Anime: Cartoons are Not Always for Kids Review
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Anime, or Japanese animation, has made a big comeback here in the United States over the past few years. Video rental and sales shelves are fleshing out their Anime selections, television has increased related programming, and Anime-style video games like Final Fantasy are multiplying rapidly across all game systems. But parents beware: much Anime is definitely adult-oriented. Many parents believe that if something is animated, it is automatically kid-friendly. This misinformation could lead to some troublesome choices for kids’ entertainment viewing.

For the most part, the Anime currently airing on American television (like Pokemon or Digimon) is exempt from this warning. These have been changed from their overseas counterparts -- watered down and altered for our tastes. The main problem involves video store choices. Many Anime titles feature graphic violence and gore, nudity, and adult sexual themes. Most parents screen live-action choices carefully and would not permit their children to see films with these themes. With cartoons, however, parents rarely think twice. The animation can give a false sense of security that the subject matter is harmless and appropriate. I’ve watched unsuspecting parents put Anime featuring violent rape in their shopping basket because they or their accompanying child thought the cover was “cool.”

  
 
Of course, not all Anime is filled with horrific scenes. There is a huge selection of delightful and perfectly kid-acceptable choices (Sailor Moon, Totaro, and Pokemon/Digimon are good examples). But cartoons have grown up, and parents need to inform themselves -- and screen animated features the same way they screen live action.

How does one screen animated titles? Check the box carefully for any rating information, plot description, or small inset photos that indicate a more adult theme. Many are written in Japanese, making this tougher. Some boxes feature a character with rating information that can be useful. Also ask video store staff for more information about your selection. And, of course, when in doubt, always pre-screen your choice before handing it over to the children. That will ensure that the entire family can sit down with confidence to enjoy the very wonderful world of Japanese animation.

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