The fires of hard-core anime fans’ passions burn bright, but that doesn’t mean they always last forever.

Though some kids are raised being exposed to Japanese animation, and other fans get bitten by the otaku bug after becoming full-grown adults, the majority of enthusiasts develop signs of otakuism during their mid to late teens. But as anyone who’s made it to their 20s can attest, sometimes the things that captivated you in middle and high school lose their appeal as you get older.

So while some people’s otaku status is a permanent part of their lifestyle, others find their passion fading away. Maybe they get burned out after watching one too many tales of an ordinary schlub getting transported to another world and gaining magical powers, or an everygirl with an entire squadron of brooding pretty boys trying to pretend like they aren’t competing for her affection. Or maybe they just reach a point in their lives where other interests and responsibilities take up enough of their time that they can’t really consider themselves a hard-core fan anymore.

Regardless of the reason, Japanese Twitter user @mitragyna has put together a 10-stage list of criteria that show you’re becoming less of an otaku, or maybe that you’re no longer one at all.

@mitragyna’s checklist of waning otakuism are:

Level 1: You stop going to otaku-oriented events
Level 2: Your video game backlog starts piling up
Level 3: Your light novel backlog starts piling up
Level 4: Your manga backlog starts piling up
Level 5: You stop keeping up with new anime series
Level 6: You stop keeping up with anime series you were already watching
Level 7: You stop keeping up with seasonal events for mobile/browser games
Level 8: Your stop keeping up with otaku news in your social media timelines
Level 9: Whenever you talk about otaku stuff, you’re talking about the past
Level 10: You’re no longer an otaku

Depending on which part of the world you live in, you could argue that the stages should be arranged a little differently. For example, for people living in Japan, particularly in the Tokyo area, otaku-oriented events are regularly held in convenient locations. They’re partially an excuse to get out of the house, and can often be a quick little side-excursion during a day of shopping or going out for lunch with friends (the otaku event can even double as a meal out if you’re dining at one of Japan’s many anime or video game-themed restaurants). Likewise, living in Japan, where light novels fill entire sections of practically every bookstore, provides much easier access to otaku literature than living overseas, where the output of translated novels is a comparative trickle compared to the always-open floodgates in Japan.

Still, it’s true that for those who find their interest in anime and related media disappearing, or at least scaling back, the change often comes in steps. Of course, it’s just as possible for that interest to be rekindled by a new title that’s unique or polished enough to remind lapsed otaku of what drew them to the hobby in the first place, so maybe it’s best to think of @mitragyna’s list not as a one-way street, but as a fluid sliding scale fans are likely to shift positions on as they grow older.

Source: Twitter/@mitragyna via Jin
Top image: Pakutaso
Insert images: Pakutaso

Follow Casey on Twitter, where he’d talk less about otaku stuff from the past if they’d hurry up and greenlight a new season of Slayers or Patlabor already.