It’s no secret that most anime is aimed at teenagers. The problem is that as you grow, it becomes harder and harder to find shows that you can relate to. This brings to mind two larger question: is it possible to be too old for anime? If so, at what age does this happen?

First, a Breakdown

As there are millions of anime fans around the world, we don’t have access to empirical data, and have to rely on anecdotal evidence or self-selecting surveys. Reddit’s anime board r/anime conducts regular demographic surveys, the most recent of which reveals that the average viewer is 21.74 years old.

Howl's Moving Castle
21 isn’t exactly old (Howl’s Moving Castle, Studio Ghibli)

Past surveys have shown that the largest proportion of respondents are in their late teens or early 20s. But if that’s the case, anime is targeting the wrong demographic. Why? Nostalgia? No, there’s a better reason. The majority of people in these surveys claim to have started watching anime before they were 14. So, they watch shows that they can relate to when they’re young, grow their love for the medium, and then continue watching through adulthood.

So How Old Is Too Old?

Interestingly, while anime viewership peaks at age 22, there’s a steep decline afterwards. Just a handful of r/anime subscribers claim to be over 36, with the oldest age 64. However, it’s worth noting that these polls skew heavily male (86.7% in the most recent survey).

This could be because Reddit is also mostly male, or because r/anime specifically is 78.8% male already. Of course, it could be that anime as a whole is watched by males more than females. We do know, however, that women attend anime conventions at about the same rate as men.

Kami-sama no memo-chou
Kami-sama no memo-chou (J.C. Staff)

So what happens in your 30s that makes watching anime less appealing? Perhaps it’s a new focus on work or family. Maybe you just can’t keep up with the influx of new shows every season, given your newfound lack of free time. It’s difficult to speculate as we’re working with incomplete information, though.

A Quick Guideline

Here’s a simple test to see if you’re too old for anime: do you still enjoy anime? If you answered yes, then congratulations, there’s no problem. If you answered no, then you age isn’t the issue, the shows are. Ultimately, if it’s not interfering with other parts of your life, watching anime is no different than playing games, watching movies, or reading.

Are you ever too old for anime
Anohana (A-1 Pictures)

Sure, you might have to work a little harder to find anime fans your own age, but if you’re not involved with the community, does it really matter? And if you do want to discuss the latest shows, there are a million forums where your age is irrelevant. Simply: do what you enjoy and don’t worry too much about it.

Ian Garland

Just an ordinary guy who woke up one day in the magical world of anime reviews. Check them out... or don't, i-it's not like he likes you or anything...

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