The Rise of Anime During Quarantine


Kurumi Tokisaki from the popular anime Date A Live, drawn by Erin Kemery

Erin Kemery, Artist & Photographer

A lot of people say anime, animated shows, and movies from Japan are weird. Yet when you can see the quality of animation from this industry and you can see the community that has come from it, you can see why so many people like it. Whether you watch sub or dub, cosplay or don’t, or are a veteran or a little weeblet, anime watchers are a community. Sub is the original Japanese audio along with English subtitles. Many watchers prefer this, as with dubs the voices aren’t as accurate. Dub is when the original audio is replaced by English voice actors. Dub is much easier to start with. In the anime community, there’s usually gatekeeping (“you have to watch ___ in order for me to accept you”) and very suspicious people (stay away from “proshippers”), but overall it’s a good community. But why has there been such a rise in popularity with the foreign media?

The reason is Quarantine. While there are many American shows to watch on streaming networks like Netflix, Disney Plus, Hulu, and Peacock, there’s a lot of anime also in that mix. At first, I was watching shows and movies on Netflix (“Tall Girl” and “Umbrella Academy” most memorable). However, I also noticed there were so many anime that I didn’t know where to start. But I decided to delve in and now it’s all I watch. It isn’t “cringe” to find something enjoyable, neither is expressing that interest, it’s healthy to find a passion and want to share it.

So here I am! Showing and expressing my passion to you! If you find anime to be weird because it’s from another country, I suggest first watching dub. The pros of dub are that you don’t have to focus too hard on reading all of the subtitles in time. You get to enjoy the beauty of the animation. The art style may seem a bit different, but you get used to it and learn to love each of the different art styles in the anime. The best genre to look for as a starter anime is a slice of life or an action, I’d stray away from the romance and horror ones. A really good and cute movie to watch is Ponyo—it’s great for kids,  colorful, and has a lighthearted story! Also, although I don’t personally like it, Naruto is good as a starter. It’s very popular, for its action and humor. The Fate series, in my opinion, is also a good starter. It has a bit more horror to it, but the animation is gorgeous—despite being a decade old. There’s a mystery with where you start in Fate, but I was told to watch the shows first. Start with Stay Night Unlimited Blade Works, then move to Zero. Zero has much more horror to it, so beware if you’re light-hearted. If you want to cry, there are anime like Erased, Fruits Basket, and Your Lie In April, which are more emotion-based than action.

I hope that your journey into anime is a fun one! There are some to avoid and there are some to definitely never watch. Be safe, stay away from anime that may scar you for life, but have faith! It’s a lot of fun and the beauty of the art is totally worth it!