When the Xbox came out, there was a shift in the gaming world from hardcore gaming to casual gaming. No longer was a gamer a person who stayed in his (never "her") bedroom all the time, working for hours to solve one puzzle or go up one level, never showering or wearing deodorant; a gamer was now a person who liked to play Halo and Madden and other games for short periods of time, drink Mountain Dew, and watch women in bikinis mud wrestle. (At least, that's how advertisers saw it.) Definite proof came in the form of Spike TV's Video Game Awards.

Opinions on that matter aside, a similar shift seems to have occurred within the anime community. Anime used to be very underground in the US. Even when it started to become more known, anime fans were still a niche market. Then, Cartoon Network kicked its programming into high gear, with Dragonball Z, Gundam Wing, and Naruto. While CN had been showing other series for a while, including the classic Sailor Moon, those DBZ, Wing, and Naruto propelled the popularity of anime through the roof. At least, somewhat.

Now, everyone knows what anime is, from five-year-olds to fifty-year-olds. Whether the people like anime or not, they know what it is. Anime has become incredibly popular among teens and preteens, spawning numerous knock-offs, not many of which are good, including Kappa Mikey, Shuriken School, and too many other pieces of crap on Nickelodeon and The Disney Channel to name. Anime merchandise is now sold in general stores now, like Wal-Mart and Hot Topic, instead of specialty shops. There is a huge selection of manga and anime to buy, as well.

The problem is that the "anime-influenced" shows tend to be complete crap, devoid of any originality; all the merchandise is either DBZ, Gundam Wing, Naruto, or Inuyasha-related; and the people who watch anime on CN think that they've seen the best shows ever and know what anime is all about.

Just as a lot of hardcore gamers were upset by the Xbox's popularization of gaming, a lot of anime fans have been upset by the popularization of anime. It seems that the worlds of gaming and anime are no longer subcultures but are instead just parts of the mass culture, which takes away from the uniqueness that belonging to a subculture gives.

Cutting straight to the point now, since I am really tired and can't think too well, is this popularization okay? This should be interesting, since I know there are a lot of the newer anime fans on this site, people who got into anime thanks to CN, and since I know that there are also older anime fans, who perhaps bought VHS tapes from Manga Entertainment, paying $30 for two episodes. (Those bastards . . . )

Should Cartoon Network be loved for making anime popular, or should it be hated? Is CN even the reason anime is so popular now? Would the popularization have happened anyway? And so on . . . Let's just get some discussion going.

(Also, please give me the benefit of the doubt concerning any gaps in my logic and such. I am very tired right now and can better think later, when I can retract and/or change any mistakes.)