These Three Anime Genres Haven’t Evolved In Over 15 Years
It’s relatively common for new shows to stick to their genre’s formula for success. Not every show must be a groundbreaking work and in theory it only takes one unique show every couple of years to redefine an entire genre. This has been the case for most anime genres. However, not all genres have made equal strides and you’d be surprised to find how slowly some genres change. Here are three anime genres that haven’t evolved in over 15 years.
Perhaps the most repetitive genre in anime, the sports genre has made little to no advancement in the last 20 or so years. The last widely popular one-man-sport anime was Hikaru no Go from 2003. The last widely popular group sport anime was Slam Dunk from way back in 1996. It’s not hard to see why sports anime haven’t exactly caught up either. As every sports anime fan can tell you these shows aren’t really about the sport activity itself – they raise and fall based on character relationships and interpersonal drama. The characters are the interesting part. The sport events are just the backdrop, the topping on the cake if you will. But good character drama is nothing special. Every respectable anime series has interesting characters and human drama. And that leaves sports anime in a bind – they must break the mold that defined them as “human drama shows” if they want to be more relevant. After all, if a branch of sport is not the main focus of the series, why brand it as a sport anime?
Sports anime have thus fallen from grace and are completely irrelevant. It will take an amazing amount of originality to create an ongoing popular sport anime in this day and age, but this genre is in dire need of one such series.
The shounen genre is thriving and going strong. However, most new shounen anime still stick to the very basic (primordial even) ideas that Dragon Ball showcased back in 1986. Take a character (probably a boy) let him have a crazy aspiration to be the best in something or maybe collect all the bits of another thing and voila – you have yourself a hit shounen show. Most people are already aware of the low bar the shounen genre has created for itself. While evergreen series like Naruto and One Piece are still going strong (because they are actually good) most new shounen series are met with cold shoulders and waning sales. With the lack of new developments in the shounen genre taking their toll most studios have turned to more profitable genres (such as mahou shoujo and moe) and are hesitant to dabble in the tricky genre that is shounen. It seems that the only way to success with shounen in the 21st century is either with grotesque series that shock the viewers or by reviving old favorites that are sure to suck some more money from the shounen-hungry crowds.
There is no doubt this is a genre in need of a good shake. And since this has traditionally been a highly profitable genre it’s fairly safe to assume that some hot-shot script writers are already brainstorming night and day, slowly cracking the formula for the next big shounen hit.
The last big leap in love-comedy anime dates back to 1998. Until then the genre was dominated by Takahashi Rumiko clones that mimicked the likes of Ranma 1/2 in a seemingly endless loop. Then in 1998 Akamatsu Ken published a love comedy manga named Love Hina. It took the world by storm and single-handadly redefined the love-comedy genre. It even went as far as defining how women were portrayed in anime for the next decade to come by making ahoge and antenna hair attractive again. Love Hina started the golden age of love-comedy anime with series like Ai Yori Aoshi, Kare Kano and Ouran High School Host Club gracing us with their presence. Sadly the latter title seemed to have been the last of its kind. It’s been more than half a decade since a love-comedy series was considered mainstream in Japan, even longer if you set your eyes to the West. Modern love comedy shows still borrow their basic structure from Love Hina religiously in a ritual that has changed very little since the original appeared fifteen years ago. Fortunately the romance genre (which overlaps the love-comedy genre to some extend) is not as frozen solid. New edgy romantic series are showing up each year, and even though they aren’t selling very well they are at least making a stand and testing new waters. In time the love-comedy genre might make a comeback based on these advancements.
What do you think? Do you agree that sports, shounen and love-comedy anime are standing in place? Are there other genres you think could use a major facelift? Sound off in the comments section.