Over the last three decades, Japanese animation - or anime to keep it short - has grown in popularity in the United States. While there were anime fans before the 1990s, it was the introduction of shows like Pokémon and Dragon Ball that really brought the art form to the mainstream. With each passing year, more and more Americans have gotten into anime.
But unlike the majority of American animation, a lot of anime isn't family friendly. Anime caters to all age groups, and a lot of it has nudity, foul language, and extreme violence — which probably shouldn't be seen by kids. Luckily, plenty of the anime series that have made their way to the United States are perfect for kids and the whole family to sit back and enjoy.
Updated on March 17th, 2022 by Sarah Martin:With new anime constantly being released, there have been quite a few more family-friendly releases within the past few years. These anime not only teach important lessons, but are appropriate for all viewers. Additionally, they don't feel like children's shows, allowing viewers of all ages to enjoy these titles.
15 Sk8 The Infinity Teaches How Important It Is To Find One's Own Happiness
Sk8 The Infinity is a relatively new title that came out in winter 2021. It's about Reki Kyan and Langa Hasegawa, two high schoolers who participated in "S," an underground skateboarding competition. This anime teaches many important lessons, such as healthy communication in friendships and the importance of having an outlet.
However, the most powerful lesson that Sk8 The Infinity teaches is that of finding one's own happiness. The very first lines in the anime are when Reki describes knowing what his happiness is, then reaching for a skateboard. There are several lovable characters in this anime, and it's appropriate for the whole family.
14 Kuroko's Basketball Sends A Powerful Message
Although the themes of Kuroko's Basketball may be a bit too complex for kids under the age of 12, the messages are powerful regardless. The anime follows Tetsuya Kuroko and the rest of the Seirin High basketball team as they seek to defeat the Generation Of Miracles — the team Tetsuya used to play on in middle school.
Because of the groups's immense skill and talent, they quickly grew arrogant and bored of the sport. Almost every member forgot the reason why they started in the first place, so now they just played for keeps. However, Kuroko set out not only to prove them wrong, but to remind his former friends just how fun basketball can be again.
13 Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun Is A Creepy Cute Anime
Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun is a visually stunning comedy anime that follows the urban legend of Hanako-Kun. Hanako is a ghost who grants wishes in a school bathroom — and he's just one of the school's seven wonders.
Nene Yashiro seeks romantic blessings from Hanako, but ends up getting sucked into a world of fantastical supernatural elements instead. Although this is an anime about ghosts, it's about as scary as Casper or Halloweentown. Toilet-Bound Hanako-Kun's art style is also adorable, and the artistic choices enhance the storytelling.
12 Komi Can't Communicate Teaches About Mental Illness & The Importance Of Empathy
It's very important to educate kids about the importance of empathy at a young age. It's equally as important to help children understand that mental illness shouldn't be shunned or stigmatized. Despite its quirks, Komi Can't Communicate does this excellently. Although it's not appropriate for kids under the age of 12, the anime has some very important lessons.
The anime follows Shouko Komi, a high schooler with social anxiety, as she works to achieve her goal of making 100 friends. The only thing getting in her way is that she suffers from severe social anxiety and a communication disorder. However, Komi becomes close friends with Tadano, who takes the initiative to communicate with her via writing. He never judges Komi for her anxiety, and he encourages others to be accommodating and kind to her.
11 Fairy Tail Teaches The Power Of Friendship
One of the most common tropes in shonen anime is that of the power of friendship. However, no anime quite pulls this trope off as well as Fairy Tail. The anime follows Lucy Heartfilia on her journey as she becomes a member of the Fairy Tail guild. Thanks to Natsu, she gets an easy way in.
This anime is best suited for kids 12 and up because there is some light innuendo, however, the lessons of the anime are still important. Most of the time, the anime portrays the characters working hard to hone their powers and achieve their goals. Ultimately, this all comes from the power of friendship.
10 Pokémon Is A Timeless Classic
While shows like Speed Racer, Voltron, and Astro Boy had made their way to the United States, it was Pokémon that really brought anime to the forefront of American pop culture. The series follows the life of Ash Ketchum as he trains and battles his way to becoming a true Pokémon Master.
With the help of some friends and a great group of Pokémon led by Pikachu, Ash picks up new battle strategies, encounters Legendary Pokémon like Mewtwo, and gets in a few laughs too. With over 1000 episodes and a number of movies, family won't run out of new Pokémon stories for a long time.
9 My Hero Academia Teaches The Importance Of Responsibility
While it may not be suitable for the younger members of a family, My Hero Academia is fine for most kids 12 and up. There are some suggestive moments and some violence, but nothing viewers wouldn't see in an average Marvel movie. The series centers on Izuku Midoriya, a teenage boy who dreams of becoming a superhero.
