| By Adam Wilkenfeld
CWK West Coast Bureau Chief
become a global phenomenon.”
-Matthew Hall, high school Japanese
| It’s in the movies, in books, on posters, on
playing cards, and on the Internet
there are even plastic
action figures based on characters from ‘animé,’ a type
of Japanese cartoon. “It’s become a global phenomenon.
You’ve got kids in almost every country in the world wearing
Dragonball Z T-shirts,” says Matthew Hall, a high school
Japanese teacher. “It’s definitely not a fad because that
would imply that it’s going to fade away and die – I don’t think
that’s going to happen,” he says.
Hall says he uses anime as a classroom tool because it gets
students excited, and sparks their interest in the language
and culture of another country. During lunch, about 40 students
meet in an empty classroom to talk about animé characters,
plots, and the art.
“Oh yeah, I love it. I’ll be sitting at stores for hours,
just contemplating,” says 17-year-old Michael.
“The human emotions are right there, and it’s not a
Bugs Bunny killing Elmer Fudd thing, either,” explains
But, if animé is a cartoon geared toward older teens
and adults, some animé also have very adult content.
Some critics wonder if it’s just another way for teens to
access sexually explicit and violent themes under their parents
radar. “There’s like sexual content. There’s you know,
a little bit of killing
well, there’s a lot of killing,”
But, he and other fans say anime is no different from sometimes
violent or explicit movies and video games. Some are innocent,
some are educational, and some revolve around violence and
sex. “This is just another form of media content,”
says Hall. “If I’m a parent, and I’m a responsible parent,
then I need to know what’s going on inside my child’s head.
And I need to pay attention to what’s coming out of my child’s
the Animé Craze
By Mandy Rider
CWK Network, Inc.
Cartoons have always been
an important part of childhood. Bugs Bunny, Donald Duck and
Mighty Mouse are characters that children have watched and
loved for generations. Lately, however, these cartoons are
being overshadowed by a Japanese cartoon import known as animé.
Animé is everywhere. Comic books, movies, trading
cards, action figures and T-shirts all focus on animé
characters. Even though animé is simply a cartoon,
children, teens and adults alike are in a frenzy over the
Japanese characters. Hundreds of various animé characters
and storylines exist, and some appear in their own television
series such as Dragon Ball Z and Sailor Moon. While some characters
are more popular than others, all explore elements of Japanese
culture such as the martial arts and Japanese language. But
are these cartoons acceptable for children of all ages?
Even though animé takes the form of a cartoon, some
of the plots involve sexually explicit and violent themes.
So how do you know if animé is appropriate for your
The first question many parents may ask is “what is
animé”? According to TechTV, animé is Japanese
for animation. Japan has a thriving industry for animation,
including movies with complex plots and adult themes. While
some drawing styles, such as the famous big-eyes look, are
indicative of animé, a variety of drawing styles exist.
Animé also incorporates much of the Japanese language.
If you want to understand what your child means by calling
himself or herself an “otaku” or what it means when
your child wants animé “manga”, below you
will find popular animé vocabulary provided by TechTV.com:
- Bushi – Originally applied
to soldiers in service to a shogun, it has evolved into
a term that applies to all professional warriors. It’s similar
to the term samurai.
- Bushido – The code of the
- Chibi – Japanese word used
to describe characters as small, little or young.
- Hentai – While this word
technically means transformation or metamorphosis, in animé
it has come to mean a form of perversion. There are many
shockingly adult animé movies. They are often referred
to as hentai.
- Kaiju – A kaiju is a large
and threatening monster like Godzilla.
- Katana – A katana is a curved
sword that is a symbol for Japan.
- Kawaii – Cute is an obsession
in Japan. The characters in a child’s animé series
such as “Sailor Moon” could safely be referred
to as kawaii.
- Manga – Manga refers to
comic books, not the animation seen on TV or in movies.
Lots of manga, however, end up in animé form.
- Otaku – Otaku is the Japanese
equivalent of “fan boy.” The term possess a slightly
derogatory meaning as someone without much of a life who
is obsessed with this or that animé series, but it
has also been reclaimed as a badge of honor for those who
- Ronin – Ronin are soldiers
who are free of a master or leader. They are considered
- Tezuka Osamu – A hugely
popular designer of manga and animé, he created AstroBoy,
Kimba the White Lion and countless other characters and
Parents Need to Know
You may still be uncertain as to whether animé is
appropriate for your child. With hundreds of different stories
and cartoons, deciding which storyline is appropriate can
be confusing. Titles and reviews can provide little information
as to the nature of the content. To help determine whether
certain animé is appropriate for your child’s viewing,
it may be a good idea to view the show yourself before allowing
your child to watch. The Animé Café offers a
rating system for animé in order to help parents determine
which materials are age appropriate:
- Suitable for Family Viewing or
“G” rated – This animé is appropriate
for viewers ages three years and older. Please remember
that some of the creatures in the cartoons may be frightening
to some children.
- Parental Guidance Advised or “PG”
– These videos contain material that some families might
not judge suitable for viewing by children, especially elementary-school-aged
- Recommend for Mature Audiences
or “M” – These videos are intended for
mature audiences, and parents are strongly cautioned to
think twice before sharing them with children.
- For Adult Audiences Only or “X”
– These programs are for adult viewing only. These videos
tend to contain scenes of graphically explicit sex and are
largely of a prurient nature. Parents are strongly cautioned
to screen these videos.
To help you better evaluate the content and storylines of
popular animé cartoons, Animé Café has
rated the following animé and provided a short description
As a parent, you need to evaluate what your child is watching
on television as well as viewing in comic books or on the Internet.
Many of these programs contain violence and sexually explicit
themes. The best way to protect your child is to be a responsible
parent and make yourself familiar with the latest crazes – even
if it is only a cartoon.
- Card Captors (Rated G) –
Card Captors is a story about a girl named Sakura who lives
with her father and her brother. Her mother died when she
was only three years old. Sakura goes to a normal school
and has normal friends. A couple of them are Madison, Rita,
Niki, Chelsea and Zack. The only thing that isn’t normal
about her is that she has magical powers. The powers can
be used to call upon the spirits of Clow Cards and can be
used to turn a key into a staff. She is on a quest to capture
all the Clow Cards before her two rivals Lee Showron and
Meilin Rae can.
- Digimon (Rated G) – Digital
Monsters, Digimon, for short, is about eight children who
have been teleported to a bizarre world where almost anything
can happen, and it’s called the Digital World. They meet
strange creatures made from data from Earth. These small
creatures called Digimon, must protect the children from
hazards. They can evolve, or digivolve, into larger, more
powerful creatures to defeat the evil Digimon that roam
- Dragonball Z (Rated G) –
The Dragonball Z television series centers on a young father
named Goku who is not from Earth. He has a son named Gohan,
whose mother is from Earth. Goku is of a militant race of
people called “Sayans.” Goku was raised by an
Earthman, who found him in a spaceship. Goku and his son
have extraordinary powers. Gohan is trained how to fight
but when he looks at the moon, he turns into a large monster
that destroys everything in his sight. Throughout the series,
these characters are trying to save the earth from evil
and obtain the “Dragonballs” which summon a dragon
to grant one wish. The violence in this series can be questionable