It’s been an exciting year of growth for anime in 2023, with the media declaring anime more popular than ever and how anime has gone from niche to mainstream. But if this year has been about true growth of anime into the mainstream, next year is going to be about transformation, so let’s get into my eight transformative predictions for anime for 2024.
- Korean webtoons and web novels will inspire top global hit anime.
Solo Leveling is going lead the charge of Korean IP adaptations next year and likely be up for “anime of the year” in 2024. Good IP can and will come from anywhere, and Korea will solidify its place as a strong origin for anime source material. However, manga serialized in weekly magazines will still be the top source of AAA titles as it has been for decades.
- Anime-infused “sludge” content will take off.
“Sludge” has been going strong on TikTok for over a year, but anime hasn’t been strongly incorporated yet. But just like how “JoJo’s poses” took off and transcended fandom, we’re going to see certain anime clips in split screens becoming a staple next to video game live streams, and beget a new generation of memes and meme creators.
- The creator economy and anime will finally start to converge.
Anime fans long have made their own unofficial creations, but in 2024, fans will finally start to participate in the ecosystem more officially. IP owners will jump in (for select properties) and multiple platforms will emerge that allow fans to officially create content around their favorite stories.
- Even less people will be involved in the production of anime in Japan.
Systemic issues like taxes (“invoice” system), lack of certification/training, and low pay (especially compared to gaming) will mean there are even less people making anime in Japan next year. The number of series being released in 2024 won’t face a sharp decline, but the number of series kicked off in 2024 done with end-to-end Japanese pipelines will.
- The notorious “three years’ lead time” will extend to four years for starting anime productions.
Because less people are going to be making anime, there will be a fight for talent. Bigger studios will monopolize top talent, leaving smaller studios struggling to put teams together, and thus increasing the lead time for starting a new series.
- Artificial intelligence will find a place as an augment to human creativity in anime production
To address talent shortages, studios will increasingly use AI, the key unlock being internal/private datasets to enhance the output of their creatives. This “AI with humans” rather than of “AI instead of humans” will become the industry standard.
- Anime powered entirely by AI will fail.
As AI tools concurrently get more powerful and widespread, mashing up popular anime to imagine lookalikes will no longer be special and not latch on with fans. Look for these to fail, and creators to make use of personal/private datasets to maintain an element of “human touch.”
- A notable J-pop artist will incorporate AI-augmented anime visuals into a music video.
J-pop artists have long used anime visuals in music videos (typically with a washed out and faded look) to great success. Look for a notable one in 2024 to make extensive use of AI augmentation in developing anime visuals for the next big J-pop music video.
Looking to 2024
While not all of these may come true, one thing is for sure: anime is going to keep growing, and with that growth, transform before our eyes. Be ready.