Kid-friendly anime – suggestions wanted

an anime Family
A few years ago, I posted a few guidelines for in kid-friendly anime, and we had a really good discussion. That was long ago enough that I wanted to open the floor again to see if I could solicit more suggestions and ideas. As a reminder, here were my three basic requirements:

1. No fan service.
2. Young characters.
3a. A moral lesson or example of personal growth,
3b. A sense of wonder.

(see the older post for more detailed explanations of what I mean by each of these)

I know that in the past 6 years there has been a LOT of new anime released and I have had barely time to catch up with my own backlog from back then let alone make any headway on new titles. But I am resolved to watch anime with my kids instead of just for myself. So please do spread this post around and help me build up a great list for posterity. Old anime, new anime, whatever – just please keep the suggestions flowing.

My girls are now ages 9 and 4. It’s amazing to me that when I wrote the old post, my elder daughter was only three! Time, etc…

35 thoughts on “Kid-friendly anime – suggestions wanted”

  1. How young is “young”?

    I think that the currently-running Mouretsu Pirates fills the bill quite nicely. Of course, we’re only 9 episodes into a 26-ep series, so that could change, but I have a lot of faith in the director and I don’t think he’s going to mess it up. Marika, the protagonist, is 16.

    And how about Shingu? All the main characters are in middle school.

    I also recommend the movie Summer Wars. The main characters are in high school. You should probably watch that one yourself first, though; there’s one event in it that could disturb your kids, even though it’s handled tastefully.

  2. By the way, beginning with ep 7 Mouretsu Pirates also features a character named Gruier, who is 13. She’s also a princess — and as we all know, everything is better with princesses.

  3. One more, and I’ll stop. Mouretsu Pirates is also called “Bodacious Space Pirates” and that’s the name Crunchyroll uses for it. Despite the name, there isn’t any fan service at all.

  4. I would start with the Ghibli movies Totoro , Castle in the Sky, Porco Russo and such.
    For series
    Rozen Maiden, Card Captor Sakura, DNAngel, Pokemon

  5. Heartcatch Pretty Cure might be acceptable. It fits your criteria and was not too painful for this adult to watch.

    Angelic Layer might also work.

    Bamboo Blade, maybe, though the characters are in high school.

    Your youngest might like Sugar the Snow Fairy. Beware of cavities!

  6. +1 on _Sugar, a Little Snow Fairy_. The 9-year old, if not jaded, will enjoy it too.

    -1 Castle in the Sky, scary/dark for the younger one. Spirited Away and Ponyo seem a better fit for what you’re looking for.

  7. Fuujin Monogatari would seem to fit the bill. It’s quite charming.

    Natsume Yuujinchou would also be a good one, though some of the youkai can be a little scary in one or two of the arcs.

  8. (Sugar, Sakura, Spirited Away, etc. were mentioned in the original 2006 post; you might be recommending things he knows about if you don’t follow the link.)

    …if you didn’t get Kamichu! off your to-get list from the original 2006 post, get that. 🙂

    The Girl who Leapt Through Time, maybe? The time-travel aspects might snow the younger daughter, though.

    If the off-the-scale cute of Bottle Fairy was acceptable, Mao-chan might work. Maybe even (ducks the flying tomatoes) K-On, if the fanservice is acceptable.

    How about Seven of Seven? There’s more service on the DVD case than there is in the whole show, if I recall correctly. (Form-fitting Super Sentai suits are about as much as there is.) Similarily, I’d give a one-quarter recommendation for Rocket Girls (skintight spacesuits, “native islander” co-star girl whose default outfit is bikini & grass skirt.)

    And assuming the younger daughter isn’t up to following subtitles, I don’t have much else. The Aria franchise might do OK for the elder one (a bit short on point 3A, just a lot of ganbatte attitude). Maybe Taisho Baseball Girls, if the early-days-of-women’s-lib(-in-Japan) overtones aren’t too foreign to her.

    On the “I’d like to recommend them, but they’re probably too dark” side (so save them for when they’re older, or something)… Nadia: Secret of the Blue Water, Ghost Hunt, Living for the Day after Tomorrow, Figure 17, and maybe ROD the TV. (I’d drop Joe’s Rozen Maiden suggestion in this bin, too. The creepy dolls are creepy, even if the main cast are cute.)

  9. I’m surprised that no one has mentioned Petite Princess Yucie yet. It was the first show I thought of.

    Welcome to the Space Show suffers from an excess of “personal growth” in my cynical opinion, but it has compensatory virtues, including lots of 3b.

    If presenting brief lessons in science satisfies requirement 3b, then consider Marie and Galli. If it doesn’t, consider the show anyway. It’s silly fun.

  10. Did not see the link before (thanks Mikeski)

    Trouble with a lot of the newer ones is most do have some fan service. The World of Narue is a great show but does have a few panty shots but is done much more tamer than most.

