Lots of kids want to watch anime, but if you aren't an expert yourself, it can be hard to find one appropriate for your children! Shonen, shojo, and kodomo animes are great for kids, but other genres like hentai are for adults only. Learning how to find anime, screen for inappropriate content, and pick the perfect anime for your kids will help keep your children happy and safe.
Finding an Anime for Your Child
Take your child’s age into account.
Think about your child’s age and maturity when picking an anime. Some twelve-year-olds aren’t ready for school romance animes, but some ten-year-olds might love the same show.
Look for anime that reflects their interests.
Think about the things your kids already like, and search online or ask for recommendations for animes that are about similar topics. For example, if your daughter loves racecars, she might enjoy Speed Racer.
Ask your kids if there’s an anime they’re interested in seeing.
Parents often search for anime because their kids started the conversation! Ask your kids if there’s something in particular they want to watch. If it’s age-appropriate, get it for them! If it’s not, try finding something lighter in a similar genre.
- For example, if your ten-year-old wants to watch Hellsing, which is a seinen vampire anime, he might be happy with an age-appropriate shonen vampire show like Owari no Seraph instead.
Choose a kodomo show for little kids.
If you have kids under the age of seven, you can’t go wrong with a kodomo anime. These are marketed only towards young children and are usually light comedies with a valuable lesson included. Little girls often love one of the many Hello Kitty animes, while Doraemon is one of the most popular shows for boys and girls alike.
Pick shojo or shonen animes for tweens.
Shojo is anime marketed towards tween and teen girls, and shonen is the male equivalent. These animes are often set in schools and can be supernatural, adventure, or romance-themed. Sailor Moon is one of the most popular shojo series of all time, and Naruto is a great choice for boys.
- They can also be spelled “shoujo” and “shounen.”
- Be careful–there are related categories called shojo-ai and shonen-ai that have more sexual content and are aimed at older teens.
Try game-themed animes.
Lots of animes aimed at younger kids are about card or even video games that can be played outside of the show. Pokemon and CardCaptor Sakura are great choices if you’re interested in getting your child involved in a social activity too.
Watch a Studio Ghibli film as a family.
Studio Ghibli makes anime movies that are appropriate for kids of all ages and fun for adults to watch too. They’re a great introduction to anime and you can watch them together as a family. Try Spirited Away, Kiki’s Delivery Service, or My Neighbor Totoro.
Screening for Inappropriate Animes
Check the ratings.
Anime sold on DVD will have an age rating on the box, and if you watch anime on a streaming service, it will have a rating in the description. If you are interested in an anime that doesn’t have a rating displayed on it, search online stores for a rating. Pay careful attention to the ratings and be sure you know what they mean!
- Ratings systems vary by country and streaming provider, but G, Y7, and TV-Y are all great for kids. MA, R, and NC-17 are for adults only.
Read online reviews.
Different parents have different opinions on what’s appropriate, and the ratings may not align with your values. Be sure to search online for reviews of any anime you think you might let your children watch.
Ask friends for their opinions.
If you have friends who know a lot about anime, ask them for recommendations or opinions. This is especially helpful if they know your child too–if your son is afraid of spiders, an anime with a spider attack scene won’t be appropriate for him even if he’s older than the rating. If you don’t know anyone who’s into anime, ask the staff of your local anime store or an anime forum for recommendations.
Watch out for adult genres like hentai.
Some anime genres are only for adults! If you see the words horror, hentai, or seinen in the description, don’t buy it. Seinen is anime marketed towards adult men and often has very violent themes, while hentai is pornography and should be avoided even for older teens.
- Be careful about individual titles within other genres too. Fruits Basket and Beelzebub are both marketed as comedies, but only the former would be appropriate for kids.
Watch the anime yourself.
Always watch something yourself if you aren’t sure if it’s okay for your kids, especially if your kids are young or if you don’t know anything about anime. Be on the lookout for violence, sexual content, unhealthy relationship portrayals, and anything else you don’t want your children to see.
Buy from a reputable seller.
Buying from an unknown website or trusting an illegal download can result in you getting something completely inappropriate for children. Use only stores you’ve been to or have a strong online ratings record. If you have to download an anime, be sure to watch it first.
Research where to watch anime.
Most people stream anime online, but you can also buy it in store. If you want to buy your own copies, you can shop online from specialty stores or even from Amazon. If you don’t know anything about anime, try visiting your local entertainment media store or searching online for an anime store in your area. The staff there will be happy to help you find what you need.
- You can also download anime, but be sure to check the file before letting your kids watch it!
Subscribe to a streaming service.
Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Video all offer lots of anime titles, but you can also subscribe to a specialty anime streaming site like Crunchyroll. Pick a subscription level that’s right for your household.
Ask about international shipping and customs fees.
If you buy from a company based in Japan, you might have to pay high shipping and customs fees. Ask about international shipping and customs fees before you buy anything online or via mail-order.
Check the title before you buy.
Many animes have similar-sounding names or come in multiple volumes, and it’s common for anime stores to not allow returns. Double-check everything before you buy or stream it!
- Many fans prefer subtitled anime, but a show dubbed in English might be better for kids who aren’t fast readers yet.
- Make your choice a discussion with your kids. Explain to them that they may not be old enough to see certain things yet, so it’s important to check and do research first.
- Some children’s anime in their original presentation may have content that some may find objectionable in Western values, due to how different Japanese values are in age-appropriateness. However, localized versions are usually censored for this reason, so this shouldn’t be a problem.