Children’s Anime Subgenre
Children’s anime – much like the other demographic “genres” – targets very young audiences anywhere between one and twelve years of age. Also known as kodomo, children’s anime in Japan is much like children’s cartoons anywhere in the world: stories are simple to understand and often carry a moral message about how children should behave.
Since children’s anime is simple and widely-appealing, a whole bunch of series and movies hit older watchers’ radars and ignite the glimmer of childhood in their eyes. And in Japan, it’s not uncommon for older people to fondly remember the days of Doraemon and Anpanman. Not to be confused with shounen or shoujo anime, which still overlap with young audiences; children’s anime tends to have a fair balance of being liked between young boys and girls, and doesn’t have as many of the tropes.
Morals. Children’s early entertainment is also part of their early education. While not overtly about instructing children on what to do, children’s anime does feature a lot of gentle guidance for what issues kids are facing or how to handle living in society. Or going to the toilet, there’s definitely one about that.
Young characters. Not exactly exclusive to children’s anime, but having characters the same general age as the audience is the goal for children’s anime. Parents and older authority figures make regular appearances, but a cast full of kids usually means the show is also for kids.
The opening shows lyrics. Any opening song that has kana (Japanese letters) towards the bottom of the screen is usually aiming for children or at the very most preteen audiences. It’s a pretty noticeable aspect if you’re wondering if the show you’re watching is intended for younger people.
Hard to find. A sad fact of kodomo anime is that, unless it’s relatively recent or incredibly popular, finding where to watch it is really hard. Children’s anime made in the 90s or earlier often gets lost in a sea of VHS tapes or YouTube videos, leaving to-be watchers to gather up the manga or live with what few episodes there are.
Slice of Life. Children’s anime tends to be episodic, tackling one day and issue at a time. Slice of Life plays into children’s anime heavily,
Comedy. Kids entertainment needs to be fun and most of the series you’ll come across will have some element of comedy woven throughout it.
Shounen. When kids grow up, they’ll either branch out into shounen anime or shoujo anime, depending on their tastes. Shounen anime has much of what is already appealing in children’s anime but focuses more on action and friendship aspects. Of course, kids can also grow up and stop watching anime…
Shoujo. As kids near their preteens, they can branch into shoujo anime, home of magical girl series and romantic comedies. While many children’s shows feature magic and relationships, shoujo emphasizes romance and growing up themes more.
Here's our top 10 'Children's Anime Recommendations'
1. Doraemon – Doraemon is a blue, cat-shaped robot from the 22nd Century and his main goal is to help nine-year-old Nobita’s life better. Nobita, however, is lazy, bad at school, plain and thoroughly unlucky, making Doraemon’s job even harder. A huge classic with many generations of children. Start watching it at whatever point you can.
2. Digimon Adventure – After seven kids are flung into the Digital World, they encounter strange monsters that want to be their friend. While travelling the world to find a way back home, they discover they were chosen to protect the Digital World from evil. Another worldwide hit with sequels that deviate in cast and quality.
3. Pokemon – Ten-year-old Satoshi has just reached the age where he is able to leave home to embark on a great adventure in a world filled with elemental monsters – Pokemon. On his way to being a Pokemon master, he team up with other kids on their Pokemon journey. A hit kids show worldwide and more than enough sequels to keep you satisfied.
4. Youkai Watch – When young Keita comes across a gatchapon machine in the woods, he unknowingly frees a ghost, who thanks him by gifting the boy a Youkai Watch – a device that allows him to see otherwise invisible spirits. Keita uses it to befriend spirits around the town and solve supernatural problems people face. Japan’s current craze and a cool children’s anime with a supernatural twist.
5. Anpanman – Anpanman, named after the fact his head is a huge chunk of bread filled with red bean paste, fights against Baikinman (Bacteria Man) and feeds the hungry. Always willing to share a piece of his head to a hungry child in need, Anpanman flies around helping everyone he can. A much older children’s series with comedy and charm in equal measures.
6. Sergeant Frog – Keroro, a frog-like alien and Space Invasion Army Special Tactics Platoon Leader, is sent to Earth to conquer it. But when things go wrong, his crew abandons him and somehow he ends up living a semi-normal life with a human family. A more recent comedy series with a touch of science fiction.
7. Astro Boy – Professor Tenma’s grief over his deceased son leads him to create a robot in the boy’s image. Unable to replace the boy, the robot becomes Astro Boy, a crime-fighting hero who also tries to live like a normal 6th grade boy.
8. Hamtaro – Hamtaro is a small, cute hamster who finds himself in a new place after his owner moves house. When he discovers that there are a lot of other hamsters around, Hamtaro makes friends and explores the city with his new pals. A very cute – and comparatively short – kids anime.
9. My Neighbour Totoro – Satsuki and her sister Mei move to the countryside with their father and sick mother. They soon realise that their neighbor is none other than a giant forest spirit who guides them through the wonders of nature. Studio Ghibli is the go-to studio for anything kids anime, but Totoro easily captures childhood imagination and brings it to the screen.
10. Chi’s Sweet Home – When a small grey and white kitten wanders away from her mother and can’t find her way back, she’s adopted by a family and taken into their home. The only problem is that pets aren’t allowed in the apartment, meaning everyone needs to keep newly-named Chi out of sight. A cute, simple and incredibly short anime.