Can anime become lifelong passion?

We see them everywhere; people who watches movies all their lives, the ones who listen to rock music since childhood. Some make a living out of it. Certain passions last a life time. My passion for movies would most likely do the same. Recently, I wonder what will become of my passion for anime.

I am not saying that my passion for anime has diminished or anything. It is still intact after these many years of anime watching. Every now and then, I see new and younger people, mostly in their teens, declare themselves anime fans and start watching anime like there is no tomorrow. But how long will the honeymoon period last? In my real life, the very few people I know who used to watch anime has given that up long time ago. Recently, I’ve just lost my last known real life anime-fan friend. She stopped watching anime…she kind of grew up.

When I look online into the anime community, I see mostly newer group of people who have been anime fans for only sometime (Being exposed to certain anime series during childhood is also common but that should really count). This observation is further amplified by Scamp’s ‘two-year life time of anime blogger’ idea which was widely discussed last year. Is it safe to assume that those bloggers who stop blogging about anime also stop watching anime as well? I will never know but they must have lost some part of anime passion along the way.

Maybe it’s because watching anime is still not generally perceived as completely normal hobby. You cannot openly discussion anime with everyone, any time or anywhere like talking about movies, music or weather. What’s more, unlike other media, being an anime fan requires certain level of sacrifice. You have to be active to obtain anime and if you stop being active, anime rarely runs into you. And lastly, anime may have less to offer for older people like, say, people in their forties or fifties. So I am in doubt. Can someone keep watching anime for the rest of his life like watching movies or reading novels? Does anime provide enough appeal to us as we go through each stage of our lives?

Nevertheless, I cannot conclude that anime fandom is a short-lived affair because anime has just entered mainstream media and become widely available in the past decade or so. That’s probably why there is still no elderly anime fan, is there? If that’s the case, then only time will provide answer to my question.

71 responses to “Can anime become lifelong passion?

  1. Yes and no. I’d say the main problem is that as we grow up, we have less time for our hobbies so we’d have to be more selective towards them. Anime still isn’t a common medium yet, so if we need our hobbies to also help out with socializing, this doesn’t work nearly so well. The fact anime primarily target young-adult audiences doesn’t help— since unless they started watching while young, it’s hard to recommend anime to them. Having friends who also like anime is a big part of maintaining it as a hobby, but given that they’re now making a few series each year specifically targetting older audiences, I don’t think most modern fans of it is going to drop it ‘completely’. One would most likely become picky about what you watch— possibly even joining the “anime was better back in my day” folks =X

    • I am more or less facing that problem as well; having less time and becoming more picky/demanding. Plus, watching anime can hardly improve my already-far-from-perfect social life. But out of love, I am still watching them and glad I’m not alone :)

  2. There’s still some old anime fan, who began watching anime 1 or even 2 decades ago. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qhKpWpjZI7U should be our inspiration !

  3. I think a part of it depends on what people are looking for when they get into the fandom. As the previous commenter noted, if someone really wants to watch anime socially, it maybe difficult to find groups to accommodate that outside the high-school/college demographic. Although there is a variety of shows targeted at different age ranges, most of the “mainstream” “popular” anime tend to appeal to the shounen age range, so I can imagine that as tastes mature, it may become more difficult to find appropriate shows. I’ve been watching anime since childhood, and I feel that it’s becoming increasingly difficult to find shows I can enjoy, especially as I become more and more aware of different tropes and cliches. Lastly, I definitely think that the perceived lack of social-acceptability affects your ability to find fellow RL anime fans. In med school and residency I outed myself as an anime fan to everybody and actually made a few friends that way, though it earned me plenty of weird looks, as well!

    • I understand how you feel :)
      If I may add, I often find people, older people, reading manga openly or even discuss about them. But no one does the same for anime. It’s kind of strange, isn’t it?

