Thoughts of an aging Otaku

I’m 22 this year, going on 23, and I love Anime. Not to say I love all Anime; over the years I’ve been watching I’ve acquired a more developed appreciation for the medium. You won’t hear me singing praises of Sword Art Online, yet nothing gets me more excited than discussing Umineko or Little Busters.

I’m writing today because I’ve recently noticed that all of a sudden, most of my peers are dropping this hobby. It seems I’ve reached the age where this kind of thing isn’t as socially accepted as it once was. I know I’m still young, but it’s only going to become more of an issue as I continue to age. The average Anime convention attendee is about 5 years my junior; it’s not long before I start feeling out of place.

I made a lot of my current friends through connections based on a mutual love of Anime and related Japanese culture. What I’m seeing now is majority of those friends are abandoning that hobby, with varying comments from “I don’t have time for it any more” to “I’ve grown out of it”. I know rationally this shouldn’t affect me, but seeing it happen to all my friends leaves me with an irrational feeling of loss that I’m still learning how to cope with. For many of them, this mutual interest is what sustains our relationship, and losing that common thread can be devastating. But that’s not the only issue. Hearing comments like that causes me to seriously question my hobby, and how it influences my identity as an adult. Most of us are only able to continue hobbies like these because we have the acceptance of our peers and some of assurance that it’s okay to like the things we do. But seeing all my peers and friends drop that hobby, I begin to question the validity of my interests. Am I just a child that can’t face reality? Do I need to grow up? The prevalent NEET Otaku stereotype doesn’t help matters either. I’m sure many of my peers faced similar questions, and decided to leave it behind in favour of new, more adult ways to spend their time.

Unfortunately, I’m a bit stubborn. I think it’s very important to assess our behavior and how we fit into society, but I can’t accept that getting excited over something like Umineko is merely a phase to grow out of. I can only speak for myself, but the answer I’ve reached is this. I want to build my adult life around this passion. Is that a strange answer? Anime, and it’s related culture, is such a big part of my life, such a big passion that I’m convinced I won’t grow out of it. It’s here to stay. So, I figure the best way to continue is to integrate it into my identity as an adult. I want to build a career around it. My inspiration has come about from seeing so many adults working in the industry who love Anime, and built their career around that love. I can’t imagine a better life than building a career around what you love; that’s what I want to emulate. Maybe I’ll end up selling Anime merch, maybe I’ll get into licensing series’, or maybe even localisation work. I’m not sure exactly how yet, but I want to be able to give something back, to integrate Anime and Manga and Games into my adult life. It just… Makes sense to me. Is that so strange?

So, I’ll be closing with some open messages. To those of you who may be unfamiliar with the culture, don’t be so quick to judge it. While there are many bad examples of Anime fandom, and heaps i’d really poor Anine, there’s a lot of his stuff out there. A lot of heart that goes into producing Anime, and some of the stories I’ve discovered through the medium have such profound messages, the likes of which can change a man’s life. Some have brought me to cry where I barely shed a tear anywhere else. Maybe if you give it a chance, you’ll find a series even you can appreciate. It’s just too broad to judge based on one or two impressions.

To those who have moved on from Anime, I wish you all the best. I’m sure you reached that decision after some careful deliberation, and while I’m still learning to cope with seeing some of my friends turn away, I can only respect their decision. I only ask that you don’t cast judgment on those of us who will continue to love that culture late into our lives. It was special; I hope you don’t forget that feeling.

And to those out there my age and older facing similar questions, don’t lose heart. Loving Anime doesn’t make you immature. You need to look inside yourself and decide if this is the kind of adult you want to be, and if it is, then you have my support. It’s not always easy to go against the crowd, but what’s most important is that you live your life for yourself, rather than based on what you think you SHOULD be doing. And most importantly, no matter how it may seem, you’re not alone.

Thanks for reading, everyone. Let’s continue moving forward.

