14 is the new 17

So how old is Akira in human years?

(Bonus: Motteke! Sailor Fuku full version.)


Just for fun, are you able to correctly rank characters [A] through [E] from youngest to oldest?

I think stretching believability is a huge prerequisite for enjoying anime. Most anime out there are just completely ridiculous (see Otome, Mai and Naki ni, Higurashi no), but one of the stranger quirks is the female aging system. Characters like LOL FANG-SENSEI and Balsa are considered old, yet characters who are really old characters like Shana, Skuld, and Angol Moa are drawn anything but old. Does it make things better that even though Shana looks like she’s twelve, she’s really much older? I can kinda understand the logic behind that… someone is going to sell a lot more novels and manga with a main character that appeals to the otaku demographic over a character that looks like Meryl Streep.

However, if this age thing with Yoko is true, why the hell would she be 14? She obviously does not appeal to the loli delicious flat chest demographic (currently dominated by the non-14 Lucky Star girls), so why make her absurdly younger than she looks? I don’t get it… then it dawned on me… 14 is the new 17. My theory is that the aging process in anime does not occur on the same calender as ours: Balsa at 28 isn’t just old but haggish. 17 is mature, as that’s good enough of an age to stop attending school and start being someone’s meido… that’s like settling down age. 14? Well, seeing how Yoko and Suzu are both 14 and outclass pretty much everyone else from Spring 2007 in the, uh, size department, that’s an indicator that they’re in their healthy primes. My guess would be that a typical anime year is about ~20% longer than one of our 365.25-ish Earth years. Hence, 14 is really 17, 17 is really 21, and 28 is really 34. Then it makes a whole lot of sense now.

In our world, 17 is really the prime (or “when can we start getting bad thoughts”) as seen by the collective male population for Britney Spears, Lindsay Lohan, and Natalie Portman. Maybe not 100% acceptable to fawn but definitely close to the legal limit, so we don’t feel that bad. 21, though, is that age when they start seeming less like girls and more like capable woman, kinda like Maria in Hayate. And, of course, at 34, the single woman (and even a few non-single) tend to be as crazy and illogical as Balsa. It all makes sense now– sorta similar to how we calculate dog years with a multiplicative factor, we need to apply a 1.2 multiplicative factor onto anime ages to properly make sense of out of the anime aging madness.

(And I’d guess Akira to be around, oh, 25.)

31 Responses to “14 is the new 17”

  1. haha lol….i have no idea how to rank it…XD

    but wat u said made me think again bout shana’s age….i neva really knew…how old s=exactly is she?? =p

  2. What if these loli 17 years old are a result of creating the Fountain of Youth medicine created by that male lead of Dokuro-chan, which makes girl stop aging at the age of 12. It make sense !!

  3. instead of putting kozue there, you should have went for her grandma… imo the biggest discrepancy between age and character design ever in anime (excluding the obvious ones like the thousand year loli in ikkitousen and such). granny looked younger than kozue and was like 50 years older…forget all the incest and trap confusion, we’re talkin major gilf issues here.

    so as it stands we have:
    yoko (14)
    natsumi (14-16)
    kozue (16 at start of show)
    tsukasa (17)
    maria (no idea but shes prolly 18+)

    yoko and tsukasa are really the only two that stick out on that list… tack amamamamamiya manabi and the rest of the manabi straight girls on and then we might have a problem.

    i believe there’s been some increasing awareness and negative sentiment towards this 17–>14 shift in japan, especially towards those prepubescent idols with the obligatory bikini photobooks that seem to be cropping up all over (they get as young as 10 or 11 i think). it’s my belief that we’ve pretty much hit the very extreme of what can be considered attractive… but to bring it back up to near-legal levels? well, i guess the actual 17 year olds just need to step up their game.

    then again, what’s the big deal… american teen magazines with skinny girls in miniskirts are being sold to a population thats 60% overweight. in japan, they’re being sold to a primarily adult audience with pictures of girls that will get you thrown in jail for hooking up with. both are media-established perceptions of what “ideal” is, both are equally unachievable. we all need a constant reminder to strive for perfection, anyways.

    wait, did i just defend loli proliferation? banzai!

  4. do you have a hi-res version of that pic of akira??

  5. That picture of sultry Akira is great – it speaks volumes of her character and hints of her rocky background as a child actor/seiyuu.

  6. According to wiki, she is a junior high school student. I don’t know what age it is in the US eductional system (being french, etc…).

    Can someone answer?

  7. Jason the version you uploaded to Motteke! Sailor Fuku is clipping really bad… I applied gain to fix it, sounds WAY better, i’ll upload it in a sec.

  8. Here ya go Jason, non-clipping version

  9. My friends and I always joke about how hard it is to compare ages across anime. (We’ll ignore the obvious plot-related outliers such as Honey in Ouran and Mikuru in Haruhi). I always picked Manabi Straight as the canonical example of elementary-looking high school students. I figured it was always partially to emphasize the childish nature of their personalities (in addition to the obvious). With Lucky Star, if you take any of the more serious shots, especially when you have the whole character on screen and look at the whole body, they look much more like high school students. (I’m thinking of the time Miyuki gets up from the table in the library before she turns the lights off). The shot in the OP where all that’s visible is the waists of the four characters is another example of a place where I think the animators visibly remind you that these are high school students.

