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Finding the Best Anime for Kids

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Finding safe and suitable anime for your child to watch.

If you are unfamiliar with anime, you may be under the impression it’s all loud, bright, bold Japanese cartoons with big-eyed characters and adult storylines. While some anime is like this, much of it is not only child-appropriate but beneficial to kids.

Let me share with you my experience as a parent who knew nothing about anime until our youngest daughter happened to see a clip of a show and fell in love with this uniquely Japanese art form.


Best Anime for Kids

Since my youngest daughter is a huge anime fan, I spend plenty of time watching, vetting, and approving or denying anime. I’ve used my experience and input from other parents and experts to make these recommendations for the best anime for kids.

I’ve also listed, where applicable, the rating that has been given to the anime in the U.S. and what most parents consider to be a suitable age range.

1. Naruto

  • Type: Television series.
  • Rating: PG.
  • Age range: 11 years and older.
  • Where to watch: Hulu, Netflix, Tubi TV, VuDu, Crunchyroll, and The Roku Channel.

Naruto is the story of a young ninja who dreams of becoming the Hokage, the leader of his village. As well as being fun and full of Naruto’s mischievous exploits, the series also touches on the themes of loneliness, acceptance, and the value of hard work.

In the first half of the series, he is a pre-teen, and in the second half, he is an adolescent. There is the occasional use of the word damn and a few, brief, passing references to smoking, drinking, and gambling.

2. Cardcaptor Sakura/Cardcaptors

  • Type: Television series and movies.
  • Rating: G.
  • Age range: 8 years and older.
  • Where to watch: Netflix and Crunchyroll.

Cardcaptor Sakura, broadcast as Cardcaptors in some countries, is about an elementary school girl who accidentally sets free a series of magical cards. Having done so, she discovers her own magical powers.

The series follows Sakura, who is an excellent female role model, as she tries to retrieve the cards and seal them back into the book from which they were released.

Sakura has some mild violence, similar to the kind you might see in Pokemon.

3. My Neighbor Totoro

  • Type: Movie.
  • Rating: G.
  • Age range: 4 years and older.
  • Where to watch: HBO Max, Netflix, YouTube, and Vudu.

A favorite family movie of many anime fans, My Neighbor Totoro is about two sisters who move to the countryside with their father. They move so they can all be closer to their mother, who is in the hospital with an unspecified illness.

While exploring their new surroundings, the girls discover Totoros, magical creatures who live in the forest. The oldest sister turns to one of the Totoros when her younger sister runs away from home. It’s a beautiful, gentle movie the entire family can enjoy.

4. Haikyu!!

  • Type: Television series.
  • Rating: G.
  • Age range: 10 years and older.
  • Where to watch: Netflix, Hulu, Crunchyroll, and HiDive.

Haikyu!! begins with Shōyō Hinata, a junior high boy of short stature, inspired to play volleyball after watching a player nicknamed, “The Little Giant.” He joins the school volleyball club only to discover he’s the sole member, so he works to pull together a team, and finally plays in competitive games.

As the series evolves, Shōyō meets his nemesis, and their relationship helps both boys work toward reaching their full potential. A favorite in our home, you don’t have to be a sports fan or know anything about volleyball to enjoy Haikyu!!

5. My Hero Academia

  • Type: Television series.
  • Rating: PG.
  • Age range: 12 years and older.
  • Where to watch: Netflix, Hulu, and Crunchyroll.

My Hero Academia is about a world in which 80 percent of the population is born with “quirks” that are like superpowers. Izuku, the central character, is born without a quirk, but that doesn’t stop him from dreaming of attending U.A. High Academy and becoming a hero.

Through the series, you see Izuku evolve from the insecure and fearful boy he is at the beginning, to, well, I won’t tell you what — that would spoil the show.

There are a few mild cuss words and some cartoon violence, but nothing you wouldn’t see in any kid’s superhero movie.

6. Hikaru No Go

  • Type: Television series.
  • Rating: G.
  • Age range: 10 and older.
  • Where to watch: Hulu and Crunchyroll.

Hikaru No Go is the story of Hikaru Shindo, a 12-year-old boy who is exploring his grandfather’s home and finds a Go board. The board is haunted by Sai, a Go player from the Heian period (794-1185) who wants to play Go again and longs to achieve the “perfect move.”

The series follows Hikaru as he begins to play the game of Go and learns about friendship, respect, and the importance of learning from our past. A good choice for anime beginners, Hikaru No Go, is a show that can be enjoyed by both kids and adults.

7. A Silent Voice

  • Type: Movie.
  • Rating: Not rated.
  • Age range: 10 years and older.
  • Where to watch: Netflix and Vudu.

