Sometimes, Japanese-produced animation is more popular overseas than in its native land.
The film versions of AKIRA and Ghost in the Shell are both revered classics in the West, regarded as landmarks in the medium and among the first breakout anime titles to garner critical attention outside of the pre-existing otaku community.
Cowboy Bebop to an extent. It was popular, but not massively successful, in its native Japan; in Europe and (especially) North America, it is one of the most-beloved anime of all time. It's practically mainstream in America (it has the approval of not only Quentin Tarantino but Keanu Reeves) and most often a Gateway Series for people who think all anime is big eyes and giant robots. This is mainly due to all the American movie tropes (especially from Westerns) in the series and the fact that the protagonist isn't a little boy, but a huge badass. It's almost as if it was made for a Western audience.
The anime was quickly forgotten in Japan, but is considered a classic in the West (especially Canada) to this day.
It was also hugely popular in Korea. As thanks for the Korean fans' support, in the new footage for the Compilation Movie a lot of costume designs were changed from generic medieval fantasy outfits to ones based on traditional hanbok.
Heidi, Girl of the Alps was aired for first time in Spain in 1975 (renamed like Heidi). Nearly forty years later it still enjoys the ocasional rerun, and it is still one of the few anime shows (together with Mazinger Z, Haha wo tazunete sanzenri -a. k. a. Marco- Science Ninja Team Gatchaman, Dragon Ball, Saint Seiya and Captain Tsubasa) that everyone in Spain knows about and recognize by name, even people who are not anime geeks. And "Rottenmeier" has become synonymous with "uptight, straight-laced hag". It also is one of the most popular anime ever in Italy, as it had a huge following between the 70s and early 90s and most Italians who were children at the time remember watching it.
It might be the best selling manga of all time when global sales are added up, but possibly nowhere was it bigger than in Portugal. It was one of the first well-done anime to reach Portuguese television. Every nineties kid watched it (and for some years after too), and at its peak it transcended age and gender. Universities would stop classes because all students would be watching Dragon Ball. Even old ladies would watch it like if it was a soap opera. It should be noted that the Portuguese dub was very special. Many might have called it unprofessional or unfaithful. Most would praise its humor, personality, and randomness.
Nobody doubts Dragon Ball Z's popularity in North America... unless you grew up in Latin America, where the popularity and exposure of the LatAm dub absolutely dwarfed the comparatively tiny American fandom (and DBZ is still North America's most popular anime!).
Notably, Dragon Ball started showing sometime around 1995-96, quickly growing huge during its run. By the late 90's, most teens in Latin America already knew about Dragon Ball Z but it wouldn't be until 1999 that DBZ would finally air in Latin America. Many kids ended up watching the unsubbed/undubbed OVAs in Japanese even if they couldn't understand a thing!
In North America, Dragon Ball didn't become popular until the LATE 90s, and it's heyday was in the early 2000s. However, it was mostly Dragon Ball Z that made it big here. The show gave Cartoon Network some of its best ratings ever (with the show playing on the channel for almost 10 years), and spawned a huge merchandising sensation with t-shirts, action figures, gummies, activity books, trading card games, stickers, board games, video games, birthday party supplies, Halloween costumes, home videos, and more, all in mainstream stores, a fleet not accomplished by any other anime not named Pokémon. It's popularity continues to this day with it's DVD boxsets still on Wal-Mart and Target store shelves even 6 years after they came out, which is rare for even mainstream American shows, much less a kid's anime. The show's enduring popularity with older teenage/young-adult audiences also helps this (and not just for nostalgia either).
Dragon Ball GT is also just as popular in the US, since it was marketed very carefully, saving the first 15 (unpopular) episodes until the end (with a 20-minute summary covering the story). FUNimation's DBGT DVDs were their #2 selling DVDs last year, and a few episodes of the show was even released to Game Boy Player.
The original Dragon Ball's success in the US mostly rides on DBZ's but it was still a modest hit, got good ratings when it was on, and it's DVDs are still among FU Ni's most popular.
The mere existence of pretty much every DBZ video game since 2000 can be attributed to the sudden giant fanbase that materialized when the series became popular in the West. Probably the recent Jump specials, too; Japanese fans have said the franchise was considered dead until Americans fell in love with it.
Dragon Ball is insanely popular in pretty much all of South America. But special mention must be made of the absurd popularity the franchise has specifically in Mexico, where anythingDragon Ball related is absolutely adored... yes, even Dragon Ball GT. To put into perspective how big the Latino fanbase for Dragon Ball is, just look at how much money Dragon Ball Z: Battle of Gods makes in South American countries. Keep in mind that Battle Of Gods is a Short Anime Movie and had limited screening and it still debuted in some countries as the #1 movie in the box office, and even beat out movies like Flight and Captain Phillips! Needless to say, Dragon Ball has a Latino fanbase so large that only Saint Seiya and maybe Sailor Moon can be brought up in terms of what anime can be considered as to having the largest Latino fandom.
Don't forget the rest of Europe, particularly, France, Italy and the United Kingdom. There are surprisingly large fanbases for Dragon Ball and Dragon Ball Z in those countries still to this day. Mainly due to the fact that Dragon Ball and/or Dragon Ball Z are seen as a Gateway Series for many people in Europe.
Spain is another stand out example. Dragon Ball premiered in 1989, and Dragon Ball Z a couple of years later. It became an instant classic and a pop culture juggernaut. Most young adults nowadays have it as one of the most sacred cows from their formative years, to the point that even implying the show is anything less than a gift sent directly from the gods will provoke a MASSIVE Internet Backdraft in Spaniard anime forums. And since it premiered, it's pretty much impossible to have a childhood in Spain without being heavily exposed to it in one way or another. You need to go to figgin' Disney to find something that can compete with Dragon Ball in this regard.