  4. I’ve been an anime fan for more than 10 years now. I’m nearly 29, so I’m not as close in age to a lot of the characters as I once was, but that hasn’t really diminished my enjoyment. Instead, I’ve noticed and wondered things about adult characters in the shows that I don’t think I ever did before. Some shows have TONS of adults, even if the focus is on kids (Hikary no Go is an example).

    I would say I’m probably at least as much of an anime fan as I was 10 years ago. The main difference between me now versus me then, other than age, is 1) I have more money (a career = a fairly sizeable luxuries budget, so I have many times more anime DVDs that I used to), 2) I have less time (that career thing again), and 3) I have way more anime-watching under my belt. If I get tired of anime for a while, it’s because I’m physically tired from other things going on in my life, or it’s because I’ve watched so much anime that I’m becoming like one of those movie critics who starts to notice the sameness of things. When that happens, I take a break (I’m just getting off a 3-week anime break, in fact), but I come back as strong as ever.

  5. That was supposed to be “Hikaru no Go”, not “Hikary no Go”, lol.

    Also, I should add that the only person I know who watches anime is my dad, and we don’t live anywhere near each other right now. Anime has never been a social thing for me, except online. The only time I really notice this is when a local library does an anime-themed event that they’ll call a “teen event.” If I go, I’ll end up looking creepy and sad, so I usually end up not going, even though the event might sound exciting. That’s the only time when my age and years of watching anime seems to make much of a difference.

    • Very true. One cannot openly talk about or let oneself get caught watching anime full of elementary school girls dressed in pink and carrying magic wands. That’s just too creepy (but of course, I watch the show with pure heart :P). That makes things harder to be an anime fan; you need to make room especially for anime watching.

  6. Oh, elderly anime fans exist.
    While all the reasons you listed above do play their role in what may kill the passion of a young anime fan, I feel most young anime fans were never really in love or had a passion for anime but rather the idea of being an anime fan itself. This can be seen in smaller cons where most self claimed “otaku” will spent most of their time attending none anime related panels and events like “surviving the zombie apocalypse”, playing halo in the game room and later partying at the rave or in someones hotel room. Maybe they will attend the late night hentai room. So it’s no surprise this otaku will abandon anime once the social aspect of it is gone or grow out of behaving like jackasses who shout internet memes.

    With that said, there is definitely plenty of anime fans who do stop watching anime once they realize there isn’t much for them after Cowboy Bebop and Ghost in the Shell, which is when they move to other hobbies.

    • You raised an interesting point there. I did abandon a good number of hobbies during my teenage years as well (out of boredom or lack of opportunity). I even suspect that majority of people do not have permanent hobbies.

  7. I recently entered my fifties and I still find those 7-8 hours every week to keep up with new series and catching up on older ones. Every season there are at least two or three series worth watching, often more. Some movies are real masterpieces, some series are just too good to miss.
    I’d like to point out that I’m not an otaku recluse old freak, but a normal human with a family, friends, a job and several other interests.
    Anime is definitely a part of it. I like to think it’s because my mind hasn’t been stiffened by adulthood, and for some anime it’s certainly true, while sometimes I realize there are references and details I couldn’t have appreciated when I was younger. Like in many other aspects of life, though, I don’t feel I have to rationalize everything. I usually just accept the emotions they bring me.

    • I have to remind myself to stop rationalizing everything all the time, especially when watching anime. Thinking too much is becoming a bad habit for me :P

  8. Well it can be a lifelong hobby but to say a life long passion, I think it’s impossible. At least for those who wanted to live a normal life. As we go on our life. Our priorities change and our passion. We can’t just watch anime forever. We have to work for ourselves and eventually to our family. But watching anime is a very good spend-time with my family.

    • That’s a very realistic take on the subject. I do not expect myself, or anyone, to maintain the same level of passion the whole life but I am convinced that the passion will still remain, in some form and at some level.

