November 9, 2014

MANGA MONDAYS | The End of an Era

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By MICHAEL MAUER

I didn’t believe it at first when I heard the news. Naruto has ended. I still half expect the announcement of a spin-off or sequel series sometime in the near future. I have never read or watched Naruto. However, I was intrigued by the fact that many of my friends have taken to calling this “the end of an era.”

If you think about it, this really is an era coming to an end. “The Big Three” (Naruto, Bleach and One Piece), have long been central fixture of the otaku community. However, the Bleach anime and the Naruto manga have both ended. The only series going strong on all fronts is One Piece. And, as Ian Sinclair, Brook’s voice actor, once told me, “One Piece will never die! Working on it is the closest thing a voice actor gets to a retirement plan.”

This leads me to wonder how the landscape of our community will change in the future. I’m a relatively young anime fan, so I have a difficult time imagining a community centered on a different set of core series. Consider the fact that I am only a year older than One Piece. Naruto and Bleach are a bit younger, but not by much.

I think that if these series come to a definitive conclusion in the next few years, it could have some interesting and far reaching effects. In particular, the nature of whatever steps in as the object of our popular affection could be extremely indicative of the state of our community as a whole.

Will it be a new long-running anime? In which case, what might the subject be? We’ve seen pirates and ninjas, so what next? Perhaps already popular series such as Gintama or Hunter x Hunter will simply step in to fill the void. I personally don’t see this as likely, given that recent popular shows have been limited to shorter runs, such as Attack on Titan and Sword Art Online. It seems to me that the average show has lately shifted more towards this shorter model. Attack on Titan and Sword Art Online both rigidly adhered to the 13-episode season model, in contrast to the 35 episodes in Naruto’s first season. Even Naruto itself has moved toward this model with the most recent seasons of Shippuden.

Because of this, I suspect we might start seeing less long running anime. Instead, it seems like we’ll get a wider variety of shorter anime, and the occasional sequel series if the show is extremely popular. Case in point: SAO II, in contrast to the non-existent Mahou Sensou II.

The relevance and accuracy of my speculation is debatable, but this is undeniably the end of an era, and I am proud to be part of this community in such an exciting time. What do you think? I’d love to hear where my readers believe anime is headed, and how they feel about it.

Michael Mauer is a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences. He may be reached at mmauer@conrellsun.com. Manga Mondays appears alternate Mondays this semester.

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