Anime Time and Being Busy

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“I’m busy, I have no time for anime.” – Aging anime fans.

It’s largely accepted that as people get older they start to gain more responsibilities and have less free time for things like watching anime, but is that really true? After giving it some thought, I really started to wonder if people stop watching anime because of time and responsibilities. Without much information to go on, I decided to look at how my viewing habits have changed over the years.

If you want to know how I got into anime, you can read my anime history, but to give you a quick run-down, I was hooked in the 90’s and have been actively seeking it out ever since. Things were pretty good for about a decade, but when I graduated from high school and started university in 2005 it certainly felt like all of my free time just evaporated. The same thing happened again in 2010 when I got my university degree and started working. I didn’t want to think about it, but I could feel the time that I had for anime start to slip away. In order to see how much anime I’ve had to give up over the years, I decided to chart all of the TV anime (this excludes movies and OVAs) that I have completed from 1990 to 2012. Thanks to MyAnimeList, this data was readily available and I took the midpoint of each series to be the year that it “aired” so that it doesn’t stretch across multiple years. The results are a bit surprising, as you can see below.

animechart

The blue line represents the actual number of series I was watching that year while the red line shows my overall anime viewing trend. Note that the years were taken to be when a series aired so a few of them may be off because I viewed them after they finished, but from the late 90’s onwards I’ve watched anime as they aired. As you can see, I averaged less than 5 series per year in the 90’s, but last year managed to follow 30 series despite complaining about having less time. In fact, it seems that as I get older and gain more responsibilities and less time, I actually spend more time watching anime so what’s happening here?

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It took me a while to figure out how I was watching more anime with less time, but when I considered how I obtained anime, it soon made perfect sense. To give you an idea of what happened, I’ve broken down the last 12 years into sections.

1990 to 2000 – Pre-High-Speed Internet

During the 90’s I had dial-up internet ranging from 14k to 56k depending on the year; not quite enough to really enjoy anime. Depending on the server an anime episode was hosted, it would take anywhere from several hours to a week to download. Most of my anime came in the form of VHS tapes borrowed from the foreign films section of the library or from older family members. Seeing as I wasn’t a teenager yet, I had plenty of free time but the trouble was in obtaining anime without fast download speeds, money, or permission from my parents to send letters out to random strangers asking to send me subtitled cartoons. In short, I had tons of time, but couldn’t get enough anime.

2001 to 2006 – Anime Online

In the early to mid 2000’s getting access to anime online became increasingly easier with cable internet and the popularity of P2P file sharing services. I was in junior high and high school for most of this period so I didn’t have as much time as I did in elementary, but still enough to do pretty much anything I wanted without worry.

2007 to 2010 – Anime on the Go

I graduated from university in 2010 so these were my last years in school and were the hardest and most time-consuming. Despite this, my anime viewing increased a bit mainly because I got a laptop and could now watch anime between classes.

2011 to 2012 – Instant Anime

Back in the 1990’s and most of the 2000’s, waiting for anime was a given, but with the rise of streaming sites like CrunchyRoll I could now watch anime with a click of a button. Reducing wait times and the effort needed to locate anime greatly reduced the amount of time spent on anime while still consuming the same or more episodes. This definitely helps when you work full-time and have other jobs and extracurricular activities to worry about as well.

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Some of you may be asking how having instant access to anime helps when you don’t even have time to watch them? Well let me ask you this: how much time do you spend watching TV? working out? surfing the net? or doing any other activity that’s not work? If you spend more than 30 min a day on any form of entertainment then it should be easy to make time for anime. At 30 min per day, you could watch up to 14 two-cour series or 28 one-cour series per year. With streaming anime, you could watch an episode every day during lunch time. Personally, I set aside less than one hour most days for anime and that easily lets me follow 30 series per year.

Now when people without a family to take care of tell me that they “don’t have time” for anime, I find it hard to believe them. From my experience, if you’re truly passionate about the medium, then there’s always time for anime. With today’s technology, anime is literally right at your fingertips and you just need half an hour a day to keep up with all the popular shows. I’d like to hear about everyone else’s experience with how your time spent on anime has changed over the years though. Feel free to share in the comments or write your own post if you have a blog.

