Friday’s Feature – Anime for Kids

This post I am writing in response to a question I was asked a few weeks back.And I wanted to thank angieabk for asking because after replying I just kept thinking about the question and why it had stumped me when it seemed like it should have been an easy one to answer.

I was asked of my top picks for the season which anime I’d recommend for kids, which kind of stumped me because to be perfectly frank I wouldn’t recommend any of the anime I watch these days for kids.

(Keep in mind, this post is not becoming a tirade against people who think anime is for kids – I’m simply explaining why I found it hard to answer this question. There are already plenty of tirades out there against viewing anime in the same light as cartoons and as children’s viewing.)

That isn’t to say there aren’t great anime for children out there, but I’m not a child and I don’t watch things that are particularly kid friendly. The other reason I wouldn’t make a recommendation for a child is I don’t actually know what the parent of said child deems appropriate for their child.

For instance, are they okay with stylised violence or do they want something that resolves issues through discussion? Is it okay if girls have visible curvature or do you consider that unnecessary in a children’s show? What about themes? Drugs, mind control, hypnosis, death, life, relationships, good, evil, magic? Which do you find appropriate?

I can’t answer those questions for someone else. And I am not a good judge of what is and isn’t appropriate for the simple reason that my own viewing as a child was never particularly censored by my parents. That isn’t to say they ignored what I watched, but it is more that they would tell me what was in something and warn me if they thought it would scare me, but they allowed me to decide what I would watch. Of course, they certainly steered me around things that would probably have crossed too many lines, but from a reasonably young age I became a massive fantasy and B-Grade horror fan.

Magic and spells and characters who faced death and monsters and incredibly fake blood filled the screen and I learned to love predictable and dependable narratives where good would ultimately triumph and villains would lose for the simple reason that they were villains. The fact that sometimes losing meant being thrown from a cliff and bursting into little pieces (Tremors) or getting struck by lightning and being completely destroyed (Willow) didn’t really concern me as a child and still doesn’t today because of course that’s what happens in stories.

And that was the clear line. What happens in movies and television was not reflective of reality. “It isn’t scary, it’s just TV.” “It’s a movie, so everything will be fine.” That was the message I got over and over again.

So when faced with the what is appropriate for kids to watch question, I kind of shrug. It entirely depends on the parent and how they frame the viewing experience and what the child has been exposed to previously.

My stance on censorship is entirely prosaic. All media should be clearly labelled with what it is and what it isn’t. Ratings aren’t overly helpful. Did that get a high rating because of foul language or because someone is going to get torn in half and blood is going to drip across the screen? There’s a real difference in which one I’ll sit through.

I have the DVD of Jormungand and it is restricted MA15+ in Australia with the helpful note that it contains strong animated violence. Yet I would argue that it is totally appropriate for teenagers because while it has strong violence the themes and questions it raises about arms dealers and child soldiers are an excellent discussion point. I’m certain others disagree with that view and that’s fine. That’s why labels are helpful.

I’ve mentioned before that my earliest anime included Astro Boy and Sailor Moon, both seen as reasonably acceptable kids viewing. However, looking back, Sailor Moon gets pretty dark. She kills her enemies. Reduces them to dust. The scouts and Sailor Moon are in constant peril. Serena’s boyfriend is kidnapped, brainwashed and set against her. Ultimately she is forced to all but kill him (which effectively wipes out any memories he has of her) in order to save him. That’s a harsh line up covered in pastel colours and pretty sparkly moon wands.

Then there are parents who protest their kids engaging with Harry Potter because of the magic theme. How many anime, particularly kid friendly anime, involves magic as a central plot point? Card Captor Sakura and Shugo Chara, both anime I would probably recommend for younger audiences, are heavily steeped in magic.

And Shonen anime is full of violence. Stylised and sanitized at times, but extreme violence nonetheless. Most of it makes Wile E Coyote’s antics in Road Runner look pretty tame and let’s be honest, anything involving dynamite is pretty dangerous.

For parents with kids watching anime, the best thing you can do is look the anime up yourself and view the online images. Is that appropriate for your child to be watching? And that is a decision only you can make because you know what you want your child to view and what you would prefer they didn’t.

