Why Boys Like Watching Anime (and why women don’t)

Results from a survey in the anime subreddit during 2015 linked here showed that a whopping 92% of anime watchers were male with 16-20 year old being the primary age group which begs the question, why do guys like anime so much? and why don’t just as many girls like it? In this post, I will go through why in my opinion, anime is being dominated by male audience.

So why do boys like anime?

Here is the short answer:

Because there are significantly more anime series targeted towards the male demographic.

The Shounen Genre

a genre of Japanese comics and animated films aimed primarily at a young male audience

Oxford Languages

Shounen anime are the primary driving force for a male audience since the genre has almost three times the amount of shoujo, and is a genre targeted towards a young male audience. You have endless choices of anime series to pick from such as One Piece, Naruto, Haikyuu!!, My Hero Academia, Attack on Titan, Hunter x Hunter, Kimetsu no Yaiba etc. that are constantly being pushed by anime studios in japan. I could go on and on but the main takeaway is that every single one of these anime have male protagonists.

When I watch an anime series, I want the main character to be as relatable to me as possible which is what hooked me into anime in the first place with series such as Naruto and Dragon Ball. I would be lying if I said that having a male protagonist didn’t help. But I certainly wouldn’t mind a badass female character in the lead role either. For example, anime series such as Black Lagoon, Kakegurui, and Violet Evergarden are all I personally love watching.

But these are more of the exceptions than the norm. You will be extremely hard pressed to find any anime that has a female lead compare to male leads aside from genres specifically made for women like Shoujo (literally meaning girl), which brings me to my next point and that is relatability.

Relatability

Only one of the anime listed above actually has more female watchers than male (barely), and that is Haikyuu!!. This is similar in the case of Yuri On Ice (figure skating anime with a male lead). I believe the primary reason for this is relatability because while the cast consists of primarily of boys, volleyball and figure skating are sports dominated by the female demographic. In fact, if you look at the statistics from satista.com here, you will notice just how big of a gender difference there is in the sport.

Therefore, I believe that it can be comfortably deduced anime is not a medium inherently for boys but one that is targeted to be consumed by men. This is evident by the fact that there is an abundance of sports anime such as boxing, soccer, basketball, baseball which are all sports dominated by men leading to the anime being dominated by men as well.

Of course there are slice of life and romance anime that needs to be talked about however, both genders tend to enjoy these because at least this genre requires the creators to focus on two characters with equal character development.

But even this genre of anime can be argued to be targeted towards the male demographic because more often than not, they also come with other genres such as harem and ecchi, both of which are turn offs for women.

Fanservice

Anime is a medium that is riddled with fan service. It wouldn’t be a surprise if a girl turned on something like Prison School or High School DxD then associate anime into a certain category never to be touched again. While Prison School is one of my favourite anime series, I can certainly understand the frustration with the fanservice. This is what stopped me from watching something like Free! There is nothing wrong with the anime and I have nothing against it personally, but I can understand that I’m not the intended target audience. What is unfortunate is that there aren’t many anime like Free! to garner more female audience.

One anime that perfectly balances this aspect is Kuroko no Basket. The anime has equal amounts of fanservice for both genders to enjoy with equally attractive characters (in my opinion) such as Satsuki Momoi and players like Ryōta Kise. While you can argue that Momoi is more sexualised than her male counterparts, there is only one of her but a bountiful number of attractive boys in the anime. But again, this anime is more of the exception than the norm.

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