Is Anime Childish?

Responding to Keni’s post here.

Keni says that anime is childish because it’s escapism. That is a valid argument, but there’s more to it than simply that. (He then derails the topic to discuss what anime taught him, but while the lessons anime teaches are universal and for any age group, I can’t really refute that here.)

What I disagree most with, off the bat, is that jump scares and gore are childish. Gore is certainly made to appeal to baser instincts than Keni’s example of psychological horror, but there’s a reason gore is given higher classification ratings than a vast chunk of anime without gore. (Obviously, you would have to take into account things like sexual acts and ecchi content would step up the ratings as well.)

Also, live-action can be childish as well. There’s a reason a bunch of Disney Channel and Nickelodeon movies and shows, like Hannah Montana‘s, tend to have young stars with snappy mouths – it’s the ability to sell that star that counts for things like that (like voice actor talent, but with more emphasis on their looks), while also being able to ground them in a way that doesn’t feel too out-of-place in comparison to real life experiences. Just as a former consumer of that Disney Channel and Nickelodeon stuff, those movies are just as exaggerated as anime is, if not more due to the supposed “realism” of the subjects…because there is no way Hannah Montana is able to keep her identity secret with just a blonde wig. Just sayin’.

My grievances with how much of that stuff I’ve seen in retrospect aside, the big thing you have to keep in mind here is anime is for all ages (although exactly which group it’s aimed at can be confusing at times) but generally, the ones who have more time to consume it – give or take something like a pandemic – are the younger age brackets. There’s no specific cutoff for said age brackets, but generally it’s those who are still in school and/or not in a job so they have time to kill, but have some technological prowess so that they can use their device of choice and/or enough power over their own wallets (or their parents’) so they can move the discs, books etc.. (Also in Japan and in other places where anime is played on TV late at night on the regular, there is also an inherent need for said young people to be able to stay up late – or at least sneak out when it’s late – so they can watch their gateway anime.)

This means anime then becomes aimed at young people more often, slowly endangering adult and child protagonists over time…although, of course, there are exceptions to this where the plot demands it, such as Inuyashiki, while in more recent times, the fanbase has been growing older due to Japan’s ageing population, which is necessitating the need for more older protagonists anime watchers can relate to.


So, over to you. Is anime childish? Is there a type of protagonist/storyline we need more of in order to remove the stigma of it being childish, if that stigma exists in the first place?

18 thoughts on “Is Anime Childish?

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  1. I dont think so, in the future i wouldnt let my kids ever watch the anime another, its such a physco horror anime . Attack on titan too. Just cause anime is an animation doesnt mean it for kids, that ome concept many people dont understand

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  2. Come on! Please! All fiction is escapism, because all fiction is imaginary. Getting into an imaginary story is by definition escapism. No child in the world could possibly follow Aria, Haibane-Renmei, or Marimite. No child could possibly follow two current popular Anime in Oregairu or Chihayafuru. Would you allow your child to watch Full Metal Alchemist:Brotherhood, Puella Magi Madoka Magica, or Princess Tutu? They would have nightmares forever. There are lots of Anime which are adult only, only because no child could follow the story, or would be terrified if they did. Animation is art, just look at the visual beauty of Liz and the Blue Bird. I am very weary of being charged with escapism or childishness because I like Anime.

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  3. It’s all about the complexity of the themes. Also people forget their own childhood and that children are not that innocent. As for escapism, everything you are doing which is not necessary for bare minimum survival is escapism.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I think a significant portion of anime (especially ones based off seinen manga) are catered specifically towards adults. And it’s not just because of the subject matter, but I’ve seen some anime that cover such mature topics that not even Western media would dare touch.

    That being said, I do wish there was less of this light novel/visual novel crap that’s plaguing the medium at the moment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. …What about josei?

      Well, trends come and go. As much as I don’t really deal with the isekai stuff unless it has something else to draw me in, maybe one day, we’ll /want/ more isekai works in the seasonal lineup and nostalgically wonder where they’ve gone…Just gotta see what the future holds.