Now, censorship is always a prickly issue so I’m certain there are some big opinions out there. Please have at it below but remember to respect the views of others.

Also, list the anime you think are appropriate for kids and why.


12 thoughts on “Friday’s Feature – Anime for Kids

  1. Answering that question is a tough one for me. I wasn’t allowed to watch any anime as a child, pokemon especially because my parents saw the card game and believed watching would lead to playing, which would lead to dungeons and dragons and the eventual practice of witchcraft. Conclusion, anime was of the devil and nothing good could come of it.

    That being said there are some great anime I’ve seen that I would let my own kids watch, specifically Fancy Lala and probably creamy mami. Now, both of these contain magic, but it’s the type of unexplained magic that happens in fairy tales. Magic would be an issue for me when it comes to my own kids someday, but only certain types. Magic that falls in this simple one or two things that you can look at your children and say it’s not real is ok. The type of magic you see in Harry potter goes a step further and I’ve seen peers persue witchcraft and wiccan practices because of it. The 90’s Scooby doo animated movies also cross my line of you want a different example.

    Anyway, yeah it’s a tough question to answer except for yourself regarding your own children.

  2. Great topic. Very thought-provoking. I would also like to add that the label “appropriate for kids” can slightly differ across different cultures. I was born and spent my childhood in my mother country, the Philippines. Of course we have censorship, but I have observed that they don’t censor blood and violence, even sex, in anime. That’s why I was very surprised when I moved to Canada and watched some North American anime releases and—my g—there were A LOT of censorships that they’re so different from the original. I guess the issue of localization should also be discussed here, but anyway, my take on this matter is very liberal. As a child, my parents let me watch anime that I know some parents especially here in North America would never let their children watch. I like to think that I was very lucky to have parents who let me watch virtually all anime except the hentai ones…ahaha. I guess, this really shaped me as an anime fan and exposed me to anime across different genres. Great post. Keep it up, Karandi!

    1. Cultural appropriateness is also something to consider. Which kind of brings it back to the individual parents having to build some familiarity with anime if they are concerned about what they let their kids watch.

  3. It varies from person to person, so I can only go on what I watched with my daughters here. That list would be:

    Cardcaptor Sakura
    Mew Mew Power
    Pretty Cure
    Digimon (we watched all, but Tamers was everyone’s favourite, which made me happy)
    Samurai Pizza Cats
    Sonic X

  4. Recommending anything for kids can be tricky. As an uncle, I have to think about that quite a bit more than I used to, not least because anything I share with my nieces and nephews is scrutinized by my sisters as well.

  5. Totally in agreement, both with your difficultly in answering the question and for your overall explanation. As I’m currently devouring sports anime left right and centre, I’d say that was a safe bet for kids without the shows themselves being inherently ‘childish’.

  6. Sailor Moon kills people? Holy crap….
    My favorite child anime is probably Pokemon. I mean, I’ve grown up with it, I’ve been there since the generation started, and really it’s just a nostalgic weakness I have… I’d like to say the same about Digimon because I also grew up with it, but it was introduced slightly later I believe? Also, maybe because the games were inferior to the Pokemon games, I didn’t feel a stronger attachment to the franchise I had when compared to Pokemon.

    Other anime I didn’t exactly grow up with but I knew of was probably Card Captor Sakura.

    Good times.

    1. Well, she turns them into moon dust in the 90’s version. I’m pretty sure other than more sparkles its a fairly similar effect to what happens to most vampires when they get hit by sunlight.

  7. Looking back at the anime you watched as a kid is always an awkward experience. For the longest i fell for the whole Shadow Realm thing on the 4Kids version of YuGiOh. It wasn’t until I read the manga that I realized people actually died in that show.

    But, if you want some good children friendly anime, I suggest Samurai Pizza Cats, Fighting Foodons, Sonic X and Gundam Build Fighters.

    1. I remember Samurai Pizza Cats (or rather I remember the theme song and very little about the show). That was before I even realised it was anime. Thanks for the comment.

      1. No prob. I didn’t find out what anime was until I was in middle school, and by then I had watched like 7 series religiously, lol

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