Why Ask Me To Recommend Kids Anime?

Originally I wrote this post in response to a question I’d been asked regarding kids’ anime. 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.

Karandi Shrug

(Keep in mind, this post is not becoming a tirade against people who think anime is for kids or an extended rant– I’m simply explaining why I found it hard to answer this question.)

That isn’t to say there aren’t great kids anime 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.

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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? And how would I know?

Karandi Disgusted Transparent

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.

Karandi Great Idea Transparent

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. A lot of what I watched wasn’t exactly kid friendly but nor was it particularly scarring (with the possible exception of ‘It’ – the original).



So when faced with the what anime 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.

What even makes something kids anime to begin with?

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.

Is Sailor Moon a kids' anime? Seems pretty hardcore when you think about it.
Punish, turn to dust. Shrug.

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. Yet people would argue that a lot of those stories are kids anime. 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.

Karandi Bored Transparent

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 should be labelled as kids anime and why because I’m sure plenty of people out there would love the recommendation.


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


The Reason Anime Fans Should Care About Banned Shows

Censorship Anime

“Censorship is telling a man he can’t have a steak because a baby can’t chew it.” – Mark Twain

I really should have learned during 2020 that spending any length of time on news feeds was just going to have me stumble across something that would just really make me feel annoyed in general. There’s no actual target for my annoyance. It is more an irritation at the fact that despite things forever being in a state of change, a lot of that change isn’t necessarily for the better. Today, let’s discuss banned shows.

At the start of 2021 I read a whole bunch of articles where people were calling to ban ‘Grease’ (the movie with John Travolta and Olivia Newton John) over its sexism and homophobia. While I’m not going to deny either of those issues exist with the movie, if we start banning all media from former eras that doesn’t necessarily align with our current values, we’re right back to the catholic church plastering fig leaves over naked statues just because they didn’t necessarily agree with depicting the naked human body.

Now, if people choose not to watch Grease because of its outdated mentality (or just the fact that it is a boppy musical in which a clear bunch of adults pretend to be teenagers and the overall resolution seems to come about after both main characters discard their whole identity to appease the other) I have no issue with that. People certainly do have the right to not engage with a movie with high pitched wailing and 50’s fashion should it offend them.

They also have the right not to have their kids watch it. What they shouldn’t be able to do is remove something from history or retcon it so that it no longer has any resemblance to its former self, thus making it impossible to actually discuss how movies and their messages have changed over time (or not depending on which modern movie you look at). Or even just to stop other people getting some enjoyment out of it, should they choose to.

Should we care about banned shows?

Amazingly enough, in high school I was in a school production of Grease and somehow still manage to not actually believe in the roles and attitudes that are inherent within it and also don’t feel that non-consensual sex is okay. Who would have thought that exposure to an idea doesn’t necessarily indelibly imprint it upon a person when they are surrounded by other media and family, friends, educators and a whole bunch of other things that provide alternative view points.



Which brings me to the recent news headline about Russia banning Death Note and other ‘violent’ anime (link below).

Now, on reading the article it seems more that the court has ruled to block steaming of the shows on particular sites rather than actively seeking out and destroying copies of the works and there’s potentially a whole bunch of other things going on that I know nothing about. Let’s be real: I’m not an expert in the Russian legal system nor on the nuances of censorship in that country, nor do I really want to jump into an extended conversation on Russian politics.

However one quote provided in the article as a reason for the ban stuck with me as worrying with Death Note being apparently described as, “potentially dangerous for a modern child”.

And here is where I just have to shake my head.

The anime named in the article, Death Note, Inuyashiki, Tokyo Ghoul, Elfen Lied and Interspecies Reviewers, could ‘potentially’ be ‘dangerous’ to a child but are children actually the target market for any of these anime? And if we flow to the next step does that mean all modern media needs to have zero chance of ‘potentially’ causing harm in all potential viewers? What would that do to modern movies and TV shows in general even outside of anime.

While this article is about one decision from Russia and expanding it to a global ban on adult media is kind of a ridiculous over-exaggeration, anime fans do need to at least perk up and pay attention. What anime are restricted in their countries and what laws have been discussed and proposed that might effect anime distribution?

Just last year Australia (prior to the whole global pandemic thing that more or less stole all the attention) had a senator wanting a child abuse anime review citing Eromanga Sensei as a key example of anime that essentially should be illegal. The implications of that for which anime could be released in Australia would have been huge had the discussion gone any further and it isn’t as if these attitudes have disappeared in Australia, there’s just been other things going on that have dominated headlines in the last year.

And the really important question to ask: Does banning an anime actually protect children?

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I’ve discussed censorship on the blog before and Irina and I posted a discussion around Censorship in Fireforce a while back. My view hasn’t changed on this issue. 100% there should be warning labels on media so that people can make informed choices. That’s why classification boards exist.

