Let me start this post with a big disclaimer: It is incredibly easy to create false narratives using google trends. The service tracks how many people are searching for a specific term, so you have to take several things into account when deciding what these numbers mean. People could be searching for them in different languages, so the people searching for Guilty Crown in Spanish speaking parts of the world might be searching for something different. Or the reason why Madoka appears to be so under-searched in the above chart is because the audience for that show already know where they’re going to go for Madoka related queries. That said, let’s act like a journalist and manufacture narratives based off stats!
In the chart that leads this post, I was showing how big Attack on Titan was getting compared to some of the other popular anime from this decade so far. I stuck in a few other titles in there, but I didn’t see anything else come close to touching even Sword Art Online’s numbers. So Attack on Titan is making some pretty big waves when compared to other new anime from the decade. However looking at overall figures gives us some real perspective on this. Titan is only just reaching the same visibility Fairy Tail is at, and that ended a few seasons ago now. Both of them still swing far below the numbers of Bleach and One Piece, although it is interesting to see how Bleach was already starting to drop below One Piece’s levels before it was taken off the air. And then there’s Naruto, which laughs at everything else. Dropped quite a bit since its height around 2010, but has been fairly stable since then.
This one is fun. Anime’s popularity started going down around 2005, possibly earlier because google trends don’t go earlier than that. But while anime and hentai were around the same popularity around 2006, hentai rose while anime dropped. It’s interesting to see that there’s an obvious connection between the popularity of hentai and anime at any given time, with the short rises an dips being mirrored in each one. They’re also sort of mirrored in manga, who waited until late 2010 to have its short term boom before dropping down again. It looks from this chart as though anime is rising again, although it does beg the question of why people are searching ‘anime’ anyway.
I noticed when searching for certain anime that they’d experience a short re-emergence in popularity randomly later on in their life, which I eventually realised was due to them airing on TV in the US. With this chart I restricted it to just people searching from within the US and the results become really clear. The first bump the show gets is when it originally airs in Japan. The second much bigger bump each anime gets is when it airs on TV. Now you could put this down to people being more likely to just randomly type the name into google when they watch it on TV, but it goes a long way to show how important TV exposure surprisingly still is for an anime, considering popular perception is that anime fans just watch everything online nowadays.
And finally, I did promise something about anime blogging is dying. It saw its peak in 2009, but since then has been on a permanent downwards trend. This year has seen a small levelling out, but that might just be temporary on a larger downwards curve in general. Anime forums are dying, and have actually gone below blogs since 2011. Even anime twitter has risen above it. Tumblr has seen a huge and very swift rise up and now dominates over the others. Meanwhile new people looking for IRC channels to chat about anime is basically not a thing anymore. These are definitely part of a larger trend in the area of internet discussion, with forums slowly dying and more social media taking over, but it is interesting to see that anime has mirrored that wider trend.