Big year for anime in the West as genre gains popularity



“Dragon Ball Super: Broly” is one of the stellar anime films that debuted in movie theaters this year.

Joseph Ferrer, Staff Writer

The past year was exciting for moviegoers, especially fans of anime. Significant progress has been made within the past few years with localizing and distributing content from Japan due to the medium’s growing popularity in the West. Several more feature-length anime films debuted in theaters overseas throughout 2019 with certain films making box office history for the growing genre.

“Dragon Ball Super: Broly” premiered in January. It was both the first anime movie of the year and the first anime film to be screened in IMAX in America. The film treated fans to a retelling of the original, non-canonical Broly movie from 1993 in which the title character returns to Earth after being exiled from his home as a child. Broly has always been a fan favorite, but in this new film he becomes a much more sympathetic character. New viewers can understand and appreciate the story due to the film giving time to set up its plot.

Dragon Ball is known for its adrenaline-filled fights and “Dragon Ball Super: Broly” delivers due to the higher production budget that the movie received in comparison to the show. The film’s gorgeous animation and fight choreography truly shined through its IMAX screening and created a thoroughly enjoyable experience.

“One Piece: Stampede” celebrates the 20th anniversary of the long-running anime series. When the film premiered in Japan in August, it broke box office records with the largest first-day attendance of 2019 while also making $1 million during its limited screening in the West. The plot revolves around the great Pirate Festival in which protaganist Luffy and his crew, alongside dozens of other pirates, race to claim the hidden treasure of the Pirate King by defeating an old member of the Pirate King’s crew. “One Piece: Stampede” is a love letter to fans with its large cast of fan-favorite characters. The film is filled with references to the series’ past and character interactions that fans never thought they would see. Even though Stampede largely caters to One Piece fans, the film still serves as a great introduction to the series.

Coming from the creative minds behind shows such as “Gurren Lagann” and “Kill La Kill,” the film “Promare” is an original story featuring mech piloting firefighters that fight against mutant pyro-kinetics. “Promare” is as ridiculous as its premise sounds and the entire film has a contagious, high octane energy that lasts from start to finish. The film seamlessly blends 2D and 3D animation with a vivid art style, which allows its dynamic fights and extravagant settings to really stand out. “Promare” is a visual spectacle unlike any other and shows sets a new bar for what can be accomplished in animation.

Anime has grown considerably large overseas with films making box office history throughout 2019. The growing number of films released in 2019 and their positive performance in the box office continues to show that anime is more than just a niche.