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  1. I’ve written a few posts on this topic myself actually. I’ve also found that I’ve been watching more anime as I got older despite having less free time, and the reason is the same as yours – namely because anime has become so much more accessible over the years thanks to fast Internet and bittorrent/streaming sites. Even though my hours of free time each day are much less than when I was in high school, all I need to do is set aside an hour or two a day and I can easily keep up with 10 shows a season. But like you said, it boils down to our motivation and how important anime is to us when real life responsibilities are always eating up our time. In most cases, if the passion is there, we will make time for it no matter what ;)
    Yumeka recently posted..Equestria LA – Pony cons vs anime cons

    • It definitely seems more to do with passion than time when people stop watching anime. I’ve seen older people who barely seem to have enough time to sleep still manage to keep up with all the new anime so it’s definitely possible no matter how busy you are.

  2. I noticed this about myself, I actually do more stuff as I got older.

    I thought about how I would manage after graduating but I found out to be somewhat easier after I got a job. During school there is no only the time I spent in lectures but also the time I spent outside doing homework, studying etc. and social interaction with friends on a daily basis. I just found myself having more commitments on a day to day basis.

    With my job though, not so much, besides deadline crunch time there was a constant and clear end to my workday. For the most part during the week there were no big commitments and spending time with friends and family relegated to the weekend because of my work schedule.

    In the end as get older I get better at time management, with the clear daily schedule a job provided to me I could more easily plan when and for how long I wanted to do something. Easy passive activities during the week like watching anime and more involved activities with family and friends during the weekend.
    Miette-chan recently posted..Shironeko – The Only Reason to Watch Oreimo

    • I actually had quite a bit of free time too once I graduated and started working, but as time went on that started to change. In place of doing homework I’ve gotten involved in some volunteering and doing some part-time writing. Occasionally I’ll have to study for exams too as part of getting certifications for work so now I’m actually busier than I was in university. Time management is a skill you really need to learn in order to keep up with everything and make room for anime.

  3. To be fair (and unless I managed to miss this in your post), hasn’t there been a rise in more anime airing in a given year since back in the early 2000-2007s?

    But I guess I’ll do a post on this, since you’ve encouraged it. I wonder if I’ll have time to do it over the weekend ;)
    Justin recently posted..RPG Review: Hyperdimension Neptunia Victory

    • Yes, there has been a rise in the number of anime airing at a given time, but since the number of anime available wasn’t a limiting factor for me I didn’t feel like there was a need to mention it. If I thought they were interesting enough and they were available to me, I would’ve watched every anime that was airing in the 90’s and 00’s.

  4. Internet does play a big part in a lot of things. I find out that I had been watching more, and in time, also doing a lot more as I grew older. Back then, I only watched anime from whatever ways I can find; tapes, DVDs, etc.. Perhaps the fact that schooling and an unending amount of homeworks make a good excuse for me to still restrict myself from my hobbies. But with the emergence of internet, that boundary completely broke. I watch mountains of anime through streaming or downloading despite my growing amount of homeworks. Currently, I’m at a working stage, and my Japanese culture hobbies grew “extensively”. Through internet, I discover a lot of things, thus comitting to them. At first, I played mmo and watched anime, and in time, I also read manga. After a while, I started going to various forums and community and in time, I also started playing visual novels. My latest endeavors would be blogging and also reading light novels. I can get pretty “busy” keeping up with all of these hobbies at times but that’s a different kind of “busy”.

    When people say they are busy, I would think it’s more of a psychological thing then actually literally busy. For example, when one travels a lot, I would say it’s impossible to not watch even a single episode or blogging, especially with portable devices like smartphones or tablets at your fingertips: you can go about your business literally everywhere as long as you have a good internet access. Although he may be too tired with his travels, or perhaps it’s just isn’t a good time for those during times of social interactions. I don’t know, but aforementioned, I think it’s more of a psychological thing, and the above is just one example I could think of at the moment.

