What Crunchyroll’s Most Popular Anime List Reveals About Fans

Crunchyroll reveal

I’m still shocked that My Hero Academia is no longer the global darling.

If you haven’t yet checked out the article on Crunchyroll or seen the infographics on about a dozen other blogs, here’s the link. Now assuming everyone has had a scroll through it let’s take a look at what this tells us about the most popular (or at least the most watched on Crunchyroll) anime from 2020.

Dissecting Crunchyroll’s Most Popular Anime List

Firstly, just from looking at the colours, it became clear that My Hero Academia’s strangle hold on the community has finally left after four seasons. That isn’t to say people aren’t still watching it, and given it is still the most watched show in a number of regions it is still pretty popular, but really the universal shine it used to have has kind of come down a bit. I would suggest that this demonstrates some fickleness in the community, but really Boruto, Black Clover, Attack on Titan, and Re:Zero are all either returning or long running anime.

Observation: Despite anime fans being seemingly fickle, their is some fierce loyalty to well known franchises.

Now the summation of how many countries each anime topped is available at the end of Cruncyroll’s article. However, it should be noted that Black Clover (87 countries) and Jujutsu Kaisen (71 countries) very much eclipsed even their next closest rival which was Boruto (only topping 32 countries). Colour me surprises given I dumped Black Clover early on and to be honest, even seeing this massive popular support isn’t enough to convince me it is worth going back and listening to Asta screeching. However, Black Clover has a hold on quite a selection of Europe and shares popularity with Jujutsu Kaisen in the Middle East and Africa.

Full disclosure, I haven’t watched any of Jujutsu Kaisen yet. It’s been firmly recommended to me as an anime I need to catch from 2020, but as it hasn’t finished airing yet, I’m leaving it on hold for the time being. So all I really have to go on is the genre tags and surprise-surprise both Jujutsu Kaisen and Black Clover are tagged as shounen and action anime. Black Clover has an additional fantasy and magic tag whereas Jujutsu Kaisen has the supernatural and school tags associated with it.

Looking at all the anime that made the list, the only one that didn’t get tagged as action is Re:Zero with shounen turning up in 5 of 9 titles and fantasy/supernatural/superpower turning up in 8 of the 9 (no idea about Onyx Equinox).

Observation: Despite the sheer range of anime genres and the apparent increase in diversity amongst anime fans, the mainstream anime watcher is still into shounen.

Crunchyroll's most popular anime list

This shouldn’t really be surprising given shounen anime is a prolific genre giving a range of titles, the anime tend of be based on popular source material so have a pre-existing fan-base, there’s often tie-in games movies and a range of merchandise associated with them, and let’s not leave out the fact that even viewers like myself who wouldn’t list shounen in my top anime genres occasionally enjoys a good power fantasy.

Despite the jokes people might make about it as a genre, there’s a real wide ranging appeal for a lot of these titles as they have large casts, epic plots, tend to blend high powered action sequences with some occasionally solid emotional nuances and provide ongoing character development through series of progressive arcs in which the audience grows more and more attached to the cast. While someone might objectively point out there are ‘better’ stories or anime that display the range of possibilities with animation better, often the examples they will use have a very niche appeal which makes them unlikely to top a most popular in any country list.

There are some differences globally though. The Asian market being dominated by Boruto with Black Clover getting almost no love at all. Unfortunately without information such as how many viewers there are in each region or knowing what second or even third preferences were, it is hard to draw any conclusions about distinct differences with the western and eastern anime market.

Realistically, what the 2020 most popular anime information Crunchyroll has released told me was:

  1. The ‘average’ anime fan is probably still male aged 16 to early 20’s. While there are definitely more female and older anime fans making their voices heard online, the market majority seems fairly clear.
  2. Long running anime is definitely not dead. While there are plenty of anime that only run for a season or two, the long running shounen format still has a large fan following and so this format of anime is going to continue to be made.
  3. Whether it was because it was 2020 or whether this is an ongoing trend I do not know, but clearly anime fans were after an escape or power fantasy. And who can blame them? 2020 seems like the perfect time to escape reality.
  4. Despite vast cultural differences, ultimately the most popular anime were the most popular across multiple countries with only Re Zero and Onyx Equinox taking top in 1 country each. Seems anime fandom has some universals which should make us feel all nicely connected in a year where so many of us have been alone.