  9. My last “anime-watching friend” also recently stopped – though I’m not sure if it’s temporary or permanent. I think that I’ll probably stop one day as well, as I’ve already gone on long breaks in the 10 years since I’ve been watching the medium. As Aorii mentioned, the older one gets, usually the less time one has for hobbies – I’ve been able to balance it with kids, but I don’t think this’ll go on forever.

    I also think that as it has with music, there’ll be a time where I just won’t be interested in the anime that’s being produced anymore.

  10. As someone who only began watching anime during the past year while in one’s late twenties, I’ve also wondered how long the mania will last, especially considering my transitive relationship with past interests such as classic films & live-action TV.

    One of the biggest side benefits to the latter hobbies was, as you said, their wide appeal & acceptance, both of which are lacking with anime. In fact, just yesterday, when asked what I enjoyed watching during my leisure time my response was, “classic films.” I can probably count on one hand the number of classic films I’ve watched in the past two years (sadly).

    While there is some stigma attached to anime viewing as an adult, as LG notes, it’s such a niche hobby that connections in are rare & explantions are too long and often fruitless. As leisure time is ceded to the reponsibilities of adulthood such niche interests are often the first to be sacrificed, I’m afraid.

    I do hope, though, that I can look back at the medium ten, twenty years from now and still have eyes that are fresh enough to witness its evolution. I know at least one person in RL, a co-worker, older than I who, much like Gevulde Kex, has accomplished that!

    • I forgot to mention the excellence of your anime pics considering the subject, especially the 1st one!

    • Thank you for sharing!
      As you mentioned, social factors contribute negative effects on maintaining anime hobbies. That’s why there is anime conventions…which, sadly, do not exist in my city.
      So I suppose this blog and you, readers/bloggers, are my anime conventions :)

  11. –And lastly, anime may have less to offer for older people like, say, people in their forties or fifties.–
    I guess you’re right, except for my kind of newbie : i’m a 40 years old newbie in anime. read more there : http://chroniques-d-un-newbie.over-blog.com/article-how-it-all-started-71764303.html

    anyway, i think it depends on the time you spend watching anime. I usually watch anime several times a week, and sometimes not at all, but i mostly read manga – and that, along with reading japanese novels, makes me keep my passion going on. if I was only watching anime, maybe I’ll start to wonder how long it’ll last.
    (sorry for my poor english)

    • That’s another interesting idea; keep many hobbies which are related to each other (in your case, anime/manga/novels). So that you won’t get bored. I’ll definitely keep that in mind!

  12. I wouldn’t like to grow out of anime, but the future’s too vague to decide that.

    Compared to most of you guys, though, I’m still in my younger years, so I’ve got a lot of time to think about that.
    I agree that anime is a nearly exclusive hobby to an individual – which is exactly why I go for it. Anime, unlike American blockbusters, and I’m not even American, is forming my own individuality.

    If I ever “grew up,” it’ll be from becoming an exclusive anime fan and not lining up my interests with my friends. Not that I’m obliged to, but it’s an act of respect on my part.
    …And that I regulate my anime so it doesn’t interfere with school…too much :))

  13. Very interesting post!
    well it al depends on you and your willpower ^^

    I know a few that grew tired of anime but thats because they indulge themselve with so many series at once, not suprising then.

    I admit im not that big big fan of anime, i love anime but what i do to not get tired of it is that i limit myself from watching episodes in a week cause if i cram like 5 episodes everyday then for sure at some stage i will be like meh enough that is why i choose wisely the series im going to watch each season, i decided to scracth all the pointess ecchi anime and what not and stick to anime which i think will be good depending on who is bhind the series, directors, studio etc.

    I can continue thats for sure, if people can watch tvseries like those famous american ones, well why not anime, its kinda the same thing no..series.. =)

    i think the answers lie on the person itself. again very nice post idea, was nice reading it ^^

    • Thank you! :)
      I agree that watching too many episode in a short period of time, especially when you force yourself to watch them towards certain goal, will eventually wear you out.