On a character level, Cell. In Japan, he's considered the weakest of the major DBZ villains (behind Freeza and Buu). In the West, he's easily the most popular.
Ie Naki Ko Remi was a huge failure in Japan and was credited to have nearly killed the World Masterpiece Theater series, but found success in Latin America, where it received a superlative Mexican dub and is remembered quite fondly there. It is also very familiar to French speakers. It enjoyed a modicum of success in Indonesia, partially due to (or perhaps despite) its 3D feature.
Corrector Yui received cult status in Latin America, especially in Mexico and Brazil after airings on Cartoon Network. The United States was ripe to receive this show and offer this treatment; but sadly, this case is an aversion because the show never made it there.
Trigun is a moderately popular series in Japan, while in America it is regarded on the same level as Cowboy Bebop as one of the most beloved anime of all time. Because of this, the Trigun movie, Badlands Rumble, had its world premiere at Sakuracon in Seattle, months before the Japanese premiere. Seeing a pattern here?. The Trigunmanga, however, is much more popular in Japan then in America.
In Japan, Go Lion and Dairugger XV are obscure, stereotypical early 1980s Super Robot series. In America, Voltron, its heavily edited combined counterpart, became a smash hit, and is still popular. Media Blasters, the company releasing the DVDs, mentioned it as its most popular title, by far, and the only thing currently holding back a live-action movie is a minor legal dispute between World Events Productions and Toei Animation, while World Events continues to expand the franchise via comics and whatnot.
Sport anime in general, but especially soccer based ones like Captain Tsubasa, tend to be quite popular in Europe, especially in Spain. It helps that Tsubasa himself ends playing on one of the most successful teams in Spain's history: the FC Barcelona "Barça".
The anime is very popular in South America. Some professional players even cited the show as the reason why they started playing soccer in the first place.
Captain Tsubasa, while massively subject to Dub Name Change (it was known there as Olive et Tom), was huge in France too.
Under the Dub Name Change of Captain Majid, Tsubasa was beloved throughout the Middle East. Proof? The Japanese Self-Defense Force (during their stay in Iraq), bought fire trucks decorated with Captain Tsubasa. These were left untouched by terrorists during their stay.
Captain Tsubasa was also extremely huge in Italy under the Dub Name ChangeHolly e Benji.
Captain Tsubasa was huge in Mexico, but during its heyday in the 90's nobody would know it by that name. The series is still known mostly by its Dub Name ChangeSúper Campeones (Super Champions). Notably, the opening credits for the series were the Italian title cards, which means that Mexicans were mostly watching a Japanese series with a Spanish Dub Name Change with the Title Screen showing the ItalianDub Name Change. Ow!
Captain Tsubasa was also highly popular among Polish kids in the early nineties.
Anybody remember Goal FH? You might know it as Goleadores instead. It was pretty popular in Latin America around the time of the 1994 FIFA World Cup... perhaps not as popular as Captain Tsubasa, but it's well-remembered. However, outside of Latin America not many people know it. The number of times it is mentioned in this wiki can be counted on one hand and you'd probably still have about four fingers left when you're done counting. It doesn't even have an article (not even a stub) at The Other Wiki. Goes way beyond "obscure," more like almost non-existent'', really...
In the wake of Captain Tsubasa, Attacker You! was so popular in France that it made the subscriptions into volley-ball clubs, which are usually a niche, skyrocket like never before. While not unknown in other European countries, only Spain and Italy were as enthusiastic as France about this anime.
Sonic X was much more popular in the U.S. and France than in its homeland; the third season never even aired in Japan.
Grendizer is also incredibly popular in French-speaking countries, where it's known as Goldorak.
It's also popular in Canada and in Arabic speaking countries (many of whom first got the bug from the french translation as they were former french colonial possessions with notable numbers of french-speakers). IT DID get an Arabic dub as well!
In the same vein, Kotetsu Jeeg in Japan was just another Humongous Mecha anime created by Nagai, and it never became so popular like his other Humongous Mecha. However, when it was aired in Argentina as El Vengador, it enjoyed instant success and enduring popularity.
Combining MechaVoltes V, while being a notable Humongous Mecha series is largely overlooked in its native Japan today. However, it has become an adopted cultural icon in the Philippines. This is partly due to the fact that it was banned during the reign of the hated Ferdinand Marcos, allegedly due to the fact that the show's Big Bad reminded the dictator too much of himself.
Due to Voltes V's popularity, other Super Robot shows that came alongside and after it also did well in the Philippines; like for example, Mazinger Z and Daimos, taking its Star-Crossed Lovers (KAZUYA RICHAAARD!!!! ERIKAAAA!!!!) premise in consideration. However, Combattler V didn't, for it felt too similar to Voltes V, even though it came first, largely because Combattler V was aired in the Philippines twenty years after Voltes, when the latter has already entrenched itself in Filipino pop culture deeply.
YuYu Hakusho is fondly remembered in the Philippines (where it is re-named Ghost Fighter) by the generation of males that came of age in the mid-1990s, as there was nothing else like it at the particular time when it first aired (this was just before cable tv, the internet, and disc-based movie/console-gaming piracy became mainstream in the Philippines in late '90s). Many other dubbed anime series had come before and would come after, which would be hits, but this particular shonen series singularly captured the imagination of an entire generation of Filipino schoolboys. The same can be said with Flame Of Recca, which came afterwards.
Slam Dunk as well among Filipinos, as the Philippines is infamous for being basketball-obsessed unlike any other nation on Earth. It was a bit of a slow burner though. It fizzled out because it was overshadowed by Sailor Moon only to re-emerge years later on another channel where it finally took off. It's still HUGE in Spain and Latin America, and apparently in South Korea as well.