Go anime!

Original Article on Crunchyroll: Feature: Explore 2020’s Most Popular Anime on Crunchyroll Around the World!. Author M Thomas. Available from: https://www.crunchyroll.com/en-gb/anime-feature/2021/01/14-1/explore-2020s-most-popular-anime-on-crunchyroll-around-the-world. 2020

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Karandi James

12 thoughts on “What Crunchyroll’s Most Popular Anime List Reveals About Fans

  1. Hey I didn’t make it five episodes of Black Clover. Too many ordinary anime tropes. Maybe patience would get me to a point where I’d like it, but I doubt it.

    Jujustu Kaisen is decent. I’m reserving most of my judgment until it gets further along, but I am enjoying week to week. It’s just a bit different somehow, and I like that.

    I am not surprised about any popularity AoT is experiencing. That series has exploded onto a whole new level, and it is EXTREMELY satisfying to watch on many different levels. I won’t give spoilers for those haven’t seen it, but omg it’s amazing right now. They had me worried for the first few episodes of this final season, but no longer. It’s quickly cementing its status as an all-time epic series.

  2. I’d be careful with the comparisons about popularity. For example, MHA isn’t on Crunchy in my region. I can only find it on Anime on Demand (Germany). Black Clover, on the other hand, is on Crunchy (and also on AoD). If you limit yourself to Crunchy numbers, you’d probably have to compare the percentages based on availability. Maybe MHA beats out Black Clover in all regions where it’s available, but it’s only available in large regions where the funds needed to license it are worth it, or where no big bucks bid for exclusivity?

    Also, Black Clover isn’t bad (I dropped it after about one season, because I wasn’t going to pick up a long runner), and Asta – once you get used to his ridiculous shouting – is actually one of the better shounen protagonists, for my taste. (Bear in mind that I hated Eren Jaeger from day one and progressively soured on Midoriya as the show went on – I liked him early on, but now he just irritates me. Jujustsu Kaisen has a mid-tier likable protag, IMO. My favourite recent one would have to be Shinra from Fire Force.)

    I’m not surprised it’s all shounen fighters, though.

    1. Availability is definitely going to play a role and yep, these are just crunchy stats, but they did paint an interesting picture for trends in general.
      Eren Jaeger used to be one if my least fav protagonist until season 3 when I finally felt l like he was starting to progress. It took awhile but by the end of that season I was feeling significantly more attached to him as a character.

  3. It’s pretty amazing how even when there is an undercurrent of change in the anime genres and spheres, not much has changed with shonen battle series being the most popular and those ages haven’t changed. It makes me feel a little old sometimes… But that’s ok. I’m enjoying my time here being an anime fan.

    I think you will like Jujutsu Kaisen quite a bit. It reminded me and other bloggers of the early stages of Bleach in terms of humor and story, so it felt refreshing.

    1. I am looking forward to checking it out once the season finishes. It looks like something I will quite enjoy. At the same time I am trying to avoid too much hype or info going in, which is kind of hard with so many people discussing it. Not quite as difficult as avoiding AOT spoilers but pretty close (not that manga readers haven’t already revealed most of AOT)

    1. Thanks Irina. I wish the original article had given us a little more data to work with given they definitely know more about viewers t than what country they are in.

  4. Interesting post. I don’t use CR thus I get to see many of the shows they don’t touch, so I can’t really relate to this as being representative of my tastes or indeed the anime fandom as a whole. Ultimately, I like what I like and to hell with everyone else! 😛

    As a snapshot of popular tastes however, I can’t say I am surprised that a shonen show is top of the pile as they are easy to get into and to follow, plus are designed to be crowd pleasing affairs, and as you pointed out, the multi-media cross over many of them are afforded helps broaden this appeal.

    Black Clover’s appeal is baffling to me. It’s an enjoyable enough show but doesn’t offer anything new and Asta is an annoying git, but the numbers don’t lie – the manga is huge in Japan and the anime is clearly catching up in popularity, so I guess if it works for the masses, it’s a boon for anime as a whole.

    1. Yes, even if you don’t like the most popular anime, anime being popular allows more anime to be made and wider distribution so there’s more chance you’ll get an anime of something a little more your taste.

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