Kid-friendly anime?
March 21, 2005 1:55 PM   Subscribe

My kids (6, 9, 10) have thoroughly enjoyed running through the catalog of Ghibli/Miyazaki films that are available in English release. Now that we are running out of titles, I was wondering if any MeFi people could suggest more kid-friendly titles that are kind-of-like the Ghibli films, if you know what I mean.

When I browse at the video store it looks like a lot of the titles are action/violence oriented, which is one things that I want to try to stay away from. I also want to avoid films that push the limit on adult content WRT nudity and sex. Maybe that is a tall order, but I can't imagine that there would only be one group of people making films like this (though I can imagine that they never make it to the US).

While we are at it, if you have any suggestions for a good magna series that meets those criterion as well that would be appreciated. It seems that the whole anime/manga thing hit a couple years after I left college, so I am pretty much an interested adult noobie. Web resources appreciated as well. Thanks!
posted by cgk to Media & Arts (18 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I haven't seen it, but I've heard good things about Junkers Come Here.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 2:03 PM on March 21, 2005

It's not anime per se, but The Iron Giant is close to what you're seeking.
posted by jdroth at 2:41 PM on March 21, 2005

I haven't been into anime for years, but I remember Yokohama Kaidashi Kikou being sort of like that. I have no idea whether or not it's been translated officially or is available in the US.

The sad fact is that the only anime really appropriate for kids 6-10 is pretty much the mindless nonsense they put on TV. Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli are famous for a reason, what they put out is very unique and engaging.
posted by borkingchikapa at 3:17 PM on March 21, 2005

There's nothing like Miyazaki. But if you've only gone through the four or so titles that have made it to US release, you're in luck! There are readily available grey market compendia of Studio Ghibli films. Usually you find them as 6 disc sets with 12 or 14 movies for about $60. Subtitled, so better if your kids are OK reading. But the transfers are pretty good.
posted by Nelson at 3:20 PM on March 21, 2005

This is so funny; I'd just decided to crack open a beer and finally watch the roommate's copy of My Neighbor Totoro tonight. To answer the question, A Parent's Guide to Anime has tons of informative and opinionated reviews. I found it via this thread at the non-denominational Christian Arts & Faith site. Hey, any site that includes Waking Life, Bad Lieutenant and Fight Club in its Top 100 Spiritually Significant Films can't be all bad.
posted by mediareport at 3:43 PM on March 21, 2005 [1 favorite]

I agree that Junkers Come Here and The Iron Giant should be good. Panda Go Panda is an early, pre-Ghibli work by Takahata and Miyazaki. I think that Geneon recently put out a DVD of it. Sherlock Hound is a wonderful re-telling of Sherlock Holmes stories, only with anthropomorphic dog characters. Miyazaki was also involved with that, and DVDs are available. You might also try Spring and Chaos, though the 6 year old might be either bored by it or frightened by some of the weird imagery.

Like Nelson said, you'll get much more mileage out of the bootleg or Region 2/3 Ghibli DVD sets than you will anything else. Most anime is simply not meant for kids. There are several websites that can help you find additional titles that should be suitable for your children, though.
posted by vorfeed at 3:45 PM on March 21, 2005

Avatar, the last airbender airs on NICK, and is very-miyazaki oriented... Not a movie, but they are very cinematic. I am a huge miyazaki fan... I would second the IRON GIANT, the INCREDIBLES, and pretty much any pixar film. Also, The Brave Little Toaster... the last Unicorn, Maybe even Watership Down, although thats a little dark.

If you are specifically looking for anime, my kids enjoy Angelic Layer and Azumanga Daioh. Nemo in Slumberland is a Japanese / French production that is also top-notch.
posted by quibx at 3:46 PM on March 21, 2005

that Avatar show is very good. I'll throw in Future Boy Conan, a 70s tv cartoon that he was involved in. I saw it all subtitled, from bittorrent, but i bet there's a dvd of it. It has some of the same themes as his later work. (that site is worth poking around in for more things to watch)
posted by amberglow at 4:47 PM on March 21, 2005

> I can't imagine that there would only be one group of people making films like this

Alas. Just as, in the 1930s, there was only one Disney making feature-animations-for-the-ages like Pinocchio and Snow White, so now there is only one Miyazaki. I assume you and your kids have Totoro, Kiki, Laputa, Princess Mononoke and Spirited Away. You did notice that well-Englished versions of Nausicaä, Porco Rosso, and The Cat Returns have just been released in a bunch, right? Available at a Best Buy near you.