    In my own personal experience, watching anime on the go is good, but feels awkward and less comfortable when surrounded by other people. Especially when there are scenes not approriate for all ages (there are quite a number of those too, even for non-ecchi), and even for the moe ones which are more for all-ages, I feel embrassed – I guess I’m not an outgoing enough of a person to just show off everyone that I’m watching anime like K-ON, and actually likes it. When on the go, I prefer to just read manga or read some light novels instead, those are easier for me, and faster to download too. In that sense, I may had not much time for anime since these days, I’m out a lot and I seldom watch anime when I’m out. Again, more of a personal psychological thing.
    Kai recently posted..Sakurasou no Pet na Kanojo Review

    • You bring up a good point that when people say they’re busy that it could just be a psychological thing. I know there are some days where I’m just exhausted and don’t feel like doing anything, even watching anime.

      I’ve watched anime on the go quite a bit. Usually I find a quiet corner somewhere to watch it on my laptop, but occasionally someone will peek over my shoulder to see what I’m watching. If they give me a weird look I just stare at them back and they walk away.

  5. Interesting read Nopy and this certainly can apply to any anime fans so to speak.

    I definitely believe that as you grow older and you discover more accessibility to anime such as the internet your intake of anime will increase because the more available to you the more you can watch. I also think websites such as myanimelist has proven pivotal well certainly to me for my management and know-how of anime series.

    However when personal investment starts to kick in more and more such as university, jobs and such like Kai said, it is more of a psychological factor, and I believe most people used the busy excuse as a mirror of that psychology. Take me for example i guess. Im a university student, then have a part time job although it feels like full time and then ive been travelling a lot (thanks to the job ^^) all this in a space of a few months really impacted by watching of anime. I was busy yes but Its not like I never had time off, I did but it was all psychological that my brain was simply tired and during my time off would actually do less activity than normal and unfortunately one of them was anime.

    By saying that Im sure its maybe a similar scenario. Another thing I want to add is maybe the older you get the less inclined to anime you get? or have less of the will to catch up with the latest series?

    Its nice to read other comments here!
    Fabrice recently posted..National Museum of Emerging Science and Innovation (Miraikan)

    • I didn’t know you worked a part-time job as well as go to university, that explains how you manage to get to travel so much. I think if you bring yourself to watch some anime or do some work while flying, then you could get a lot of stuff done and not feel as busy. That has worked for me in the past.

      Getting older and losing interest in anime is probably another reason why people say they’re “too busy” for it. Sometimes it’s just hard to admit that you no longer like something that you used to be passionate about.

  6. I fondly remember my university anime years. We didn’t have an internet connection at the university dormitory (yeah, pretty old dated considering that was between 2002-2006). So I used to burn anime on rewritable DVDs whenever I visited my family and bring them back with me. I didn’t have the time to watch anime, but made the time by watching an episode each time I sat to eat. Since I studies East Asian studies we had anime screenings from time to time. I also used the read manga whenever I had to commute. Yep. Those where good times :)

    By the way I don’t think being married and having children will slow down my anime viewing habits. I mean, I’ll still try to “convert my wife to the cause” whenever I see fit and the children will inevitably end up watching anime from my collection in their free time. And as their father it will be my responsibility to watch over them, if you know what I mean.
    Nadav recently posted..Attack On Titan – Making Action Anime Relevant Again

    • I know how it feels to have to bring anime from home with you. I once spent a few months working quite a ways from home and had to bring some anime with me to watch because I didn’t have a good internet connection. That was the most I’ve gotten through my anime backlog at once.

      It’s good to hear that you still have time for anime even with a family, now I have less to worry about when I start a family :)

  7. I feel like the only excuse for not having enough time for anime would be if you had two jobs or if you had children but without those things it’s always possible to find time for your hobbies.

    As for watching more anime I suspect that because we all know how to work the internet more than we did 3 or more years ago which means we have greater access to more anime we are interested in.

