Originally published on Savvy Auntie.
If you’ve been hearing words like “manga,” “shoujo,” “shounen,” or even “cosplay” being tossed around by your nieces and nephews lately, then it’s time for you to get familiar with the anime scene, Auntie. The craze over anime is a steadily growing phenomenon amongst lots of kids today, so it would be a good idea for you to be well-informed about the kinds of anime that are appropriate for your nieces and nephews.
“Anime” is the Japanese abbreviation of the word “animation.” In Japan, anime is a broad, hugely popular genre of television and film that refers to all animation. Outside of Japan, it is used to specifically reference Japanese animation. But not all anime is designed for children. Check out the Age Ratings (MPAA) for suggested audiences.
There are anime series that adhere to more traditional storylines, which almost always end happily. However, there are many others that do not. And such a break from the norm may well be the allure for your nieces and nephews. Anime is not afraid of tackling more serious subjects and showing the reality of life. Some anime series focus more on healthy relationships between friends and family. Other anime series may center on tough subjects like gang violence, drugs, and death. This is why it’s so important for you to know about the kinds of anime your nieces and nephews are watching.
If your young nieces or nephews start talking about how disappointed they were that the anime they were watching didn’t have a happy ending or that the bad guy got away, it might be a great discussion-starter. Anime can teach your nieces and nephews about cultural differences and show them different ways of interpreting the world around them, provided that their parents or Savvy Aunties are in on the discussion.
While traditional genres exist for anime, such as romance and science fiction, there are many other, less familiar, categories, which may not be as recognizable to you, such as “Shoujo” and “Shounen.” It’s useful to remember anime categories, Auntie, so you can have informed conversations with your niece or nephew. Among the many genres, some of these categories include: Kids/Kodomo, which is intended for children; Shoujo, which is aimed at young girls; Josei, which is intended for late-teenage to adult female audiences; and Seinen, which targets late-teenage to adult male audiences.
The breadth of material covered in anime is quite comprehensive. If you’ve got younger nieces and nephews in elementary school, they may be better off with anime like Pokémon or My Neighbor Totoro (Tonari no Totoro) by Hayao Miyazaki. In fact, most of the films by director Miyazaki would serve as excellent starter anime for young children, such as Spirited Away (Sen to Chihiro no Kamikakushi) or his recent anime, The Secret World of Arrietty (Kari-gurashi no Arrietty). Although Director Miyazaki’s films can be appreciated by people of all ages and tastes, your older teenage and college-bound nieces and nephews might appreciate more mature anime, like Nodame Cantabile, Fullmetal Alchemist (Hagane no Renkinjutsushi), or Naruto.
The best way to find out which anime would appeal more to your nieces and nephews is to see what they’re currently interested in watching, in mainstream television and in anime, to get an idea of what they love. You might consider trying out a few anime titles for yourself, and it would also be fun to watch a few episodes with your nieces and nephews. But before you buy the latest DVDs on the market, Auntie, it’s worth noting that Hulu has an extensive selection of both subtitled and dubbed anime under their Animation and Cartoons section.