Anime Conundrum

(Image from “My Neighbor Tortoro”)
We are always on the lookout to find shows for our family to watch that won’t make us want to pour salt into our eyeballs as an answer to the mind-numbing condescension of some child-targeting moviemakers.  The newest puzzle for me is anime.  For anyone not familiar with anime, it is animation based on Japanese Manga, (comic books).  The characters and scenery are magically put together and typically have a spellbinding effect on children as well as adults.  All of Miyazaki’s work is in our movie library (Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle, My Neighbor Totoro, and Kiki’s Delivery Service have all been watched too too too many times by the Nelson-Calls.  Still, they will continue to be watched.  They are that awesome.)  Some of these features have some disturbing images (in Spirited Away a child watches as her parents are turned in snorting disgusting pigs while they greedily eat food.  It freaks me out every time.)  Roan doesn’t seem to be negatively impacted by the themes, however, so we forge ahead.  But as Anson and I explore more anime, we have to be quick with the remote because we’ll be caught off guard with a surprise up-skirt shot of a schoolgirl who giggles surreptitiously at the surprisingly overt sexuality of some characters.

(Image from “Best Student Council”)

We recently found a series that we fell in love with.  The show was an anime series in Japan, translated into English as “Miyagami Academy’s Maximum Authority Wielding Best Student Council” or “Best Student Council” for short. The show is based around a mysterious all-girls high school, which has Assault and Covert divisions. “The council has more authority than even the faculty and staff.  All Best Student Council members have some kind of special ability, which helps them to make Miyagami Private Academy a place where students are not restricted by the outside (adult) world.” (Wikipedia)

“Best Student Council” has great stories, interesting characters, dynamic relationships between women, and some awesome Ninja action. There was even a rogue puppet. Roan was mesmerized, as were Anson and I.  We watched around 23 episodes in all.  Though there were some instances where the puppet would say something off color, or the subject matter was a little suspect, Roan would just giggle a little and move on. 

(Image from “Comic Party Revolution”)
Now I’m trying to find a new series to watch, as we’re all jonesing for more anime.  We started watching one called “Comic Party Revolution” which is about 9 college girls trying to make it in the competitive world of manga, exploring the fanboy and fangirl culture.  Again, the big shiny eyes and loud moving patterned backgrounds hook this family of mine.  But again I’m not totally on board with some of the themes coming across.

(Image from “Howl’s Moving Castle”)
I suppose the confusion for me is based in not wanting to be hypocritical.  While I totally understand that my five-year-old is not yet built to process any mature themes, does that mean that he can’t giggle at things that I would laugh at if he wasn’t in the room?  And is it ok to send him the message that inappropriate things can be funny?  I’m really not sure.  And it doesn’t help that I clearly have the sense of humor of a five-year-old boy because every time I try to stifle a laugh I hear it coming out
of his mouth.


28 responses to “Anime Conundrum

  1. first, what a great entry. i’m a big manga and anime fan and seem to have passed that on to my kids. they too love the miyazaki films (though my 4 year old now thinks spirited away is too scary. she loved it when she was 3) i think they are much better than the “regular” cartoons shown on saturday monrings. there’s usually a moral message involved with anime, and they really don’t have as much testosterone fueled violence. there is more sexuality/sensuality i suppose, but i’ll take that over violence any day. i think as long as you’re watching with them, and making sure they’re comfortable with it (like you are) then you are fine.and maybe we’re raising a generation of anime superheroes. there could be worse things.

  2. My thought with my own kids is that if I even wonder a little, I turn it off. There’s enough pretty good programming out there that you don’t have to watch the borderline stuff.

  3. JodiI can recommend ‘Akira’, but not till Roan is MUCH older. In the meantime, try ‘Belleville Rendezvous’ (? ‘The Triplets of Belleville’ in the USA).Paul

  4. I often wonder the same stuff especially now that Blaise is 7-1/2 and he’s much more aware of what is being said in hushed tones. Where is the line? I want to keep him oblivious but also not set him up to be the butt of jokes. Poor kid has 3 parents trying to define what is appropriate. The joys of blended families…ugh.

  5. I struggle with the same issues. Trying to keep the kids innocent as long as possible… yet not wanting them to be unaware of things in the world.My husband and I think all kinds of inappropriate things are funny. We try not to be hypocritical. Let me know if you figure out the happy medium.

  6. Friend on fatcyclist

    Hi! I was on fatcyclist and I decided to check out your blog. If you’re intrested, I would recomend “Ultra Maniac.” I don’t think you can watch it on TV, but if you have netflix, you can get it from there. It’s really cute and clean. My cousins (9, 7, 7, and 5) all love it and I feel 100% safe letting them watch it. It is about a girl who is a witch and has a cute romance (no bad things) so if your family doesn’t enjoy that it wouldn’t be the show for you. I believe you can look it up on Wikipedia if you want to learn more.

  7. BurkeInTheOzarks

    I’m sure you already know about it but, if you haven’t already watched it, I would definitely recommend “Avatar: The Last Airbender”. My girls (ages 5 & 7) and I really enjoyed it. It’s a good, clean story that manages to sneak in some important life-lessons along the way.

  8. I just finished watching Spirited Away and it spirited my heart away.:D

  9. We love all things Miyazaki as well, and the title track for Totoro is the most played song on my ipod because my girls ask for it over and over again. Do you have the Cat Returns? It’s another Miyazaki that my girls really love. My sister-in-law loves Kikaru No Go, and it’s a great G rated series. My husband loves Cowboy Bebop, but its a bit too grown up for the kids still, as well as Ranma 1/2 and Wolf’s Rain, and Ghost in the Shell. But those are all enjoyable grown up anime 🙂 The other two my husband really likes are Vampire Hunter D and Escaflowne. I wish I could find more Anime that is actually appropriate for my kids!

  10. “The Girl Who Leaped Through Time” though I think the English dubbed will have “ran” instead of “leaped” is a charming and fun story involving time travel. Others: SteamboyAs far as series go. Denno Coil, Now and Then and Here and There are completely kid safe,Denno is a bit involved though.

  11. Ranma 1/2It’s about a boy and his father-whenever they are doused with cold water turn into a girl and a panda, respectively; comedy never fails to ensue!

  12. I would recommend Azumanga Diaoh – it will make everyone happy. There are a couple of off-color moments in it (and they’re not all that bad), but not really that many, and the rest of it is well worth the occasional embarrassed giggles.

  13. All of the above mentioned ones are very good but I’m not sure I’d watch a lot of them with my four year old. My little ones like a bit of Dragon Ball Z but whether or not you and your husband can sit through it is another thing. Escaflowne is probably a safe bet all round.

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