Do Adults Watch Anime

They say that you are never too old for most things, but how far does that statement stretch? Though adults are encouraged to do things like go back to school and travel, there are some things that society seems to frown upon after one reaches a certain age. Anime has never been a medium taken very seriously by many adults, who have viewed anime simply the same way as they would view a childish cartoon. When most adults see an animated film, it is most likely because they are taking a child to see it. And though the adult may even have positive things to say about the newest Disney film, the animation medium is still often seen as a juvenile - something that the average adult wouldn't engage in unless they saw it because of a child. However, the rise of geek culture over the last decade has significantly changed things. More adults are sporting their nerdy comic book t-shirts and video game merchandise, as society is normalizing (to an extent) these forms of entertainment.

But what about anime fans? Anime hasn't always been very understood in western culture, especially back in its early days, as a form of media in North America. When anime was first introduced to North America, much of the western audience believed the entire genre was strictly for children. Because of this, anime (like western cartoons) is something that a person is expected to grow out of after a certain age. For those who choose not to grow out of it, well, it's not exactly looked at as normal. But despite facing criticism from young and older crowds alike, adult fans still exist and thrive online. What makes them stay true to anime and its culture? How come some of us have never "grown out of it? Anime fans are not that different from your typical comic book superhero nerds, yet they are somehow treated a bit differently. Unlike western cartoons, anime was once something that was rare to come by and wasn't nearly as popular or successful as it is in the present western world. Access to anime was limited; episodes could only be viewed on DVDs/VHS (which could get pricy, especially for kids and teens), on torrents with mediocre quality and questionable subtitles, or during an obscure time block on cable.

39;t care for English dubs in general.

But despite these obstacles, the fans did what they could to satiate their need for more content. This was why the Anime Boom towards the end of the '90s was such a big deal. Between the late 90s and early 2000s, North American companies such as Funimation and 4Kids TV entered a license agreement with animation studios overseas, giving them access to a large number of anime titles. These companies were granted permission to redistribute multiple series and dub them in the English language. Because of this, many titles were introduced to the public all at once through blocks like Toonami on Cartoon Network, which became the only channel to air anime consistently at the time. This brought in a slew of new fans, and since there were already many titles being dubbed in English and released at once, fans always had something to talk about and were able to keep the hype going. Even after the boom, the medium was still considered a niche interest that only stayed on certain cable channel blocks, as well as DVDs and VHS. There were still episodes available for download on torrent for the fans that didn't feel like waiting months for more new episodes or simply didn't care for English dubs in general. Now, there are so many streaming apps and websites that allow anyone to access anime. Simulcasting and simuldubbing even make it possible for western fans to see a new episode immediately after the Japanese broadcast and dubbed in English, usually the following week. These resources didn't exist during the boom, but thanks to the rise of internet culture, these resources make it possible for anyone to access most Japanese animated series easily.

It's All About (The) Manga

This has indefinitely contributed to the spike in popularity. Many millennials could appreciate how anime was different from the average western cartoon. The medium looked fun, colorful, sparkly, action-packed, and just all around different from what westerners were used to. Some animes seemed more relatable than western cartoons, with content that was much more mature and realistic, making the story easy to get enthralled with. Eventually, anime would heavily influence future popular western series (Avatar: The Last Airbender, Steven Universe, etc.), but before that, it was seen as something different, cool, and ultimately fun - almost like a breath of fresh air. As more anime continued to come over to the US through companies like Funimation, the popularity steadily grew, but it was still considered a niche genre. Hardcore fans were given the name "weeaboo" (commonly shortened to "weeb"), which describes a western fan obsessed with anime that finds any other genres less superior. Originally a derogatory term derived from the Japanese word "otaku," it is often used now as a term of endearment among anime fans, especially by young ones. Over time, anime has become much more popular and has slowly but surely, climbed up into the mainstream.

