Today I came across a peculiar number of people touting the usual opinions that "anime is dead", "it's all just moe crap", and "It was better in the 90's". Speaking as a member of the post-millennium anime rush here in the United States, you need to get over this.
I was a closet anime fan from ~2002 to 2008. By 2008, I too was sick of some of the crap that I was seeing ported over here and that led me to swear it off and revert to western media.
While some people that tout the end of anime might be justified, I'm willing to bet that most of them have never dealt with half the crap that fans in the 90's and 00's had to. Look guys, this era of anime is great. Why? Well, let me just rattle a few things off.
We Actually Get Simulcasts!
Oh man, even back in 2008 this was an absolute pipe dream. I remember the horror of searching the internet for a show that I wanted to watch because someone mentioned it in passing.
One of the things that struck me as I came back to anime after my exile is just how much more awesome the streaming options are. Crunchyroll, the patron saint of simulcasts, licenses so much material that I can just blindly start trying out shows because it's just so easy. Back when I watched in the 00's, I usually had to know what I was looking for to go get it. Not so anymore.
This, frankly, is amazing. I know the pain of searching streaming sites where I feel the need to run a total malware and virus scan after I visit all too well. Hell, I actually had virtual machine on my family's computer back then for this reason.
The Animation Quality is Through the Roof
Honestly, I like the 80's and 90's anime as much as the next guy, but we've moved on. Again, even back in the mid-to-late 2000's, the animation quality could be very bad and uneven. Compare Genesis of Aquarion to Aquarion EVOL.
Same studio, but my god the quality shift is incredible. People say that animation/graphics aren't that important, but man, it's just great.
The Source Material is Sometimes Translated!
Another thing that rarely happened back during my time. It seems that both legal and fan translations of existing source material has gone up in the time I've been away. I can't really remember if I ever came across a translated work of an anime I liked back in the day.
Visual novels, manga, light novels, we're actually getting a lot of translations these days! Companies like Yen Press are actually selling light novels like regular novels instead of "hey, look at this JAPANESE STUFF otaku!"
It sounds like a small step, but selling something to a general audience is a pretty big step, especially if it's actually working.
The Community is Here!
Honestly, people are a lot more accepting of people liking anime these days. I say this as a student that witnessed my fellow watchers being mocked for it. This was a major reason that I was a "closet anime fan". Since I've entered college, I've actually been able to talk about it with people here. I talk about it here on TAY. I've heard from some of my younger internet friends and my own siblings that anime is actually a reasonable thing to be interested in at elementary school/middle school now. This includes at my old schools as well.
In almost everything, it's the community that matters. We have that community now.
Sure, There's a Lot of Stupid "Moe" Stuff...
But American TV has a lot of stupid "Police Procedural Stuff". I honestly don't see a difference. It's a weird fixation, sure, but having a fetish for learning how people died is a little depraved too.
It's more a matter of the breadth of material we're getting. It used to be only the "good stuff" got translated for us, but now we're getting everything.
Less Ridiculous Parental Watchdogs and Networks!
One of my favorite things to remind people of was how draconian watchdogs used to be when it came to anime. Quite a few of the anime we liked as kids was utterly butchered versions of the original material. The perception that animation is only for kids or comedy is a persisting (and completely stupid) misconception, but it has died down. The fact that so many anime were either denied to us or completely whitewashed to make it "more suitable" is a thing that many older fans will always be pissy about, myself included.
Good riddance 4Kids and your patently stupid dubbing/editing practices. I'm not sorry that you're gone.
That said, the same thing is starting to happen in the visual novel market here in the United States. Look no further than MoeNovel's weird editing of If My Heart Had Wings. Look, I'm fine with cuts, but it really did go too far.
I might complain about anime like Space Dandy, Black Bullet, and Aldnoah.Zero a lot, but damn this is a great era to be living in. It's made being an anime fan something to be proud of again and it makes it accessible to boot. No longer must we scour back-alley VHS/DVD stores and questionable websites for our anime, we've got legal avenues!
That alone is enough to label this as one of the best eras. I can actually, legally, get a pretty good translation of the anime out this season. We might get more the bad stuff, but we manage to get shows that we would normally have never gotten before. It's incredible.
So, before you go and label anime of the present "terrible" or this to be a "terrible time for anime", remember that it was hellish back in the day too. At least you can sit there and say that the season sucks because of how bad shows were. Back in 2006 I was too busy saying "Goddamn it, another broken stream" instead of agreeing.
You can find all my posts on Dex's Corner.