About Aspirety

Australian J-geek with a passion for Gaming and Writing. Psychology student, Nintendo/Key/Ryukishi07 fan.
This entry was posted in Musings, On The Chessboard. Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to Thoughts of an aging Otaku

  1. I’m 28, my brother is 5 years older than me, and we both still watch anime on a daily basis and have for the past 17 years or so. I don’t see the point of “growing out” of anything. The way I see it anime (and manga) are the equal of any other medium of entertainment, be it movies, books or games. The only thing that has changed for me over the years is that I’m quicker to drop a new show if it’s not exciting me for some reason. Anime is such a wide and varied medium that there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Every year and every season even there’s always something fantastic to watch.
    If time is an issue, just watch less. Nobody “has” to watch every single show that comes out or gets images posted of it on twitter. Maybe even wait until a season is over and the entire season is out and find out then which shows were worth watching. I know there’s plenty of people who relentlessly keep up with everything coming out, and maybe it’s “easier” just to drop the hobby entirely rather than change the approach. But I feel that’s a waste. It’s not more mature to watch Game of Thrones or Walking Dead instead of JoJo. Whatever you like watching is what you like watching. Who gives a crap what anyone else thinks. If one is looking for more variation, then go ahead and introduce more variation in your life. But simply cutting it off entirely is idiotic.

  2. Okay, not sure I can be much help as I’m like… 6 years behind the age of those peers who are dropping anime, but I do have a lot to say on this subject (I’ll probably go off on a tangent every now and then too…) but there will be a Tl;Dr… so just skip to that~ 😛
    “I don’t have time for it any more” and “I’ve grown out of it” are a couple of the many things I say when people ask why I haven’t watched the more recent stuff out, from randomness like KlK to Slice of Lifes like Isshuukan.
    So here’s my view on it as a person who thinks anime is pretty much a waste of time – when a few years ago I would have marathoned everything airing.
    I absolutely loved anime. I still remember getting that random burst of enthusiasm every time the ToraDora EDs kicked in, or when TTGL’s cliffhanger moments happened. The big twists that you could go and discuss with everyone.
    To people who say watching anime is immature, I say they are immature for judging something so easily. It doesn’t matter what a group thinks of me, because my opinion on something is what it is important to me. If something makes me happy just a little bit, I’d prefer it over not having that happiness. Similarly, if something annoys me, I won’t just lie about it (as you might have guessed from my weird opinions on stuff…?)
    So yeah, I don’t watch anime anymore. Not because of society’s expectations or anything though. You should never give thought to the people who thoughtlessly put you down for having an interest.
    I don’t like anime because… well honestly, it’s pretty much all trash really.
    Unless I was invested in a series before my view on anime got twisted, I probably won’t watch an anime. There are some exceptions for the big energy-filled emotion rides like – in my opinion – Guilty Crown or NagiAsu, but largely the anime scene is garbage.
    I will sit down, maybe watch an episode, and then in the couple of minutes between switching episodes I will loose interest and never find that interest again.
    This is more of an online thing, but the community of anime online is kinda disgusting too… I’m not any better. A lot of anime fans have strong beliefs, myself included. If someone says they liked Attack on Titan I will probably instantly hate them. If they say they like something I like, I will immediately aim to compete with them for fandom’s sake.
    A lot of people are like this too. Kinda gets competitive~ ^^’ Any anime site I’ve been on has involved being surrounded in bans and drama bombs.
    Originally I discussed things in a cheerful way, trying to encourage further discussion and have long interesting talks… Now I just do it to either annoy someone or try and make them loose faith in their beliefs…
    Long story short, the community side of anime is stressful.
    There are some good things in anime, but I just don’t care about it. I don’t care about some hysterical witches and their daily life of playing chess with a bad detective. I could never manage to sit through a story about some kids playing baseball more than once.
    One anime might be hilarious, and another anime might be thought provoking; neither of them would take my time.
    I will sit down and read a single route of a VN, or listen to some Vocaloid tracks, or even go meet new people at a convention… but watching anime isn’t something I’d enjoy doing.
    The worst thing is, I don’t even know why. I have the time for anime when I have a weekend or a break. I just don’t want to watch any anime. Eventually after trying to force myself to enjoy it again, I just ended up hating it and anyone involved with it. Sooo, if I ever sound hostile on Kazamatsuri, that’s why 😛 (I try to hide it as best as I can >< Ahaha~)
    A-anyway. Back onto the main topic. You seem to be focusing on immaturity. I can tell you that I embrace as much immaturity as I can. I still hate anime though, but I don't hate anime because it makes me seem immature – In fact, until a few years ago, finally convincing people to watch anime was one of the most satisfying things ever~ Then I discovered the disgusting part of humanity that instantly thinks the first few anime they've seen are the best things ever…
    Creeps…
    The ignorance that a lot of anime fans have in regards to Japanese Culture is annoying too. I don't know much, but I know how not to be offensive…. (wouldn't guess from this post!)
    Oh, and It's totally understandable that a lot of people don't like anime. Have you heard how many random noises characters make that aren't actual lines of dialog? Ugh, it's hard to find one that doesn't involve a few minutes of "Heh," or "Hmm," or other weird utterances.
    Plus, everything is moe now. Kinda ruins everything really. Also most anime people are perverts… kinda creepy.
    Tl;Dr: I grew to hate anime and anime fans (old and new, eastern and western,) but fearing immaturity had nothing to do with it. I just changed perspective I guess?
    Yay, negativity~ I probably went a bit extreme with it. Most of my views on anime shows nowadays are just natural thoughts that quickly pass through before I think about a different topic… so really it is more like indifference than negativity…