> any suggestions for a good magna series that meets those criterion

Nausicaä was a manga before being made into a movie. Go for the manga version. About one fifth of what's in the manga made it into the movie; it's much, much longer and richer. The paperback edition I have (the one I linked) seems to be out of print but it's still pretty easy to find. (The English Nausicaä movie I just bought contains a flyer offering an exact reproduction of the original manga issues, down to the sepia ink.) For kids it doesn't hurt to see the movie first; doesn't really spoil anything, and it's nice to know what color everything in the (black and white) comic is supposed to be.

> Maybe even Watership Down, although thats a little dark.

Is there any moment in moviedom darker than the death of Bambi's mom? If there is, you'll find me in some other part of the octoplex.
posted by jfuller at 6:27 PM on March 21, 2005

I heartily recommend the beloved The Last Unicorn [imdb], which is an animated adaptation of the novel by Peter S. Beagle. There is only one unicorn left in the world and she decides to come out of her forest to seek the others, encountering many many riddles well on her way. Great story, memorable characters, good songs (the actual singing leaves much to be desired though), I watched this movie over and over when I was little and it is still a favorite now. (There's a live action movie in production as we speak, too, if you're interested.)

Night On The Galactic Railroad [imdb] is also a wonderful movie, about a troubled youngster's search for something greater. The animation is beautiful - almost like a moving painting. The story is very rich and pure and is also based on a novel. Also, the characters are cats not unlike the ones in Studio Ghibli's The Cat Returns.

As for TV series, try hunting down Akazukin Chacha [imdb]. I used to follow it on the (Asia) Cartoon Network, dubbed in English. It's about the misadventures of a young Little Red Riding-Hoodesque witch in magic training school and the quests she undertakes. Lots of humor, puns, and caricaturic characters - it's a great introduction to anime cliches such as a huge single sweatdrop forming in the back of a character's head when nervous, swirling spirals as eyes when one of them's gone mad, special transforming abilities plus items of great power, and so on. A lot of fun to watch as a family.

I would also second Sherlock Hound as per vorfeed's recommendation. Very very good.

Animes usually have good, complex plotlines and characters - perfect for precocious youngsters and parents who want to whet their appetites for greater things. Feed them, feed them, and good luck in your search! :D
posted by Lush at 6:39 PM on March 21, 2005

Night On The Galactic Railroad [imdb] is also a wonderful movie, about a troubled youngster's search for something greater.

This is indeed a great film, meets the content requests, and definitely worth a shot, but kids (American ones aged 6-10 anyway) might be a little bored by it.
posted by PinkStainlessTail at 7:58 PM on March 21, 2005

Personal favorite not yet mentioned would have to be The Secret of Nimh. Certainly not anime but just as good. It stays basically true to the book and the animation is the best it could be during that year. I recommend it to everyone, including my adult friends.
posted by Viomeda at 10:28 PM on March 21, 2005

Try Chinese Ghost Story
It's similar to Miyazaki.
posted by Corpus Callosum at 11:42 PM on March 21, 2005

Ditto on The Secret of NIMH and The Iron Giant.
posted by PenDevil at 11:45 PM on March 21, 2005

(May I glom on to the question here and ask about the suitability of the Wolf's Rain series? Particularly, the level of violence compared to other things mentioned in this thread.)
posted by Wolfdog at 10:06 AM on March 22, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks MeFi gang for the usual bunch of thoughtful and on-target responses. You've given us a lot to work with and the kids are enjoying their explorations of this material.

"Is there any moment in moviedom darker than the death of Bambi's mom? If there is, you'll find me in some other part of the octoplex."

jfuller: we just watched Grave of the Fireflies, which can be made even more depressing by going back and re-watching the first scene after you have seen the whole film. Strangely, kids have not seen Bambi yet. Thanks again everyone.
posted by cgk at 11:01 AM on March 22, 2005

I love Samurai Jack, the new Batman, and the Justice League on Cartoon Network (Dexter's Laboratory) but this is me.

I think you should consider The Point and Spirited Away.

Both are clever in their own ways... and I think very good for kids (as well as entertaining for everyone, generally)
posted by ewkpates at 11:55 AM on March 22, 2005

Studio Ghibli has no peers. You should look for ways to see what's not available on R1 DVD yet. I'm particularly fond of Whisper of the Heart, which has an R1 release coming up.

If there's anime that has touched me in a way similar to Miyazaki and Takahata, it's Haibane Renmei. That series is outstanding. There's also Osamu Tezuka's Metropolis.
posted by azazello at 10:03 PM on March 23, 2005

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