Katekyo Hitman Reborn!! is one of Japan's most popular anime and it shows at conventions but compared to is MASSIVE fanbase in Latin America (especially Mexico, Brazil, and Argentina), its native land just can't hold a candle. Oh God, where do I start? A good 20% of doujins of the series are in Spanish and on there are more than 3,300 fanfics of the show in a Latin language on Fanfiction.Net. Many forums and Facebook groups are in Spanish. If you go to an anime convention in Mexico or Brazil, there will be Reborn! cosplayers! The anime is also a big hit in Spain and definitely France. While nowhere near as big as in the Latin countries, it's still not obscure in the US because its one of the most popular shows on Crunchyroll. Maybe Latin America likes the fact that the Mafia is in this show?
Lupin III, which was such a mainstream crossover hit with normally non-anime-watching demographics, that it was even remade as a short-lived licensed live-action prime time series.
A major example in Japanese animation is Ginga Nagareboshi Gin (known also as Silver Fang, which may be considered a sort of unofficial English title), which was released in most Nordic countries and Hungary in the 1980s. While this release was dubbed and heavily edited, the series gained notable popularity at least in Finland (and probably at least in Norway,Denmark and Sweden as well). Eventually the popularity resulted in uncut DVD releases in Finland and Sweden in 2003 and in Denmark and Norway in 2006. In addition to this, the animated adaption of the sequel, Ginga Densetsu Weed was released in both Finland and Sweden in 2006 just months after the series had reached its conclusion in Japan. While both series have been fansubbed in English, neither of them has had any official English release.
One of the manga's greatest virtues is how easily managed to surpass cultural barriers to become popular all over the world, specially Latin America and Western Europe. But probably the most iconic example is Spain: The anime arrived there in the summer of 1998 under the name "El guerrero samurái" ("The Samurai Warrior") and became the most watched program of the TV channel it was in. It became an instant classic for Spaniard anime geeks, which is specially surprising when you consider it aired on Saturday mornings (luckily, with no censorship). The manga came one year later and the rights were acquired by the Spanish branch of Glénat, a French publisher. Glénat Spain was at the brink of bankruptcy when they started to publish it, but the success of the manga was so big that practically single-handedly made them the biggest manga publisher in Spain. Thanks to that success, Glénat could acquire other big hits like Love Hina, Naruto, Bleach, One Piece, and many more. Plus, in 2010 they published a special reprint (the same one started in Japan that same year) and still managed to top the manga charts in Spain. Wow! Spaniards Love The Samurai Warrior indeed!
The anime series Super Dimension Cavalry Southern Cross and Genesis Climber MOSPEADA are very obscure in Japan; however, they are both far more recognized in the US, due to their inclusion in Robotech. The US DVD releases of both series in their untranslated form was subsequently imported into Japan for local re-release there. Reportedly, the Japanese reaction to the Southern Cross segment of Robotech was along the lines of "How the hell did they make Southern Cross watchable?"
The anime adaptation of Captain Future was really loved by German (and French) viewers back in the days.
Science Fiction Saiyuki Starzinger was a smash hit in Sweden in the late eighties, where it was known simply as Starzinger.
Heck, Captain Future is a double-example. Started out as a series of American pulp novels that basically nobody today remembers (and which cost an arm and a leg to get anymore), was adapted into an anime which was then dubbed and broadcasted in France and Germany where it became extremely popular.
Also reached cult status in Latin America, due to the Mexican Superlative Dubbing and how it was exhibited in The Eighties. Now man, MANY adults in their 30's or even 40's still adore it.
Many french-speakers who grew up in the late 70s-early 80s also have fond memories of it.
The Hellsing TV series was so popular in America that they're the primary reason Geneon produced the Hellsing Ultimate OVAs, a more faithful adaptation of the Hellsing manga.
Kyatto Ninden Teyande's Gag Dubbed English version (a rare enforced instance due to something going wrong somewhere along the line with either the masters or the scripts) Samurai Pizza Cats was a huge hit in North America, and was broadcast around the world. It's also fondly recalled in Latin America.
The anime of Kinnikuman Nisei in North America, where it was called Ultimate Muscle, so much so that 4Kids bought another season.
Bleach is popular all over the world. Although America considers it a "Big 3" manga (along with One Piece and Naruto), it's rarely been that in Japan, although it always appears in the top half of the Japanese industry's "top 50 list" of volume sales.
And guess which character is Mexico's favorite? Chad, half-Japanese and half-Mexican, has a big fanbase over there and some of Latin America. In fact, most of the arrancar are loved in Spanish-speaking countries as well, despite being (usually) villains.
In Brazil, the most popular character is possibly Kisuke Urahara. People make Urahara-themed hats to sell in the events, and boy, do they sell well.
In the villain category, Baraggan Luisenbarn appears to have picked up a sizable American fanbase, as noted on the Bleach character page. This may be similar to Kenpachi's popularity compared to Hitsugaya; like the two heroes, Baraggan is much more evilly bombastic and over-the-top than Aizen, king of Dull Surprise. Having a One-Winged Angel resembling the Grim Reaper and having an incredibly scary ability certainly helps.
ShunsuiKyoraku, who just scrapes into the top 20 in Japan, has a fanbase that possibly rivals Kenpachi in America. This is quite ironic, considering the two's personalities are about as different as night and day. Also quite appropriate, when you consider that they embody something that would look meh for Japanese fans, but totally awesome for Americans: MANLINESS.
