Kids love Anime and it’s easy to see why. Full of colorful characters doing amazing things, the animated genre of anime is enticing to younger children for a lot of good reasons. But, because there’s a lot of anime out there that has historically been aimed specifically aimed at adults (think cyberpunk classics like Ghost in the Shell or Akira) it might be overwhelming for a parent to select stuff in this genre that is appropriate for their kids. Plus, chances are if you’re a parent, and you wanted your kids to watch anime movies, you’ve already heard of movies like Spirited Away or various other titles from the legendary Studio Ghibli. So, what about TV shows? Which anime TV shows are suitable for kids?
These nine series are streaming right now and all fall into the category of anime. Some of them are newer, some are classics. All of them your kids will love. And, best of all, all these shows are pretty good for your kids, too, meaning, the characters have redeeming qualities and there’s not a ton of violence, either.
Avatar: The Last Airbender
Probably one of the best-animated kid shows ever, the three seasons of Avatar: The Last Airbender blended meaningful storytelling with original characters and awesome action sequences without ever losing its sense of humor. It’s raised the bar for all animated shows since. There’s some debate about whether or not Avatar, or its sequel, The Legend of Korra count as “real” anime. But, because so many fans claim it as anime, it seems like that’s good enough for you and your kids.
Watch Avatar: The Last Airbender on Amazon for $2.99 an episode or $29.99 a season here.
It’s impossible to talk about anime for kids without bringing up Pokémon the smash hit of the 90’s about a ten-year-old boy who traveled across the land and searched far and wide for adorable creatures he could collect and battle against other adorable creatures. Kids are into it because the shows have a decent sense of humor and because the sheer amount of availablePokémon mean there’s always more in that world to discover.
Watch the original Pokémon on Netflix here.
Sailor Moon is another show that helped popularize Anime in the United States during the 90s. The show follows a high schooler named Usagi who finds out that she’s inherited the powers of a warrior named Sailor Moon and, as these things go, she teams up with other Sailor Soldiers to prevent villains from destroying the solar system. It’s a fun show that mixed teen comedy-drama with action adventure in a way that doesn’t feel old hat. Note: some parents may object to the costumes worn by the characters in Sailor Moon, which is understandable. Still, the show is popular for its empowerment of girls, not a celebration of their costumes.
You can stream Sailor Moon on Netflix here.
There’s plenty in Naruto for kids to sink their teeth into. Does it have sprawling, years-long narratives, yes, does it have fantastic action sequences that rival our favorite movies, yes, and does it have so much heart that it’s impossible not to feel something for all of its characters, make that a double yes. Naruto is so much more than a show about ninjas in training, it is that, but it’s also more than that. Check it out.
Watch Naruto on Netflix here.
Voltron: Legendary Defender
Helped out by DreamWorks and some of the same creatives behind Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, Voltron: Legendary Defender is technically a reboot of the 1980’s American series, which, was in turn, adapted from several Japanese animes including a show called Mirai Robo Daltanious, which is also known as Future Robot Daltanious. The point is, the original Voltron was technically an American show, which might make some think it’s not “really” anime. But, like Avatar, the show has a such an anime following, that it seems crazy to disassociate it from the genre, at least for the purposes of recommending stuff to kids. And, in terms of contemporary kids, the new version might be a huge step up from the old show.
Voltron: Legendary Defender is available on Netflix here.
Based on the manga of the same name, Sgt. Frog is about a platoon of alien frogs hell-bent on conquering the Earth only, the rest of their army abandoned them. Full of tongue-in-cheek humor, and with a memorable animation style, this series is great for parents to watch, too, if only because it’s so unexpectedly and refreshingly, bizarre.
Sgt. Frog is available on Funimation here.
Digimon is for kids who don’t like the fact that Pokemon only ever repeat their own names. Besides the key difference that Digimon can express themselves with actual words, there’s plenty to separate the franchises. For starters, Digimon gets a lot darker, with some Digimon actually dying. Plus there’s a lot more talk about digital worlds and evil viruses as, technically speaking, Digimon exist in a virtual world.
Kids can watch Digimon on Hulu here.
Astro Boy is the granddaddy of kid anime shows and it’s creator, Osama Tezuka, who also wrote the manga its based on is partially responsible for the explosion of both mediums in Japan. Though there’s tons of action here, the show shared a very humanistic worldview often promoting environmentalism and an anti-war philosophy.
Watch Astro Boy on Hulu here.
However you might feel about the Wachowski’s 2008 live-action take on it, Speed Racer is a great anime for kids. The show is centered around a young race car driver named Speed Racer, his family, and pet monkey Chim-Chim. It’s 1960s camp at its best.
Stream the first season of Speed Racer on Hulu here.
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