Children do need some protection so that they aren’t exposed to ideas they aren’t ready to process and that protection needs to come from families making those informed choices and basic age-restrictions on the purchasing of certain things, though admittedly with digital media it is getting harder to age restrict things when you ultimately rely on the consumer ticking a box that claims they are old enough to access it.

Banning something in its entirety doesn’t actually make it go away but it does take away opportunities for actual regulation. And if simply banning a few TV shows and movies could stop people being violent, sexist, homophobic or anything else the world would be a much simpler place.

I would genuinely like to believe that the world will eventually move on from the current prevailing idea that silencing ideas and removing certain themes somehow enriches us. I personally wouldn’t show a child Death Note nor would I recommend it to a parent who asked me if their child should watch it. However that doesn’t mean that there isn’t any value in Death Note. It genuinely asks the viewer to evaluate their own concept of ‘justice’. It demands that we consider the implications of receiving a god-like power. It also makes some harsh commentary on the bystanders in society who don’t stand up and take action.

Anime fans, fans of free artistic expression, should care when any work is banned. And they should know why it was banned and what else has been brushed neatly under the rug because the current people in power don’t believe it gels with their moral compass.

Now, after I drafted this article, I had a quick chat with Irina and discovered that she was also working on a post around censorship within anime. That’s now available on her blog and you can find it here: Is Censored Anime Better Than None At All?


Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James


A Discussion on the Censorship of Fire Force

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Karandi: It’s time for Irina and I to get into a discussion on the Censorship of Fire Force and then to turn it over to our readers.

Laughing Rini

By now I think pretty much everyone who follows anime is aware of the tragedy at Kyoto Animation and its effects on anime as an industry. Of course those effects are still going to be felt for years to come and we do not yet have a proper idea of the extent of the impact but one small and immediate result was that Fire Force suddenly became way more topical and political than it had bargained for.

Very soon after news broke out, it was announced that the show would go on hiatus as they tried to figure out how to handle the situation. In the end, they skipped a week in the scheduled airing as they adjusted the third episode out of respect and sensitivity for the events. This was a move that has been widely seen as reasonable and commendable but still generated some backlash.

I read about it here. In short, episode 3 had been censored and fans are grappling with the implications. Today I would like to talk about it a little with Karandi. These are complex issues that benefit for diverse points of view and opinions.

I will be using Fire Force for exemplary purposes here but there is a greater conversation on the place, use and value of censorship in media to be had that goes way beyond this particular case. We may wander into details that don’t directly apply. But I’m still going to give you a few details on the Fire Force situation for context.

First you should know that the story has already been altered in adaptation from Manga to anime. The manga is a lot more disturbing when it comes to graphic carnage. Secondly, the changes made to episode 3 were fairly minor. An extra explosion scene had been removed in the flashback sequence as it was too eerily similar, the other explosion scene had the colours dimmed (you can see it pretty clearly in the screencap gallery) and a frame of walking burning corpses was removed from the end credits (although you can still see it in episodes 1 and 2 if you really need to).

Fire3g
see, it’s dimmed

Overall, I don’t think these changes are likely to make that big of a difference on the narrative flow or theme of the show. Nevertheless, some fans are outraged, saying they should just scrap the show if they are going to censor it as a matter of principle.

And I don’t know where to stand….

I mean on a purely pragmatic basis I enjoy Fire Force a lot so clearly I don’t want it to stop airing but I do understand the idea of it setting a precedent for censorship being acceptable. But is it?

Is there any place for censorship in anime?

By default, I tend to err on the side of free information – my dystopia of choice would be Brave New World, rather than 1984! This said, there are no countries in the world right now where complete freedom of speech exists. And I see that many places in Europe as well as my neighbours to the south are in fact audibly thinking of restricting freedom of information (as has been done on the internet recently). So the modern trend is definitely pro censorship.

Moreover, there might be situations where it’s warranted. Like suppressing the spread of dangerous misinformation, maybe trying to curve the propagation of hate speech or the encouragement of violence and crime. All of these seem like they would be good ideas. It’s just that once you start, when do you stop?

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This one is really tricky. Like you, I err on the side of free information and particularly when it comes to arts and literature, I am very against censorship. I feel that provided content is properly described and tagged then it is a matter for the consumer to decide whether or not something is likely to be harmful and to make sensible decisions. However, then we have to ask whether what is happening with Fire Force is censorship?

Certainly a lot of people online are crying out against it, but it isn’t like someone stood over the production company with a big stick and made them change their vision of the story (although, who knows what happened behind the scenes and maybe someone along the food chain did make some noise – we’ll never know).