    • Aspirety says:

      Aren’t you doing the same thing, calling all Anime garbage without having seen it all? There’s a lot of garbage, but there’s a lot of good stuff too. I think you’re being too negative.

      • I haven’t seen it all by any means~ The thing is, the good stuff is starting to feel like garbage. 😛 You have no idea how hard it was for me to finish Little Busters. It took me around a year – not including the actual airing time of the show – to finish watching it, and even then I skipped most of the episodes.

        It sounds negative because I used harsh vocabulary, but in reality I’m just like “Eh, no interesting anime this season.” and move on.

    • Peter Hasselström says:

      You sound close minded and confused about many things. Take this for example:
      “Then I discovered the disgusting part of humanity that instantly thinks the first few anime they’ve seen are the best things ever…”
      This is a natural process anyone goes through. Same with how most fans might not be experts on Japanese culture. You have to start somewhere. You only gain perspective on what is good and what isn’t after seeing a ton of stuff. I started watching anime in the 90s, and back then Tenchi Muyo was hot shit. When you watch it now it’s pedestrian. Dull, void of much anyone would enjoy, and it’s hard to understand why it was a big deal. The reason people liked it was because they hadn’t seen a hundred shows just like it yet. The first shows you watch, or the games you played as a kid, they’re all special because they were the first you saw.
      Dismissing all anime as trash again makes it sound like you’re in a confused place. The medium is vast. There’s thousands of shows in all genres. Date A Live isn’t the same as Monster. It sounds like you have an unhealthy relation to anime in general with how angry and emotional you get over things that don’t warrant it.

      • Natural process or not, it’s annoying to witness 😛

        I’m not in a confused place though. I understand how many shows there are with potential out there. For my age, I’ve seen a pretty decent amount of anime.
        Date A Live might not be the same as Monster, but I don’t want to watch either~
        I don’t really get angry and emotional (that’s only when someone mentions SnK) I just don’t care about anime. But I mean, you’ve gotta have some emotional exaggeration in your posts to add emphasis~

        As I said at the end of my wall of text, anime is just a passing thought. I’ll see the list of airing anime and think “I wonder if there are any new Youtube videos worth watching?”

        Oh, and by the way, this is a pretty common thing. I rarely touch TV, Movies or Video Games…
        All pretty boring.

