“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.
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?
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.
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.