But assuming the group making the anime made the choice, all on their own, out of some inner feeling of empathy and sensitivity (or out of the self-interest of at least appearing to have those traits) decided to change elements of their own artistic endeavour, is that actually censorship, or is that the artists’ choice? Reflecting their current reality they altered their view of what they wanted to create? Who are we to argue that this isn’t what they now want to present in the form that they have chosen?

Of course, I remember after September 11 how suddenly a lot of movies were photo-shopping out a particular set of towers and nobody cried censorship. They saw it as a reasonably tactful move given the current sentiment of their potential audience. So with this it is really going to come down to what people define as censorship and whether the decision was an internal one or one externally imposed upon the production company.

Censorship of Fire Force

That is a good point. Although it brings up the questions of what exactly constitutes censorship.

For example, moderating could be seen as a form of censorship. I have not actively deleted comments on my blog but I have asked people not to use certain slurs or harass other commentators on my blog. The spam filter has also occasionally caught some pretty disturbing messages which I did not actively reinstate. You could consider those acts of censorship. What about you Karandi, do you moderate your comments?

I don’t have comment moderation on, and of all the comments on my blog I’ve probably only deleted about four – all were legitimate spam links that for whatever reason hadn’t been picked up by the spam filter. Given I left the comment that essentially attacked my view on an issue as ‘PC Bull****’ right where it was on one of my posts, I feel that I largely stand by my position of inviting people to share their thoughts whether I agree with them or not. That said, if I ever get really explicit comments I’ll either edit them or have to make the decision about whether the person is sharing a legitimate opinion or just being a troll.

As to messages in the spam filter, I tend to only reinstate those by known followers. The rest I allow spam to simply dispose of as it will.

There’s also this line between censoring and editing. By definition censorship is the suppression of speech, public communication, or other information, on the basis that such material is considered objectionable, harmful, sensitive, or “inconvenient”. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/CensorshipSo if you have an anime or manga with a suddenly very disturbing scene and your editor (or director) opts to remove it because they feel it would unbalance the tone of the series or overshadow the greater narrative arc for instance. Would that be censorship?

And this is where it gets tricky. Because it depends who makes the decision to remove it and for what reason. Editors are there to help authors get their works ready for an audience so they might very well ask for the removal of certain material. I think where it becomes censorship is where the original author or artist refused to alter the material as someone has suggested and then the material is altered anyway without the consent of the artist.

But it becomes trickier when you look at what control people have. So if we were talking about a movie, the original writer or director might very well walk away but the changes might be made and the film still released in an altered form.

Fire3e
art is altered at so many points

Karandi, have you ever lived anywhere with strictly controlled art and media?

Fortunately no. And honestly I’d rather not. 

I have, in many places. It makes for generally boring art with occasional flashes of absolute brilliance. Trying to outsmart the censors can force artists to create masterpieces they may not have otherwise. This isn’t a pro censorship screed, it’s just a random observation. And an appreciation of smart art.

So where did we end up on Fire Force and whether it was censorship or a rare corporate display of tact?

Long story short, I still don’t know exactly where I stand on censorship in general. I tend to take it more as a case by case scenario. However, if the creative team of Fire Force chose to edit a few scenes out of respect. I personally wouldn’t even consider that censorship and I fully respect their choice. If it sets a precedent, I believe it’s one of empathy and I’m o.k. with that. How about you Karandi?

It isn’t bothering me. I don’t think they’ve altered the overall story significantly (or at least from what I’ve read about the changes made given I haven’t read the source) and given the circumstances it would make sense for the creators to want to show empathy (either because they have it or at least don’t want to be accused of not having it). Again, if we later find out that it was network or distributor that put demands upon the creators, then that’s another discussion. So as you said, case by case depending on intent and purpose? That’s really vague, though.

I was kind of hoping to get through an anime season without a huge controversy for the sake of it. 

Even if someone really believes that the changes to Fire Force count as censorship, I feel that there hasn’t really been a measured discussion around it. I’ve seen a lot of angry comments and declarations that it was ruined and might as well just be cancelled if it is going to be changed, but not a lot of genuine discussions about why it was changed and whether those changes actually make the final product worse or just a little bit different (which it would be anyway being adapted into anime).

And this is why these topics work better as conversations than essays, in my opinion. Unfortunately, (this time) Karandi and I are in fact quite similarly minded on the topic. Although we both believe that censorship is better kept at a minimum, we are not so ideologically opposed to it as to blindly renounce it. As for the specific case of Fire  Force, the reported changes seem rather inconsequential to the narrative and justified under the circumstances.

But it’s more interesting when you get a few more opinions in the mix. And there certainly are many ways to approach the topic. So please, give us your opinion on the Censorship of Fire Force, the more the merrier. No wrong answers! 

Thanks for Reading From
Irina and Karandi

Irina 2020

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