Posts Tagged ‘Magic Knight Rayearth’

Both as a hopeful author and a soon-to-be librarian, part of my job involves staying on top of things when it comes to literary trends. And one thing that I have recently become aware of is the fact that anime fans are a great source of information for spotting when new trends are thinking about beginning. Even more specifically, it is most evident in those fans who like to cosplay.

For example, during the late 90s with the rise of Rowling’s Harry Potter and the revitalization of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings trilogy, the genre of epic fantasy stepped into the spotlight. During this time, if one attended anime conventions, it would have been unusual to not see numerous attendees dressed up as: witches/wizards, elves, fairies, anime characters from epic fantasy series like The Slayers‘ Lina Inverse and Magic Knight Rayearth‘s trio of protagonists, and so on. Now, this is not to say that people did not dress up in fantasy costumes prior to the 90s, nor is it to say that epic fantasy has never been popular before. Neither of these true, and on that same note, they continue to be popular, even if this genre is no longer the hot star that everybody wants to be.

Following epic fantasy, we saw the rise of a genre that has been the recipient of both extreme love and equally extreme hatred: Supernatural Romance. This surge in popularity of the supernatural romance genre was, largely, thanks to Meyer’s infamous Twilight series. And though this genre is finally reaching the end of its popularity run, you can still go into bookstore and see its remnants overflowing on the bookshelves. Everywhere you look in a teen section, you will see books that have a certain “look” to them. They’re shinier, more…artistic. And they all look very similar. I still remember finding it very interesting when I began to see classic novels being rereleased with covers that looked like copies of Twilight. Wuthering Heights and Romeo and Juliet, in particular, are two that come to mind. Much like the first book in the Twilight series, they sported a slick black cover with a flower at the center that drew the eyes. You also saw copycats in title fonts, book sizes, and even textures. And with the sudden popularity of Twilight, you also got to see several series…older series…get a second chance at fame. Many people have discussed how Twilight is extremely similar to the Vampire Diaries series. And, would you believe it, can you guess which series suddenly reappeared on bookshelves and now has its own television shows. You got it. Vampire Diaries. Then, of course, we could not stop with vampire romances. We also had to see forbidden relationships formulate between humans and angels, fairies, werewolves, and pretty much whatever other supernatural being you can think of. And the anime fans? Naturally, we saw countless vampire lookalikes.

As I previously stated, though, supernatural romance is now on its final stretch. The books are still on store shelves, but they are quickly being replaced by novels of two genres that have recently made their debuts: Steampunk and, following closely on its heels, Dystopian. My first introduction to Steampunk (besides H.G. Wells’ classic novels), was the anime series Last Exile, a very cool show that I highly recommend to sci-fi aficionados. This was eventually followed by the American Blockbuster Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, a movie that was born premature and, as a result, never really got off the ground. Sad to say, it didn’t even meet its budget, falling about 20 million dollars short. It was one of those movies that, despite its many positive reviews, came and went, forgotten by all except its few loyal fans. To be perfectly honest, I don’t think I’ve even watched the whole thing…might have to add that to my list of things to do. Anyways…I say that this movie was born premature because it was. It failed because American society was not yet ready for it. It was simply too different…too far out there for people to accept. If the movie had been made and released now (or maybe in another year), I believe it would have found much greater success, especially among younger audience members. Teenagers are chewing up books like Westerfeld’s Leviathan and begging for more. And guess what we are seeing at anime conventions: that’s right, lots and lots of steampunk cosplayers. It’s been slow going for the steampunk genre, and I’m afraid it will never really reach the same level that epic fantasy and supernatural romance achieved, primarily because, following closely in its footsteps is Steampunk’s sister: Dystopian fiction.

I have to say it is really funny seeing a bunch of older males come up to the children’s literature section with an embarrassed look on their face as they try to find Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games without being spotted. A lot of times, they’ll show up and try to pretend they know what they’re doing and will eventually break down and ask only to be disappointed as they find out that the book has, yet again, been checked out. Other times, when they’re too stubborn to ask and I attempt to helpfully approach, they realize they’ve been noticed and, essentially, run away. I’m not entirely sure why this happens. Maybe there’s some social code that guys have to follow where being caught in a children’s and young adult area is unmanly or something. But the point is…I don’t see guys in this section of the library too often…and when I do, 9 out of 10 times, they are looking for one of the books in Collins’ hot trilogy. Which, I got the chance to read! And it is excellent (though a bit dragged out). Definitely worth reading. It’s popular for a good reason. Yes, I’m telling you to go check it out if you have yet to do so. ANYWAYS. Thanks to Collins’ series, guess what kind of books we are now starting to see on bookshelves. That’s right. You got it. Dystopian fiction! Sometimes it’ll have a steampunk twist to it, other times not. But right now, I’m seeing  a lot more metallic book covers sporting images of gears, nuts, bolts, and other similar equipment. Just like we did with Harry Potter and Twilight, there are now TONS of Hunger Games look alikes making their debuts. And I have to admit, they look fantastic. I am totally drooling over some of them and am absolutely desperate to get my hands on them. For example, Veronica Roth’s Divergent series and Ally Condie’s Matched series. DeStefano’s Wither and Oliver’s Delirium are also gaining a lot of attention. And has anybody seen that preview for a new upcoming movie that, for a couple of seconds, I thought was the movie adaptation of DeStefano’s novel? I have to say…I am very interested in seeing In Time when it gets released. And not just because Cillian Murphy and his gorgeous blue eyes will be in it.

Alright, so to wrap this up…my question for you…is what do you think will be next? Once The Hunger Games and its fellow dystopian novels start losing steam (which will probably take another two or three years), which genre will be the next to step in the spotlight? Not only that, but is there a pattern developing that could clue us in onto what’s becoming popular and why? I certainly believe there is, but pinpointing exactly what it is…that’s a far more difficult task. You author hopefuls should be especially interested in figuring this little puzzle out. Because if we can, that means you and I have a greater chance of getting our feet in the doors at publishing houses. Predict what the next hot thing will be, write it, and send it in. Of course…even if you can figure it out, timing will be key. And timing will be far more difficult to figure out. If you’re too soon, you’ll find yourself under the rug before you have a chance to nab the spotlight. And too late, well, of course, we know that means somebody else already took it from you. Of course…I’d personally rather be a little late than early. So, as my professors have told me, if you have a dystopian novel floating around in your head, now’s the time to get it out there, ’cause your chances of getting something like that published are much higher right now. Otherwise, you may just have to wind up waiting for the next genre to roll in.


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