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  5. I think it depends on the content being pushed out to whatever the intended audience is. A lot of people tend to think anime is “childish” bc well… it’s animated. To some people (not all) anything animated is childish to them. I’m not sure about anywhere else, but I still get a lot of flack for watching ‘cartoons’. But are we really looking at the contents of some it? Would I recommend a middle schooler to watch Future Diary? No, because it has multiple implications/depictions of sexual assault, and displays other forms of graphic violence, despite it being a show about a kid in competition to become the God of space and time. Does anime have the ability to put out content intended for children to watch? Yes. And there’s plenty of examples that showcase that. I feel like there’s a spectrum. It’s not a ‘childish’ medium, or whatever people are calling it, I don’t think. It’s a variety of things intended for a variety of audiences.

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  6. Hey Aria. Thanks for replying to my post regarding anime is childish.

    I wholeheartedly agree with you that there are, in fact, a wide variety of anime genres out there. Of course, these range from the childish ones to the more seinen and mature anime shows. And of course, they all provide me some sort of meaningful context in life.

    As stated in my article, however, anime is a childish medium. Why do I think so? Because all forms of entertainment, if we look at it from a variety of perspective, is arguably childish. Video Games, Live Shows, Netflix, whatever you think is ‘Entertainment’. And that’s what so great about it.

    I simply wanted to point out that people who watch anime shouldn’t have to even argue whether anime is a childish medium or not. Everyone should all realize anime’s potential as an escapism, like you said, and get over this silly debate once and for all.

    Unfortunately, the vast majority of people out there are yet to be open minded about the negative connotation surrounding anime once and for all. Which sadly automatically deemed anime as a childish medium of entertainment.

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  7. I think having a younger demographic is very different from being childish. A lot of shows aimed at younger audiences tend to be far more nuanced and mature than television aimed at adults. I’d describe a lot of raunchy comedies that come out of the west as “childish”, only because they’re being made with the intention of being immature in their approach.

    If anything, I feel like disregarding another person’s interest in something as “childish” is the biggest act of childishness in itself. It’s fine to feel like you’ve grown out of something, but belittling other’s interests based on your own tastes is pretty narrow minded if you ask me.

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  8. One has to wonder what exactly makes something childish? And an even more important question is : Why put labels on something in the first place? People always tend to do that. There are so many examples of anime not being childish that I’m not even going to name them. And I’m not even talking about gore, sex, or violence. I’m talking about mature themes, or heartbreaking, gutwrenching emotions, that are captured in certain shows/movies that offer more of a punch to the gut then many “normal” movies. The usual problem is that people don’t tend to have an open mind for animation in general. When they see animation they go like “ it’s animation, so that’s kids stuff…I’m not even touching that”. If people just gave things more of a chance, instead of condemning it right off the bat, labels such as this would go away. Luckily anime is becoming more and more popular, and luckily streaming service such as Netflix are beginning to recognise that. Now all that’s needed is some more open minds, and that “just for kids” label might finally disappear😊

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  9. I think for a lot of people, their first thought is anime = animation = childish because the vast majority of animated works are for children. Then they see a risque or NSFW image and immediately go all the way in the other direction, that anime is animated 18+ adult content. It takes a while for people to grasp that it’s a vast range, a range that’s bigger than most Western animated works (at least in the US).

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  10. I look at Elfen Lied, and I ask myself, would I let a child watch that?

    No.

    Anime’s a medium, right? Like live action. There are anime series that appeal to younger audiences (but that also appeal to adults, just like Pixar/Disney films do) like Pokemon. There’re anime series aimed at a teen audience — maybe Little Witch Academia or most high-school based shows. Then there’s anime for older audiences, like maybe Kabaneri or the Iron Fortress or Shkabane Hime.

    I wouldn’t want children watching either of those last two!

    And Attack on Titan nearly gives me nightmares. I certainly wouldn’t unleash that on a child.

    I’d say anime can be childish, like any other medium. And it can be very mature, and everything in between.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I don’t think it’s childish at all if we are just talking about the medium as a whole. Even putting aside whole considerations like demographic, as you mention in your article (btw there are implied cutoff dates for things like shonen and shoujo when compared to the next demo up), the stories and things presented in anime just range to drastically. There are stories for all people at different points in their lives and enjoying a story isn’t childish. It’s no different than watching American TV, reading a book, or playing a video game.

    Of course, there are exceptions you could level at what I’m saying but overall it’s just kind of a dumb thing to say. People are welcome to enjoy just about anything so long as it isn’t actively harming someone else. That’s where I’m at.

    PS – I can comment but not like so sorry I didn’t like this.

    Liked by 4 people

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