Naruto, Attack on Titan or One Piece: Kazakhstan sees rising popularity of anime and manga

Anime and manga
The cover of "Naruto." Photo credit: Arman Aisultan/ Kazinform

Over the past few decades, the global anime market has experienced a remarkable surge, evolving from a niche interest into a widespread global cultural sensation. Kazakhstan is no exception to this cultural phenomenon. With a burgeoning fan base and increasing accessibility to diverse content, anime and manga have firmly rooted themselves in the hearts of Kazakhstan’s enthusiasts, Kazinform News Agency correspondent reports.

According to the report of BCC Research, the anime market is growing exponentially, with the expected compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.3% from 2023 to 2028 and an ever-expanding ecosystem that reflects the boundless creativity of its creators and the passion of its fans.

Why anime and manga are popular in Kazakhstan?

The growing popularity of anime and manga in Kazakhstan can be attributed to various factors.

Firstly, anime and manga encompass a wide range of genres, including action, adventure, romance, and comedy, making them accessible to a diverse audience. For example, in 2023, action and adventure claimed the largest market revenue share, according to the report. Their ability to seamlessly merge compelling narratives with thrilling action sequences attracts both long-time fans and newcomers.

Secondly, the intricate complexity of anime and manga plots is a significant contributor to their success. Anime narratives are renowned for their multi-layered storytelling, blending diverse themes and narrative twists to consistently captivate viewers and ensure their ongoing engagement with the storyline.

The diverse characters depicted in anime and manga also resonate deeply with audiences. They showcase a variety of emotions, experiences, and challenges that viewers can empathize with. This strengthens the bond between the audience and the narrative, fostering a deeper connection with the story.

The unique visual style of anime distinguishes it from other animation forms, making it instantly recognizable. Also, the advent of streaming platforms and online communities has made it easier for audiences to access a vast array of anime series and manga titles.

Personal stories

Kazinform spoke to anime and manga enthusiasts from different fields in Kazakhstan to learn what makes this phenomenon so viral in the country.

Medical aviation employee Altynbek Omarov has been watching anime for a long time.

“My interest in anime started long before I realized I was into it. These were the times when there were 1-3 local channels and a limited number of cartoons per day, namely cartoons, because at that time, we did not know the word anime. I learned the world of Japanese animation from such titles as ‘Sailor Moon’ and ‘Pokemon.’” I’ve been reading manga since I was in grade 6-7,” says Omarov.

Omarov believes that in the last few years, anime has become much more popular and has become an integral part of youth culture.

“Now, there is a lot of content, and it is freely available. There is also even more merch. I already have a bunch of T-shirts and phone cases for my favorite anime, and I constantly see fans of certain anime titles,” says Omarov.

He watches anime and reads manga. On weekends, Omarov prefers anime, and on weekdays while commuting to work or in his free time at work, it is more convenient for him to read manga.

When asked what anime he could recommend to people who are unfamiliar with anime, Omarov recommends “Gurren Lagann”, “Bakuman”, “Attack on Titan”, and “Jujutsu Kaisen.”

Auez Nuritdenov, a founder of a Japanese language school in Astana, also spoke about his journey into the world of anime. He has been watching anime since 2010, and his first anime was “Shaman King.” This was followed by “Naruto” and many other anime.

Initially starting with the most popular and long-running anime, Auez soon moved on to shorter and more obscure titles, eventually watching over 500 different anime. While waiting for the release of new episodes, he began reading manga, discovering not only anime adaptations but also incredible stories, not all of which make it to the screen.

According to him, anime has become part of everyday culture in Kazakhstan, and Auez sees how attitudes towards this genre have changed over the years. If anime used to be something exotic and rare, today it has become part of mainstream culture, attracting the attention of not only children but also adults. Auez believes that it is important to try watching anime and reading manga to broaden your horizons and enrich your leisure time.

Breaking stereotypes

A 27-year-old resident of Astana, Yersultan, who has already watched more than 500 anime titles, spoke about the stereotypes that previously existed in society in Kazakhstan.

“15 years ago, there was a popular myth that anime had a bad effect on the psyche of children due to violent images in some genres. They even showed reports on TV, based on which all the negativity was built. Those who watched the anime were called gloomy and unsociable, which, of course, was not the case. People had some kind of incomprehensible aggression towards anime. Now, it's the other way around. You can look disapprovingly at a person who hasn’t watched something hype,” says Yersultan.

Yersultan mostly watched anime, but when a continuation in the form of a series was not planned or was delayed, he switched to the original source, manga.

“The release of the second and third seasons may take more than 5-10 years, so reading the manga gives you the opportunity to find out the continuation quickly. However, I also periodically read the manga that was not filmed. For example, I like the works of Asano Inio,” says Yersultan.

Yersultan believes that anime is quite popular in Kazakhstan, on par with other series on popular streaming platforms like Netflix.

“An anime like ‘Attack on Titan’ is even ranked 10th on Kinopoisk [a Russian online database of information related to films and TV shows] in the list of most popular series and 24th on IMDB. Many people my age and older actively watch and share new anime they see. The aforementioned ‘Attack on Titan,’ ‘Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba’ and ‘Jujutsu Kaisen’ have greatly increased the popularity of anime in recent years,” said Yersultan.

Manga or anime?

“Of course, anime. A simple viewer who wants to relax in the evening and watch something interesting will choose a series rather than a comic. Nevertheless, there are also many people who read manga,” said Yersultan.

Yersultan advised the anime to those who have not watched it yet.

“First thing to try! There are all genres in anime, and there is something for everyone. Anime is no different from Western animations in terms of plot. On a personal note, I would recommend watching ‘Attack on Titan,’ the top anime of the last 10 years. It's a little brutal but extremely exciting,” says Yersultan.

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