Recently in the midst of all the new anime each season I’ve found three series to latch onto in particular – Pokemon Sun & Moon, Monster Hunter Stories Ride On, and Little Witch Academia. Pokemon and MH in particular are series that started in the previous season and are continuing on for at least another three cours, while LWA is set to continue on for around half a year. Yet despite the differing lengths they have all managed to capture my heart – and the one common factor is that they are “children’s anime”, aimed at a rather younger audience than the early 20’s person that I am.
That’s not to say that this is a new thing. In Western animation there have been and still are shows with a periphery demographic, and some shows bet on the unexpected audience by playing up jokes aimed towards the crowd. Even Disney got into the act last year with the surprisingly deep Zootropolis (I watched it in the UK, so it will always be Zootropolis first and foremost to me), which tackled contemporary issues while having a ton of adult references such as drug brewing. Meanwhile, on the Japanese end you could pretty much say that a lot of magical girl stuff and anime technically aimed at young girls attract older male otaku’s eyes too, and rely on them to up viewer ratings.
But putting aside what ‘adults
playing children’s card games watching children’s anime’ is like in general society, I was thinking that I might ponder what made me pick up so many at a time in recent seasons.
Could it be external factors other than the quality of the anime itself, such as a longtime following of a series? I can’t deny that it definitely is, to some degree at least. Once upon a time, during the mystical seasons of the Johto adventures, I used to follow the Pokemon anime religiously through disconnected episodes sold on VCDs, and even after dropping off the TV anime, still followed religiously the Pokemon movies up until the Darkrai movie. Perhaps this is just a nostalgia trip to those days, making me pick up the anime series again the same way I played Pokemon X long after skipping Gen 5 of the games.
Speaking of gaming, there’s no denying the video game roots of the Monster Hunter Stories Ride On. Being a staunch supporter of the series since MH Portable 3rd, and even owning the actual spinoff game Monster Hunter Stories itself, it could just be a fan impulse to follow the series to support it in its first animation appearance.
Finally, there could be just a more personal stake, more specifically of the ‘stakeholder’ sort, as to why I’m watching Little Witch Academia. I am after all one of the thousands of people who voted with their wallets to increase the length of the LWA movie sequel (‘LWA: The Enchanted Parade‘) to the first OVA, so it’s certainly logical that I would watch a full-on TV reboot-adaptation of the series.
Once again, I can’t deny that these factors aren’t in play at all. But going back to LWA, it was the original OVA that got me charmed enough to fund the movie version; and here I am, falling even more so in love with the TV version. But why?
Here’s my personal opinion: Perhaps because of the new experiences that I’ve had in life recently, such as finding employment, I’ve just wanted to just return to a younger mentality on learning and discovering. The main characters of all three series are shounen heroes and heroines played straight – a kid with a smile on their face and a specific goal in mind, limitless energy to push forward to reach that goal, hopelessly optimistic and kind of dumb in an endearing way. They step forward and respond to their call, all the way supported by their quirky, lovable friends and peers. I think the most defining shots of these characters in their respective anime are that of them smiling and looking offscreen at something or someone – it just gets me every time.
These characters may not be role models in behavior (I like to think that I’ve passed the age of thinking that being naughty is cool) but I do think there is a lot that I can emulate from their attitude alone.
“Children’s anime” – aren’t that useless for adults after all!