//Skip to content
Generic selectors
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Post Type Selectors

From ‘Digimon’ to ‘Demon Slayer:’ The Rise of Anime in Egypt

August 1, 2023
Photo Credit: Screencap of the EGYcon 7 wrap-up video from the EGYcon official Facebook page

If you ask fans in Egypt how they first started watching anime, most will have the same answer: Spacetoon.

Before the internet and social media became the main source of entertainment for kids, many were glued to the television — and Spacetoon was a favorite to watch. While the pan-Arab channel had a variety of shows, it has become well known among fans as Egyptians’ gateway into anime.

Whether they tuned in to ‘Captain Maged’ (the Arabic dub of ‘Captain Tsubasa’), ‘Abtal el Digital’ (The Heroes of Digital – which was the Arabic dub of ‘Digimon’), or ‘Dragon Ball,’ all are fondly remembered as childhood classics.

However, the Egyptian anime scene has come far since the formal Arabic dubs of Spacetoon.

With greater accessibility through the internet and the breakthrough of anime into more mainstream media, many more Egyptians have become fans — and how this came about is a story of its own, beginning with what aired on TV channels.

Anime on TV

Photo Credit: Amino App

While Spacetoon was the earliest contributor to anime in Egypt, it was not the only channel to air the shows: both pan-Arab Saudi channel MBC3 and Disney XD did as well.

MBC3 aired Arabic dubs of popular anime such as ‘Yu-Gi-Oh’ and ‘Shaman King.’ The Egyptian fan base also expanded with Disney XD’s programs, featuring English dubs of ‘Bakugan Battle Brawlers’ and even various ‘Pokémon’ series.

More recently, the growing regional interest in the genre compelled Dubai-based network OSN to provide a selection of anime. Commercials for both ‘Bleach’ as well as ‘Legend of Arslan’ can easily be found airing on OSN channels.

Because anime has become so easily available on TV, new fans have been drawn in. In fact, a 2022 study on the state of streaming in Egypt showed that “Japanese Animation” was the third most in-demand subgenre across six different platforms.

As a result, these shows earned enough popularity to be featured in local movie theaters.

Cinemas Screen Anime Movies

Photo Credits: ‘One Piece Film: Red’ Poster by Toei Animation (left), ‘Demon Slayer: Mugen Train’ poster by Ufotable (middle), ‘Dragon Ball Super: Broly’ poster by Toei Animation (right)

More than TV, the bigger indicators of anime’s growing popularity in Egypt are the movies that aired in local cinemas in their original Japanese dub, complete with English and Arabic subtitles.

Dragon Ball Super: Broly’ set the stage in 2019, before things kicked off in 2021 with the screening of ‘Demon Slayer: Infinity Train.’

Both a local and worldwide sensation, the movie grossed over USD 507.1 million (EGP 15.6 billion) globally, and became the #1 Japanese animated film in the Middle East at the time.

In 2022, it was followed up by the highly-anticipated ‘One Piece Film: Red,’ which was screened at VOX Cinemas. Across several Middle Eastern countries, the film’s opening grossed USD 400,000 (EGP 12.3 million) just one week after its release.

With anime films and series performing well both on TV and in cinemas, it only follows that the growing community would take the next steps to create an event for themselves outside of digital spaces.


Photo Credit: Screencap from a ‘Nostalgia’ concert video on the EGYcon official Facebook page

Beginning as a series of small gatherings in 2013, EGYcon became an official convention in 2014, organized to spread anime, gaming, and comic culture in Egypt. Now a biannual event, the convention celebrated its tenth edition in March of this year.

The event features cosplay competitions, gaming tournaments, and a Spacetoon concert for the Arabic opening themes of childhood classics with the addition of K-pop events in recent editions.

EGYcon also supports local artists by providing booths for them to sell anime-themed art as well as custom merchandise in a large commercial area. Local manga sellers are also welcome to sell translated volumes both in English and Arabic.

The convention became so well-known that the venue had to be changed from the Greek Campus in Tahrir to Family Park in New Cairo to accommodate the rising numbers of visitors. The attention it garnered even prompted beloved Egyptian comedian Mohamed Henedy to dare attendees to wear a funny cosplay to the event.

EGYcon is the largest convention of its kind in Egypt, attracting thousands of fans from all over the country. With a combined following of 75,000 on their official Facebook and Instagram pages, this convention is the culmination of the popularity of anime in the country.

Not only does it come full circle by prominently featuring the Arabic dubs that first endeared Egyptians to anime, but it also welcomes fans of all ages and backgrounds to participate. During the convention, one can see whole families in attendance just as frequently as individual fans.

All in all, anime culture has come a long way from the episodes on Spacetoon that used to keep young Egyptians glued to their television screens — and with the date of the 11th edition of EGYcon being announced just yesterday, 31 July, to an enthusiastic audience, it would seem anime will not lose its popularity in Egypt anytime soon.

Subscribe to the Egyptian Streets’ weekly newsletter! Catch up on the latest news, arts & culture headlines, exclusive features and more stories that matter, delivered straight to your inbox by clicking here.

Comments (2)