However, in a strange twist, Shunsui and Kenpachi's popularity is slipping in the West due to the... sexist, fatalistic and downright stupid attitude that Kubo had to inject into both of them andRetsu Unohana to bring out Kenpachi's 'full power' in the latest arc. Though ti seems that Kenpachi is starting to be forgiven by some fans due to how he dealed with Gremmy after this.
If a fan is from a country represented by a nation-tan character in canon, chances are very good that nation-tan will be said fan's favorite character - hence why America and Canada are much more popular in Western fandom than in Japanese fandom. The popularity of some pairings also tend to fluctuate from fandom to fandom; Prussia×Canada is almost nonexistent in Japanese fandom but very popular in Western fandom, and vice versa with most Japan pairings. Additionally, France×England appears to be more popular among fans from the UK than America×England, the most popular pairing in both American fandom and just behind England/Japan in the Japanese fandom, and Russia×China is hugely popular with, you guessed it, the Russians and Chinese.
The Hetalia fandom is the anime fandom amongst female Western anime fans right now, particularly those in the slash and cosplay scenes. Go to a good-sized anime convention and try not to lose track of how many Hetalia cosplayers are around, nearly all of them girls.
While Mahou Sensei Negima! is fairly popular in Japan, it's one of the best selling manga in America and one of the few that can put a dent in Naruto's numbers.
The 2003Pragmatic Adaptation of Fullmetal Alchemist has enjoyed enormous success in the West, serving as one of Funimation's main titles and acting as a Gateway Series for many, many anime viewers. It was successful in Japan as well, but the manga upon which it is based outperformed it considerably. The manga is popular in the West, but only with people who actually read manga, which is already a niche market. And while direct manga adaptation Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood was a smash hit with Western anime fans — to the point that the 2003 adaptation has become Deader Than Disco in some fan circles — it never matched the ratings or popularity that its predecessor received with the general public. For a character example we have Maes Hughes, the overprotectivedoting father who is generally adored in the west.
You might be noticing by now that popularity in America isdirectlycorrelatedtowhetherornotitwasairedon[adult swim], which was Toonami's Spiritual Successor (and even became the home of Toonami after its revival). It's not that they wasn't popular in Japan, they definitely made money. But you're basically considered a contrarian hipster in the Western fandom if you don't like at least one of these shows.
Bakugan Battle Brawlers as a whole caught on more in North America than it did in Japan, resulting in the creation of Sequel SeriesBakugan: New Vestroia, which debuted in Canada and the US far earlier than in Japan.
Even so, its success in Belgium is quite a sight to behold. When Cartoon Network (the one that was airing the show in the BENELUX went through a period of reformation) VT 4 (a network that only airs in Belgium) picked it up and ended up airing it about as much as Pokemon. They have still aired Bakugan: New Vestroia on Summer 2014. Then again, seen as Anime rarely made it in Belgium at the point of airing it is not all that suprising.
In the American Strawberry Panic! fandom, there is a good deal more fanart of Shizuma Hanazono than in Japan.
The localized versions of the Ai Shite Night anime were quite successful in some European countries; especially in Italy, where it spawned a live action sequel that lasted four seasons, had some of the characters' dubbers take the roles of the characters themselves, and the singer of the Italian theme song played the main character — they made her join Bee Hive (her boyfriend's band) as a singer in the show.
According to commentary in the Sgt. Frog manga, Kululu was very unpopular in Japan due to being a Jerkass, a Mad Scientist who kept tricking people into being test subjects, and being yellow. However, countries like America love Jerkass characters, making Kululu a lot more popular overseas. This is lampshaded in one chapter where Keron sells merchandise of Keroro's Platoon and Kululu's merchandise goes virtually unsold.
The anime was one of the first anime series ever distributed in Russia, and even being not so popular today, it spawned a whole generation of Russian otakus back then.
The Dark Kingdom, a group of villains from the first season of Sailor Moon, is impressively popular among Russian fans (female fans, at least), so much that it often overshadows the show's actual protagonists in fanfiction. This is likely related to the fact that many fans discovered yaoi thanks to Zoisite and Kunzite.
It was a huge success for Canadian Kids Network YTV who got to air the 17 Lost Episodes that concluded the R series before USA. When Sailor Moon got re-Licensed and redubbed in 2014 by Viz Media they made a point to mention YTV on Twitter. Furthermore,back in the USA, Viz admitted that pre-orders for the DV Ds were the 'absolute highest' in history. Now what was that you said about shows for girls not selling well?
Years Later, YTV tried again their luck again with the magical girl show Futari wa Pretty Cure. While it wasnt quite a success in Canada,it was the Number one show for Pop Girl in the UK. You can still find fans that grew up with the dub even years after its last broadcast.
The Vampire Knight manga is fairly popular in Japan, occasionally getting in the top 10 seller list, but it has become a heavyweight in US manga sales, consistently being in the top 5 and spending three years as the most popular shojo title by a significant margin.note Vampire Knight snagged the top shojo spot in the US when previous #1 Fruits Basket ended, and lost it when current #1 Sailor Moon returned to print. Vampire Knight is still a respectable 2nd place, though.Othermanga about vampires can be expected to rank highly in the charts as well. Including shonen manga. The New York Times Manga Bestseller List cements this. The only shojo title in America to knock it out of the top spot has been Sailor Moon. In one week in June 2010, new volumes of Naruto, Bleach, and Vampire Knight all came out on the same day, and Vampire Knightactually sold more copies than Bleach.
While the Vampire Knight anime was popular in its native Japan, amongst kids in Australia it is theShoujo anime thanks to its run and constant repeats on ABC3.
Zoids: New Century was a flop during its original run in Japan; however, it was much more successful in the West.
In Haruhi Suzumiya, Mikuru comes last in popularity behind the other two girls in Japan. In Spain, this is reversed; Mikuru is either the most popular, or near enough.
