While we think we’ll enjoy a lot of the same hobbies as we grow older, how well do they translate for an older audience? As kids, we got to experience growth in the video game industry together as video games slowly developed the same way we did. For anime, many of us started watching as young children or teens, but now, we’ve grown into full fledged adults (for the most part). Yet, in Japan, many people regard anime as something for youths, so has anime even had a chance to develop alongside us? We used to relate so well to anime in one shape or form, but as we’ve matured and grown up, is anime at all relatable to us as adults anymore?
One of the top anime genres amongst viewers is shounen, which includes anime like Naruto, Bleach, Dragon Ball, Ao no Exorcist, Yakusoku no Neverland, and Shingeki no Kyojin. These really grab people’s attention as they are thrilling and full of excitement. Shounen anime also usually stars an altruistic main character with big aspirations, an idealistic philosophy, and a naive mindset.
As a young teen, these are easier to relate to. Even as adults, we still get a lot of entertainment with shounen anime, but often, don’t you find yourself ridiculing the naivety of young characters in shounen anime? Just look at Naruto, who you’re probably more than likely to scoff at most of the time because of how idealistic he is or how melodramatic he can be. Then there’s Emma in Yakusoku no Neverland who we feel can be unrealistic in how she takes the idea of running away from the orphanage with all of her friends when it’s obvious that chances of survival are higher in smaller numbers.
When it comes to shoujo anime, a lot of what you get are rather innocent girls who dream of confessing and doing things for their boyfriends. Sometimes you have characters like Misaki from Kaichou wa Maid-sama who are treated like princesses by their boyfriends, and you really root for their pairup. Then there’s Tonari no Kaibutsu-kun where you spend your time rooting for the two rather contrasting characters who get along really well and do better for each other. Or you have Just Because!, which features a romance between characters who missed out on their first chance.
In my older age, it feels like these rather innocent romances aren’t really as realistic. These romances are sweet, but at the same time, they feel melodramatic. The main characters are also much less relatable than before as they feel naive and rather dim witted.
Reverse harems were also created with the intention of appealing to all sorts of women with bland main characters who will feel so personality-less, that anyone could insert themselves into their shoes. Now, however, they feel really frustrating with how submissive and useless the main characters are. How can someone be so completely useless? I find myself feeling frustrated more or less watching shoujo anime than ever before. Then the problems the characters have seem to be so miniscule in the grander scheme of life like Nana Komatsu from Nana who has constant boy problems even though they are brought on by her own actions. Does anyone else get this frustrated?
School life anime are probably the most common genre of anime no matter if they are shounen or shoujo. This is what gets a lot of anime fans the most. As kids, we relate in some ways as we also spend all of our time at school. The presence of sports festivals, tests of courage, and school festivals are romanticized, too, as we wish our own lives were quite as fun. These are just not realities in most western schools.
However then, as we get older, we relate less and less. How many of us out there want to continue to watch anime about students in school who have to study, take exams, and deal with teachers? That phase of our lives is over at some point. Not all of us can relate anymore with the idea of going to school and worrying about it. That’s why it’s refreshing to see some adults in the workplace as an anime plot like Working!!, Servant x Service, and Wotakoi. Even Aggressive Retsuko is more relatable in our older age!
As we get older, it gets harder and harder to relate to anime. We may get joy from the plots and the content, but that does not mean we don’t tire easily of the same repetitive storytelling elements that have nothing to do with our actual lives. Does anyone else have a hard time relating to anime anymore? What are your favorite anime as you get older? Share your thoughts below!