With the increase in easy access to television, the Internet, and online streaming platforms, Anime gained massive popularity in India beginning in the 1980s. Few television anime cartoons like Doraemon, Shin-Chan, Power Rangers, and Pokémon became household names in India. Dragon Ball z, released in 1983, took Indian television and cartoons by storm, especially for children. Many Indians assumed that these were the same as cartoon shows, as U.S. cartoons like Tom & Jerry and Scooby Dooby Doo were also famous in India. As time passed, many Indians understood Anime, and a new world opened up for them.
Evolution of Anime in India
Dragon Ball z, Pokémon, Power Rangers, Ramayana: The Legend of Prince Rama, and One Piece are some notable animes that paved the way for popularity in India. But, when first introduced, they were viewed as regular western cartoons and weren’t as popular as today. With the evolution of the Internet and less screen time of animes on television, people turned to the Internet. Many viewers who never watched anime cartoons began to watch anime series like Ouran High School Host Club, Maid Sama! Naruto, One Piece, Dragon Ball z, Pokémon, Bleach, InuYasha and Kekkaishi online.
Due to the Internet and social media, people soon formed fan clubs and online communities. It was also the same time anime series like Death Note, Mob Psycho 100, Bleach, One Piece, and One Punch Man became popular in the mainstream media. In the 2000s, Anime Expo slowly began in India.
Animax India, an anime channel dedicated to broadcasting only anime series 24/7, began in India in 2004. But, after Sony shut down Animax in 2017, people turned to online platforms and websites. Anime or western cartoons dominated anime series even after being televised on channels like Cartoon Network, Sonic, Nickelodeon, Hungama T.V., and Disney Channel. Anime is accessible through YouTube, Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Disney+ Hotstar, Voot Kids, and Bili Bili.
Some favorite anime shows on Animax India are The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, Nura: Rise of the Yokai Clan, Astro Boy, Princess Comet, Tales of Little Women, and Ghost Adventures.
Struggles of Anime Fans
Even though anime fans formed communities and fan clubs in India, their access to quality manga and merchandise remains limited. With very few stores in India and limited official stock, it is challenging to find manga series or merchandise.
Many anime fans recognize the problem behind this. In contrast to Indian culture, Japanese culture encourages creativity in school kids from a very young age. Illustrators, story writers, and artists in the comic industry in India aren’t encouraged to make it their primary source of income, unlike in Japan.
The ideology of not being financially successful by pursuing arts in India has led to fewer investors supporting businesses in the creative sectors in India. And hence, exposure to fresh content in the comic industry and Anime and manga has become limited. The quality of Indian anime cartoons and series has declined. Most shows like Chhota Bheem are poor spin-offs of animes like Popeye.
Another problem with poor anime distribution is the patriotism card Indians use. Powerful stories and characters to which people of all ages relate are present in anime series. But Indian anime fans are criticized as the content is not Indian. In 1992, Indian and Japanese artists came together to create Ramayana, the Legend of Prince Ram, to turn the tide and strengthen Indo-Japanese relations. But, it had considerably less impact on Indians, and no other anime series or movie was created later.
Why do Indians Hate Anime?
Indian citizens have always criticized and belittled people for watching cartoons, animes, or playing video games. Indians have very little knowledge of animes and always misinterpret them as shows for children. They also do not like the encouragement of any other culture which isn’t related to India, as this is considered an anti-patriotic act. Often people also think Anime and hentai (porn) are the same, which misleads them into believing all Anime is trashy and not worth the time. Mainstream media do not encourage anime series or cartoons.
Most Popular Anime series in India
Most voted anime series by fans in India include Attack on Titan, Death Note, Avatar: The Last Airbender, Your Name, Full Metal Alchemist: Brotherhood, One Piece, One Punch Man, Dragon Ball Z, Naruto, and Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.
Popular anime series since the 1980s include Akira, Dragon Ball Z, Berserk, Detective Conan, and Bleach. The latest anime series trending in India include Vinland Saga, S.P.Y. x Family, Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, The Rising of the Shield Hero, and The Promised Neverland.
Talking about anime and forgetting to mention comics is a big mistake. Check out the comic culture in India.