How do Anime Like DRAGON BALL and SAILOR MOON Stay Popular on Hiatus?
Anime shows going on hiatus is a natural and unavoidable part of how they operate. Creative work is not something which can be maintained indefinitely, so it makes a lot of sense that those who work on these projects get time to rest and recharge. As with any form of media, however, this runs the risk of declining visibility and popularity as they vanish from the public eye.
Two of the longest standing and most popular in this business, DRAGON BALL and SAILOR MOON, have managed to overcome this issue, but how did they do it?
The first thing to keep in mind with these two examples is that, as a basis, they had the popularity to always remain at the back of cultural consciousness. At least to some degree, these made enough of a mark that they shaped the world going forward. They made enough of an impression that, even when viewing newer and unrelated media, our thoughts were drawn backwards.
This isn’t necessarily in just anime and manga either. Taking a look at Japanese casino games today shows a few which carry this legacy among their hundreds of other slot and roulette games. Moon Princess is an obvious example here, though many others are not always so obvious.
Perhaps the biggest contributor when it comes to long-term popularity comes from a series’ ability to appeal to related forms of media. Gaming and anime are often thought of as closely related, and for both SAILOR MOON and DRAGON BALL, video games have long kept fan interest in the series high.
This is the case for DRAGON BALL most of all, where dozens of games have been released over the years. In fact, the first DRAGON BALL video game, Dragon Ball: Dragon Daihikyou, came out in 1986, more than thirty years ago.
Fans of DRAGON BALL got their long sought-after return of the series with DRAGON BALL SUPER, which started in 2015, 18 years after the last series of GT ended. During this period, DRAGON BALL had most of its best-loved games released, including the famed Budokai Tenkaichi. Games let us see the story from another angle, but this wasn’t the only new way to get a new look on a classic.
Dubbing anime is a difficult and time-consuming process. While we do often fall in love with original dubs, these can get replaced over time as rights change hands, and more emphasis is put on quality.
When it came to DRAGON BALL, fans saw exceptional effort put forward by the revised series of DRAGON BALL Z KAI. This revisit to Z cut out anime filler and allowed fans of the TV series a much more accurate look at how the original manga played out.
The ultimate lesson of all of these developments come from the idea that just because an anime is no longer being updated with a new official story, it does not mean it should be ignored. Creating a legacy means appealing to fans, and giving them alternative paths through which to appreciate what they love.
Given enough time and attention, this can even result in a series reboot or continuation. Provide fans with a way to engage and they will, and the more this is understood the better the future of anime will look.