I've been into anime for about 6 years now. Ever since DragonBall Z (yes, I used to like that show a lot) came out on broadcast television, I have been quite the anime fan. I never turned into a full-blown otaku, and for that I am grateful. However, I really was into anime and simply couldn't get enough of it. I bought anime DVDs, soundtracks, manga, the works. I have amassed one of the most impressive collections of anime that I know of, and I'm not trying to brag or exaggerate. I just have a whole lot of anime-related stuff. I still buy tons of anime DVDs and the occasional soundtrack, even though I haven't read a new manga since I finished Akira #6 a few months ago. The point of all this is that I have been into anime for a long time. Not as long as the previous generation of anime fans who are now into their late 20s and 30s, but long nonetheless. Yet, despite this, I haven't managed to "burn out" on anime.
However, I am seeing people on various forums who are saying that they've burnt out on anime and can't seem to get excited about it anymore. I haven't seen too many, only a few at most. But the fact that I have been seeing more and more burnt out anime fans is not a good sign. The causes of this phenomenon, I hypothesize, are several in number. For one thing, anime has been airing on US television for a few years now, and in a few years a person's interests and priorities can changed dramatically. They might simply be too busy to be involved with watching anime as much as when they were younger, or they might not make quite a sufficient amount of money at their job to buy enough new anime to keep themselves interested. They might have taken up a new hobby, and being an anime fan is just that: a hobby. When one hobby is gone, another inevitably fills the void. Some people have seen so much anime that they might just be jaded and desensitized toward it, not caring what new anime comes out or what its significance is. Maybe some people are looking for the next Neon Genesis Evangelion or Cowboy Bebop or Spirited Away, and since there hasn't been anything quite as groundbreaking as those titles in a while, they simply give up on anime.
Another reason for some people burning out on anime could be that the DVD format infused anime with a new life, but now that DVDs are the standard, people are finding it harder to get excited about anime on DVD. In the beginning, around 1997, anime fans were drooling over the prospect of the myriad extras that the DVD format could add to their favorite anime titles. Movies and entire television shows could finally be released in their original Japanese language and even include the optional English dub at a reasonably affordable price (a heck of a lot more affordable than VHS or Laserdisc). The movies and shows looked better than they ever had since the time they were first shot in their respective studios. The sound in anime titles was now digital, and worries about the notorious hissing and crackling of VHS tapes disappeared. Anime extras that the Japanese had enjoyed for years on Laserdisc, but which most anime fans had to shell out mucho dinero to import, could finally be incorporated into the title without huge costs being passed to the consumer. It was the golden age of anime, with new titles being brought out on DVD slowly at first, but with ever-quickening speed. Anime popularity snowballed into the juggernaut it is now. Major retail stores that sell DVDs now have whole sections devoted to anime simply because of the sheer popularity that the DVD format brought to anime itself. However, that was the late 90's, when anime was still a relatively new thing to most people and only popular titles were released on DVD for the most part. Fast forward to the 21st century. DVD is here to stay, and a lot of the glitz is gone, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. It just means that companies must meet higher standards for their releases. Anime companies are no exception. So far they have risen to the challenge and delighted consumers with several new features. For reference, I have included a few specific examples of anime DVDs containing these goodies.
1. Interviews with various people related to various parts of the process of creating anime.
2. Production art and line drawings.
3. Interactive storyboards ("Now and Then, Here and There" This comes from the bonus 4th disc in the 1st box set)
4. Insights into the dubbing process for English-speaking audiences, including outtakes. ("You're Under Arrest" This comes from the bonus 4th disc in the 1st box set)
5. A special video clip that self-parodies the process of an American company bringing anime from Japan to American audiences, including numerous parody references to a very popular anime title. ("Patlabor TV" This can be found on the 2nd DVD volume)
6. ADV's risque but amusing Jiggle-Counter(tm). ("Plastic Little," "Burn-Up Excess" This feature can be found on all the discs released for these titles so far)
7. Glossaries of anime-related terminology. ("Akira," "Neon Genesis Evangelion: Death and Rebirth")
8. Original or clean opening and closing credits.
9. Omake (A special type of extra related to an anime series or movie, often involving the cast of the anime title or the people who were involved in making it). ("Blue Seed")
10. DVD easter eggs (Extras placed in the DVD by the mastering team of a licensed production company. These are usually extra production art or video clips, but sometimes it is something totally random).
11. There are more types of extras than the ones I've listed here, but I cannot rack my brain hard enough to jar out a recollection of them.
Unfortunately, even with all of these offerings, some anime fans are finding it too tough to get excited about anime extras that were inconceivable just a few years ago when VHS still ruled the market. Even though the extras are not simply restricted to DVDs, and have spilled over into the manga scene with offerings such as manga printed in the original right-to-left format and extra illustrations, concept drawings, etc., some fans still can't find that spark that caused them to like anime when they were younger. This is surely a sign that these people are burnt out on anime as well. Most people love free stuff, and when people get extras with something that they had originally bought because of the content, they are quite glad.
I don't like to make generalizations, because there are always exceptions to any broad statement. But any one of the reasons I listed could factor into why there is an extremely small -but growing- minority of people who just aren't excited about anime anymore. I for one have experienced a few of the above symptoms, but have never fallen into a state of total anime burnout.
I hate to see people burn out on anime when it has so much to offer. New material is being released all the time, and although some of it will inevitably be mediocre, there is an equal or greater amount of material that simply shines. I haven't read manga in a while, but I mean to start up again by getting the AD Police TPB (Trade Paperback) and The remastered editions of Oh My Goddess! TPBs. I haven't had the ability to purchase as much new anime as I would like, but I still get enough new material to keep myself interested. I am taking the proactive approach to fighting anime burnout, because I don't want to see myself turning away from something I've loved for so many years because once you turn away and head down the road of apathy it's a long-ass trek back.
Just had to get that off my chest. If you read through all this, then I thank you, because I rant a lot. If you skipped here to the end to avoid my article then you are a bad person and deserve to be mauled by irate wolverines.
As for the rest of you: fight the power! Wait, I mean fight anime burnout. I don't know why the hell I just typed "fight the power." Anyways, you know what to do.