Ronja is your typical Swedish story made by a legendary Japanese anime house that is going to stream on a popular American platform. So, can you expect a tri-lingual series, or is Amazon betting on a heartwarming international hit? A quick primer: The story is based on the children’s fantasy novel by Swedish author Astrid Lindgren, and follows the conventions of every forbidden love story ever made. Ronja is the only child in a tribe of forest-dwelling thieves falls smitten with Birk, the son of a rival gang. Drama ensues. Gillian Anderson narrates.
For Kids: Amazon says the series is the way ODB describes the Wu-Tang Clan: it’s for the children. The older themes may fall flat on younger kids: There’s more talking, few gags, and the exploration of that weird “love” feeling. Despite the older themes, the series centers around Ronja, a female lead who’s different than a fairytale princess or a Star Wars character, and that’s great regardless of age.
For You: Studio Ghibli creates some of the best animation in the world. One of their films, The Red Turtle is nominated for an Oscar this year. Ronja, their first series, could be a way to introduce your kids to something that isn’t Disney, Dreamworks or whatever the hell made Norm Of The North.
Common Sense’s Take: Common Sense Media is the leading nonprofit source helping parents make movie and TV choices for their children. Their review says there’s “Strong themes of friendship … and loyalty exist, as well as the value of being inquisitive and adventurous.”
They warn the band of merry robbers are fond of the word “hell”. Beyond that, there isn’t anything negative to fret about. They actually call the series calming. Seriously: “[It’s a] relaxing series to watch because of the patient pace of the story, the sweeping scenery, and the stirring music that bridges dialogue.” This one might be for the adults in the room after all.
Bottom Line: With a strong female lead, beautiful animation, and a clear story, you could do worse than introduce Ronja to your kids. The series has won foreign awards America doesn’t recognize and has amassed a big international audience. And who are you to argue with people who introduced you to the majesty of tiny meatballs and raw fish?
Ronja is on Amazon Prime starting January 27.