s lives.
- If you are a foreigner visiting Tokyo as a tourist, you’re going to see many anime shows advertised in billboards, malls, and subway stations.
- Don’t forget how ‘Pikachu and Hello Kitty characters were also used as marketing advertisements in airplanes’!
- Japanese men even wear anime-inspired neckties when they go to job interviews or their regular place of businesses; and take note, this is an acceptable practice if you’re in Japan!
- ‘Akihabara, Ikebukuro, Nakano are anime-inspired towns or wards in Tokyo’. These places are popularly known as “Otaku Culture Centres” for anime cosplayers, electronic game hobbyists, and manga readers.
- If you go to Japan but are not familiar with its Otaku pop culture, you might feel left out for not cosplaying in social events held in anime conventions. Worst, you may be dubbed as a “normie” (another term for “pariah” or a “social outcast”).
- Even I was shocked when Japan didn’t become first place in my list!
- Japan may be the progenitor of anime, manga, and many consumer electronic play stations, but China takes the number one spot because it has the largest population density (this is why Japanese animation is heavily marketed on mainland China!).
Why it’s in this list: Anime boomed in Mexico during the Golden Age – an era that began in 1985 when the first installment of the Dragon Ball franchise made its way to the country.
- The 80s or 90s Mexican viewers living in the Golden Age don’t just stop watching anime after it’s broadcasted on TV. They also lived in an era where anime-related merchandise can be bought after school or work hours.
- These 80s or 90s Mexican viewers have now become adults and established their own families. Today, they have opportunities to reminisce about anime to their own kids via television, internet, and other forms of media.
- What contributed to a large Mexican fanbase is also because of Spanish-dubbed animes making their way to Mexico.
- The increasing number of Mexican anime fan pages during the Dot-com Bubble (1998) is also an effect of Japanese mangas and anime shows being translated to Spanish.
- Japanese anime DVDs, mangas, posters, and video games also made their way to ‘Mexican markets’.
- Even if anime is widespread in Mexico, there are downsides like how pirated anime DVDs are traded among Mexican flea markets.
Why it’s in this list: ‘Otaku conventions’ play a big part in the massive popularity of anime in the Philippines, especially in the early 2010s when a famous Filipina cosplayer, ‘Alodia Gosiengfiao’, helped Filipinos augment their support for Otaku culture.
- Another reason is when the Internet Boom occurred in 2005. Filipino kids immediately go to the internet and log in to their Friendster accounts to talk about all-things anime (the Friendster website was established in 2002; it was the “Facebook” at that time).
- Filipinos also dub televised anime shows in Tagalog (the most-commonly used language in the Philippines). These Tagalog-dubbed anime shows were ‘broadcasted in several primary network stations of the country’ during the 80s, 90s, and early 2000s.
- Broadcasting several anime shows in Tagalog even before 2010 rolled in explains why many anime conventions were also sponsored in the Philippines.
- Anime is also ‘a social phenomenon in the Philippines’ because ‘Filipino college students’ help shaped the Otaku community.
Why it’s in this list: ‘10 of the largest anime conventions are located in America’.
- US has been an awesome anime influencer for over three decades now.
- It is destined to be an active and loud influencer even when it comes to Japanese animation. Just look at where Mr. Hayao Miyazaki’s Ghibli Studios anime films are primarily marketed and distributed — it’ s none other than the U.S.!
- Also, the first time I’ve heard about Mr. Miyazaki is through a promotional video within a US home-released DVD of Spirited Away — not from any Japanese trailers with English subtitles.
- The videos were narrated by John Lasseter himself, the previous chief creative officer of Walt Disney’s Pixar Animation Studios, a giant company in the animation industry.
- Mr. Lasseter is friends with Mr. Miyazaki, and as a big Disney and Pixar fan, I was shocked to discover this special feature: ‘Intro of Spirited Away’s US home-released DVD’.
- The DVD was from the early 2000s, an era where anime was slowly making its mark in my hometown in the Philippines. So, when I saw the special intro featurette, it tells me of Mr. Hayao Miyazaki’s vision, creative ideas, and massive influence in the English-speaking communities of the world.
- The US may not have a population density as large as China or India. But viewers cannot just ignore the fact that the headquarters of many anime-subscription services are housed in the U.S. For example:
|American Anime-Licensing Companies||Location of Headquarters|
|FUNimation||Flower Mount, Texas|
|Crunchyroll||San Francisco, California|
|Netflix||Los Gatos, California|
|HULU||Santa Monica, California|
|VRV||San Francisco, California New York City, New York|
Table 3: Many anime subscription services are headquartered in the U.S.
- These subscription-stream media services got your back covered when it comes to anime. They have everything under control from licensing rights, to distribution network, to legal partnership agreements from Sony Music Entertainment Japan (the conglomerate owner to many anime distributors, such as Aniplex of America Inc. or Aniplex USA)
- Before I move on, here’s something I would like to share about Hulu: The Walt Disney Company owns 67% of HULU’s equity. Comcast (Disney’s “silent partner” in the business agreement) holds a 33% stake, but it will ‘renounce its share to Disney as early as 2024′.
