Image Credit: しゅーいち from Pixiv
Does being aimed at an older audience automatically mean an anime has a higher likelihood of being higher quality? What about shows for children? Does being aimed at a younger audience mean that the show is going to be filled with uninteresting drivel?
Just as there is a stigma of animation being an entertainment medium that’s solely made for children in the west, there’s a common notion that, if it’s made for children, it’s allowed to suck.
Image Credit: みゃた from Pixiv
I’m personally tired of any inclination that a children’s show, by default, is a piece of filth that caters to the lowest common denominator, and that anything above that is an exception to the rule.
To anyone that has that mindset, I ask you: Have you ever watched Don Bluth’s children’s movies? Or Bruce Timm’s DC cartoons, aimed at the same audience as these shows that lack quality? Have you watched Cardcaptor Sakura, Astro Boy, or the Japanese version of the early Pocket Monsters anime installments, even? Just because they’re children doesn’t mean they have to be exposed to everything shallow in the world. That’s insulting to the children.
Image Credit: のりさ from Pixiv.
An older audience doesn’t affect the quality of a show. If such children’s shows have proven they could be more than mindless marketing drivel, why can’t that be considered the standard in terms of criticism?
Example: the English Pocket Monsters fanbase, constantly hand-waves the modern anime’s mindless marketing drivel with the excuse that “it’s a kid’s show,” ignoring the fact that the original Japanese anime written by Takeshi Shudo actually tried to be more than just a marketing tool for the video games and presented something that everyone could enjoy. The first and third movies tackled iffy themes, such as the meaning and value of life and the death of a precious family member, and handled them a lot more maturely than a show with “bloods, guns, and breasts” could ever do. The era where the Mewtwo no Tanjou CD Drama/first movie was released and the modern era of the anime feel extremely segregated in terms of tone and writing, so why should fans feel that it’s unnecessary for the anime series to be more than a mindless marketing tool sitting on a floating timeline when it used to be the opposite back in the day? In fact, many of these fans appear to think that children are stupid and unintelligent creatures, and anything stupid that the writers do with the show is justified.
Using that logic, I could say this in reverse: ““It’s a show for adults. They don’t have to do anything but make gratuitous sex scenes.” My point is, using the target audience is never a good way to justify anything negative about an anime. An anime and anything in general.
Image Credit: 堀越 from Pixiv
A children’s show, anime or not, is capable of being real. A show that carefully plots itself and acknowledges a passage of time. A show with real emotion and storytelling value. People tend to forget that children are smarter than we think they are. They’re just as creative as we can be and are able to be engaged in a story as much as us. So why automatically group them with the lowest common denominator?
I’d like to believe that I’ll have children of my own someday. When that time comes, I want an animated series that we could watch together and talk about afterwards. I don’t want a show that talks down on the viewer and lacks any sort of character development or goal, but at the same time, I don’t want it to be pretentious and overly violent. Is that so much to ask?
Yumeka of Anime Yume makes an interesting point about many possible generational gaps between different anime series and their fans, but I personally believe a timeless story is something anyone can put aside age for, and is always a good way to bridge those gaps and find a shared interest between fans of old and fans of new. These “little kids” are the next generation of the medium’s connoisseurs, after all. Why should they be exposed to crap first and foremost?