Welcome back to Otaku Thursday all my weebs and weeaboos! I hope you all enjoyed the You Can’t Know Anime Awards that came out at the end of last month, and if you didn’t, I invite you to read it here! (Shameless plug).
Today, as I wind down from such a behemoth of a post, and while we prep for our next big campaign coming at you next week — Doki Doki Days – I thought today would be a great, no spectacular time to talk about one thing that I’ve been obsessed with: anime featuring older men.
Okay. So, I know that sounds very SUS when I say it like that (but hey, I have your attention now don’t I?). But what I actually mean is characters that aren’t teenagers. While, yes, I still enjoy a good high school romance or a coming-of-age story in an anime, I’ve come to that point in my life where I can’t really watch teenagers and fangirl over them anymore. One, because none of them are appealing, and two–THEY ARE CHILDREN. Well, at least in my eyes they are now. No longer can I watch an anime and think ‘oh he’s so hot’ when I know all the characters are in high school. Instead, my newest thought is ‘that boy will turn into a fine man’. Well, if even I say that. Sometimes the teenage characters are just painfully teenagers now. That’s not to say that I no longer enjoy these adolescent stories–I still really like them. But recently a lot of the anime that really caught my eye has to do with older adults.
For example, some of my favorite sports anime over the past two years have been The Gymnastic Samurai and Ryman’s Club. The former focuses on a middle-aged gymnast approaching the end of his career and training hard and pushing himself just so that he can continue doing what he loves. Meanwhile, Ryman’s focuses on career-aged men who play badminton. In terms of characters, the older men couldn’t be different in these two, but I think I’ve identified the one thing that they all have in common in both these shows, and that’s that they are passionate. Extremely so. In Gymnastic Samurai, our protagonist loves gymnastics so much that he can’t imagine having to retire despite a debilitating injury. This is the part in any other sports anime where the young protag might push himself too hard and end up hurting himself even more and ending his career, but see the stakes are higher for this man. Being at the end of his career, and also generally more mature, realizes that if he takes things too fast he could end up crippling himself for life. The thought that goes into his passion, into his practice, while raising a child is way more attractive than a cute anime boy in high school. In Ryman’s Club, the drama between characters is done so well and maturely–there are no petty rivalries, and communication is key between all the doubles pairs. Our main characters, while not as mature as the main from Gymnastic Samurai, still feel very adult in their conflicts. For example, the older of the two main protagonists also injures himself and his partner essentially forces him to rest. He then goes to physical therapy to care for his body rather than pushing it. So maybe one quality I like about adult protagonists is the ability to practice self-care, act rationally, and focus on their passion.
But it really goes beyond just sports anime. Even idol anime is better with older characters in my opinion. And yes, I’m talking about the same idol anime I’ve been obsessed with right now–Eternal Boys. Though it features short episodes that are in an almost anthology format, I really enjoy the idea of older idols. In real life, I feel fatigued over all these 16-year-olds in boybands. It’s just–they’re too young for me to be anything but impressed with their talent. This is why the concept of older idols appeals to me. They are just as passionate, usually just as attractive, can keep up physically fairly well, and most importantly–they have some life experiences that makes them feel a little more real. Especially in Eternal Boys. From the current idol who works incredibly hard because he’s been a fan for so many years and finally applying himself, to the man who was a child star that faded and is trying to find his new avenue, to the man who simply got the interview wrong and is now trying his best…they all have these intense life stories that are so common and so admirable when you see them working so hard. You end up rooting for them, as you would with any underdog idol group.
Even in some of my favorite classic anime, I’ve seen my favorite character types shift. Fruits Basket — for example. I have always been a Yuki girl. I still really do love Yuki, but on my watch of the latest series, even though I’ve read the complete manga many a-times, I felt myself fanning less over Yuki and drawn to Hatori instead. I still appreciate Yuki’s storyline, but now I feel that way because I enjoy the way he’s written and how he grows within the story. Hatori on the other hand…well, I feel like I just have a new appreciation for him. Him and Shishou. On one hand, Hatori has lived through a tragic love story and is currently living for everyone around him. He has a job, has loved and lost, and really cares about the members of the Sohma family and cares for their health as he should. He speaks like an old man, and it’s really because he has gained so much wisdom in his years, even though even he would say he knows almost nothing. You just, want him to get a happy ending at last. Shishou is very similar in that he just feels more mature. Being a father figure for Kyo is incredibly attractive. He’s kind and understanding, never really loses his composure, and knows that sometimes pain is necessary in order to grow (such as when he removes Kyo’s bracelet). Shisshou is never cruel, his actions always have a meaning as he goes about raising Kyo as well as the other Sohma’s who visit the dojo. He’s literally the definition of a man with his shit together. Which, at this point in my life, is all I’m asking for.
So I guess what I’m really saying in this post is pretty simple; for me, mature men are hot. It’s just because they are more relatable and admirable to me, being older myself now. It’s like, I want to see characters who are no longer deemed ‘young’ by anime standards doing well for themselves. I don’t like the whole, your story ends once the high school years are over anymore. I love the idea of still having an opportunity to grow, improve, and follow your passions far past that. Passion lasts as long as you do honestly, and to see mature people following their passions, living the ups and downs of life, and being okay–that’s honestly so reassuring. It’s never too late to start.
…Plus older anime protagonists are usually good with kids which is undeniably attractive.