A Silent Voice revolves around Shouko Nishimiya, the new girl at school, who is bullied because she is deaf. Front and center in the bullying is Shôya Ishida. He mocks Shouko so much that she moves to another school and following this move, Ishida’s classmates ostracize him,

Years later, Ishida is tormented by his behavior, so he sets out to find Shouko and atone for his behavior. This one is packed with emotion, and I suggest you have a box of tissues at the ready; I know everyone in our family needed them.

8. Little Witch Academia

  • Type: Television series.
  • Rating: G.
  • Age range: 8 years and older.
  • Where to watch: Netflix.

Little Witch Academia is an action-packed and exciting anime series that follows Akko and her fellow students at Luna Nova Academy, a prestigious school for little witches. There are some battles between fantasy creatures and a few sword fights, but there’s no gore, and nothing to frighten a pre-tween.

I’d be fine with our 4-year-old seeing what goes on in this show, but I don’t think kids that young would get the story, which is why it’s been given an 8 years and older rating.

9. Barakamon

  • Type: Television series.
  • Rating: G.
  • Age range: 12 years and older.
  • Where to watch: YouTube.

Handa Seishu is a young, city-dwelling calligrapher who also happens to be incredibly arrogant.

After punching a famous calligrapher in the face (although this scene isn’t what I would consider violent), Seishu is exiled to a remote island where he experiences rural living for the first time.

As he learns to cope with villagers who walk into his home without knocking and children who play in his yard without asking, Seishu also learns about himself and the kind of person he wants to be. This show is full of wacky laughs and good-natured humor.

10. Girls Und Panzer

  • Type: Television series.
  • Rating: TV-14.
  • Age range: 14 years and older.
  • Where to watch: Netflix, Hulu, Crunchyroll, and HiDive.

Miho Nishizumi is a teenage girl from a family famous for their skills in Senshado, which is tank warfare. When she dishonors her family by helping a competitor, she is sent to a school that does not practice Senshado.

A short series that explores family bonds, competition, girl-power, and friendship, Girls Und Panzer is also rich in history.

The one downside is that the girls are portrayed in typical anime style — with short skirts. This doesn’t bother our family, but it may be a deal-breaker for some.

11. Fullmetal Alchemist

  • Type: Television series and movies.
  • Rating: PG.
  • Age range: 14 years and older.
  • Where to watch: Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and Crunchyroll.

Fullmetal Alchemist is about brothers Edward and Alphonse, who perform a forbidden ritual in an attempt to bring their mother back from the dead. Telling you what happens next would spoil the series, but I can say that much of the focus is on a search for The Philosopher’s Stone.

Fullmetal Alchemist is complex, and, at times, violent. If you are unsure about its suitability for your family, be sure to watch it yourself first.

12. Last Exile

  • Type: Television series.
  • Rating: PG.
  • Age range: 8 years and older.
  • Where to watch: YouTube and Hulu.

Taking place on the planet Prester, Last Exile is a classic tale of good vs. evil set against a world of futuristic, yet retro, airships.

Claus Valca is a pilot, and Lavie is a navigator. Together, they form a team obsessed with becoming the first to cross the Grand Stream by air. On the way, they meet the mysterious Alvis, and the trio set out to bring peace to their world.

An engaging story and beautiful visuals make this a must-see for anime fans.

13. Fairy Tail

  • Type: Television series and movie.
  • Rating: TV-14.
  • Age range: 14 years and older.
  • Where to watch: Tubu, Hulu, Crunchyroll, and Netflix.

This is the story of Lucy, a 17-year-old girl, and her fellow members of the magical guild called Fairy Tail.

With eight seasons and counting, this is a truly epic series, but it is not for everyone. There are some innuendo and a few instances of Lucy using her physical attributes to get what she wants.

However, these scenes are rare and far outweighed by those where Lucy and her friends use their skills and positive character traits to achieve their objectives.

14. Pom Poko

  • Type: Movie.
  • Rating: G.
  • Age range: 8 years and older.
  • Where to watch: Netflix, HBO Max, and YouTube.

Pom Poko is the story of the Tanuki, a breed of raccoon dogs from Japanese mythology, who live a peaceful existence until human development begins to encroach on the forest. The Tanuki use their magical shapeshifting abilities as they try to prevent the destruction of their traditional homeland and avert the genuine possibility of their extinction.

A beautiful movie with a message, sensitive, younger children could be upset by the large number of raccoon dog deaths.

15. Spirited Away

  • Type: Movie.
  • Rated: PG.
  • Age range: 8 years and older.
  • Where to watch: Netflix, YouTube, and HBO Max.

