A common complaint these days is how anime is declining, that true quality is a dying breed. “Moe is taking over the industry! Fanservice is everywhere! Whatever happened to the good old series that were actually mature and oozed “masterpiece”?”
To strengthen their arguments, people bring up old classics such as Cowboy Bebop or perhaps Neon Genesis Evangelion while pointing out K-ON! and other “four girls” series as the harbingers of death. Anime of today sucks.
Although, let us be honest here. Anime is not becoming worse nor is moe killing the industry. Those who claim that are utterly silly and probably ignorant. I would say that they lack perspective on how our viewing habits have evolved.
Let me give you some food for thought: would people worship older anime if they had followed the, in that time, currently airing anime seasons? Most likely they would not. Why is this, you wonder? Well, think about it. The older anime people actually care about are almost always the same bunch. They are the series which have survived time. Forgotten are every bad anime, every hilariously “cool and brutal” super violent or “sexy time” series. You know, those series which appeal to the blinded otaku living on moe.
If you want to see anime that no-one cares about today because of its, most likely (but not guaranteed since popularity does not equal quality), mediocrity, go and check out Scamp’s “Retro Season Previews”. What is remembered today is what made an impact on people, anime that stood out.
And this brings me to my point that we lack perspective. How is anime watched today? By following the current seasons! How much do we watch? A lot! By watching a lot, there are bound to be a few run-of-the-mill series. The reason for this is since they are currently airing and therefore have not been judged over time. We do not know if a new series is a masterpiece or not, so we watch them all in hope of one being just that. What this results in is people pestering about how anime is dying.
If that was actually the case, what would one have to say about currently popular series such as Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica or Steins;Gate? Or Mawaru Penguindrum? Bakemonogatari? All of these have all been crowned as great series, if not masterpieces in some cases. These are some examples of what might be remembered in the future. Will we care about AKB0048, Shining Hearts or Kono Naka ni Hitori Imouto ga Iru? Of course not.
Because in ten years from now, people will still complain that anime is dying and look back at today with fond memories of how good anime once were.