  14. Started watching Astro Boy and Speed Racer at 9 or so, in Houston in the 1960s. Kept watching Speed Racer until I was around 20. Started watching again when I was 26, with my kids. Inspector Gadget, Mask, and several others that were animated in Japan.
    Although I’d seen many subtitled live action movies from Japan (Kurosawa’s stuff, Godzilla, etc, and “What’s Up, Tiger Lily?”), I didn’t see my first subtitled anime until I read an Anime Academy review about Midori Days. I was really surprised how well the sub was done, and got many shows through the fansub community. If I like ’em I buy them, and have about 80 titles on R1 DVD, 60 in boxsets.
    I’m 54 now, and don’t see any change coming. There’s surprises every season, good and bad. Liked Ano Hana (great ending) while Deadman punked out at episode 3.
    There’s plenty of people who have been watching more than I have, and that’s a good thing. Keep the faith.

  15. I’m quite a bit older than the regular anime fan, and I just got into anime six years ago. My passion for anime is still strong – and it actually seems to be growing stronger as time passes.

    Great pictures, BTW. ;)

  16. Film is a medium very similar to animation. Can you imagine not watching films or reading books anymore? Probably not. The same thing goes for animation. What will change, almost surely, is your taste and the amount of works you consume, as you grow older.

    It is not safe to assume that those who stopped blogging also stopped watching anime!

    Misuse of a word “theory” makes me sad, especially hearing this from a doctor :P

    • Yes, exactly. Also, hello Canne!

      I really think it comes down to perception of precisely what is taking place when one “watches anime.” For myself, it’s easy to lump it together with film and almost any other kind of fiction: it’s an experience we consume. Aorii mentions some good points, but ultimately I think it’s how we view the medium relative to other media and possibly how we react to it as fans. The younger crowd can easily consume a wider spectrum of stories and be hyper giddy about it in the process, but I feel growing up does change those reactions and especially the spectrum of “suitable” for the more mature viewer.

      With that in mind, maybe the inability to relive that kind of blind, hysteric, and pretentious excitement is something older viewers grow out of and thus migrate from the medium, but it doesn’t need to be that way. I feel we can adapt our experience to best suit our current self; we can still take what is good from a work and be satisfied.

      ^ ^

    • @ Kitsune
      That was a shameful mistake misusing the word ‘theory’! I fixed that now (please don’t lose your faith in me! *sobbing uncontrollably*) XD

      @ Ryan A
      Hello! and thank you for the interesting reply. I think part of the reason I keep watching anime is because, like you said, I group anime with other media and experience them indiscriminately. :)

  17. Measure for Measure

    As I see it, Japan has been enjoying an anime/manga renaissance since about 1995. I’ve always assumed that it won’t last forever. When it ends, I’ll wander off.

  18. I’m 28 ,watching anime since 4 years old and no way i’m stopping
    is part of my identity

    • 4 years old?!
      When I was a kid, I watched some anime that my parents got for me but I don’t think that period is counted as being anime fan. But then again, there’s no clear point of time when one can start calling oneself an anime fan. This is getting confusing -_-

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  20. It all together depends on the person and how attached that person is to Anime.

    When I was a child, I was addicted to Anime. It was Sailormoon and Dragonball that was the main object of my attachment .

    I found that when I reached my early teens, I stopped watching Anime and started trying to “fit in” to society. I basically started listening to Spice Girls and Backstreet Boys. At that time, it was the coolest thing ever!

    Anyway, when I reached High School and started to find my own identity, I found that I came back to watching Anime. Samurai X, Chobits etc.

    Afterwards, I stopped again and now, I am even more of an Anime fanatic that I have ever been…

    I guess my point is that if you genuinely like it and the passion is there, no matter how old you get, it will always resurface. There might be a time when I’m not an “active” Anime fanatic, but it would be an utter lie to say that I have completely fallen out of it.