  3. bokusenou says:

    You know, I’ve been thinking about this as some of my friends move on from anime too. My interest in anime isn’t the first thing I mention when I meet people, but I make no effort to hide the Kino no Tabi wallpaper on my laptop, and if they hang around me for a while, they’ll probably see me checking anime blogs, etc. The thing is, I finished pretending everything I like was mainstream, as I did so for too long. Growing up, I could never get into any movie or tv series before I found anime/manga. I loved books, but movies & tv often left me bored & wishing the characters would fall off a cliff, yet I used to act like I liked them, because I thought it would look weird if I said I didn’t.
    Anime/manga characters were the first non-book characters I cared about. Getting into anime and j-lit made me start learning Japanese, which ended up changing my life significantly. Also, when I stopped trying to hide my interests, strangely, the people who were bothered by it went out of my life, and people who shared my interests started to come into it. I had friends who liked my interests, and me, instead of people who I called friends, but always tried to put me down.
    In the end, I’m much happier this way. Sure, some people may look down on my hobby, but I’d rather not be around people who just make me feel bad in the first place. I don’t really play them (besides some mystery/horror visual novels like Umineko), but oddly video games seem to be getting more mainstream where I am, despite their sometimes “childish” reputation, not unlike the one anime has.
    In the end, if you like something, age shouldn’t matter. I let other people watch their Game of Thrones, or whatever show is popular right now, but I know if I pretend to join them, I’ll only end up hating what a lie I’ve become. That’s worse than people thinking I’m childish or whatever.
    I remember reading some quote which was something like “Trying to act like an adult is the most childish thing someone can do.”
    Sure, there are weak seasons & strong seasons in anime, and a lot of bad anime out there, but I just use the weak seasons to catch up on older series I haven’t watched yet, but got rave reviews from people. I’m watching Planetes, as well as Legend of the Galactic Heroes. I recently finished 12 Kingdoms, Seirei no Moribito, Shiki, and Yamato 2199. I’m continually amazed the things anime is capable of, and as long as anime keeps putting great shows out there, I think I’ll still be an anime fan when I’m 70.^^

  4. steelbound says:

    I got into anime at about the same age you are now back 10 years ago because I saw anime offering a mostly superior experience to what I could watch on TV – I hated the raise of reality TV – and have kept watching because it still offers unique or nearly unique series that just aren’t made elsewhere. I’m a huge SF fan and most of the SF TV series/movies that I’d rank as the best, regardless of origin, come from anime. Intelligent and interesting SF is a very rare commodity in America. I’d grow old waiting for an American TV channel to air a series like the currently airing Knights of Sidonia or last year’s Space Battleship Yamato 2199.
    I thinks there’s a few reasons why you’ve suddenly noticed your friends falling away from anime.
    I never became an “otaku”. I’ve yet to go to an anime con – don’t know if I’d enjoy it – or done cosplay or gotten into buying figurines or write fan fiction or do any of the other big markers of an otaku (except for running an anime blog 🙂 that doesn’t get updated often).
    I think for many anime fans it’s impossible to separate the act of watching and enjoying anime from all the bells’n’whistles that are attached to being an anime fan and, as a result, when they no longer want to go to cons or cosplay or buy figurines or write fan-fiction they find themselves “growing” out of anime when they’re really just growing out of being a stereotypical otaku.
    (And I’m not saying being an otaku is bad or immature because when one gets down to it pretty much every hobby is the same. Giving up on being an otaku to become, say, a stamp collector doesn’t turn that person into a better, more cultured, more mature person.)
    Another thing that could be going on is these people that “grow” out of anime probably watched a couple types of anime series over and over again and now have gotten tired of, say, the 46th action shounen title with a fair amount of fan service that involves the hero leveling up in his quest for power to be able to protect someone or something.
    I’d get tired of anime if I’d only watch a couple types of anime series which is why I try to vary what I watch and because of this I’ve come across some real gems that really sink the argument that all anime is immature. Go watch Haibane Renmei, Kino’s Journey, and Shinsekai Yori – to name a couple – before condemning anime for being immature.
    And a third reason might be because after college people just can’t find the time to figure out which anime are worth it and which ones aren’t. I watch anime with my one younger sister and she’s told me that if I wasn’t picking out which anime to watch she wouldn’t be watching anime right now. If this is the case, your friends might be willing to continue watching anime if you pick out the good stuff that they’d like and watch it with them.
    At the end of the day you should never give something up you love just to conform with other people.