Now, it's fairly normal to casually meet another anime fan at work, school, etc. Cosplay and anime/comic conventions, though they have been around for decades, had started taking off around the turn of the last decade as well, to the point where it became more of a fad than anything. All of a sudden, dressing up and acting like a nerd was popular, and calling someone a weeb became more common and even quirky rather than an insult. So then, why are older adults still picked on for remaining fans when most of these fandom traditions started with them? It's rough enough trying to ease into adulthood with the pressure of parents, jobs, and college on the shoulders of young adults. Teenagers are expected to know what they want to do with their lives by the end of high school, which is ridiculous to put on a child yet is still considered the norm. Teens are immediately expected to do things such as leave the nest once they hit a certain age and go to college and/or get a job, getting thrust immediately into adulthood with no questions asked because, well, this is just how it is when you grow up, right?

And it doesn't stop there, either. It seems that every few years, a new milestone is expected to be reached. For example, when you graduate high school, it is immediately expected that you either attend college or get a job. When you hit your late twenties, it's time to find a "decent" job (most likely something mundane and repetitive, but hey, it pays the bills and rent). Then, it's time to ditch the roommates for a place that you can call your own because adults are required to be independent. That is until it's time to find a life partner, get married, and have children. But here is the issue with that route: not everyone wants to follow it; if it is the route that someone chooses and wants to pursue, fantastic! But there are also a number of people who don't want that route, especially nowadays. Despite these feelings, adults still have family and friends down their throats asking when the wedding is or when you'll be starting a family.

They ask why you haven't gotten a raise in how long or why you stick with a job that is unconventional and doesn't pay as much, even though you constantly say it's because you enjoy it. This is because society has set standards for adults that went back decades, and adults are still held to some of these outdated standards to this day. This can harm a person's psyche, as it's pretty much drilled into our heads since childhood that this is the norm, and any other way will be more difficult or not as fulfilling. This puts the fear of failure in one's head and oftentimes causes young adults to be fearful of straying from the designated path. Unfortunately, because of these expectations, adults are presumably supposed to abandon anything that attaches them to childhood, including certain interests and hobbies, and it's honestly a little depressing. Though society continues to evolve and become more accepting of certain things, for some reason, older anime fans are still picked on, not just from older adults set in their ways, but shockingly, from younger anime fans as well. When social media sites such as Tumblr and Twitter drastically took off at the turn of the last decade, so did nerd culture. It was easier to find groups of people that enjoyed the same types of things, including anime. Because of these sites, fandoms have significantly grown over the years, and with the easy access to anime via streaming and simulcasting, it's no wonder that fans have grown in numbers. And because being an anime fan is so normalized now, it's nearly impossible not to run into one online.

Twitter is currently the most popular platform of choice when it comes to social media, coming a very long way from its early days. It is a huge place for fandom, where fans of all kinds gather and share artwork, headcanons, writing, etc. Despite Twitter being a vast site where you can find a place for literally any interest, it's not as big as it once seemed. There are well-known figures in each fandom, and whether you know them personally or not doesn't seem to matter. It may be a popular fan artist, cosplayer, or just an influencer who actively posts about the anime in general. The point is that there is an invisible hierarchy in most fandoms, including anime twitter. And with that comes the hot issue of gatekeeping. According to Urban Dictionary, gatekeeping is "when someone takes it upon themselves to decide who does or does not have access or rights to a community or identity." ii Despite older anime fans laying down the foundation for anime fandom, they still receive harsh criticism from younger fans online.

They are often made fun of for being over a certain age and liking anime, and still being involved in fandom. Most of the time, these are teens and very young adults just starting in their twenties that mostly point at fans in their thirties and older, though some posts by teenagers have even suggested that liking anime over the age of twenty-two is unacceptable. It is, in fact, a little ironic that teenagers continue to be overly critical towards seasoned fans. It was the older fans that laid the groundwork for anime fandoms long before Twitter even existed. Before any new forms of social media had become embedded into society, fellow weebs were still talking about anime. Many wonderful works have come from these seasoned fans, including fan art, fanfiction, and cosplay, which have always been celebrated by different fandoms. These traditions still hold true, as fans pay homage to their favorite anime characters through the arts.


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