But as a parent, you might be wondering if anime is appropriate for your kids to watch. Here's some tips to help you make sure your kiddos are getting the most from anime.
For starters, relax. Anime is the Japanese equivalent of cartoons so if your kids are catching their favorite anime shows on stations like Cartoon Network and Nick, chances are they're probably okay.
That said, you should be aware that not all anime is meant for young eyes to see. Unlike American cartoons, anime has a really wide following with fans ranging in ages from 6 to 96. Many of the companies and creators behind anime know this and as a result, there's quite a bit of anime out there that's intended for more mature audiences.
Luckily, anime shows have ratings just like all of your movies and DVD's so its easy to figure out what kind of show you'll be watching. Keep in mind however, that there are some cultural differences that come through in anime shows:
- Happy Endings - Not all animes have happy endings. In fact, sometimes characters die and sometimes the bad guy wins. Japanese culture doesn't shy away from death and this is often evident in anime shows.
- Sexual Content - Unlike American culture where nudity and suggestive content automatically gets a mature rating, the Japanese are more relaxed about this subject matter and you may see some nudity or implied nudity in shows with a PG rating.
You'll also notice that many of the female characters in the show tend to have somewhat exaggerated features and many flit around in semi-sexy outfits. Again, much of this will depend upon the rating but just know that a girl in a short sailor outfit doesn't mean the series is suggestive. Quite the contrary, Sailor Moon is probably one of the best examples of a kid-friendly anime show and all the main characters wore sailor suits. Why? It was their school uniform.
- Violence - One of the most popular anime genres is the action/adventure kind, many of which fall into the category of "battle anime". This kind of anime features a considerable amount of fighting - usually with a martial arts slant - and sometimes the characters can end up looking quite bloody and bruised.
Learn more about Anime & Manga Age Ratings
Learn more about Anime Genres & Themes
If you're cringing at the idea of your kids watching anime right about now, take heart - not all anime shows are full of nudity and violence. Quite the contrary, there's plenty of really good anime out there that's appropriate, no matter what age your child might be.
To make sure however, that your kids are seeing only the stuff you want them to see, the best advice is to watch a few episodes with them. Most of the stuff you'll see during the daytime and early evening hours has been edited with the younger ones in mind and in addition, many of the American anime companies have edited the shows to make them more appropriate for American audiences.
Some good ones to try include Case Closed, Avatar: The Last Air Bender, Pokemon, Card Captor Sakura, Tenchi Muyo, Yu-Gi-Oh! and Spirited Away.
In addition, Naruto, Full Metal Alchemist, Dragonball Z and Yu-Yu-Hakusho are fine for the older kids, say 12 and up.
But what about morals, values and all that good stuff? Actually, the majority of anime shows out there do tend to have an underlying "be good" message. Again, not all anime, but most of the shows, especially those that are created for kids. In fact, you'll find that many shows deal with universal issues such as bullying, feeling isolated and the all-important believing in yourself.
Read Is Anime A Bad Influence?