Kageyama: Last year, I realized that the show’s preferences between American fans and Japanese fans are different. I realized this during a panel at Otakon. An American fan asked us a question about “MD Geist” which I sang a song for. That was a show that couldn’t draw any attention from Japanese fans at all. [laughs]
Both the manga and the anime were well received in Japan. But it achieved its greatest success in Europe and Latin America, where it's really, really big, thanks to the excellent dubbing.
Oh God, Saint Seiya. Ask a Latin-American fan in their twenties about it, and it's highly likely that they can mimic their favorite attacks and correctly give you their dubbed names. And that's just the start...
The same thing can be asked to an Indonesian fan, with similar result.
And it also can be asked to an Spaniard fan, yet again with the same result.
Basically ask any male (and quite a few female) Chinese age 20-30, they can at least quote 2 lines from the show. Pegasus Meteor Punch and Cosmos were so popular it had meme status in China even before memes were classified. Just watch this affectionate parody of one Chinese comedy show about a bunch of guys doing an online profile for their Japanese manga artist friend living in Shanghai(the show is much less weird than it sounds...) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PJSPUGEFsaY
The same thing happened in Portugal. While its potential success was compromised by Dragon Ball and completely random network reschedulings, if you ask someone in their 20's to 30's about the show (you have to use the name Os Cavaleiros do Zodíaco, meaning "The Zodiac Knights"), they'll totally remember the campy and narmy dubbing. It also saw a revival in the late 00's.
Taurus Aldebaran (who is Brazilian) is the Butt Monkey of Saint Seiya's Brazilian fandom. He is almost universally regarded as the weakest Gold Saint and a boring character, but fans just love to make fun of him, to the point that no one hates him truly, just loves to pretend they do.
While Speed Racer is considered a pop-culture classic in America, it is barely remembered in its native country of Japan (where it was titled Mach GoGoGo) and is only known nowadays for being popular in America. In fact, the Japanese dub of the live-action film kept the American title and names of the characters.
Street Fighter II V is usually seen as a weak anime. In Brazil, however, it is something of a cult classic - everyone who watched it as a kid (yes) has fond memories of it, and there are even some people who get some characters' backstories confused with their anime counterparts. It was one of the most popular shows on TV Network SBT's morning cartoon block.
The obscure ninja-themed comedic anime Iga no Kabamaru is basically forgotten, but it gained cult status in Greece and Arabic countries, of all places. It had also an Italian release named "Ninja Boy".
Although Junjou Romantica is by no means lacking in popularity, there is a significant amount of Western fans who enjoy the Egoist storyline and avidly dislike the rest of the manga. Likely this is a result of the pairing having less Unfortunate Implications, a smaller age difference, and Hiroki being a by-the-book Tsundere (a more popular character type in the West).
Fist of the North Star has a huge following in Italy, where it is known as Ken il guerriero ("Ken the Warrior"). Not only did they get the entire manga translated, it is also the only country in Europe where they got all 152 episodes of the anime TV series dubbed in their language (the French dub only got to Episode 90, and that was mainly a Gag Dub). Due to the franchise's popularity there, the Italian release of Fist of the North Star: Ken's Rage has actually gotten plenty of pre-release hype, with a press conference held hosted by Tetsuo Hara (via a video message), an exclusive new cover art (different from the other European releases) and the same pre-order bonuses that were given out in Japan.
Hunter × Hunter is very popular in Latin America and Arabia, to the point that Youtube searches often bring up the Latino or Arabic dubs and many comments on HxH related videos being from Latin users. It is also considered one of the most memorable anime in Indonesia. Particularly for its well dubbed opening. Some even consider the new openings still can't hold a candle to it.
The manga Psyren mostly had subpar ratings during its run at Shonen Jump and only mediocre volume sales, but it still got licensed very early on by Western publishers because it showed promise. It also seems to be immensely popular with Western readers of scanlations as it ranks 1st to 25th place on major scanlation sites (which include virtually every manga ever made), a far higher position than almost every other series from WSJ. This has not quite translated into sales, however.
Bobobo-bo Bo-bobo was fairly popular in Japan, and has a very, very Broken Base in most of the west, especially in America. However, Spain positively adores this series (especially the anime), and was dubbed into some local languages there.
Elfen Lied in Japan was so bloody and full of nudity it was only allowed to air on midnights on satellite TV, to the point that ratings-wise its only purpose was to advertise the DVD release. In America, the show turned out to be so shocking and spectacular it spread through pure word of mouth from anime club to anime club, which led so many people to buy ADV's DVD release it ended up as one of ADV's top selling series of 2005.
The above-mentioned Tokimeki Tonight is also remembered quite fondly in Arabia. Also in Italy, in addition of having the anime aired, is the only country outside of Japan to have all 30 of the original manga translated as well as the 9-volume spin-off manga.
While Rose of Versailles was a smash hit in Japan, its fame in Europe is a sight to behold. Especially in France and Italy, with the author Riyoko Ikeda formally honored.
Hana no Ko Lunlun was successful enough in Japan, but its success in France, Latin America, and especially Russia far surpasses that.
Candy Candy, another old-school shoujo series, is also considered to be a classic in Japan, but in Latin America and in Europe (especially in France, where it is the first shoujo to be shown there), the series' fame is enormous and it's fondly remembered by people who grew up watching the series. Same thing happens in Catalonia, everyone knows Candy Candy and everyone loved it.
And yet another one: Haikara San Ga Tooru. The anime gained popularity in France, Italy and Arabic-speaking countries while it's being largely forgotten in its native country.