    • An occasional break from anime consumption is probably necessary for keep the passion alive. I’ve had a number of breaks myself :)

  21. I’m 20 and have been watching anime since 7 years old, but only got into it really when I was 13 or so. But, in contrast to my friends, who were watching 10-15 episodes a day at that time, I was (and am) watching 2-3 episodes…..and, suddenly, they stopped. Why would I? I hadn’t watched the good ones my friends was telling me to and hadn’t watched the bad ones (because my friends warned me) yet, so, for me, I had nothing to lose and everything to win. That made me always watch the “old seasons”…..for example, this week I finished Clannad After Story ( 2008-2009 )…..and, while everyone was disappointed with the crap ending of C, if I ever watch this anime, I will be warned.
    This had made me watch fewer but better animes than the average anime fans and that made me don’t even think about quitting….

    When someone is young, every crap anime entertain him….when he grows up, if he were used to watch every anime he saw in front of him, then he probably will think that anime is for childrens….

    Sorry for my errors….I’m not used to write in english…..

    • Thanks for sharing!
      Lately I’ve given up on keeping up with the currently airing shows and resorted to watching completed ones instead, especially the ones I actually wanted to watch. And I am happy :)

  22. “Yes and no. I’d say the main problem is that as we grow up, we have less time for our hobbies so we’d have to be more selective towards them. ”

    I agree with that statement, once I hit the adult world I had my hobby time prioritized before I even realized it. For me, gaming took a backseat. I haven’t given up video games altogether mind you. I just only play 3-4 games a year these days. Most games I play are portable too. I started watching anime when I was in 4th-5th grade and I’m 26 now. I used to watch 5 episodes a day, these days it’s more like an average of 5 a week. I also tend to read more manga than watch anime.

    I’d be surprised if I was suddenly uninterested in a hobby that’s shaped so much of my life. But you never know, life is unexpected.

  23. Pingback: Reigniting the spark | Ambivalence , or is it ambiguity?

  24. “And lastly, anime may have less to offer for older people like, say, people in their forties or fifties. So I am in doubt. ”

    I find that as I grow older, I become exceedingly aware of the age gap. Indeed, I’m almost certain by my forties/fifties, I won’t be watching any anime at all, which I suppose is OK. We all change eventually in some ways.

    • Maybe things will be different in the next few decades and there maybe anime for us then…I hope. Nevertheless, I am sure what ever happens in the future, the love and memories will remain :)

  25. I think that in some cases the anime can be a long life hobby, and there is no problem. but when you only take your time in see anime, and you are not conscius of the problems of the real life, is when see anime becomes an addiction. so, be careful and see anime with moderation.

    See ya,
    Take a look

    http://orientallife.wordpress.com/

  26. I find it sad, mostly in my community, that watching anime is considered a sin. Really, I keep telling people I watch anime just like others listen to music.

  27. Don’t take things too seriously. There’s no point to wondering if you’re going to continue to like something 10 years from now. If you like it now, then go with it. And yes, anyone can make anime a lifelong passion. It’s their choice to do so.

  28. I have every intention of enjoying anime until the day I day. Heck, I was recently thinking about what I’d like to be doing on my death bed, and all I could think was that I want Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in my hands, with the first season of Digimon on a screen nearby.

    I feel this way because…well, I’ve loved anime since I was 6 years old. That’s two thirds of my life. My passion has never faded, no matter how little access I’ve had at some points. Anime is my lifestyle. It’s had so much influence over every single aspect of my existence that I just know I’m going to love it for the rest of my life.

    But that’s just me :)

    • I am sure that you are not the only one who wish to have Digimon (or other equivalent anime) playing on TV next to his/her death bed XD

  29. I don’t see why not. Anime, and Japanese popular culture, from my observations, are fairly mainstream (or seem very close to becoming so) now, and I’m certainly more open to discussing it with my non-otaku friends. On the flip side, most anime is still heavy on the fan-service (in varying degrees) and in having main characters that are of High School age, so I can see why many folks appear to grow out of it by their late 20s, or not long after.

