Anime in India: The Past, Present, and Future through my eyes

The prevalence of anime in India has been quite interesting as people who laugh it off as cartoon, have been watching it without knowledge and have enjoyed it so far. As the Indian fanbase for anime grows, let us see what content it offers

Anime in India: The Past, Present, and Future through my eyes

I was studying in college when I was first introduced to Anime and like any other noob in India, I asked my friend why did he ask me to watch ‘cartoon’. His face definitely turned red, maybe because he was ashamed that he was being judged or maybe because he was angry with my ‘cartoon’ comment. I think it was the latter. But he laughed it off and explained a little bit about the series to me and asked me to watch some episodes so that we could have an actual conversation.

So I went home, switched on my laptop, connected my pen drive and introduced myself to an unvisited world. I watched 10 episodes in a sitting before my mom interrupted and told me I had been glued to the laptop for more than three hours. The next day, I thanked my friend and asked him for more episodes. After which, within the next two and a half months, I finished watching Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden (I skipped all the filler episodes). 

While I was overwhelmed after consuming such content, I was also surprised at how I was devoid of such content for so long. I put up a little analysis and visited various articles that explained the issue of Indians and their prejudice against animated content. I learned that animated content helps you display the imagination which cannot be shown using real-life characters.

I came to understand the difference between a cartoon and an anime. You see, cartoons are targeted especially for kids, and the content deals with topics revolving around friendship, fun, exploration, etc. On the other hand, Anime/Manga and related media is a Japanse form of art and is produced keeping in mind, the audience consisting of all ages except for Hentai and Ecchi series, which cater to an adult audience.

While anime might deal with content for kids but there are innumerable other serious series which talk about love, death, conflicts, and wars.  

However, associating animated characters with cartoons has been an age-long issue which is why the Indian audience has been devoid of Netflix shows such as BoJack Horseman, Rick & Morty, and several other brilliant series. But the audience too cannot be entirely blamed since we have been fed with cartoons like Chhota Bheem, Mighty Raju, explaining our despise towards animated content.

Anime In India: The Past

With globalisation opening doors for foreign ventures, the 1990s saw its markets open up to various elements entering the Indian market. One such change was the introduction of anime via television. However, a majority of anime series were targetted for children which explains why the Indians always considered anime as a ‘cartoon for children’. 

We were all surrounded by animes such as Beyblade, Doraemon, Pokemon, Dragon Ball, Naruto, Detective Conan, Kochikame, etc. but we never understood that our beloved cartoons were anime series. As the prevalence of anime increased in the country, we were gifted with a dedicated channel, Animax. 

I still recall how I wasn’t aware that Animax was specifically meant for anime and it was just another cartoon channel for me. But I would wait to watch Astro Boy, an anime based on an android with human emotions and even if I couldn’t understand it, I would look at the screen and try to enjoy the graphics.

Eventually, my childish mind gave in to the boredom caused by lack of understanding and I switched to other senseless cartoons.

Anime in India: The Present And The Future

But soon after as I was reunited with the anime culture, I began looking forward to making anime references whenever I had the opportunity. I was afraid I would come across as a ‘weirdo’ for liking anime but to my surprise, I met some amazing people who happened to be anime lovers (the term for it is otakus) which helped me get into a detailed discussion about anime and its present situation in India.

I got some amazing recommendations about what shows I must watch and which ones I should totally avoid. As my interest began developing, I started to take a look at manga stores, i.e. stores with comic books from which anime series are created, across Mumbai and found out there were dozens of them around me. If you intend to find out about them, just Google ‘Anime Stores across Mumbai’.

Along with this, popular anime series are available on the Internet in Hindi for the Indian audience on websites like amongst others. Alongside, YouTube has been a prominent factor in promoting anime and manga culture in India with reviewers like InSaiyanTV, Whixer, Anime Mirchi, Dragon Hindi X, Pokeverse X, among others.

As surprised as I was, I learned that the future of anime does not exist in India through television and especially, mature anime has been unable to be brought on television screens, making it impossible for the audiences to learn about them.

Therefore, the content providers along with the audience have diverted themselves to the Internet, making it easier to access.

And as we look at a bright future for anime in India, it is vital that any form of content must be viewed as content only without labeling it with prejudice. Because if I hadn't let go of my meek opinion about anime, I wouldn't have been able to consume the content the animated series have created. 

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