According to Leah Holmes in “Anime in the UK: The History, Cultural Context, and Evolution of UK Anime Fandom – MPhil Thesis,” organized anime fandom in the UK is relatively young. The spark originated in the early ’90s with the first recorded anime screening program at a convention and the success of Ōtomo Katsuhiro’s Akira in 1988. There was also the success of the launch of Manga Video.
Before, British people thought of anime as stereotypes such as “for kids” or “not safe for kids.” As said by RadioTimes:
“Japanese anime movies and TV shows have been sliding into the mainstream in the UK over the last few years. Having first arrived in the mid-80s with Studio Ghibli movies like My Neighbour Totoro, anime has attracted a dedicated British audience for decades – but until recently it was a decidedly niche interest. Now something is changing.”
2016 movie phenomenon Your Name made waves with a proper release in UK cinemas. And because British people love cinemas, their exposure to anime increased. After that, anime gained traction in the UK. New and legal ways of watching anime also helped more shows and movies to become popular.