Our Guide to Japanese Anime


  1. What is anime?
  2. What is Japanese anime based on?
  3. How is Japanese anime different?
  4. Which anime is child friendly?
  5. Is Japanese anime good for kids?

Japanese anime dates back to the commercial animations in 2017. Jump to the 1960s and Osamu Tezuka (Astro Boy) can be credited with the characteristic art style. It wasn’t until the 1980s that Japanese anime reached an international audience and it has since gone from strength to strength. Don’t be surprised that your children are now familiar with anime terms like Yugioh and anime nervous sweat!kid_reading_with_glasses

What is anime?


Anime (pronounced a-ni-me) comes from the Japanese word for cartoon animation. In Japan it’s a very general term for all cartoons. Outside the country, however, people define anime as something more specific: a cartoon produced in Japan and a genre in its own right.

Japanese anime style uses graphic art and the characters usually have large eyes. 👀 The best Japanese anime focuses on camera effects like zooming in and angled shots compared to other types of animation which focus on movement.  


What is Japanese anime based on?


Many people wonder how anime gets its inspiration for stories. The truth is anime in Japan comes from a wide variety of sources. Here are some:

  • Japanese anime that comes from popular versions of Japanese manga, or comics: The Rose of Versailles (13+) is based on the French Revolution. Haikyu (PG), an anime series about a high school student who dreams of playing volleyball 🏐, started as a Japanese manga series.
  • Japanese anime that come from true stories: The Wind Rises (13+), by Studio Ghibli who made anime popular worldwide, is about Jiro Hirikoshi, who designed the A5M aircraft used in World War II.
  • Japanese anime that take their inspiration from myths and legends: The Tale of Princess Kaguya 👸(12+), based on a famous Japanese folk tale is about an old couple who find a baby 👶 in a bamboo plant. Musashi – The Dream of the Last Samurai (15) about a legendary 17th century warrior. Musashi is to the Japanese like King Arthur is to the British.
  • Japanese anime that is based on fantasy: Yugioh (PG) stars Joey, Tristan and Tea whose card game 🎴 becomes their reality. The hugely popular Spirited Away (PG), written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki, based the story on his daughter’s friend. She would come and visit them every summer.
  • Japanese anime based on video games: Fate/Stay Night (15) is a story about a war between masters and servants for the Holy Grail. Monster Hunter Stories: Ride On (PG) is based on the Monster Hunter role-playing video game. It tells of a world where people and monsters are in battle but have to coexist. Riders, as they are known,are able to awaken the powers of the monsters and secretly live alongside them.   


How is Japanese anime different? 


Japanese anime

Traditional cartoons

  • Physical features like humans including smaller mouths, bigger hair and larger eyes
  • Focusses on life issues
  • Usually 22-25 minutes long
  • Facial expressions: For example, characters who are embarrassed or stressed have a nervous sweatdrop
  • The plot continues for the whole series
  • Often limited animation (around eight images per second) reusing common parts and relying on zooming and angled shots
  • Features are usually more removed from those of humans
  • Focuses on making people laugh
  • Usually between five to 60 minutes
  • Facial expressions are less exaggerated
  • Has a different plot each episode
  • Focuses on movement with around 12-18 images per second


Which anime is child friendly? 


It’s worth remembering that just because anime is a cartoon that doesn’t mean it is safe for children. 🧒 Some Japanese animation shows everything: graphic sex and violence. For this reason, it is important to know what your children are watching.

As well as those mentioned in the list above, here are some more child-friendly anime cartoons for your child to try:

  • GlitterForce, Pokemon and Doraemon for under sevens.
  • Fairy Tale, Naruto Shippuden and Attack on Titan for teens.

Other child-friendly anime can be found here.


Is Japanese anime good for kids? 


Like with anything, you need to moderate how much your child watches anime. If they are watching it for several hours a day, it’s probably a good idea to encourage some outdoor play. 🏃 We suggest parental control over both the time spent watching anime and the content. It would also be wise to make sure your children are aware of good technology habits 💻.

On the one hand, as so many children watch anime, it can be a good way to make new friends. Finding a common interest is a sure way to meet new people especially when transitioning between years and schools. 🎒

Japanese anime is also good inspiration for children’s parties with relatively cheap accessories that can be found online.

How anime is made today and in the past, and the inspiration it draws its ideas from also means that it can be educational. Learning about history, myths and legends through anime is fun and engaging for children.  

Now you can go and impress your children with how much you know about the subject! 🙂Start your kid’s learning journey