In 2003, Spirited Away won the Oscar for Best Animated Feature, along with over 40 other international film awards. It’s easy to see why. The stunning animation, gripping story, and beautifully crafted characters combine to make this a classic.

The story of a 10-year-old girl who finds herself and her parents in a world of magical creatures, Spirited Away, might be too scary or intense for sensitive children.

16. Ponyo

  • Type: Movie.
  • Rating: G.
  • Age range: 4 years and older.
  • Where to watch: Netflix, HBO Max, and YouTube.

The first anime movie we ever watched with our kids, Ponyo, is a sweet, gentle movie that is a fabulous choice for family movie night. A magical fairy-tale with a few similarities to “The Little Mermaid,” Ponyo is a goldfish princess who uses her magic to take on human form.

This is a wonderful option for an introduction to anime.

17. InuYasha

  • Type: Television series and movies.
  • Rating: 14.
  • Age range: 13 and older.
  • Where to watch: Netflix, Hulu, HBO Max, and Crunchyroll.

This is the story of a 15-year-old, modern-day schoolgirl who is transported back to the Sengoku Period (1467-1615), a time in Japanese history of almost constant civil war and upheaval. While there, she must help a half-demon creature retrieve the pieces of a shattered magical jewel before dark forces do so themselves and achieve ultimate power.

The series has a strong female lead, but some parents may be concerned about the occasional minor bad word or a brief flash of flesh.

18. Yo-Kai Watch

  • Type: Television series and movies.
  • Rating: G.
  • Age range: 7 years and older.
  • Where to watch: Netflix, Hulu, DirecTV, Hoopla, YouTube, and Disney XD.

Think of this as Pokemon, but with ghosts you befriend instead of creatures you train and battle.

Some parents have said they find the program too suggestive for younger kids. However, it is no more so than the occasional scene or innuendo you might see in Bugs Bunny or other cartoons. I’d happily let my 5-year-old watch this, but I that appreciate others may want their kids to be a little older before seeing it.

19. Avatar: The Last Airbender

  • Type: Television series and movies.
  • Rating: G.
  • Age range: 5 years and older.
  • Where to watch: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, YouTube, Nickelodeon, and CBS.

The Avatar has been missing for 100 years. The world needs him to return and restore peace and balance to a world turned upside down by the Fire Nation’s invasion.

Aang is an 11-year-old boy and the last of his tribe, who is found frozen in the ocean. Is he the fabled Avatar?

An uplifting anime packed full of positive messages; adults will enjoy Avatar The Last Airbender as much as the kids do.

20. Inazuma Eleven

  • Type: Television series and movie.
  • Rating: G.
  • Age range: 7 years and older.
  • Where to watch: Amazon Prime, YouTube, Crunchyroll, and Hoopla.

Inazuma Eleven is a classic underdog story about an unremarkable school soccer team and its players. Strong, positive characters and messages abound, and you don’t have to be a soccer fanatic to enjoy it, but that will help.

It’s safe to watch for most kids, with the occasional foul on the soccer pitch.

21. The Legend Of Korra

  • Type: Television series.
  • Rating: G.
  • Age range: 8 years and older.
  • Where to watch: Netflix, CBS, and Nickelodeon.

The Legend Of Korra takes place in the same world as and 70 years after Avatar The Last Airbender. You do not have to be familiar with Avatar to watch Korra, but you will get more from this anime if you have watched its predecessor.

The general consensus is that this is a little more mature than Avatar, so you may want to wait until your child is old enough not to be scared by some of the fantasy elements.

22. Kiki’s Delivery Service

  • Type: Movie.
  • Rating: G.
  • Age range: 4 years and older.
  • Where to watch: HBO Max, Vudu, and YouTube.

A sweet and heartwarming movie that has enough story to keep the adults interested, but is not too complicated for younger viewers.

There is an absence of the hero vs. villain material you get in most media. Instead, Kiki’s Delivery Service is simply the story of a young girl learning how to find her way in the world.

23. The Girl Who Leapt Through Time

  • Type: Movie.
  • Rating: PG.
  • Age range: 10 years and older.
  • Where to watch: Vudu and YouTube.

The Girl Who Leapt Through Time tells the story of Makoto, who acquires the ability to travel back in time. Using her newfound ability to go back and change her grades, avoid being late, and craft the perfect karaoke performance, Makoto discovers that everything she changes has unforeseen effects.

This is an excellent tale about consequences and taking responsibility for our words and deeds.

24. Fruits Basket

  • Type: Television series.
  • Rating: PG.
  • Age range: 11 years and older.
  • Where to watch: Hulu and Crunchyroll.

One for the older or more mature tween, Fruits Basket is a funny and touching anime that touches on subject matter that some might find difficult to process, such as death and depression.

