Let me tell you guys a little story. Yeah, it’s going to be one of those posts…
I don’t know if I have talked about this on here but I’m not great with kids. I don’t dislike them at all but I’m not the type that will start fawning over children just because they’re children. I guess I’m sort of neutral toward kids. I figure that if I ever bake my own, that might change but it also might not….
This is the context you have to keep in mind as I tell you my story.
I was babysitting. Yes, that’s how it starts. I can count on one hand the number of times I have babysat in my life. Most of those times were decades ago. Let’s just say I’m not exactly up on what the cool kids do for fun nowadays. Bock socials? They hang out at the malt shop? True story, I thought malt was a metal for years.
Despite all the red flags, the evening went quite well and we had fun both together and independently. At some point, I decided I needed some personal entertainment and decided to try out a new manga. Get ready for the interrogation princess. It’s extremely cute. The manga is a series of comedic vignettes set in a fantasy world featuring a valiant princess getting interrogated in a bunch of pleasant or adorable ways and giving out information almost instantly. I’m not explaining it well but trust me, it’s quite sweet. It made me smile and even giggle out loud a few times. And on one of those occasions, the kid asked me what was so funny.
We’re getting to the point here. I actually described the premise and the specific vignette I was reading and got a half confused half mildly disappointed reaction. It seems my enthusiasm was not shared. It was too cutesy and silly for more sophisticated tastes.
The thing is, the parent loved it…
You see, I am on occasion asked about my opinion on whether a manga or anime would be good for someone’s kid or niece or something. And it happens regularly that I will say they might be *too young** for something. Almost invariably the comeback is no they love violent stuff you should see the horror movies they watch, or it’s OK, they’re used to all the sexy stuff in anime… that’s great for those kids but it’s pretty much never what I mean. Some things just need a few years under your belt to be appreciated.
For instance, I really love both Land of the Lustrous and Acca 13. Neither is particularly violent, at least not in the traditional way and I think Acca has a coffee date scene once and it’s as far as it goes for the salacious stuff. They’re also beautiful to look at. But I would probably never recommend you have your 11-year-old watch these. One is a surreal critic of organized religion and mysticism while the other is an understated political intrigue told through procedural administration. These shows are not for kids because most kids would be bored to death by them.
I wonder if I am going to get a dozen comments telling me how wrong I am and that ACCA is their 10-year-Olds favorite anime. I almost hope so. It’s a great show. The point remains that a mature story is about way more than just is there sex and or violence in it.
But that’s kind of obvious, right. Penguindrum isn’t going to resonate with you until you’ve gotten a pretty solid understanding of loss. But what about something like interrogation… or even Dragon Goes Househunting. Ok, maybe it’s more fun if you have dipped your toes in the real estate market at some point but still. It’s a cute fantasy shoe full of cute characters and therein lies the problem if you ask me.
On paper, Interrogation, and Dragon Goes Househunting are both ideal family entertainment. They are adorable and full of easy and lighthearted humor with a few nods that will appeal to an older crowd without ever getting raunchy or in bad taste. They should be the perfect sort of thing to enjoy with the kids around you. And yet, in my case, both were met with resounding disinterest and mild disdain from a variety of young folks and I have decided that it’s because they are too young for these titles and possibly too old at the same time.
There’s this period you go through when you want to shed childish things as a right of passage to adulthood. At least I think here is, I’m pretty sure I have heard of it. I’m not looking forward to going through it though, I love childish things! Anyways, most people go through a time in their lives when they don’t want to be seen as a kid anymore. And part of that is not being seen enjoying things that are for kids.
With their cutesy characters, goofy humour, and innocent storylines, I think stories like Interrogation… and Dragon Goes Househunting fall right into the category of seeming too childlike while the more tongue-in-cheek elements and references that will resonate with adults are too subtle or unassuming to get properly picked up by teens and tweens leaving them in a limbo.
Tricky isn’t it? And obviously, it’s hardly a universal rule. I’m sure there are teenagers out there that enjoyed both of these titles and plenty more in the same vein. But it’s still a pattern that I noticed.
And so, whenever I get asked for recommendations for younger viewers I freeze up and go into this series of complicated calculations. I mean I wouldn’t want to seem uncool! That would be the worse!
Ironically, sex and violence are one of the last things I consider when trying to figure out what the appropriate age of an audience s for any given show. I will tell the parents something along the lines of it’s very well made and has great pacing, I think your kid will love it but it is quite violent if there are any issues there, and let them figure it out!
What I’m saying is that our current rating system is hokum! Growing up is not about becoming horny and violent. Not only about that…at least not for everyone! And we should widen our appraisal of media a bit.
Did you think this is where I was going with this diatribe? Kind of a sharp left turn, isn’t it.
Ok, so here’s the second point of this post, Interrogation… is really fun and cute. It’s a great way to cheer yourself up if you’re having a bit of a bummer day or to just spend a few minutes and smile!