Likewise, Cats Eye and City Hunter, two series by Tsukasa Hojo, were somewhat popular back in the days in Japan and are considered classics of the Shōnen genre. Yet, their popularity is gigantic in Europe, especially in France, Germany and Italy. While the former is obscure in the Americas, the latter garnered some fame up there, especially in Latin America.
While Kodomo no Omocha was popular in Japan and even had some success in the West, Italy is just nuts for this anime. Seriously, it is named Rossana there (In Italy they used to rename characters with western names to make them more appealing to the audience as Japanese culture was still new for the common viewer) and it's popularity was enormous! On Wikipedia, the Italian page is twice as long as English or Japanese and even the main characters have their own separate pages! Also the Italian dub is one of the very few to have all the episodes dubbed in Italian. It was also one of Italia 1's top anime! That's how big Kodomo no Omocha is in the boot heeled country!
Among the female protagonists of Neon Genesis Evangelion, fiery, outspoken and aggressive AsukaLangleySoryu has traditionally been embraced by Western fans far more than the taciturn, quiet, and repressed ReiAyanami, whereas in Japan the opposite is true (though Rei is still quite popular in the US and Asuka very popular in Japan, too, it's just a case of one edging out the other here.) The characters' difference in reception between regions has been so significant that even Word of God has commented on it.
Definitely Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. While certainly not unpopular in Japan, it was the first Gundam work to get any real exposure to the rest of the world, and the combination of action and Bishōnen leads helped it become an international smash hit. Gundam as a franchise eventually dwindled in the overseas markets for varying reasons, which is rather unfortunate since it wasn't until 15 years after the show ended that Sunrise decided to acknowledge Wing's popularity with more sequels and merchandise.
Supercar Gattiger was a short-lived anime that sank without a trace in Japan, but it became very popular in Italy.
Speaking of Italy, another series that's very popular there is Yatterman. Sure, Japan remembers it fondly and remade the series in 2008, but Western fans are almost all Italian and Italy is the only other country in the world where all 108 episodes of the original anime were translated and broadcasted (other countries such as Poland use the Italian dubbing as basis), and later sold on DVD. It is also the only country where the live-action movie was dubbed and shown in theatres, even if only two years later and only for a very limited period of time. In the early 2000s there were even plans for an Italo-Japanese collaboration with Tatsunoko Production to create a new Time Bokan series, but that never came to be. Italians who were lucky to watch the film noticed that the final battle is somewhere in the Southern Alps... in Italy! That's right, Italy had the only real world set of the movie.
As another Italy-example it remains the only western country where JoJo's Bizarre Adventure has been fully released and has significant popularity. The series has a strong cult following around the world though. 1/5 of the cast is Italian and one of the 8 parts takes place in Italy. Italians love JoJo, and JoJo returns the favor.
Italy again: Olympus no Poron was a comedic manga that spoofed Greek Mythology, which spawned in the early Eighties an anime series, "Ochamegami Monogatari Kolokolo Poron". "Poron" is obscure in its home country and almost everywhere else, but in Italy was renamed C'era una volta... Pollon ("Once Upon A Time... Pollon'') and gained a strong following that more or less goes on to this day: it is considered a prominent example of kids' programmes in the '80s, and they even got to publish an Italian version of the decades-old original manga!
Italian again (let's just say Japanese animation is kind of a holy treat in Italy): Mizuiro Jidai was kind of a failure in Japan but in Italy, its popularity was just MASSIVE. Around 75% of videos of the anime on the net are in Italian and the Italian page on Wikipedia is 3 times as long as any other language. Virtually any fan of the show nowadays is Italian. The main reason is, probably, the media uproar that went out after an episode about the main character having her first period was heavilly edited so her issue was a nightmare she had last night, with subsequent complaining from a lot of people.
And yet again... Attacker You!, a 1984 volleyball-themed comedy-drama manga and anime, achieved its greatest popularity in Europe, dwarfing its reception in Japan. In Italy and France, the local dubs were so popular that they singlehandedly increased enrollment in girls' school volleyball teams.
Dragon Half wasn't very well-received in Japan (the reason only two episodes were made), but its combination of Widget Series, a total lack of seriousness, and a beloved Good Bad Translation resulted in it becoming a beloved classic in North America.
The series is definitely one of the most popular manga/anime series in America (and was uncontestably the most popular during the mid-to-late Noughties and early Tens), whereas in Japan, while far from obscure, it doesn't sell as well as One Piece.
SasukeUchiha is a Base Breaker in the Western fandom with the tendency to be outright hated more than loved, but the Japanese are quite fond of him. The situation is completely reversed with Sai, who fares as a significantly less liked character in Japan than in the Western fandom.
Kabuto and Orochimaru are also more well liked in the West (where they're generally regarded as more interesting villains than the actual Big Bad) than they are in Japan.
The first season of Gunslinger Girl was a modest commercial success and cult hit in the US, even landing a brief stint on cable via the Independent Film Channel. In Japan, where the manga is more popular, the first season was sold as a pack-in bonus for the licensed games.
Japanese fans (and the creators) have pretty much forgotten about Outlaw Star and while it's not as popular as its fellow Space WesternsCowboy Bebop and Trigun, it is still well-known in the United States, airing on [adult swim], and getting multiple re-releases right up until the 2012 death of Bandai's American branch. One theory why it's so popular is that the premise is basically the anime version of Firefly (the similarities are so great that fans have repeatedly asked Joss Whedon about it). Having a kickass intro doesn't hurt, either. Here's a more detailed analyses.
While obscure in most Western countries, Doraemon is very popular in Portugal, as it has been running for more than a decade non-stop and in the beginning of the 2000s was actually voted the most popular show of the network where it first aired, beating mainstream stuff like Sailor Moon. A few of the movies have also been released over there.