    Good post :)
    AceRailgun recently posted..Upcoming anime – Watamote

    • Even with two jobs I think it’s possible to find time for anime. Children are an entirely different matter though.

      At the rate access to anime is getting better, I have to wonder if I’m going to hit 50 series per year soon…

  8. Well brought up topic there. Rather than having a lack of time, I think it is usually the priority that tends to be the factor causing people to say they are too busy to watch anime.

    I suppose as we get older, some of us will get more responsibilities from work or other aspects of life. Other factors include making decisions whether you want to do XYZ over anime and vice versa. In that case it’s a question of passion I suppose. Though other times one may simply be too tired to even do stuff they like, like after coming back late from overtime (which is very common in Asian workplaces).

    Kai brought up some good points there too. As we have more access to media and information thanks to the Internet, we may get ourselves occupied with various activities here and there – improvement in accessibility makes us more occupied in a different way compared to the days of the past. In essence we are becoming occupied over many little things rather than fewer but bigger things. Though you can always prove me wrong on that.
    Q recently posted..Ice Cup Noodle Light

    • Priorities and passion are certainly two things that seem to be the driving force behind why people stop watching anime. When people say they’re too busy it does feel like they’re just putting other things ahead of anime that they wouldn’t have in the past.

  9. Well…I am busy. Much busier than I was last year. But I’ll probably still complete the same amount of series as last year because I do pick a few series to follow per season. It’s just that I no longer watch them on a regular basis. I might end up watching 2-3 episodes at one go, depending on the amount of time I have on hand. Irregular watching pattern, yes. But I don’t think I’ll watch any lesser.

    For me, I worked OT a lot this year and travelled a lot because of the tight project schedule at work so I really don’t have the luxury of time sitting down 30 minutes per day, watching anime. By the time I get home sometimes, my eyes will be too tired to even look at computer screen. In that sense, I’d say I understand why some would say they are too busy for anime.
    hoshiko recently posted..Sakurasou Hits Home With Me

    • My watching pattern becomes irregular when I’m busy as well. During those times I just fit in an episode whenever I can.

      Your work schedule sounds rough. I can’t say I know anyone that actually works so much that they just go to sleep when they get home and then head back to work when they wake up.

  10. Interesting topic. I think one thing to note is that anime these days seem to be much shorter than before, the standard length is 12 episodes where it used to be 24 or more before.
    When I first started watching anime at college, it was hard to find and I bugged the few people I knew who had some videos/DVDs. Then I discovered superfast peer-peer sharing and expanded my network of sources and I had an almost unlimited supply of anime. Man, I watched a lot back then and it probably didn’t help my grades, haha. I kept voraciously consuming anime after graduating, trying to find a job, and even after I got a job. It did slow down a bit after emigrating to Australia but I eventually picked it back up again.
    Then I got a job that was really fun and I found I was really passionate about it. A lot of my focus is spent learning and working on my own projects outside of work and it’s only when I’m tired of that I turn to anime. I still really enjoy the 1 or 2 series I try to keep up with but my fallout with anime watching is definitely more of my priorities changing than not having the time.

    • There do seem to be a lot more shorter anime so that could factor in to the number of series I complete, but I watched a lot of shorter series in the early 2000’s so for me I think it was due more to having easier access.

      Having projects that you enjoy doing sounds like it would take away from time spent on anime. Most of the things I do outside of work are anime-related though so I guess that’s why I’ve been able to keep up with so many series.

  11. Rather than having less time for Anime, I find myself less interested in most titles that come out these days. Seems that bulk of the anime that come out from Japan is about Pretty Girls + School Life Romance, or maybe I’m just not searching enough..

    Hence, I haven’t been watching much anime these days..

    As much as I like pretty 2D Girls, I wished there’d be more anime about 2D Girls in an action type of story with minimal fanservice..

    or maybe I have a mild case of Aspreger’s Syndrome..

    Either way I can say that I do spend lesser time for anime.

    • From my experience, it seems like once you’ve watched a certain number of anime, they all start to seem the same, no matter when you started. Everyone from every generation says the same thing about newer anime.

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