    I’ve also noticed that most ani bloggers start off when they’re in the final years of High School or during University. Thus, once they start working full-time, that’s usually the reason why such a hobby takes a hit (for it is time-consuming trying to track it down and taking part in discussion of it with people who you’re more like to find online, time(zones) permitting). In short, as with any hobby, I guess it depends on how enthusiastic and committed you are to maintaining it, but I am certainly hopeful about the future of this particular fandom. :)

    • Thanks for the comments!
      I have been struggling periodically to keep my fandom alive and active for years now. It really takes some work and sacrifice.
      Like you said, the big drawback is probably the large number of high school-based anime. they can get repetitive (except for yuri show, which never gets old) ^_^

  30. A very interesing post. It does seem that most anime fans “grow out of it” (sadly) and those who put up with my anime hobbies keep asking me if I’m ever going to grow out of it soon. In a hopful tone, like it is some sad hobby that I will be much better off when I finally give it up.

    Hopefully if more people refuse to give it up just because others think we should then we can create a REVOLUTION… or something. :)

  31. Theres tons of people that watch anime. Old and young. My mother watches anime, and other sorts of anime with me. Sometimes its odd, and sometimes not, but overall everyone watches anime, regardless of age.

    • You are right. And I hope that many of them will keep watching anime. My mother, on my command, watched anime with me sometimes. She liked them but she would never watch them on her own. So I could count her as a fan -_-

  32. Interesting to read this post and all the replies. I’m in my late twenties now and only seriously got into anime for the past year and a bit. Before that I just really watched Ghibli, and the occasional other film. I lot of people I know love Ghibli films but aren’t really into other anime, especially series. One thing is that you have to seek it out – its not just on TV. The other is, that a lot of shows are about high-school (girls) or slightly ecchi. Also, animation is general is linked to children here as well .

    • You’ll have to go deeper into the world of anime to find non-high-school-girl and non-ecchi series. There are lots of hidden gems that may keep you a long time anime fan :)

  33. Maybe if one is over 25, one should be considered an elder in the current anime community! Anime has always been an interesting hobby for me and one I need to find a lot of willpower to keep going since most of the time I am the one doing it. Your paragraph about that completely strikes the cord with me. Personally, I still would love to watch more but just cannot find time to do it. I’m so looking forward to when I retire and have 20+ good series I could plough through and many more I want to rewatch!

  34. i still enjoy anime but not all of them.im turning 32 soon,as i too have anime friends that seem to ‘retire’ from beind fans.My opinion is that when you have seen lots of anime you will soon realise that most anime stories seems the same and jokes becoming repetitive,in other words theres no ‘ excitement or wonders’ to keep you interested anymore but it also depends on ones interest lately.i used to love bleach and naruto but sadly i have lost interest.One piece is still entertaining because it cracks me up with laughter but now the jokes are becoming kind of lame.I dont believe age factor is the reason to loose interest in anime because if it was we would not have manga or anime coz most of the creators are aged people.Just because most people stopped watching anime you must feel weird for not doing so.Just be yourself and do what you like screw the rest.peace

  35. Pingback: Anime Fandom Discussion Part 1: When did your anime fandom truly begin? | Canne's anime review blog

  36. I definitely think Anime can be lifelong! I think there may always be a time in your life that it may not be the main focus (perhaps there’s something else going on, you’ve got another interest, or there’s simply nothing to watch) but you’ll always come back to it and remember it! There are a lot of Anime I saw as a kid and I still LOVE to death today. I think maybe we don’t see really old Anime fans because they didn’t watch it in their childhood, but I’m seeing more and more fans around the age of 30. That shows that people of our generation still loves Anime after so many years!
    I would like to think we would never grow out of it because I just hate the feeling of “being too old” for something. That makes me never want to get old. I also feel that people should like what they like, regardless of their age of what others think.

    • I completely agree with you! Anime fan circle has gone through dramatic change during the past decade or so. I am feeling that the same question may be irrelevant in the near future as current fans grow older :)

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