The Anime News Network has been running Japanese box office charts this summer, and the numbers make some interesting points beyond the fact that Harry Potter is more popular than Spider-Man in the land of the rising sun. For example, the latest Pokemon movie, Pocket Monster Advance Generation: 2004 has consistently outperformed Katsuhiro Otomo's Steamboy, reportedly the most elaborate and expensive anime production of all time. It's not that Steamboy isn't popular -- it has remained in the top ten for five weeks since its release -- rather it's that the Pokemon phenomenon, long declared dead in both Japan and the U.S., while not the inescapably popular fad it once was, has remained a potent, very viable property.
Fads are supposed to be over when they're over -- consigned to the trash bin of outmoded popular culture -- as dated and despised as catch phrases from cancelled sitcoms ('Dy-NO-Mite'). But Pokemon, which still maintains prime exposure in anime form on children's TV blocks and which remains the basis for popular video and collectible card games, demonstrates that a really heavyweight media property can have enough inertia to keep it going (at a reduced rate, but still going) for a long, long time.