However, such instances are handled sensitively, and the overarching feel of the show is one of positivity.

25. Howl’s Moving Castle

  • Type: Movie.
  • Rating: PG.
  • Age range: 8 years and older.
  • Where to watch: HBO Max, YouTube, Vudu, and Netflix.

This dream, imaginative anime features a wise old wizard in a fantastical walking castle and a wise old woman who is really an 18-year-old hat-maker transformed by an evil witch. It also has a scarecrow with a turnip head and a deal-making fire demon.

Kids may not follow all of the complex character development, but they’ll still enjoy every minute.

Best Anime for Kids on YouTube

If you want to choose an anime series or movie for a specific platform, here are my top picks on YouTube, Hulu, and Netflix.

  • A Silent Voice.
  • Spirited Away.
  • Howl’s Moving Castle.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  • My Neighbor Totoro.
  • Barakamon.
  • Last Exile.
  • Pom Poko.
  • Ponyo.
  • Yo-Kai Watch.
  • Inazuma Eleven.

Best Anime for Kids on Hulu

  • Naruto.
  • My Hero Academia.
  • Haikyuu!!
  • Hikaru No Go.
  • Girls Und Panzer.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist.
  • Last Exile.
  • Fairy Tail.
  • InuYasha.
  • Yo-Kai Watch.
  • The Last Airbender.
  • Fruits Basket.

Best Anime for Kids on Netflix

  • Naruto.
  • Cardcaptor Sakura.
  • My Neighbor Totoro.
  • Haikyuu!!
  • My Hero Academia.
  • A Silent Voice.
  • Little Witch Academia.
  • Girls Und Panzer.
  • Fullmetal Alchemist.
  • Fairy Tail.
  • Pom Poko.
  • Spirited Away.
  • Ponyo.
  • InuYasha.
  • Yo-Kai Watch.
  • Avatar: The Last Airbender.
  • The Legend Of Korra.
  • Howl’s Moving Castle.

What Is Anime?

In Japan, the word anime refers to any type of cartoon, no matter what the style or the country of origin. However, in western cultures, anime has come to refer to the distinct animation style that originated in Japan and is now produced in several predominantly Asian countries (1).

Anime reflects Japanese cultural and social norms, and this shows in the storylines and animation. This reflection of attitudes can lead to some anime newbies being shocked by content that is viewed as entirely innocent by the creators.

In Japan, death is something that is discussed openly, and nudity is not seen as implicitly sexual. That means death and nudity occur more frequently than in children’s cartoons created in North America and Europe (2).

That’s not to say anime is loaded with what you might consider adult content. There’s an almost endless supply of shows and movies created specifically for young children, older kids, tweens, and teens.

If you feel strongly about your child’s exposure to death, violence, or nudity, you may want to avoid anime that is rated for the 14 years and older age group. You should also watch the anime before your child watches (3).

Benefits of Watching Anime for Kids

As a parent, some people ask me if it’s okay for their kids to watch anime. I say it’s more than ok and there are several genuine benefits of watching anime.

They Are Exposed To Another Culture

Many anime movies and television shows offer an insight into Japanese culture, history, and society. This can help your child develop an appreciation for the perspectives of people from different backgrounds and other ways of life.

It Can Spark Creativity

Many anime fans are inspired to start drawing, writing, or even combining them to write their own graphic novels. Many of the stories in anime have fantasy or magical elements. This can provide a new and exciting form of inspiration for creative pursuits.

They May Form New Friendships Or Strengthen Existing Ones

The anime fandom is a passionate one. Our youngest daughter has met many people she might otherwise not have and has formed strong friendships through her love of anime.

It Discusses Weighty Subjects

Anime doesn’t shy away from addressing what might be considered difficult subjects such as death, mental illness, racism, and the complexities of relationships. Watching anime can help initiate discussions between adults and kids.

They’ll Practice Reading

Watching subtitled anime can help kids practice their reading skills without even realizing they are doing so (4). Some fans of anime are also then drawn to reading the manga books on which many of the shows and movies are based.


Anime May Surprise You

Not all anime is the loud, bright, bold, cartoon fare you might believe it is. Much of the anime suitable for kids is quite complicated, with meaningful storylines and sophisticated character development.

If your child shows an interest, take the opportunity to sit down and watch some with them. You might discover a love of anime for yourself. I know I did.

Headshot of Patricia Barnes

About the Author

Patricia Barnes

Patricia Barnes is a homeschooling mom of 5 who has been featured on Global TV, quoted in Parents magazine, and writes for a variety of websites and publications. Doing her best to keep it together in a life of constant chaos, Patti would describe herself as an eclectic mess maker, lousy crafter, book lover, autism mom, and insomniac.
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