I have been a self proclaimed fan of anime for a long time. And only recently have I decided to delve into why this medium has such a die hard fan base.
Almost all anime (only a few are the exception), are derived from manga. This is why there will rarely be a “bad” anime, and why most fans can’t give it up. It may not be obvious at first, but once again, almost all manga come from monthly publications of groups of manga ie. Shonen Jump. These publications are a cut throat industry for the creators of the content, meaning only the cream of the crop gets into it, and only the cream of that crop gets made into anime (as a carbon copy).
This is where anime differs from American (or American-like) content. Even if an American story, like comics, get made into movies, they won’t follow the story so closely. This aversion to feeling like they are copying, or making something that people won’t watch because they may know the ending, is why Hollywood is mostly guesswork. This guesswork can fail catastrophically (in the case of some D.C. movies), but sticking to tropes, and established conventions help. This is what both American content, and anime have in common, but with different rules, making them have a different “flavour”.
Because mangaka (manga creators) have editors that are very involved with the mangaka to create something that is not only edited well, but also popular, they steer the mangaka towards established story lines. This creates a very specific story that is highly refined to certain people’s tastes. Not all movies/tv shows are for everyone, some people like different things, but if you like the sort of storytelling that is used in anime, then you will be hooked.
The problem with maintaining life-long viewers starts to rear its head here. Because mangaka are steered towards certain conventions of story telling, and tropes, they become a bit “samey”, to the point that they starts to repeat, much like soap operas. The other main problem is that people change, and if their tastes in story telling (not genre) stray more than just a little, then they are not in the scope of anime’s most of the time due to its lack of diversity.
So I’m personally growing out of anime mostly, but I’m not worried, as I like the idea that Hollywood will keep making content that I will find diverse for the entirety of my life (even if every movie has to conform to the repetitive three act structure). But I also wish Hollywood would consider taking on Japan’s content creation regime, so we don’t have to guess if the movie is going to be terrible (I’m looking at you Adam Sandler).
EXTRA: In some stories, the creator likes to make it about making what they make, like Netflix’s “Everything Sucks”, and many more. In anime, there’s “Bakuman” which is a great anime that goes into making manga, and getting into anime. Some other anime (from manga) to view, if you’re interested are “Cross Game” (my favorite), “Beck” (funky, universally liked), “Your Lie in April” (extremely touching), “One Punch Man” (very funny, action based), “Elfen Lied” (brutal psychological), “Fullmetal Alchemist” (quintessential example of what anime is), and “Hajime no Ippo” (coming of age story).