Anime content has been loved for ages, with plenty of iconic pieces being released over the years. While the industry has seen plenty of highs and lows, anime seems to be trending more than ever in modern times. Still, just how many people watch anime?
Between 90 and 100 million people from all over the world watch anime. Estimations dictate that somewhere between 40% and 60% of the global population watch anime content – either casually or actively. However, the total figure is assumed to be higher, as this range does not include people who watch physical copies of anime content, such as DVDs and Blu-Ray, or watch anime through subscription services.
Considering the fact that anime is incredibly vast overall, the groups of people watching anime vary depending on numerous factors. But, the overall number of total anime viewers worldwide is absolutely astonishing. Stick around to find out about anime’s popularity and fanbase over the years, as well as how many people still watch anime.
‘Anime’ originally went by numerous names. At first, the same styled cartoons were described as ‘Japanese Animations’, after which they were known as ‘Japanimations’. After this point, it was known by the name ‘Anime’ which technically means ‘cartoon’.
But, while the direct translation of the word ‘anime’ means cartoons in Japanese, the rest of the world only refers to Japanese animations as anime – not cartoons made by other regions (generally), or cartoons made in different styles. The anime-style generally refers to the traditional cell drawing systems, but it can also apply to similarly styled animations created by computer technology, such as the Final Fantasy saga.
When it comes to discerning an anime from other cartoons around the world, most of the iconic tell-tale signs revolve around the characters’ features. Anime characters generally have large eyes, elongated limbs, and much more ‘realistic’ details, in addition to a variety of detailed and often gravity-defying or extravagant hairstyles.
In addition, anime facial expressions are typically quite exaggerated. They often include extra details to express mood and emotion, such as streaks, notable beads of sweat, stress mark effects, or even symbols in some cases.
Anime has been around for quite a long time – in fact, it’s been an ongoing tradition in Japan for over a century. It all began when Japanese film directors began using various drawing and animation techniques for storytelling in the 20th century (estimated to be somewhere between 1910 and 1917, according to Anime Tide).
It was only in the 1960s that anime began to take the world by storm, when the works of a cartoonist named Osamu Tezuka, ‘The God of Manga’, began gaining a sizeable domestic audience. It then spiraled into worldwide success as it was influenced by American animation, and is now considered a staple in modern pop culture.
While the 1960s was technically the beginning of what the world would know as anime later down the line, the world only really began developing a taste for anime in the 1980s. This was around the time when pieces like Sailor Moon, Dragon Ball, or Leo, King of the Jungle hit our screens out of nowhere – and became massive hits!
Although the anime community is quite split in terms of which anime is the ‘best’, there were quite a few anime pieces that really put this Japanese cartoon genre on the map worldwide. Such pieces include anime staples like the infamous Dragon Ball Z, Yu-Gi-Oh, and One Piece, as well as hit anime movies like Demon Slayer.
The group of people that watch anime content or pieces is exponential, as it generally grows by a considerable amount each year. People who love and watch anime are traditionally referred to as ‘Otakus’, which identifies people who are absorbed by fictional characters and stories.
Oddly enough, the word ‘Otaku’ actually has somewhat of a negative connotation in Japan, as it can refer to a person who is removed from society as a direct result of their fictional fixations. But, outside Japan, the word ‘Otaku’ can be pretty cool for describing an individual who is passionate about all things anime.
At the time of writing, approximately 90-100 million people watch anime around the world – irrespective of anime type or other details. According to Review Moose, estimations dictate that somewhere between 40% and 60% of the entire global population watch anime content – either casually or actively.
However, this figure generally only accounts for anime viewers that can be tracked online through streaming and anime content platforms. This range does not necessarily consider the amount of anime content purchased or viewed on DVD, Blu-Ray, through subscription services, and much more. So, the total viewer count is likely much higher.
The sudden growth spurt in the anime fanbase’s size may have a lot to do with content distribution as well. Back in the day, anime was pretty tricky to get your hands on – fans had to know exactly where to go online to view their favorite animes without issues.
But, slowly but surely, anime and manga adaptions are becoming far more easy and more convenient to access and enjoy. Industry icons like HBO, Netflix, and even Amazon have begun promoting anime, whether they be original, timeless pieces, or even productions inspired by the traditional anime style.
Plenty of people watch anime online, and modern streaming and content platforms have been pushing anime much more than before as a result. Netflix is a prime example, and according to the Nerdist, approximately half of Netflix’s global audience actually streams anime content.
Kohei Obara, Netflix’s anime creative director, shared the following insights in a recent interview with Variety:
“Anime is one of the cornerstones of our investment in Japan, watched by nearly 90% of our members here last year. At the same time, interest in anime has grown worldwide, and more than half of our members globally tuned into it last year.”
The numbers on Netflix alone were astonishing. They were much higher than anticipated, both by Netflix’s team as well as the global anime fanbase. Netflix has decided to bring 40 anime titles to the platform throughout 2022, including a ton of old favorites as well as new pieces.
“From diversifying our slate to bringing back fan favorites, we want to continue growing our members’ discovery and love for anime, both in Japan and around the world, with this next chapter of anime on Netflix.”
Asia definitely dominates the anime industry, with Japan still being the leader in quality anime content. Below are their anime content stats, according to The Anime Facts:
In terms of the global anime industry, there are quite a few big players. Asia still takes the lead in terms of anime exports, but is followed by North America and Europe as seen below:
It’s safe to say that Japan is the hotspot for anime and anime lovers alike, with an estimated 33% of the total Japanese population actively watching anime content. There are over 6000 animes to date, with approximately half of them being produced in Japan alone.
After this point, the United States flaunts the second-largest anime-loving community, with around 18% of the total US population watching anime. Around 1000 animes have been dubbed into English, which really helps other regions enjoy the content as well, and America has also created plenty of animes of its own.
In the next place comes a somewhat unexpected region – Spain! Spain has approximately 16 million people watching anime actively, and they have also created a variety of their own animes over the years. This spot is neighbored by France, which has around 38% of the total population (around 19 million people) watching anime.
Below are the top 25 countries from all over the world that enjoy anime most, according to Google’s raw searches:
The entire industry is expected to grow even further, most likely to influence the overall viewer counts going forward as well. According to Grand View Research:
“The global anime market size was valued at USD 24.80 billion in 2021 and is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 9.7% over the forecast period. The growing popularity and the rising sales of Japanese anime content worldwide are anticipated to drive the growth of the market over the forecast period.”
It’s pretty clear that this age-old Japanese tradition will continue progressing both in popularity and worldwide success. Anime producers continue to push out content to a variety of platforms and fans continue supporting the industry.
The number of dedicated anime viewers continues to grow day by day, as more interesting and unique anime releases grace our screens. There are certainly a ton of aspects to love about anime, as it includes a variety of elements that can feel relatable but still irresistibly fantastical. With so many animes out there, you’re sure to find something you enjoy!