In fact, it's also one of the most popular anime in Spain. It's been broadcast continuously since the early nineties, sometimes on two or three channels at the same time. In fact, it's usually the most watched show on Boing, Turner's free-TV kids channel.
Doraemon was also well-liked in Italy, which was the first western country to adapt the anime.
Its also ABSURDLY popular in Indonesia, for starters, its the only anime series that is still aired in Indonesia as of 2013 alongside Dragon Ball. During school and national holidays, Doraemon movies and anime are always aired regularly alongside newer western animated movies. Lots of merchandise is named after the series, and the only manga that is still sold in the store shelf of a Bookstore. This makes it rather popular amongst old and young children alike, even those that is born long after the initial run.
It's starting to become popular in the USA as well, since unlike other anime dubbed there, it isn't a Macekre and is actually funny and well-done. There's even a touring costume in the USA!
Jeanie With the Light Brown Hair, an anime based on the life and music of Stephen Foster, was a genuine failure in Japan, yet the reality is reversed in Italy. OH BOY this anime was a big success with Italians (though not at the level of some anime). It was also popular in the Arab world for a while, too.
Peepo Choo bases much of its plot around fictional examples of this trope. The titular Show Within a ShowPeepo Choo is an anime that in Japan was an adult-oriented True Art Is IncomprehensibleMind Screw and is supposedly regarded by many as the worst anime in living memory, but it is a huge success in America after being redubbed as an ordinary kids' show and hyped as an example of Japanese eccentricity. In the opposite direction, the manga features a fictional American Gang Banger film called Brick Side which was a disastrous flop in the States but is worshipped by an Ax-Crazy yakuza boss who bases his whole lifestyle on it.
Hikari no Densetsu is a popular shojo manga about rhythmic gymnastics in Japan during the mid 1980s. Despite its high production values (being produced by Tatsunoko Production, the same anime studio that produced the aforementioned Speed Racer), the anime adaptation was a huge flop in its native country and was Cut Short after only 19 episodes. But in Italy, where the series was renamed Hilary, the anime was extremely popular and still is to this day; they even released the manga there. The anime series also gained popularity in France, Spain and Germany.
3000 Leagues in Search of Mother ended up being very popular in lots of countries (from the other Wiki) The series was dubbed into several languages and became an instant success in some countries, such as Portugal, Brazil, Spain, Venezuela, Colombia, Germany, Chile, Turkey, the Arab world and Israel. In Israel it was broadcast as a marathon each and every summer holiday, managing to traumatise enough kids, that at least some of them made parodies of it when they grew up. compare the original to the parody.
It was a huge hit in Spain, especially in Catalonia. In fact, in some Spanish regions Shin Chan competed against the main news broadcasts, and won. Some of the movies were screened on cinemas, and even many of the Shin Chan videogames were localized.
To an extent, as many other anime series started airing on certain Catalonian local networks, it grew in popularity and aired on several other local networks around the country until it jumped into political ground and was kicked off first from a Madrid local network and then from several other provincial stations. Eventually, the show was sold to and aired by a national network and then its popularity faded...I wonder why...
One of the reasons for the series' very high popularity in Catalonia might have to do with the fact that the late Yoshito Usui, Shin Chan's creator, became good friends with the Catalan translator, to the point that Usui would vacation in (and have characters visit) Barcelona.
Detective Conan is very popular in Germany. All movies have been dubbed into German and the anime to around 330+ episodes. The manga is one of the top selling in the country. The only series it holds a candle to is Doraemon in Indonesia.
The anime adaptation of Deadman Wonderland bombed in Japan, resulting in its cancellation after 12 episodes. In America, however, Deadman Wonderland became a Sleeper Hit and currently rivals Bleach as the most watched show on the revived Toonami block.
The 1980s version of New Tetsujin-28 is immensely popular with Arabs, which is evident from all the videos on Youtube having comments in Arabic.
Girl Friends is one of the best known Girls Love manga outside of Japan, much loved and praised by fans for being one of the most realistic potrayals of a budding lesbian romance in the genre. Its digital version keeps popping up in the Best Sellers list of Jmanga even long after it was first released internationally, and both volumes of its Omnibus collection debuted in the top 10 of the New York Times Best Sellers list for manga. Due to this, it may be surprising to learn that Girl Friends only has a fraction of its international popularity in Japan.
Ninja Senshi Tobikage, in its English dub format, Ninja Robots, was briefly very popular in India, and has its share of fans in Australia. In its Spanish dub format, Robots Ninja, was also briefly popular in Mexico thanks to it being shown right before Dragon Ball Z for a couple of months. However, it has remained a bit obscure ever since, its only attempted rerun ending in disaster, being cut short after only three episodes.
Shokojo Sera and Little Prince Cedie was so incredibly popular among Filipinos that the network that distributed the show in the Philippines created a live action movie for both series and a TV Series for the former specifically based on the anime to cash in on it.
Any anime series aired on Nick Jr in the early 90's is very popular with people who remember watching them as kids.
Ubel Blatt is much more popular in Europe, particularly France, than Japan. During a long Hiatus, the author stated in an interview that the series would not be cancelled due to the large European fanbase.
While it's considered more or less niche in Japan, Queen's Blade has a considerable fandom in Spain and Latin America, despise neither the series nor related material was released there.
In Hong Kong, A few select Brave Series, as well as the Eldran Trilogy (one of them being Zettai Muteki Raijin-Oh), are fondly remembered there. In fact, most who comment about them on YouTube clips for these series are from those who watched it in Hong Kong (Dubbed in Cantonese of course). The Brave Series, especially Fighbird is fondly remembered in Korea.
