Hello! If you’re reading this, it’s probably because you have discovered that your child is into anime, also known as Japanese animation. First off, welcome! The world of anime is a wonderful place, filled with lovable characters, fantastic action, and far-out locations. Like any piece of entertainment, not everything in anime is appropriate for all ages. Just like how American animation can range from Paw Patrol to Bojack Horseman, anime caters to many age groups. How do you figure out what is appropriate for your child? Read on.
What Is Anime?
Simply put, anime is a loan word used to label animation from Japan. In Japanese, anime means any type of animation from any country. However, when someone from the West uses the word anime, they’re talking about Japanese animation in particular. You might also hear some non-Japanese animated media labeled anime because it “looks” or “feels” like anime, such as the American-made Avatar: The Last Airbender. We’re going to apply Occam’s Razor and stick to anime = animation from Japan for this article. This includes series like Attack On Titan but excludes American-produced series such as Castlevania.
An important thing to note is that animation doesn't have a “Animation is for children” stigma in Japan, which means anime is produced for all different kinds of audiences. It can tackle hard topics such as post-war children in the WWII film Grave of the Fireflies or just be silly, all-ages fun like Bananya, shorts about cats that live in bananas.
Explanation Of Shonen, Shojo, Seinen, Josei, And Hentai
You may hear these words get thrown around. These words are used in Japan to define the target demographics of an anime or manga (Japanese comic books). Here’s a breakdown.
- Shonen: Males 10-17
- Shojo: Females 10-17
- Seinen: Males 17+
- Josei: Females 17+
These only represent target demographics and don’t describe what content is in the anime. Death Note, whose protagonist is a conniving mass murderer, is a shonen anime. Meanwhile Kaguya-sama: Love Is War, a romance-comedy with a high-school setting, is seinen.
Hentai is pornography and is only meant for adults. No ifs, ands, or buts. You can find out what is hentai at our store with the 18+ age filter or selecting the “Show Only Adult” checkbox at the top of the search filters.
How Am I Supposed To Know What’s Appropriate For My Child?
Use the age filter in our store search
If you’re looking to pick up an anime or manga at our store, we offer an Age Rating filter to help you search. The age listed is the starting age the anime publisher thinks is the most appropriate. For example, ALL is for all ages, 16+ is for people 16 and older, 17+ is for adults, etc. Note that all 18+ titles are hentai. If the film title or box art doesn’t clue you in, we have a warning pop-up before you access the product page.
Check the rating
This may seem obvious, but many people overlook the ratings, either because they don’t know they exist or they don’t know what they mean. We’ll give an explanation below with popular anime examples, but official rating websites have excellent breakdowns for TV and film. You can often find them on the back of the Blu-ray case or with a quick Google search, “[Insert anime title here] age rating”
What Do The Ratings Mean?
The TV rating is listed first, with the film rating equivalent coming after.
This anime is appropriate for all ages
PG stands for “Parental Guidance.” It’s appropriate for children, but contains elements that some parents may not want them to see just yet.
One of the more common ratings, these are for teens and adults, often including more graphic violence, language and sexual content. Of course, there are anime that like to push the envelope.
This is for mature audiences, including older teens. These can include over-the-top violence like in the classic film Akira, but looks can be deceiving. Made In Abyss has cute character designs, but the violence is graphic and the new film would most certainly be rated R.
How Do I Find Out About Specific Content? What If The Anime Does Not Have A Rating?
Sometimes your child may be watching an anime that just came out, so it hasn’t been assigned a rating in America yet. There are still ways you can check for content.
Check the anime’s Parents Guide on IMDB
This is usually my go-to resource when I’m planning a family movie night and want to watch something I haven’t seen before. They provide in-depth descriptions on elements including Nudity, Violence, Profanity, Drugs, and Intense Scenes. There’s even a severity rating to help see how frequent these elements are. You can find it on an anime’s IMDB page underneath the Storyline heading.
Read Reviews on Common Sense Media
Common Sense Media is excellent for anime films and TV series that are on popular streaming platforms such as Netflix. The website talks about the levels of drugs, sex, violence, language, and consumerism. They also include professional and user reviews so you can judge for quality as well.
Finding out about an anime’s content is not that much different from other media. Use official age ratings, checking parent's guides, and watching some anime yourself to educate yourself more about anime and its contents. With the internet at your fingertips, it’s easier now more than ever to discover new anime and learn more about it.