When I first picked up Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, I was in fifth grade. Middle school was fast approaching, and it was easy to picture myself as a Hogwarts first-year, stepping into a new world for the first time. I’m on the younger end of the “Harry Potter generation”, the people now in their twenties and thirties who grew up with Harry and his friends. I was a teenager when the last book came out, and a senior in high school when I went to see Deathly Hallows in the theater.
Now I’m a recent college graduate trying to get my career started and learning to be an adult. One of the biggest differences between Fantastic Beasts and the original Harry Potter series is of course the fact that it’s no longer set in a school and features very few child characters. But to me that actually makes a lot of sense, because the kids who grew up with the Harry Potter books are now adults, finished with their high school and even college years, getting started on careers and figuring out what to do with their lives.
This is also the case for the new Fantastic Beasts characters. Most people in my generation live in apartments with roommates, like the Goldstein sisters, or with their parents (hopefully not such horrible ones as Credence’s mother). Many are working low-level jobs with the hope of advancing higher, like Tina. Some have spent years studying their chosen field, but not yet put down roots, much like Newt Scamander. Even Jacob Kowalski, whose actor is older than the others, is narratively in the same situation as real-world young adults, struggling to follow his dreams without the financial means to do so.
The central characters are all at a place in life when they have left school and chosen a path for themselves but are still in the first stages of pursuing it. If I had to guess, I would say they are probably in their twenties and thirties, within a few years of their actors’ ages and very much in the same phase of life as the original generation of Harry Potter fans.