Growing out of anime

Watching anime is a fantastic hobby and one that I have personally enjoyed for many years now. Yet, as I rapidly approach my 30s, a phenomenon I have noticed is that many of my peers have begun to worry about growing out of anime. A scary issue to think about, especially if you’ve dedicated a large portion of your life to this medium. Or if you happen to run a modestly popular anime website.

When people express their worries about losing interest in anime, it’s tempting to give defensive answers. Statements like: “I have been watching anime for 17 years and I am still going strong!”. However, such sentiments are more about reinforcing one’s own confidence, rather than addressing the worries of the person who actually asked the question.

The sad reality is that growing out of the things we enjoy is normal. There are probably many activities that you did as a kid or teenager that you don’t enjoy anymore today. Just because you reached adulthood doesn’t mean that this process stops. You probably stopped playing with marbles ages ago and, in similar fashion, you may stop enjoying anime at some point. Just like how you might lose interest in a TCG, a sport, or any other hobby.

If that still sounds depressing to you, then consider that losing interest in all anime could be an exaggerated fear. Maybe you simply outgrow a certain kind of anime, rather than the entire medium. In the same vein, someone might be fascinated by a specific writer or genre of music which they eventually outgrow. That doesn’t mean that they stopped enjoying books or music; their tastes simply matured alongside them.

If you’ve been with anime for a long time, then you can probably identify these changes in yourself as well. Looking back, you probably don’t enjoy the same kinds of anime you did 10 or 20 years ago. You may no longer keep up with the same content creators whose opinions on anime seemed so insightful when you first discovered them. Maybe anime that meant a lot to you as a teen seems kinda stupid nowadays. I mean, I can’t be the only one who is indefinitely postponing a rewatch of Death Note, right?

Anime today is a larger industry than ever before. We’re seeing an amazing amount of series hit TV and streaming services every season. As such, every genre is densely packed and popular tropes get recycled like crazy. I’ve seen people who got into anime thanks to the immense popularity of Sword Art Online bemoaning how overdone isekai anime had become only a few years later. If you keep up with a lot of series, anime can quickly begin to feel repetitive these days.

It may feel like you’re losing interest in anime entirely, but maybe you have simply hit a slump. Every anime used to feel so new and adventurous, but you got too used to the tropes, stereotypes, and machinations of anime storytelling. Not many anime have given you that same buzz you used to feel, so watching new series has started feeling routine. When you then endure a strings of shows that all failed to interest you, it can begin to feel like maybe the end is approaching.

Getting burned out on a hobby that you’re spending too much time on is very possible. A few years ago I really got into Warhammer, but I fell out of it after a while because it just became too much. Every day I’d be tinkering with army lists, discussing lore, reading rules, and having to plan games. Not to mention having to build and paint actual models!

I still love aspects of Warhammer, but stopped playing the game long ago. I read books and lore from time, and keep up with some of the video games instead.

Maybe you’ll need a break from anime too or change the way you engage with the hobby. Maybe you really are losing interest in it entirely and will eventually move on; that’s fine too. It can feel daunting to leave behind something that you invested so much passion into, but that’s part of the process of growing as a person.

The day might come when I lose interest in anime. It’ll be strange leaving it behind after all that money and time I put into it, but that doesn’t mean it’s a bad thing. It’s not time or money wasted if you enjoyed spending it that way. Maybe one day you’ll reconnect with the hobby again when something new happens, like with all the people that are currently rediscovering Avatar and Harry Potter.

If that seems scary, then I sadly don’t have the magic answer to indefinitely extend your love for anime. What I do have is some advice from my own experience for overcoming slumps:

  • Don’t be afraid to take a break when things get too much. Watching anime when you’re anxious or fed up with it won’t improve anything.
  • Take a big step out of your comfort zone to try new genres or types of anime. A break from the usual tropes may be just what you need.
  • If finding time is an issue, then make plans to watch anime with a friend. It’ll be a commitment then and you’ll also have a buddy to discuss the show with.
  • If new shows have been disappointing you, then revisit some old favorites instead.
  • If you usually watch anime as it airs, then wait for a show to finish for once instead. That way it turns from a weekly obligation into something you can binge anytime. Vice versa, if you usually watch in bulk, then follow a show weekly instead to break up how much you gotta watch in one go.
  • Reduce the amount of series you keep up with at once.

Most importantly: when you do find a show that breaks up the tedium, be sure to celebrate it a while. Anime may never feel as new and amazing as it did when you first got into the hobby, but taking your time to appreciate a good show can recreate the feeling. Discuss the anime with other people, maybe read the manga or indulge in some theories. It’s tempting to keep going from one thing to the next, especially if you use a website like AniList and want to shrink your backlog. Don’t let that eat away at the thrill of finding a new show that you really did enjoy.

7 thoughts on “Growing out of anime

  1. I feel this on a personal level. I absolutely love anime and I love talking about it on the blog and with friends. For me, it’s less about growing out of it, but losing interest during bad mental health periods and then *feeling* like I’m growing out of it, I dunno if that makes sense. But I do have a legit fear of not being interested in it one day and what makes it scary is how much of a positive impact anime has had on my mental health (and continues to, even during my bad periods), and what I would do with the void if I ever did grow out of it.

  2. I tend to think of anime as something that grows with me. When I was younger I watched kids anime and shonen anime. Now that I’m all growed up, I watch more mature anime with more complex themes and deeper characters. Furthermore, instead of just watching anime sometimes I take a deeper dive and learn about the Japanese culture behind an anime series or I learn about the evolution of a genre. The anime world is so big, there is always something to watch or learn or try.

  3. Totally! Anime targeted at teenagers (a large proportion of what’s popular) don’t really appeal to me anymore and that’s completely fine. It’s just about finding what’s right for you. Some things belong to time already gone.

    Your 20s is really a period of change and it can lead to a lot of self doubt. I find it helps not to take on too much pressure when keeping up with your hobbies.

  4. Same with the approaching 30s part. Getting older just makes it harder to relate to the youthful generic character designs most of the time. I will never grow out of storytelling, especially in art, but I can find that in many mediums.

  5. I briefly had that feeling, but I fell out of so many other interests as I got older. Part of it was me having different interests, getting away from toxic individuals, and in some cases avoiding being fandom shamed, so I can’t get made fun of for liking something anymore.

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