    I can second SDB on Mourestu Pirates as one resisting the fan service trend while telling a good story that might appeal to your older one. Crest/Banner of the Stars might be one to wait till the teen years but is also one to consider. Fruits Basket might also fall into that as well.
    Hello Kitty & Friends might be good for the youngest, Di Gi Charat might also work.

  11. Fruits Basket is too strange. Waaaay too bizarre, if for no other reason then because of the appalling number of transvestites.

    I can’t really recommend Seven of Seven. It doesn’t contain anything objectionable, it’s just that it isn’t a very good show. (And it’s pretty difficult to tell the seven apart, so it could be really confusing to kids. Hell, I found it confusing.)

    Sergeant Frog, on the other hand, could be a win. It doesn’t have any kind of long term plot, and it is a gag show. But it’s a hell of a lot of silly fun, and the main characters are kids — and alien frogs — and it does in fact induce a sense of wonder.

    Marie & Galli (proper spelling) is also a gag show, but it’s pretty cool. Episodes are 7 minutes long, and so far about 30 of them have been subbed.

    Rozen Maiden sounds inappropriate to me; it’s not officially listed that way but it has a horror aspect to it, in as much as part of the “competition” is that the dolls fight, and the winner eats the soul of the loser.

  12. Lots of Studio Ghibli movies on this list (of course), and I’m going to add one more by suggesting their most recent North American release, The Secret World of Arrietty (based on the children’s novel The Borrowers). You may still be able to catch it in the theaters, if you hurry. There’s no fan service whatsoever, and there’s wonder in spades. OTOH, the protagonists may be a little old for your youngest daughter to relate to (the title character is 14); one or two scenes may be a bit scary for a four-year-old, as well, even though the movie is rated G. The English dub track in the North American release is pretty good IMHO–about as good as can be expected from Disney, although some bonehead decided to add a “hip”, “trendy”, “urban” song at the end credits that clashes horribly with the gorgeous Celtic-themed music throughout the rest of the film.

  13. Chi’s Sweet Home / Chi’s New Address. Delightful series for all ages – just keep in mind that the episodes are only three minutes long. Makes great points about responsibility without ever lecturing the audience.

    Usagi Drop perhaps. It’s not a children’s show – it’s a realistic story targeted towards older women – but it stars a little girl and it’s full of fuzzy wonderfulness.

    And consider K-On!, A Channel, and in particular, Hidamari Sketch. These are about teenage girls, but there’s zero fanservice, lots of humour, and in each case strong themes of friendship and co-operation.

    As Mikeski says, if you haven’t picked up Kamichu! yet, run and grab it. Just wonderful.

    Now we come to Princess Tutu. Magical girl show, check. Fan service… Well, the girls spend a lot of time in ballet outfits, but it’s not the focus of the show. Young characters, check, and a cute duck. Moral lesson, personal growth, sense of wonder, check check checkity check.

    The only problem is that some of the scenes will likely scare the dickens out of your younger girl. It’s taken from ballet (mostly Swan Lake and The Nutcracker Suite) but those stories get dark sometimes.

    Let’s see… Nanaka 6/17 is delightful, but there’s a darker side to it that makes me hesitate. Nanaka is 17, but has reverted to a childlike state due to stress and a head injury. For the most part it’s a gag series about childlike Nanaka, but it doesn’t forget that in reality this is a serious problem, and that when she recovers, little girl Nanaka is going to go away. It might work, though – your four year old will see a cute and funny story, and your nine year old will see a story about growing up.

    I’d love to recommend Potemayo, but there are some jokes in that are, um, questionable.

  14. Also, beyond Bincho-tan, I would’ve e-mailed Jon Tappan. He gave the topic a significant thought. Unfortunately, I do not see a ready list on Bugfox.

  15. I think GA: Geijutsuka Art Design Class might be good, as well as Sketchbook: Full Color’s. I don’t remember any objectionable content in either, but then it’s been a while since I’ve watched them. If you go with Aria, I think I’d stick with Aria the Animation and Aria the Origination. Aria the Natural is good, but it’s not really necessary to watch to enjoy the Origination and some episodes are a bit dark compared to the other series. Also, maybe Dennou Coil, especially for the older one. Mokke might be not bad either, just a few episodes might be a little scary.

  16. My heavens, I’m disappointed in all of you. How can we get this far into a thread about kids-appropriate anime without anybody suggesting Azumanga Daioh? Okay, maybe Kimura is a bit much, but otherwise? Unless you’ve got a thing about showing adults drinking, that is…

    I second Sketchbook, and will also give Princess Tutu a “no” vote. Much too dark, much too weird. Cute duck, though.

  17. Dubbed. Doh! Of course. Wasn’t thinking of that.

    Princess Tutu has been dubbed, but the original lead seiyuu was sooo good in the role that you’d be missing out.

  18. “Flower Magician Mary Bell” seems like it would fit the bill. It’s an older series (cel not digital).