Izuku attends UA Highschool, a special school for kids with superpowers — or Quirks as they're called in the series — allowing students to train and become professional heroes when they come of age. The series is filled with superhero action and humor but also takes time to discuss the importance of responsibility.
8 Doraemon Is Family-Friendly In All Variations
When a young boy named Nobita Nobi is having trouble at school, his grandson from the future sends Doraemon, a robot cat, back in time to help Nobita with his studies and deal with the local bullies. Doraemon is able to pull out just about any device he may need for any job from a 4-dimensional pocket in his belly.
Usually, Doraemon's attempts to help lead to bigger hijinks and cause more trouble for everyone. There have been three Doraemon series since 1979, and each one is family-friendly — though the most recent series would likely work best for today's audiences.
7 Barakamon Is A Short Comedy Anime
When a young calligrapher named Handa Seishu punches a famous calligrapher, he is exiled to a small island as punishment. Having never lived outside of a big city, Handa struggles to get used to his new life. He learns how to adapt to the foreign customs with the help of his friendly neighbors, such as Naru Kotoishi and her grandfather who always pays Handa's house a visit.
Based on the manga series by Satsuki Yoshino, Barakamon is a 12-episode fish out of water anime series that the whole family can enjoy. The series is primarily a comedy in the same vein as Schitt's Creek.
6 Planetes Is Appropriate For Older Kids
Set in the year 2075, Planetes follows the space crew of the DS-12 "Toy Box." As part of their work for Technora's Debris Collecting, the crew spends their days disposing of space debris around Earth's and the Moon's orbit that would endanger space ships, satellites, and space stations.
Ai Tanabe, the newest member of DS-12, quickly learns that she and her fellow debris collecting co-workers are looked down on by others, but that doesn't stop them from doing the work that needs to get done. Meanwhile, her instructor Hachirota "Hachimaki" Hoshino dreams of owning his own ship one day. Like My Hero Academia, Planetes may not be suitable for children under 12.
5 Natsume’s Book Of Friends Is A Heartwarming Story
Based on the manga series by Yuki Midorikawa, Natsume's Book of Friends tells the story of Takashi Natsume, a young boy who, like his grandmother before him, can see spirits. When his grandmother dies, Takashi inherits her "Book of Friends" which he discovers contains the names of spirits she has held captive against their wills.
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Takashi decides to free the spirits while and is simultaneously hunted by other spirits who want to get their hands on the book. Natsume's Book of Friends is filled with wonderfully designed spirits, including Madara, a cat spirit that acts as Takashi's bodyguard.
4 Little Witch Academia Teaches The Importance Of Believing In Oneself
Inspired by a witch named Shiny Chariot, Atsuko "Akko" Kagari enrolls at Luna Nova Magical Academy to become a witch but finds that because of her non-magical upbringing, her studies are far harder than she expected. Akko struggles with her classes until she finds the Shiny Rod, a powerful magic relic left behind by Chariot.
While Little Witch Academia has some moments that may be a little scary for kids under seven, there isn't anything so intense that they would end up having nightmares or the like. The show itself is about the importance of believing in yourself and working hard to reach your dreams, which is a great message for everyone.
3 Sailor Moon Is A Classic Shojo Anime Suitable For All Ages
When 14-year-old Usagi Tsukino came across a talking cat named Luna, her life was changed forever. Luna gives Usagi the power to become Sailor Moon, the leader of the Sailor Soldiers. Usagi must find the other moon princesses and fight the vile forces of the Dark Kingdom.
One of the most beloved anime series of all time, Sailor Moon is famous not only for its comedy and action but for the times when the heroes use empathy and communication to win the day. The show is over two decades old, and some of the storylines or jokes may feel outdated in today's world, but it isn't anything too off-putting.
2 Captain Tsubasa Is A Sports Series That The Whole Family Will Love
Eleven-year-old Tsubasa Ozora has dreamed of becoming the best soccer player in the world and winning the World Cup ever since he was a baby. When he and his mother move to Nankatsu, he discovers a vibrant soccer community and soon joins in. With the support of his mother, who also believes her son will be a famous soccer player one day, Tsubasa trains as much as he can, always striving to be better.
Along the way to reaching his dream, Tsubasa makes new friends and rivals on and off the soccer field. Based on the manga series by Yōichi Takahashi, Captain Tsubasa has been made into multiple anime series and movies that the whole family can enjoy.
1 Haikyuu! Teaches The Importance Of Following Your Dreams
After seeing the National Volleyball Championships on TV, middle schooler Hinata Shouyou becomes determined not only to play the sport but to become of the best players in history. There are only two things that stand in Hinata's way: his school doesn't have a volleyball team and he is short for his age.
Still, those kinds of things weren't going to deter Hinata from making his dream come true. Hinata puts together a team of misfits who may not be great at volleyball but have a lot of heart.
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