  10. huh. so is that akira pic a FLCL reference?

  11. >> huh. so is that akira pic a FLCL reference?

    Hardly. It is just Akira looking grumpy.

  12. >>Hardly. It is just Akira looking grumpy.

    while standing on a bridge looking out. smoking a cig. wearing a sailor fuku.

  13. also, roughly the same color hair.

  14. >> while standing on a bridge looking out. smoking a cig.

    I have seen plenty of fanart or artwork of anime characters drawn in that position, smoking a cig or not.

    >> wearing a sailor fuku.

    It *is* her uniform in Lucky Channel.

    >> also, roughly the same color hair.

    Like a lot of anime characters

  15. maria is 17 according to manga
    everyone else jaalin got it right

  16. “And, of course, at 34, the single woman (and even a few non-single) tend to be as crazy and illogical as Balsa”

    I’m going to kick your ass. :}

  17. Yeah…surprisingly Maria is officially listed as being 17 (she said she looks older due to the stress of her role).
    I can’t really wrap my head around “why” Gainaxx would make Yoko 14… I mean, when you got a character that good looking I’d scarcely doubt that people would be turned off is she’s 24+.
    Unless Kamina also turns out to be 14, but that’d be really pushing the envelope.

  18. enjoyed reading. cheers!

  19. the awnser for the reason is same as always,
    “because it’s totally hot”

  20. Why? This is why:

    But oh! The worst part is, my friend and I finally did find that bar. We were sitting at the bar, talking casually to the bartender, who actually spoke English, about what had just happened. We even had the pictures to prove it. We weren’t quite prepared for his reaction though.

    Him: Oh…you guys are very lucky!
    Me: …’Scuse me?
    Him: Oh, 17-year old girl is ideal! That’s a good age. You should go and find them.
    Friend: Dude, how old are you?
    Him: I’m 37. I’m married. But that is my dream. To have my wife, and a 17 year old mistress.
    Me: (to my friend) Japanese men are fucked up.
    Friend: Kiyaa. (back to the bartender) Isn’t that a little young?
    Him: No, not at all! 17 is ideal! But 16 is still good. 15 is good too. 14 is actually very nice. 13…
    Me, Friend: No! Stop right there!
    Friend: Lower limit. Please.
    Him: Next time you guys go out, can I come too?
    Friend: Why’s that?
    Him: (pointing at me) I think he is very good at attracting 17 year old girls. If I go with you guys, maybe I can have your leftovers?
    Friend: …Uh…yeah….sure…absolutely.

    Sadly enough, that actually wasn’t the last time I would have a conversation with a Japanese bartender over the appeal of underage girls. …My life is all sorts of wonderful fucked-up.


  21. No no no that theory can’t be right, we got Horie Yui in her 30s and acting like a 17-year-old as seiyuu. This is 1.764705882352941 in recursive.

    Seriously though, DVDs of children photography is now one of the hottest topics in Japan, Anime certainly plays an importatn role in this transition.

    Why our favorite animes have to air around midnight in japan ? pretty much the same reason why Playboy isn’t next to Harry Potter.

    We are a twisted group of adults, and anime industry does what the majority likes.

  22. “Maria is also legendary throughout the school for having graduated from high school at the age of thirteen, in just three years, while maintaining the position of Student Council President throughout.”

    from wiki xP

  23. >> We are a twisted group of adults, and anime industry does what the majority likes.

    I find it really hard to tell my friends that I watch moé slice-of-life anime like Aria or Azumanga for different reasons than the jpn otaku who collect body pillows.

  24. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s the D20 system. The D20 is used to determine the amount of fanservice the age of the character, everything that does not have to do with the plot is determined by a roll of the die.

    1-8 equals older looking younger character
    9-19 equals younger looking older character
    20 equals the character looks their age

  25. Im of the thought that 9 should be the new 19, but hey, ill take what I can get. Whatever gets me more delicious flat chests and nutritous young lolis onto my screens is always a plus.

  26. >>huh. so is that akira pic a FLCL reference?

    If she starts calling Taniguchi Ta-kun, I think I’ll “overflow.”

  27. Possible spoilder (as it might be in the anime later).

    Maria is officially 17 years ago in the manga. She finished high school at 10 or 11, and was the first freshman student council chairman before Hinagiku Katsura.

  28. Where did you get the info that yoko is 14?
    She looks more like a 20-something

  29. All I can say is this: Between the Card Captors Sakura Doujinshi, and the Mai Hime Doujinshi, I am scared of ever going near a Grade school or middle school again.

    Dear god I need help…

    Saotome(20) Sentenced to life for….

  30. Attempted urges for succuumbing to pedophilistic fantasies and such. Also to note, great commentary Jason, but yeah Japan is now appealing for the Japanese legal age rather then american barely legal age (or should I say illegal). Such a shame, now anime is even more dangerous to flash around…

  31. Considering Akira’s comments in the first Lucky Channel, she seems to be more around 15-16. And yet amazingly bitter. Go figure.

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