    Saw one of the later “Pretty Cure” series mentioned–the original
    Argh, “must be dubbed”. I must work on my reading comprehension. (In my favor, it is 5:20 as I write this).

    But once they can read subtitles:

    “Pretty Cure” series would be good. (And the follow-on, “Pretty Cure Max Heart”.

    “Hime-chan’s Ribbon” is a perennial favorite of mine.

    “Akazukin Chacha” is, too.

  19. Oblivion Island: Haruka and the Magic Mirror has been bought by Funimation and a dubbed version is coming in Fall of 2012.

    Magical girl:

    Sailor Moon (some dubs should be around)

    Lyrical Nanoha.


    Element Hunters (at least gives a science lesson)

    Kaidan Restaurant (aimed at elementary students, not too scary)

  20. Sorry, there’s not much out there that’s family friendly and dubbed; not anymore. Those sort of shows don’t sell as well as a good action series or mature themes to western audiences. Personally, I haven’t watched much dubbed anime, since my first anime was in Japanese and it was hard to listen to it in ridiculous English voices from that point on (That being said, there are a few good mature shows with a decent dub).

    Your best bet is to look for older series on DVD. The age of 9 is fine to watch subtitles, though. I was roughly that age when I watched Evangelion with subtitles.

    I can vouch for Cardcaptor Sakura from the last post. I watched that from a young age, and the songs and character designs are still in my head ten years later. The English version removes the subtle homosexuality between two certain characters, which proves how family-friendly they wanted to make it.

    A good older series to show younger children is something like Flint the Time Detective ( and something like one of the newer Tetsuwan Atoms or Bothersome Witch Doremi.

    Someone suggested Usagi Drop, too. I contest this for such a young age, but I love the series myself (Well, the first four volumes of the manga. The anime is great). The themes are mature, but it’s a good story about coping with the death of a relative, and parenting. It’s heartwarming, but it’s not simple and a child may have a hard time comprehending a little girl being over twenty years younger than her nephew.

  21. “Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha” is not a good choice, because of fan service (loli nudity). Also because of a terrifying scene between Fate and her mother. And because the ending is dreadfully traumatic, or would be for a little kid. I love the series but DO NOT SHOW IT TO YOUR KIDS.

  22. Ultra Maniac. Available via Netflix, fun, light, and tested/approved by my 8 and 6 year old musume.

  23. Uninhabited Planet Survive / Mujin Wakusei Survive

    Not available in R1, but easily found.

    Fits the requirements and then some. Zero fan service or anything even remotely adult. You can watch it with your five year old child or eighty five year old grandmother. 52 episodes, perfect for youngsters, nearly every episode has a moral lesson of some kind (either overt or subtle). it’s all about kids discovering their potential on their own, all about working together, all good characters, with gentle humor and definitely a sense of wonder and discovery. All extremely tasteful.

    The first two episodes introduce the characters and a bit of background, and could probably be combined into one, but the actual story begins in Ep. 3. It’s nearly note perfect the whole way through after that. Don’t judge it until after you’ve seen Ep. 3. No gimmicks, no gadgets, no product advertising, nothing your kids will want you to buy except a stuffed toy of one character (which has never been made anyway, AFAIK).

    Great for all ages, in fact. Anyone who claims to enjoy the above characteristics of anime while also claiming they don’t need fan service to enjoy it owes it to themselves to check this out.

  24. I second The Secret World of Arietty (though I wasn’t shocked that it was good – it’s Studio Ghibli after all). I’m a little unsure about Summer Wars. I just watched it recently, and I enjoyed it, but I’m not sure how much kids would like it…

  25. The absolute perfect anime meeting all three criteria is the most excellent – Kemono no Souja Erin – however, it’s only available subtitled.

  26. I didn’t know Nanoha was that intense. It’s out of print, but you should be able to find dubbed versions of Magical Girl Pretty Sammy and Magical Project S, which came before Sasami’s Magical Girls Club.

  27. Angelic Layer.

    The main character is about 12 and her best buddy / gaming rival is 5, very close to your older and younger kids’ ages.

    Has some romance plotlines but no sexuality or fanservice.

    The heroine and the other characters discover their true selves, and fix their families and friendships, in the process of building hi-tech dolls to play in tournaments. The dolls they make wrestle each other as a sport – but also represent each girl’s dreams.

    Essentially every episode is some character breaking through and discovering she can be more / different than she thought. For me it has sense of wonder in spades.

  28. Hey everyone,

    my apologies for being AWOL. I really appreciate the detailed replies!

    I’ve culled the list a bit above from your recommendations and these are the ones I think that seem most promising:

    Mouretsu Pirates / Bodacious Space Pirates
    Sergeant Frog
    Fuujin Monogatari
    Angelic Layer
    Nanaka 6/17
    Mao Chan
    Petitie Princess Yucie
    Welcome to the Space Show
    Uninhabited Planet Survive / Mujin Wakusei Survive

    The question of course now is where to start 😛 Maybe I will do a poll-post next …

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