  5. Hey says:

    Geez, I just wrote too much. Hope somebody reads it.
    I dunno, I still like anime very much, but life simply gets too hectic and you just don’t really have time to spend on it in between trying to stay in touch with your old friends, working, going out with your girlfriend or family, colleage, that sort of stuff. I still like it, but I don’t watch nearly enough of what I did back when I was just a lazy teenager. There’s not much helping it. It’s not that it’s immature, and I think anyone that says it is just stupid. It’s just that priorities shift as you grow up. I even feel bad that I can’t really just sit down and play video games until I damn well please without a care in the world. The modern world just wired my mind in a way that I can’t stop thinking about how much time I got in my hands to spend with every single thing. It always gets in the way of a truly fun or relaxing experience when it comes not for just anime, but for any kind of entertainment.
    Now, I also think it’s relevant to point one thing: the anime fandom, pretty much since ever, tends to be generally crappy. Actually, crappy is an understatement. Most of the time, they are downright miserable. The levels of actual childishness and outright creepiness is astounding.
    For every great gem that comes out of japan’s so called “pop culture”, “otaku culture”, “anime culture”, “j-geek culture” or whatever the hell you want to call it, there’s at least a 100 fetishistic, plotless unfunny pieces of crap. As much as I really try to make my girlfriend, friends and even family get into the genre at least a bit, I can’t really blame them for not feeling like they will like whatever they see. A fair amount of the promotional art for a lot of anime (especially nowadays) just looks terrible and ideed very childish, when you’re lucky enough that it’s not downright creepy and/or horny. If you google any anime forum, chances are you’ll feel inclined to never visit those corners of the internet again, especially when you start learning terms like “moe”, “tsundere”, “kawaii” and people actually having a conversation using those and calling people that sneer at them “ignorant”.
    And if you want to get into VN’s? May the gods have mercy on your poor soul. While there are many good VN’s out there, the GREAT majority of it is composed of cheap fap excuses at its best, and very creepy, disturbing and often DOWNRIGHT ILLEGAL sex fetishes. Even the ones that are REALLY good tend to have completelly unnecessary and shoehorned sex scenes in it. I’m sorry VN fandom, but I don’t and never will agree that a “heroine” (I hate this damn dating-sim model) blowing the protagonist (for him to ejaculate into her face soon after) builds character and moves the story. It doesn’t. And you seriously can’t complain about people sneering at you when they find out you’re into that stuff. I’d really love for people to get into the VN medium, but how can I do it when an innocent click at “Random Visual Novel” in VNDB will VERY LIKELY lead them to a cover art where there’s a chained miserable-looking girl covered in semen? Or better yet, being somehow raped by tentacles? Seriously, just try it. I can guarantee you’ll see at least one of those in about three or four clicks.
    Yes, there are ignorants, there are stupid arguments and there are really good things to be found in the anime pop culture, like really amazing stuff. But there’s far too much terrible and/or simply creepy elements deeply engraved into every single corner of genre and it’s fandom in general. As much as I believe it’s a shame, I just can’t blame anyone for not having a good first impression or for even thinking it’s kinda weird that I like it. Japan might be creative, but it’s also weird as f***k, and that just makes it hard for you to recommend anything to anyone, or for you yourself to be taken seriously.

  6. therationalpi says:

    Growing older and gaining experience with a medium will always change your relationship with it, but that doesn’t mean you have to leave it behind. Your first visual novel will, undoubtedly, feel different from your 25th, and the novelty you find in watching anime and playing games will come more from the details than the gross forms. I’m reminded of a wine connoisseur who sips a wine and recognizes the finer notes and appreciates its subtle undertones, while an unexperienced drinker would take a sip noting only that it tastes like sour grapes.
    With experience comes greater appreciation.
    As for an age gap with the fandom, I’ll say this as someone who’s 27 years old with geek friends whose ages range from 20-45: shared interest can bridge any age divide. Sure, you don’t want to be the creepy old guy haunting the cosplay panel ogling the teenage girls, but honestly that wasn’t cool when you were their age either. If there’s one piece of advice I can give, it’s to realize that becoming an adult means taking more responsibility in all things. Become involved in organizing your local conventions, continue producing content on your blog and make an effort to become more active in the online community, watch a variety of shows and make sure you’re at least passingly familiar with the most influential shows in the medium. See yourself as a steward of the younger fans around you, and seek to be viewed with appreciation and respect rather than as a peer.

