Why Is A Parent's Guide to Anime Needed?
Some anime are expressly designed for children, and some can be
enjoyed by the entire family. Others--including many series originally
broadcast on Japanese television--contain material that some parents
will find objectionable, even though other parents wouldn't hesitate
to share these videos with their kids. And some are explicitly designed
for adult audiences and shouldn't be shared with children.
Another point parents should bear in mind about anime is that, in Japanese
culture, casual nudity isn't considered to be harmful to children.
Many quite innocent anime videos, designed for broadcast on Japanese
TV, contain brief nudity in non-sexual situations (for example, in public
baths, which are very much part of traditional Japanese culture).
Non-Japanese parents will need to decide for themselves whether
this content is appropriate for their children. Unlike American animated
films intended for children's audiences, anime tends to deal much more
realistically with evil and death. The classic American villain--wholly evil,
and not very believable--gives way to complex characters with whom one can
partly sympathize. Anime is often thought-provoking and provides an
excellent foundation for raising important issues with your children.
Parents should realize that Japan isn't as "liberated" as the U.S. with respect
to the presence of women in the professions, and some anime reflect this and
portray women in traditional, submissive roles. This isn't necessarily a liability;
evidence of this difference could provide an occasion for discussing cultural
differences and historical change with american kids. On the whole, though,
anime authors are probably more liberal than Japanese society, and one finds
many anime with strong, independent female characters.
Recently, too, there is a growing controversy over gender roles in Japan. An American
friend recently complained bitterly over the pervasiveness of sadistic, (heterosexual)
male-oriented Japanese pornography in Japan. There is like a message that
women are sexual objects in some japanese cartoons and it has become almost
epidemic in Japanese culture, and that male chauvenism is everywhere.
Many career women in Japan seem to be so disgusted with things that they
refuse to marry. And too many men are expected to sacrifice themselves to
their jobs, to the point of having no family involvement. When a man retires,
he sometimes becomes trapped in a family he doesn't know, with nothing to
do, and he tends to die soon after from his sudden lack of purpose.
For parents convenience, A Parent's Guide to Anime uses a simple, color-coded
rating scheme. However, they say that family decisions regarding the suitability
of any particular video require more detailed information, which provides
substantive reviews. The reviews can provide information to help them to
decide whether to share a given anime video with their family or not.
This is how they select the audience’s censore, below each icon they write a
brief explanation of the video content:
- Green Spot means that a video is suitable for all audiences.
Please note that some of these selections include frightening sequences that
may not be appropriate for very young children.
- Yellow Spot means that a video has a Judgment Call
These videos contain some material that some families might not
judge suitable for viewing by children, especially elementary-school-aged
- Red Spot means that this videos is intended for mature audiences
These videos are intended for mature audiences, and parents are strongly
cautioned to think twice before sharing them with children.
Historical and Modern Attitudes
Historically, like almost every culture on the planet, Japan has tended toward
idealizing male dominance and female submissiveness. However, women have
not been invisible, especially in Japan's early years. Some of Japan's greatest
literary figures were women, such as the novelist Lady Murasaki, who lived
about a thousand years ago. Some of Japan's earliest rulers were empresses.
However, when Japan became war-oriented and feudal, women quickly became
second-class citizens. Most women were treated as they have been treated
throughout history: as merchandise, or servants, and as heir-producing
machines. This is not to say men were free from societal chains; men in
Japan are expected to conform to societal expectations, too, and males were
expected to devote themselves to their tasks with great diligence and hard
The macho ideal of a strong, cool male fits the Japanese ideal very closely.
At home, some Japanese men tend to order their wives about. They have a
tendency to speak gruffly, and use the wife's first name. "Kyoko, the tea!" or
"Mayuko, please get me more coffee." Wives, meanwhile, are generally
expected to refer to their husbands with the polite form of "you," or "anata,"
and they are expected to use more polite phrases and to obey their husbands.
Of course. An interesting exception to this, however, are many families with
children. Some parents take to calling each other as "Mama" or "Papa" (or
"okaasan" and "otousan"); hence, not only do the children refer to their mother
as "mama" or "okaasan," but so does the father (and vice versa). "Let's ask mama
when she gets home," the husband might say. "Papa, is this your wallet?" the
wife might say. This is extended further once the parents become grandparents,
and they start calling each other "grandfather" or "grandmother," just as the
newest generation does.
At work, though, it is reported that women are the last to be hired and the first
to be fired. Many college-educated women simply aren't hired, even if they're
qualified. There is still an expectation that a married woman will quit her job to
stay at home. Sexual harassment, though technically illegal, is apparently common
at the workplace, and both men and women are expected to regard it as normal.
In society in general, naked women are plastered all over from subways to the
TV set (yes, even prime time TV). As one American family in Japan put it,
"At first the kids would stare at the TV set (because of the prevalence of female
nudity), but after a while, they got used to it." Pornographic bookstores are
pretty common, and business men are frequently seen reading pornographic
books openly, in public. Much of the recent pornography, reports a friend, is
based on sadistic themes.
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