I was wondering if anime are more popular than Western cartoons - in terms of viewership and revenue - as I couldn't find any information on this.

I don't think there has been any significantly large survey on this. What about manga vs comics?

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    More popular in what respect? Viewership numbers? That number will be incredibly hard to compare due to piracy (I believe the piracy rate is much higher with anime, though I could be wrong on this).
    – Cattua
    Aug 24, 2013 at 19:51
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    I think it is safe to say anime is more popular. Asia's population > than the rest of the world and Anime is heavily part of Asian culture (more so than cartoons to the Western countries).
    – krikara
    Aug 24, 2013 at 19:53
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    @krikara I don't think that it's safe to say that at all. Setting aside all the Marvel and DC stuff, kids titles such as Dora the Explorer are ridiculously popular everywhere including Asia where it is dubbed extensively. Then there's Tom & Jerry, Popeye, etc. Furthermore, even in Asia I don't believe the Indian subcontinent (~ 2 billion people) is really an anime market. I would lean towards Western animation myself. Aug 28, 2013 at 14:02
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    @coleopterist Lots of children's anime air in India (dubbed in either English or Hindi). I've seen Pokemon, Yugioh, Crayon Shin-chan, Cardcaptor Sakura, and Sailor Moon there, and I'm sure there are others. It's not a huge market by any means (and it's definitely not as big as Western animation), but it's there.
    – senshin
    Aug 28, 2013 at 21:40

3 Answers 3


No. Up until now Japanese anime have never been in the popular spotlight compared to works for Western animation. Anime can be described as a "pulpy" format, often cheaply made, heavily-formulated, low critical respect and scrutiny. Though what makes anime unique is it's meta-genre. There are a lot of ideas in it's story templates the that are not typically seen or are non-existent in Western media culture.

Animation in the West

A lot of Western animation companies, like Disney for an example, don't just treat their works as a product, but as a brand. The better their brand looks to consumers, the better marketability the company will have with related works and products (they spend a lot on PR, marketing, lawyers, focus groups, etc, to ensure this). There's a lot of oversight involved is western animation, in order to ensure a better quality product, which typically drives up the cost of production. Of course, this all to ensure that their product is a successful as possible, in order to make obscene amounts of cash.

Animation in the East

While there is a ever growing community of anime fans out there, who like anime for one reason or another (e.g., characters vs. story), but few people typically care about the specifics of anime. In anime, the stakeholders are more concerned about the overall final product than any given piece of it, the product hits the main selling points of the formula (e.g., fighting, boobs, robot, X-dere character, harem cast, etc.), it's good to go. With anime there's a general lack of oversight, which typically leads to low expectations of the audience and from them as well. However the pulpy aspect of Anime allows authors a much higher level of freedom as they are free to explored new ideas, as long as they meet the initial criteria of the stakeholders.

On Popular Culture

This pulpiness is the same as what webcomics (modern comic book heroes starred in this pulpy format) and indie games are to us in these modern times. There are tons of these all around, most of it is forgettable, but occasionally there's that polished gem that can really good interesting, funny, charming and/or inventive stuff (e.g. Azumanga Daioh, Serial Experiments Lain, Baccano!). There's a lot of opportunities to fail, learn, and innovate, but at the same time the barriers for entry are lower and turnover is usually higher compared to similar works of western animation.

Viewership and revenue are often a by-product of the popularity of a given brand. Just like really popular mainstream movies or games will always make a profit, no matter how good or bad it might be (e.g., the Call of Duty series, the new Transformers movies). Western animation has built a brand image and following through it's popularity, and in order to sustain it's overwhelming popularity, there's a lot of scrutiny from both the audience and stakeholder to maintain a certain image and status within popular culture. We don't typically see this with anime, so it gives us an idea that anime specifically is not really up there in the mainstream.

Nowadays we see a lot of people on TV and the Internet proclaiming themselves to be "geeks" openly (whether they are or not is another thing), so there's not a whole lot to be said about anime and the otaku subculture. One can say they are a gamer ("I'm a huge gamer") or a TV show/movie ("I'm a big Disney/Pixar/Spongebob/Avatar fan"), but there are very few people come out about anime. This leads us to believe that anime hasn't reach the tipping point where it can be considered acceptable, like the other forms of western animation.


Disney's Wreck-It Ralph - $471,222,889 (worldwide revenue)

Ghibli's last two movies (The Secret World of Arrietty, Ponyo on the Cliff by the Sea) - $202,614,288 + $145,570,827 = $348,185,115 (worldwide revenue)

So, based on a very small sample (not statistically valid), I'd say western animated movies make a whole lot more money than Japanese anime.

However, as Logan and Krazer pointed out, it's probably an apples and oranges comparison. Disney spends a whole lot more money on their movies than Ghibli does.

I'm not even going to attempt to do a comparison on Cartoon Network vs ATX or anything like that.


I don't think no one will understand the hypocrisy in this, we talk about animes being comparatively less popular to American cartoons.

There is a very deep reason for that state of liking, this is because most of the viewers are from the western part of the world (except the anime producing country; Japan). In Asia, it doesn't go alike for both adults and kids. So, comparatively the viewership is high enough in most of the western countries.

This makes the judgment not fair and obviously, it goes in the favour of American cartoons even though there is a huge fanship for animes globally. An anime is a must-watch piece of art, people should go for it, but an American cartoon is given to you when you were kids. It's like some hit channels in most of the countries are highly likely to show American cartoons than many of the animes.

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