- This means, Disney will own 100% of HULU’s equity 4-5 years down the road. Today, HULU mainstreams anime on demand to Japanese audience; but many of its viewers are primarily from the United States.
- In any case, without the streaming giants such as FUNimation, Crunchyroll, and HULU renewing anime licenses, fans wouldn’t even be capable of re-watching or binge-watching anime.
- Moreover, fans wouldn’t even get English subtitles on several of the anime shows that they’re watching if it weren’t for these streaming giants.
- The absence of English subtitles would not even help in popularizing the anime medium across the globe. After all, ‘English is the primary spoken language’.
- Without English subtitles, anime would create language barriers on its non-Japanese audience.
Why it’s in this list: There are ‘over 30 Russian characters featured in Japanese animation’.
- Many fictional Japanese characters use Russian names like “Anastasia” and “Rasputin”, which are also names of real-life, historical, and political Russian figures.
- Perhaps Japanese studios use popular Russian last names like “Putina”, “Petrov”, and “Romanova” so that these fictional anime characters can feel more connected with their Russian viewers.
- An alternative explanation to this is Russia has been participating in wars since the 16th century.
- With the country’s strong military history, it’s no wonder several Japanese shōnen mangakas and animes utilize Russia’s military history and historical figures into their works. Just take a look at all these ‘war-themed anime titles’:
- Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (1995-1996);
- Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (2006-2007);
- Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (2009-2010);
- Shingeki no Kyojin / Attack on Titan (2013 – present);
- Darker than Black: Kuro no Keiyakusha (2007);
- Full Metal Panic! (2002).
- Truth be told, I was second-guessing putting Russia in this top ten list because many news reports claims that Russia is heavily against Japanese anime and Otaku culture:
- ‘Russian State Media Accuses Anime of Promoting Child Suicide’;
- ‘BBC questions “What is Russia’s problem with anime?”’;
- ‘Russia Takes Firm Stance Against Anime in New State Report’.
- Despite all these criticisms and bans, ‘the country dubs anime into Russian language’.
- ‘Russian anime characters also evolved in the Japanese anime medium’, which contributes to a growing anime fandom in the country.
Why it’s in this list: Even before the era of Dragon Ball Z during the 1990s, anime has been popular in Brazil way back in the 1960s.
- During the 1960s, Japan and South America had a strong international and immigration relationship, particularly with Brazil.
- If Brazilians and Japan can trade goods, then ‘anime is also one of those goods that were traded’.
- ‘Speed Racer’ (1960s – 1970s)and ‘Space Battleship Yamato’ (1980) were the first shows to draw Brazilian’s attention to Japanese animation.
- Then, the early 90s kids were introduced to Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon.
- If 90s Brazilian kids also want to chat on the internet about anime, they must visit “Internet Cafés” and pay its hourly rates to do so.
- This trend doesn’t just happen in Brazil; it also happens in other Spanish-speaking countries like Spain, Mexico, El Salvador, and Peru. It also happens in the Philippines during the 90s and early 2000s.
- Not only does this hobby of going into Internet Cafés give us reason to believe why anime gained massive popularity in Brazil; it also allows us some insight as to how anime became the talk of many towns and cities in Latin America.
Why it’s in this list: According to a ‘2017 survey’, almost 30% of Indonesia viewers enjoy watching anime and reading manga everyday. In 2020, that number doubled between 63% to 67% Indonesian anime viewers and manga readers.
- It’s also thanks to ‘The Indonesian Anime Times’ that anime is getting the recognition it deserves in the country.
- Another contributing factor to the growing anime fandom in the country is because ‘many anime shows use several Indonesian references’.
- For example, Dragon Ball may be based on Wu Cheng’en’s Chinese novel of the “Monkey King: Journey to the West”. But did you know in the Dragon Ball anime, the “Tenkaichi Budokai Tournament Arc” shows words and images based in Indonesia?
- Similarly, Shokugeki no Sōma uses “tempeh” in an episode. Tempeh is a traditional South-East Asian soy ingredient that originated from Indonesia.
- During the Internet Boom in 2005, anime scenes from the 90s and early 2000s that were uploaded in YouTube gained many South-East Asian fans!
- Some of these fans and commenters came from Indonesia, Thailand, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Malaysia, and Philippines. One could say that the YouTube comments section rival anime forum’s traffic!
- These growing trends between social media apps and anime forums explain how other South-East Asian countries followed and joined in Indonesia’s small but growing anime fandom.
- Anime also became a cultural phenomenon in Indonesia because its viewers grew up watching anime on national television after school hours (around 5 pm to 8 pm).
- If this is how Indonesian 80s, 90s, and early 2000s kids grew up, it’s no wonder how Japanese anime quickly gained momentum in many South East Asian nations.
Why it’s in this list: Anime also has a long history in India from Doraemon to Dragon Ball to Naruto to One Punch Man. But did you know that it all started with ‘The Jungle Book that is dubbed in Hindi’?
- Jungle Book Shōnen Mowgli was produced by Nippon Animation Studio. With 52 successful episodes dubbed in Hindi, the show fantastically gained momentum in India’s television market during its 1989 – 1990 release!
