In the past, anime was thought of as a form of entertainment only for children. While some people may still feel that way, there are more and more anime being produced for adults and young adults. In Japan especially, it is not regarded as embarrassing at all for adults to watch anime and we’ve spoken to many business professionals who often watch anime with their kids or just for their own enjoyment. At the same time, there are numerous kids anime that even adults can enjoy and learn from. To help you find some great titles to watch, this list will introduce five of the best kids anime that every adult should see at least once.
Warning: The anime on this list have been known to tug on the heartstrings or bring on uncontrollable bouts of nostalgia.
1. Spirited Away
You can’t talk about the best kids anime without mentioning Studio Ghibli and Hayao Miyazaki. And one of the best anime films produced by the studio is Spirited Away, a coming-of-age fantasy story about a little girl named Chihiro and her parents moving to a new neighbourhood. However, on the road to their new home, the family is transported to an unknown world filled with spirits and creatures from Japanese Shinto folklore. Chihiro must learn to survive on her own and find a way to get her and her parents back to their world.
Spirited Away is one of the most successful anime films of all time grossing over $347 million, and second only to Miyazaki’s Your Name. If you consider yourself an anime fan, this film is a must-see. If you are new to anime in general, I can’t think of a better place to start than with Spirited Away.
2. Rilakkuma and Kaoru
A Netflix original series, Rilakkuma and Kaoru is about a human-sized bear that lives alongside Kaoru, a single office worker in her thirties. Rilakkuma is a character from the company San-X, the company that brought us Sumikko Gurashi, and Tarepanda. A portmanteau of the words “relax” and “kuma” which means bear, Rilakkuma is a lazy happy-go-lucky bear without a care in the world.
However, similar to Winnie-the-Pooh, Rilakkuma is a great friend to those around him and helps support Kaoru in her daily life. Rilakkuma and Kaoru is a great anime for those looking for something to play in the background during your household chores or for people looking to learn more about Japanese food and culture. The show highlights the changing of the seasons in Japan and common foods and activities that people enjoy with each season.
3. Dobutsu no Mori (Animal Crossing)
Since it’s such a hot topic in the gaming community, we had to include the fabled Animal Crossing anime film in this list. Many English-speaking Animal Crossing fans are not aware that a full-length anime film was released, since it was never promoted outside of Japan. The film follows a girl named Ai who moves to the Animal Village during the summer. The plot of the film follows the video game scenario almost perfectly: a new person moves to Animal Village, is put to work immediately and has to make friends, set up their new home, and make memories along the way.
The Dobutsu No Mori anime film will bring bouts of nostalgia to fans of the game series, with appearances by Tom Nook, Whitney, Apollo, and many more Animal Crossing villagers. If you’re having fun playing Animal Crossing: New Horizons, then Dobutsu No Mori is one of the best kids anime for you to watch during these periods of social distancing.
Your familiarity and nostalgia level with the Pokémon series will depend on what generation you were born in. However, the Pokémon anime series hold up to this day, despite aged 2D cel graphics. If you go back and watch the series now, you’ll realize that the anime has a surprisingly mature story at times. While the video games are quite light in their stories, Pokémon can die in the anime. Not all trainers are as kind as Ash and you might remember that one of the early episodes is about how Ash’s Charmander was abandoned and left to die in the forest.
If you have any love for the Pokémon franchise at all, we at Zen Market highly recommend rewatching the original anime series. It can be a good anime to play in the background while studying or doing chores and iconic episodes still have the power to tug at the heartstrings.
5. Stand By Me Doraemon
While it is virtually unknown outside of Japan, Doraemon is one of the longest-running and one of the best kids anime franchises of all time. Doraemon is a robotic cat sent from the future to help a young, clumsy, and timid boy named Nobita fight his bullies and capture the heart of his crush. While the anime is aimed at children, Doraemon films are similar to Disney films in the sense that people of all ages can enjoy and learn from them.
Stand by Me Doraemon is actually the perfect entry point for those new to the series, as the anime film is based on select episodes from the main series as a whole. The film begins when Nobita’s great-great-grandson travels from the future to warn him of his less-than-ideal life ahead of him where he marries the girl he dislikes the most in his class. Doraemon and Nobita then set out on an adventure to change his stars using a time machine to make sure that Nobita makes the right decision at key points in his life.
The anime film is heartwarming and nostalgic; it is about growing up and letting go of your childhood. With mature themes about responsibility and leaving the nest, Stand by Me Doraemon is one of the most touching anime films out there.
As always, we couldn’t include all of the best kids anime on this list, so we’ve surely left out some classics. Did we miss some of your favorite anime?
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