When it comes to animation, anything is possible. You can create a lot of things you would not be able to do otherwise, because of the suspension of disbelief. You want ninja turtles fighting talking brains? Heck yes. What about giant robots throwing galaxies at each other? Sure, why not.
But there is one little thing that bugs me from time to time: ages.
There are two particular problems I feel about the ages when it comes to anime.
1. The ages themselves are so wacky, that it is hard to believe and relate to the characters.
2. The ages become a restriction in terms of storytelling.
Let us take an example of an ongoing show. Mirai Nikki is a battle royal anime, with twelve different characters trying to find and kill each other, whether it is by breaking their cell phone or simply killing the person itself. We follow the two contestants Yukiteru and Yuno, a scared boy and a love crazy yandere stalker girl. Yukiteru has to rely on Yuno to stay alive, using her affection to his own advantage, which so far has only involved kissing. Together they try to survive, and kill others if necessary, in this crazy game of survival.
So far, so good, creating a very impressive premise that could be used in many ways. But then I remember that tiny little thing about their ages. They are actually in the second grade of middle school. It is not as big of a problem as it could be, considering that Mirai Nikki is a very campy show, having a strange fellow impersonating Power Rangers and more. But when it comes to, say, the “love”, it is suddenly hard to accept. The kisses become awkward. Even the killing comes off as something a middle schooler would not do. Luckily the show is not 100% serious business.
As a consequence of them being middle schoolers, it also affects the story itself. Many shows tend to have younger characters to be more innocent, annoying and not acting “real” and “logical” in a given situation. What if Mirai Nikki would become much more brutal or even include sex at some point, which would make the battle royal grittier and not as “clean” as it still is considering its genre? It would be nearly impossible to pull off, as the only thing I would see are middle schoolers behaving out of character. But if it does not include grittier scenes, what would the point of a battle royal be, especially as there are some very jarring scenes already? For me, that part of the show will never succeed. Become grittier = I do not believe. Do not become grittier = It will not live up to its potential.
With that being said, I still doubt Mirai Nikki will suffer much from this. But there are other shows. In Tokyo Magnitude 8.0 our main characters, two children, only annoys me because of how they act, which is a direct result of their young age. I do not care about them.
But there are lot of times when the ages does not bother me at all. I assume it all depends on, to some extent, how much focus the ages are given, but honestly, I have trouble finding the actual reason for my reactions. In Hunter x Hunter some characters may be twelve, but they do not normally act like that. Misuzu’s childish behaviour despite her age in Air is not a problem at all. Kindergarteners being much smarter than adults in Hanamaru Youchien are another example.
Ages are mysterious to me, so mysterious that this post might be very confusing and messy. I have to go sleep.