We all want to go back to our youth, don’t we? Trick question, heck no we don’t. Sure it was nice to have an overabundance of free time and all but I was too clueless to properly enjoy it. As far as everything else goes, I’m digging the independence or adulthood!

But there has always been a tendency in fiction and entertainment to try and recapture youth. Bring out the inner child and the mystical innocence and joy of being a kid. I guess that sounds kind of nice. But in practice becoming a kid again has tons of drawbacks as these anime clearly point out.

Here are my top 5 anime featuring age regression.

5. Case Closed

I actually haven’t watched Case Closed but I have read a number of Detective Conan volumes and I enjoyed them. Honestly, the only reason I haven’t gotten around to the anime is because of the scary episode count. 4 digits! not counting the side stories, and they are all in one season. Yeah, I’m not sure I can handle that.

This said, even though I only know the beginning of the story, I already know that age regression plays a central role. The main character being turned into a child because of a mysterious drug is what gets everything started. I realize that as a narrative device it’s really just a practical way to have a young kid as the main protagonist in order to tap into that lucrative audience while having a reasonable explanation for why such a young kid would know certain things. It works and it works with the story so I like it!

4. Rascal Does Not Dream of Bunny Girl Senpai

Once again, I’ll be straight with you guys, I haven’t watched Bunny Girl yet. It’s been on my planning list forever but I never seem to get to it. The reason it’s been on my to-watch list is all those supernatural plot elements, including the fact that some characters seem to get younger and older rather arbitrarily.

Because of how fascinated I have been by what I know of the plot and all the potential it holds, I decided to add it to my list. I might watch it and realize it doesn’t belong here at all. I hope not though.

3. Jobless Reincarnation

I feel like everyone knows about this by now. If you are one of the few that does not, full-grown kinda pervy guy gets isekaied and reincarnated as an adorable little kid. I’m not sure if it counts as age regression exactly. It’s not the same person per see. But you know, the same mind so I think that kind of counts.

In any case, just because of how much ado the use of age regression in this particular series has caused in the anime community, I think it really does belong on this list somewhere. It might not be the most classical representation of the trope but it’s one of the more impactful in recent memory.

2. ReLife

Age regression as a business! I really like how age regression is essentially commodified in ReLife. Normally it’s either a supernatural element or act of God or…isekai! But ReLife actually attempted to create a more or less grounded explanation. If still pretty fantastic in many ways.

And that means that Arata also acts a bit more realistically than other examples of age regression. He has the classic life is going nowhere so why not start over things going on but other than that, he’s a pretty normal 27-year-old and that’s how he acts. Which makes his exploration of high school life rather interesting in how normal it is.

1. Erased

Erased is one of those shows I seem to like more and more as time passes. I’m forgetting the stuff that annoyed me or that didn’t work for me and just remembering the parts I loved. It’s also my favourite example of age regression. It a classic case. A character that goes back to a previous version of himself, including all his environment and situation at the time. That way they have a degree of prescience but they still can’t say what will happen if they change anything.

Erased is also a show with a singular goal. The plot has a specific point that it’s leading to and the age regression mechanic is necessary to make that work. I think it’s the only show on this list where age regression couldn’t really be replaced by anything else. And for that, I’m going to have to make it my number 1.

Have you ever wanted to go back to your younger self? Do you enjoy stories where that happens? And of course, do you have a favourite age regression anime? My categories are getting very specific lately.

8 thoughts

  1. So, I watched it pretty quick, but I don’t remember any age regression in Bunny Girl Senpai. But you should watch it. Most certainly.

  2. I’ve actually never seen Conan even though it aired on TV around here. I probably wasn’t at home when it aired. Many anime would air in the afternoon.

    I dropped Bunnygirl Sempai, so I probably didn’t get to the childhood inversion. Mushukou Tensei was equally great and creepy, with the creepiness receding as the story gets on (but standing out all the more when it does come back). Re:Life is probably my favourite show on this list, and I really liked Erased, too.

    I have trouble thinking of many childhood reversion shows. There was that one arc in Kokoro Connect, but that’s hardly my favourite show. I remember the slice-of-life comedy Acchi Kocchi had a chibi-short called Acchi Kocchi Youchien, where the cast are kindergarten kids, except for the male lead who runs the thing. It was cute.

    I’d totally forgotten that there was a Natsume childhood reversion episode. I thought those were all falshbacks. Me and my memory. It’s especially embarrassing since I actually really loved the episode. I’m pretty sure I’ve forgotten lots of lesser episodes from other shows, too.

    1. I was trying to aim for shows where the age regression was a bit more central but now that I think about it, I totally should have added Natsume. Just for the fun of using little Natsume screencaps

  3. I think I’d like to go back to my younger days- but with the knowledge I have now. Between all the free time and knowledge to make school easier; I think life would be a lot easier for me.
    I watched “Jobless Reincarnation,” and my brother watched “Erased.” He’s been bugging me to watch “Erased,” but I honestly don’t know if I’d like it. Though I find myself eager to watch “Tokyo Revenger” one day.
    I’ve seen a bunch of “Cased Closed” episodes- I think like 30 or 40 before my brothers and I stopped. They said it had “too much murder.” I didn’t mind it, though.

  4. It is interesting how many anime feature age regression and I like the choices here (the only one I haven’t really seen is Case Closed).
    Though, you know you missed an excellent chance to throw Natsume onto a list because of that one episode where his time was turned back.

      1. Definitely. As soon as I saw the title of this list I totally expected little Natsume to feature. That said, you put some other great anime on the list.

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