Animax India has shut down. It’s undoubtedly the end of an era. And this makes being an anime lover in India further discouraging. But, do we really need to regret it?
There was an interesting article I came across when pornography was suddenly banned in India a couple of years ago. The author said that the porn ban was a good thing because it meant that everyone who viewed pornography would begin to use VPNs, which would make the Internet a safer place overall. As we bid farewell to another not-so-guilty pleasure this year, I can’t help thinking of silver linings like that – silver linings which make our loss our gain.
Anime lovers in India, this is not a drill. After days of watching and waiting, Animax is gone. It’s crazy to think how long it’s been here. Animax existed for a relatively small audience, but for that small group, it was a window to a world that we not only grew to love, but which we made a part of us. Think back to how young you were when Animax came on TV. The author of this article, now nearing the end of his graduate course, was not older than ten when the ‘Chinese cartoons’ (as the popular joke goes) started airing. Animax began as a confusing alternative to the content we were used to on cartoon channels, and many of us didn’t make the stylistic connection with Pokémon or Beyblade right away. The channel changed its theme slightly as time passed, but never too much from the classic blue and white color and the ‘ta-la-la, la-la’ jingle that we’ll never forget.
It’s hard to say just how much this one channel influenced our tastes and thoughts. Animax would never compromise – or, if it did, we weren’t old enough to know it – and every anime on it would be worth watching. It’s hard to sum up these years in a few sentences, but maybe these names will bring back a few memories: Harlock Saga, Ultra Maniac, Cyborg 009, Journey to the West, Black Jack, Fate/stay night, Glass Fleet, Jigoku Shoujo, Le Chevalier D’Eon, Blood+, Ghost Slayers Ayashi, Ghost in the Shell, Wolf’s Rain, .hack//Sign, Ranma 1/2, Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle, and the list goes on and on. It’s not hard to see why people are having trouble letting go. It’s like Butterfree leaving all over again.
But as cruel as it might seem, I must say, I’m glad to see Animax go. The fact is that many, if not most, anime lovers in India have long since stopped watching anime on TV. Many people shamelessly pirate anime, while ‘men of culture’, as the meme goes, prefer watching anime online. There are several advantages to this, which can be summed up in the word ‘choice‘.
Becoming an otaku is no easy feat. Those who walk this path must train hard. Jokes aside, to really enjoy anime, as well as gain social approval for having good taste, you have to broaden your horizons. Animax was without a doubt a good place to begin. But, just like with reading books, after a point, you shouldn’t wait for people to give you something to watch; you have to go out there and choose to see things for yourself.
When you watch anime online, there are several things influencing your choice: popular opinion, reviews (like here in Nihonden), and personal taste. What you won’t be watching, though, is a scheduled show promoted by the channel you watch it on, which might be unoriginal and boring. On the one hand, you’ll pick and choose things to watch when you want to watch them, and on the other hand, you get a huge collection to choose from. But if you still want to watch Naruto, then, hey, that’s your call.
Watching anime online has the added advantage of never forcing yourself to sit in front of a TV at a particular time. For those of us who once rushed through dinner to be on the couch by ten-thirty (that was one of the good slots on Animax), getting excited for a show to start is surely a fond memory. But that’s where it stays. This is the twenty-first century, and we have flying cars, robot assistants, and anime on our phones. No more arguments with friends and family about getting to look at the 2D girls you have strange feelings for. Now you can watch your favorite shonen (who are you kidding) from the comfort of your bed.
Apart from this, there’s another possible consequence of Animax going off the air. I don’t want to stress this too much since I find it unlikely that it’ll really take off, or at least just due to this one thing, but some people have pointed out that the Indian animation industry could get a strong boost. However, this is as likely as not, and the fact that Indian cartoons cater to children means that we could be years or decades away from serious animation. For anime lovers, though, this means nothing either way, so it’s good that anime is easily accessible online.
So, in conclusion, Animax is going away, which is sad, but good. We hope you find your favorite anime online and explore new shows. For a few hints on where to start, consider browsing our roster of reviews.
And Animax, I can’t end this without a formal thank you. Thank you for all these years. Thank you for letting me watch the first Gurren Lagann episode and the Paradise Kiss episode where George and Caroline go to their friend’s place on the same day that a hurricane passed by my city. Thank you for giving us quality television when other channels were hardly trying. Thank you for giving us Japanese dubs of FMA: Brotherhood a week within broadcast in Japan. Thanks for the fanservice, thanks for the tears. See you space cowboy.