  7. Helder says:

    When will you publish Moon Route Reflection?

  8. Aya says:

    This may be one of the greatest arguments that’s quite controversial, but I’ll put it out there. How is anime a taboo for the older generation, but watching racy cartoons like South Park, Superjail, etc. okay? Or, why is watching anime frowned upon but teens watching the Lego movie okay? I mean not to insult people who enjoy those series, but it’s something I question a lot when I read these sort of articles. When you think about it, none of us have the right to judge, eh? I’m not quite at the age where many of these commentators are, so I my views may differ, I’m also half-Okinawan and have a very strong tie to both the mainland and Okinawan culture so it also serves to the reasoning behind my opinions.
    I think it’s wonderful that you are deciding to stay strong in your passion and build a career out of it, I see nothing wrong with it. Personally myself, I’m not a very strong anime-watcher, but I am very fond of light novels and visual novels like the “When they Cry” series. There are many animes/light novels/mangas/visual novels/etc. aimed towards all kinds of age groups – including *adults*. In fact, there are many adults I’ve known that came to anime by watching it while taking care of their small ones! I think that, you’re actually being mature for admitting your passion. Many people who chose to turn away from it think it’s associated with maturing, but if it’s part of your identity…aren’t you pretending to be someone you aren’t? I think it’s wonderful that there are people like you who are willing to stand strong and be the anomalies.

  9. gekiganwing says:

    I’m still active in anime-manga fandom in my mid-30s. Why is this? There’s several reasons…

    * I acknowledge Sturgeon’s Law: “ninety percent of everything is crud.” It affects all kinds of media and entertainment. Doesn’t matter where a story was made, how it was made, or when it was made. It affects smaller categories of pop culture media more than large categories. For instance, there’s a large amount of praiseworthy stories in comics and prose fiction. However, it’s often a struggle to find interesting stories available in English in visual novels or freeware RPGs.

    * I have no interest in grimdark fiction. I like a variety of stories, but I don’t enjoy anything which tries to impress me with how bleak, angry, and anti-authority it is. Sorry. That’s why I pass by a lot of often-praised bestsellers written in English.

    * Likewise, I avoid fiction that strikes me as “bro-tastic” or “fratcore.” If the intention of the game is to encourage the player to fistpump every time they kill another character, or to swear at fellow players online, then I won’t be interested. That’s why I pass by a lot of often-praised bestselling games written in English.

    * Being active in a club with other adults has helped. It’s good to sit down, watch a movie and/or a few TV episodes, and then talk about it briefly with other fans. One goal of the club: it’s fine to laugh and react, but it’s not okay to constantly talk or make jokes.

    * Going to fan conventions has been somewhat helpful. I strive to make time to talk with dealers, artists, and other fans. Not every discussion panel goes well, but some have been entertaining. I only occasionally asks fellow fans for a cosplay photograph. In other words, I figure that con-going can be enjoyable if it’s just treated as a weekend retreat.

    * I am not concerned about other fans’ attitudes. It’s not my business what they enjoy or avoid. I acknowledge that I will not always appreciate the series that they like. Also, I understand that sometimes I’m a fan of series and media formats that others consider absurd, and vice versa.

    * Moderation is good. I don’t think it’s a positive attitude to think that only classical arts such as theater and prose fiction have merit. I strive to find what’s praiseworthy about animation, comics, electronic games, and other forms of media. At the same time, I don’t want to raise my expectations too much. Nothing is perfect.

    * Finally, to wrap up this overlong comment, I try not to take anime-manga or fandom too seriously. It’s just entertainment. If a series seems tasteless, derivative, or drawn out… then I figure that I should just let it go. I try to find something else and then move on.

  10. Mandy says:

    Just curious, Are you still into anime since this was written? Or have you “grown up” ?

    • Aspirety says:

      Hahaha. 25 now and no sign of the poison of ‘growing up’ yet! Still as into Anime and VNs as I ever was, if not moreso since I’m revolving my career around that sphere in various ways.

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