In Indonesia, an obscure mangaka named Ueda Masashi is very popular for his 4-koma gag mangas such as Kariage-kun and Kobo-chan.
Mitsudomoe flopped miserably in Japan (to the point that its 2nd season was cut down to 8 episodes) but managed to gain a small yet impressive following in the US where it's considered a great comedy.
Haiyore! Nyarko-sandiscusses this concept in-universe. Mahiro sees Cuuko reading a manga anthology and asks "Didn't that book only last six issues?" Nyarko explains that this trope applies on a galactic scale as well, since not only do Aliens Steal Cable, but they consider Earth's entertainment the best in space. In particular, the anthology Cuuko was reading got picked up and continued by an alien publisher after its original cancellation.
While Eat-Man was somewhat popular in Japan, both series got a HUGE fanbase in Argentina, where even the somewhat rare manga got a release, due to both shows running several times on the alternative satellite channel Locomotion. When Locomotion reached Mexico it also got quite popular, although never at the same levels as in Argentina.
...And then Studio Trigger hit this trope again with Little Witch Academia. This OVA's American-styled coming-of-age adventure story, thematic similarity to Harry Potter, and high-quality animation made it an instant hit in the U.S. when it streamed on Crunchyroll. A Kickstarter campaign to fund a sequel made over 4 times its $150,000 goal, from almost entirely English-speaking fans. Trigger really needed that money, because the Japanese fans hadn't given them much.
History repeats itself with Kill la Kill, which has been given tons of attention in the US and the UK, partly because Mr. Imaishi himself supervised it. Let's just say that after the smashing success of Gurren Lagann and of Panty & Stocking, Imaishi is revered to godlike levels in the States.
Chileans really, really adore Ghost Sweeper Mikami and Dokonjou Gaeru. The first one was exhibited in the mid 90's and was so popular that the word "Yokoshima" (alluding to local Butt Monkey Tadao Yokoshima) made its way in mid 90's Chilean slang. In the second's case, it's so beloved by fans in their 30's that there were some re-runs... in 2012.
Karakuri Circus was not too shabby in Japan, but when it's French publisher stopped it, French manga fans on the Internet went utterly bonkers.
Secret of Cerulean Sand is quite a obscure Anime. But in Norway it has a huge fan base. Probably because it's one of the few Animes to be aired there.
Attack on Titan has been very successful in Japan (the untranslated Japanese title being Shingeki no Kyoujin, or "Advancing Giants"), but it's been a monster success in the West, particularly North America. It's one of the most popular shows on Crunchyroll and Americans eagerly await a second season. It was so popular that Funimation snatched the license for it after only 2 months of it airing on Crunchyroll. Go to any convention and count the Survey Corps uniforms. One theory is that it's a refreshing action shonen without moe or high school students. The fact that it takes place in a Western country, the characters have realistic European names, and most of the characters lack Mukokuseki helps, too.
Kill la Kill has Kaneo Takarada, a one-off antagonist character who pretty much owns Osaka and literally fights with cash. He became quite popular with Western audiences, some of whom proclaimed him to be the "King of Dosh" or the "Lord of Capitalism" or other such epithets. Studio Trigger has admitted to being very confused by this.
The Deltora Quest anime, being based on a bestselling Australian series of fantasy novels, is one of the most popular anime in Australia.
Among fans whose first experience with Sailor Moon was the DiC dub, the Ail and Ann episodes in Sailor Moon R are much more popular than they are elsewhere. This is probably due to the fact that those episodes had much more faithful translations than any other storyline (no one is quite sure why, though.) They also didn't have the annoying pop-culture references that the English dubs of S and SS were deluged in. The entire storyline was released in a VHS boxed set in the late nineties, something which was unheard of at the time.
CLANNAD was originally released in the U.S. only in a subbed version, but was popular enough for a dub of both the first series and ~After Story~ to be released. There are also a good number of Spanish-language CLANNAD fanfics.
The 1980s anime adaptation of The Wonderful Adventures of Nils debuted to great success practically all across Europe. Even in countries where Japanese animation has little to no staying power, like Hungary, it became one of the most well-loved cartoon series ever, and reruns on television to this day. Given that the source material itself hails from European literature (Swedish, to be precise) and the series doesn't have much in the way of the polarizing quirks nowadays associated with anime, this isn't so surprising. In fact, a lot of people don't even realize it's an anime because in many places, it was distributed by European companies.
The anime has gained massive popularity in East Asian countries, such as Hong Kong and Taiwan, in which many fans still fondly remember watching this as children.
It also gained popularity in Italy, mainly because it is based on Formula One racing where the sport is very popular here, due to racing teams like the legendary Ferrari team.
In the 1990s, most of the Polish (younger) audience first encountered anime, namely the series Tōshō Daimos, Dashu Kappei, Tiger Mask, Majokko Megu-chan and Yattodetaman via Italian-based station Polonia1. They're still recalled fondly with a trace of nostalgia.
The Moomins Is quite popular in The Nordic countries and Poland. It's too still airing in Finland and Norway as of may 2014.
If we speak about a certain anime faction that can be found in several countries, we can say that cosplayers are in love with the very polemic Misa Amane from Death Note. Misa's character design is pretty cute and it's actually not that hard to bring to real life in cosplay, so many female (and some male) cosplayers of several nationalities have embraced her. In fact, the model Francesca Dani started as a cosplayer — and one of her signature cosplays is Misa.
The first season of Digimon, particularly the first half, has a fairly large cult following in Finland amongst people that grew up during the late '90s and early 2000s, mostly thanks to the unintentionally hilarious dub provided by Agapio Racing Team. The second half of Adventure and first half of Zero Two are also notable for having a lot of care and effort put into the second Finnish dub, especially in comparison to the original dub.