Generational gains

While the anime audience skews young, as you might expect given how hard it was for boomers and Gen Xers to find their potential favorites at a young age, we wondered: How important is anime, generationally? So we asked all 4,275 participants how frequently they watch anime. The results show significant increases by generation. Just 3% of boomers watch anime weekly, whereas 42% of Gen Z participants do. That Gen Z number stands out not only because it shows anime’s ubiquity, but because of how it outpaces established juggernauts. For example, only 25% of Gen Z follows the NFL, according to YPulse. A few teams are even chasing the audience. See: the LA Chargers cutting One Piece-referencing promo videos and then-Detroit Lions running back Jamaal Williams showing off his Naruto love with absolute pride.

Generational gains

  • Who watches anime weekly?
  • Gen Z: 42%
  • Millennials: 25%
  • Gen X: 12%
  • Boomers: 3%

Diverse fans

Looking into the audience, we found that anime fans as a group are more diverse than the broader U.S. population. Black Americans account for 17% of the anime fan audience over 18, compared to 13% of the general population, while Asian Americans account for 10% of the anime fan audience, compared to 6% of the general population. Those numbers go up when narrowing down to Gen Z, with 23% Black American fans compared to 14% of the general population, and 13% Asian American fans compared to 7% of the general population.

Diverse fans

  • Gen Z anime fan orientation
  • Heterosexual: 57%
  • LBGTQ+: 39%
  • Prefer not to say: 4%

27% of anime fans also identify as LGBTQ+, compared to 16% of the general population — numbers that rise when narrowing down to Gen Z.

Emotional connections

Almost two-thirds of the anime-watching Gen Z audience say they emotionally connect better with anime than they do with traditional media due to the types of storylines and characters present. Additionally, 44% of anime fans — and 58% of Gen Z fans — say they have had a crush on an anime character at some point. We found this highly relatable.

Emotional connections

  • 44% of anime viewers have developed a crush on an anime character

Emotional range

The survey also found that anime serves a practical purpose for viewers, with many Gen Z and millennial fans using it not only as comfort food or an escape when feeling overwhelmed, angry, or sad, but with approximately half using it to “pump themselves up” before big events. More than half also say they have referenced anime when needing to make big decisions like putting together a presentation or going on a date.

Gen Z and millennial fan habits

  • More than 3 in 4 use anime as an escape
  • More than 2 in 3 watch anime for comfort or strength
  • Nearly half watch anime to pump themselves up

65% of anime viewers go so far as to say they find anime more emotionally compelling than other forms of media — such as live-action shows and movies — with 90% of them crediting anime’s character depth, 89% crediting the emotional intensity, 89% crediting the character relationships, 87% crediting the animation style, and 86% crediting the voice acting quality. Based on Creed III, we imagine Michael B. Jordan would agree.

65% of anime viewers find anime more emotionally compelling than other forms of media

Anime’s influence

In many ways, anime is the new Friends, making a massive impact on modern audiences in everything from how they dress to how they interact with those around them. The 1990s had The Rachel; the 2020s have designer Pokémon collabs. More than half of Gen Z anime fans say it affects their habits across the board, with the highest marks coming in how they see their identity and social understanding. And just like with Friends, more than half of fans return to anime series they’ve seen to watch reruns as comfort food.

Anime’s influence

  • Anime’s influence on identity: 61% (Gen Z), 28% (Boomers)
  • Anime’s influence on attraction: 49% (Gen Z), 27% (Boomers)
  • Anime’s influence on style: 55% (Gen Z), 30% (Boomers)
  • Anime’s influence on social understanding: 60% (Gen Z), 33% (Boomers)
  • Anime’s influence on time spent online: 57% (Gen Z), 36% (Boomers)
  • Anime’s influence on color palette: 52% (Gen Z), 26% (Boomers)
  • Anime’s influence on friendship: 56% (Gen Z), 34% (Boomers)

Where people watch

Closing things out, our team tallied up numbers on where Gen Z and millennial anime fans watch anime. Given Netflix’s massive subscriber base (almost 250 million as of late 2023) and extensive lineup, we weren’t surprised to see it on top, followed by mainstays Hulu and Prime Video. But specialist platforms such as Crunchyroll and Funimation also made strong showings, despite having a small fraction of Netflix’s overall user numbers.

Where Gen Z and millennials watch anime

  • Netflix: 75%
  • Hulu: 54%
  • Amazon Prime Video: 47%
  • Crunchyroll: 43%
  • Max (formerly HBO Max): 27%
  • Funimation: 25%
  • Tubi: 23%
  • VRV: 4%
  • Hidive: 4%

When looking specifically at Gen Z anime fan viewing habits, Crunchyroll (58%) came in second overall behind Netflix (76%), followed by Hulu (55%), Prime Video (35%), and Funimation (32%).

Looking at the numbers, it seems clear that anime is only getting bigger and has a major cultural impact with Gen Z — and if you’re not watching yet, you’re probably missing out.


  • Study authors: Edwin Wong, Sebastian Fernandez
  • VP and GM: Andrew Melnizek
  • Illustrator: Christine Lee
  • Senior Creative Director: Will Joel
  • Senior Engineer: Graham MacAree
  • Director, Special Projects: Russ Frushtick
  • Special Projects Editor: Matt Leone
  • Executive Editor: Matt Patches, Chelsea Stark
  • Editor-in-Chief: Chris Plante
  • Publisher and Founder: Chris Grant
  • Senior Copy Editor: Kallie Plagge

Methodology: The Vox Media Insights and Research team surveyed over 4,000 U.S. adults representing the U.S. population in August 2023 with The Circus: an insight and data storytelling consultancy that specializes in original trend research, thought leadership, and strategic brand positioning rooted in a human-data centric approach.