According to a variety of sources, Neon Genesis Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno claims anime has reached its peak, and Japan will no longer be the animation center of the world within the next 5-20 years. He said one of the main reasons for this supposed decline is the incredibly low wages for starting animators, which was a little under $10,000 a year
Anno said Japanese animation will not disappear, but the quality of films will greatly decline. He said other Asian countries will capture this dominance, such as Taiwan’s Next Media Animation studio.
Of course, Anno’s claim is simply a claim. There is no solid proof that anime is dying. The decline of anime has been in discussion since the retirement of Studio Ghibli master Hayao Miyazaki and the subsequent down-scaling of the famed studio. However, acclaimed talents are still in the industry, such as The Boy and the Beast director Mamoru Hosoda and 5 Centimeters Per Second director Makato Shinkai, who have been mentioned in previous Animation Curation posts.
Besides feature-length animation in Japan, television anime series are still going strong. According to Wikipedia data, 171 anime tv series aired in 2014. However, how many of those were critically acclaimed? That is difficult to say, considering the many niches in the market. Fans of slice-of-life series might find art in that genre. However, they might not see art in a mecha or fantasy series,a and vice versa. Or maybe they will. There are multiple databases for anime reviews that vary drastically. For example, the 2012 anime series Sword Art Online fiercely divided the anime fandom. Japanator’s piece, “Sword Art Online: are the hater right?” deeply explores the fan dividing-issue in the show and others.
Returning to Hideaki Anno’s original argument, I do not think there is a moment we can pinpoint when anime will begin its decline. Has it begun already? Possibly. Will anime remain strong for many years to come? I suppose we can only prove Anno wrong.