Aside from Hayao Miyazaki's sudden departure from filmmaking in September, the anime world saw some potentially hopeful developments in 2013.
As I reported here, the government's multibillion-yen Cool Japan Fund was launched last summer, after years of empty promises. Following the lead of Crunchyroll, the profitable San Francisco-based online anime and manga portal, domestic startups such as Daisuki began streaming anime series globally. Crunchyroll itself opened a digital manga site — and got a Christmas-time jolt of Hollywood cash from big-ticket investor The Chernin Group. A bold new apocalyptic anime series, "Shingeki no Kyojin (Attack on Titan)," earned raves and fans, as did the jazz-inflected new show "Kids on the Slope," from veteran Shinichiro Watanabe ("Cowboy Bebop," "Samurai Champloo").
"In the United States, perhaps the worst (for anime) is in the rearview mirror now," says author and translator Frederik L. Schodt. "The market is probably half of what it was in 2007," he admits, "but the fan base still seems dedicated and even growing. Rather than going to conventions to watch films and buy merchandise, which the Internet has rendered unnecessary, the conventions in the U.S. seem to be evolving into something different. They are more of a place to socialize, wear costumes and consort with like-minded fans. In a way, they may be becoming more decoupled from Japan, more autonomous, and even more uniquely American."