- The popularity of anime in India started with Mowgli and it only grew from there. No sooner, Hindi anime fan pages around the late 90s grew from a mere handful to just over nine thousand within a decade! Most of these fan pages were started by many college students.
- ‘Hindi is also the 3rd most spoken language globally’, which explains why anime gained massive followers in India.
- The Dot-com Bubble era around 1998 also contributed to anime’s popularity. And this trend continued when YouTube was introduced in 2005 during the Internet Boom.
- For example, YouTube allows its viewers in India to rewatch opening songs of their favourite 80s, 90s, and 2000s animes like Saint Seiya, Captain Tsubasa, Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball, and Naruto multiple times.
- There are also several anime reviewers in India with YouTube accounts that obtain thousands of views per day!
- YouTube Indian reviewers like ‘Dragon Hindi X’ and ‘Whixer’ have over 200 to 300 thousand subscribers, respectively.
- Since YouTube reviewers like “Dragon Hindi X” and “Whixer” obtain over ten thousand to hundred-thousand views on their videos, it’s no wonder why ‘anime stands out among other Indian cartoons in the country’.
Emerging Markets of Anime
Before I go on to number one, I would like to name a few emerging markets where anime is slowly but surely becoming famous:
- European Countries:
- United Kingdom – U.K. has a massive number of anime followers, especially when they have their own ‘Anime UK News’ to spread the word of new shows!
- France – ‘Kazé France’ is a French publishing company specializing in manga and anime; it also distributes its works in UK, Germany, Spain, and Italy
- Canada – Anime conventions also perpetuate Canadians’ love for anime. Take ‘Anime North’ for example in the city of Toronto where Canadians celebrate their love for Japanese and Otaku Culture!
- Australia – ‘Anime Lab’ targets its main audience in Australia, New Zealand, and other Oceania countries; hence, why many Australians grow to love anime as well.
- Middle East – At first, I thought many Middle East Asian countries would ban anime; but old shows dubbed in Arabic language like Doraemon, Pokémon, Naruto, and Detective Conan are allowed to be broadcasted on national television.
However, even if they’re Arabic dubbed and Japanese characters are given Arabic names, these are old shows. This is the reason why Middle East viewers are not updated to the latest anime shows unlike in the U.S., European, Australian, and South-East Asian countries.
It’s probably also because in the Middle East, they don’t establish many anime conventions unlike in other parts of the world.
Having said that, many Middle East Asian viewers cannot financially support the anime medium due to poverty and insufficient education (not many people might know how to read the English subtitles in the show).
Furthermore, they are unable to buy the official DVDs and official copies of Japanese mangas, which only hinders anime and manga’s growth in the Middle East.
Sadly, 99% to 100% of the Arabic viewers turn to illegal streaming sites for the latest anime entertainment.
- Saudi Arabia
- South America
- El Salvador
- South-East Asia
- Hong Kong
- South Korea
Why it’s in this list: With over 1.40 billion people, China has the largest population density worldwide. It’s also thanks to the ‘Bilibili website’ that Japanese animation is extremely popular in the country.
- China is the #1 country where anime is most popular because of its 1.40 billion population density and strong economy that rivals the U.S.
- Bilibili Inc. is an online entertainment service targeting Chinese audience. If the U.S. has FUNimation and Crunchyroll, then, China relies on Bilibili’s streaming internet service.
- Bilibili is an over-the-top (OTT) entertainment platform where viewers obtain different genres of shows for their entertainment. The platform doesn’t only limit itself to Japanese anime, but also mobile games, music, movies, and comics.
- With such a wide array of choices, Bilibili earned ‘a gross profit of over CNY 604 million’.
- In other words, if an OTT service can monetize this much because of its online streaming anime, games, movies, and music entertainment services, how much more can cosplay, and similar social events earn?
- When Kimi no Na wa (Your Name) premiered in China on December 2, 2016, the movie earned ¥ 533 million (or US $76.7 million) that it became ‘China’s highest grossing Japanese film!
- It’s astonishing how ‘Kimi no Na wa was considered for Best Animated Oscar Feature’ because the country with the largest population density supported it!
- China doesn’t only have market potential for new Japanese anime or films. Rather, it can even be the key that ensures Japanese anime stays around for another one or two decades!
- Without the money from over a billion Chinese filmgoers, Japanese anime films like Kimi no Na wa would neither gain Oscar recognition nor earn big bucks.
- We can say that China is an international market player when it comes to a variety of Japanese entertainment (games, movies, anime series, music, comic book conventions, etc.). And it even beats the nominal GDP of the US just because of China’s large economy and extremely huge population!
About Japanese Animes
Anime is a word derived from animation. When people say “anime”, they usually refer to hand-drawn and computer animation originally coming from Japan.
Vibrant characters, colorful graphics, and fantastic storytelling are the epitome of Japanese successful animation over the years.
With the medium’s cultural and global phenomenon over the last three decades, it’s understandable why Japanese animation is a satisfying form of entertainment that many fans around the globe continue to seek.