A common problem for many adolescent anime fans is to convince their parents that the devil cartoon that plays from their tablets isn’t going to corrupt the family structure. In the non-exaggerated case, your parents are probably just ambivalent towards your love of anime, which is cool too. However, you might want your parents to acknowledge, if not appreciate, the thing that you love so much. In the quest to unite all anime lovers, we’ve come up with a list of shows that you might want to tell your parents to watch, in order to convert them to the faith of the hopeless- I mean to the land of Otaku-ism.
One of the first anime to have any real mainstream success on this side of the Pacific pond. Akira is a sped-up directors cut of the Katsuhiro Otomo manga of the same name. It takes place in a dystopian Tokyo in 2019 where two teenage biker gang members get caught up in a battle for control over an unimaginable psychic power source known as Akira. It’s a fast-paced movie with less of a focus on narrative and more on atmosphere and emotion.
Recommendation: If your parents have trouble appreciating the visceral nature of the art or don’t believe that any real detail can be captured in such a short time span, show them this.
Note: lydamorehouse brought up a very valid point: This is a very violent movie. For those parents who are just looking for an excuse to stop you from watching anime might just watch this to prove a point. This is a definitely a scary thought, one that didn’t come to my mind immediately. My parents happen to be pretty liberal. I’ve found that many parents of that category: they tend to underestimate the mature nature of anime and actually end up thinking it is more juvenile. While Akira might jolt them into thinking otherwise, that may not necessarily be the best thing. Take this into account when you decide to test one of these entries on your parents. What is their current level of tolerance for graphic material? Be wary.
#9: Usagi Drop
Usagi Drop follows a 30-year-old salaryman named Daikichi who adopts a 6-year-old named Rin who turns out to be the illegitimate daughter of Daikichi’s grandfather. You may be thinking to yourself, “No. If I show this to my parents, they’re going to think that anime is really, really creepy or weird or has strange views on… things.” That is a valid point. However, you can’t lie to your parents. You can give them easy things to watch, some Ghibli, make them re-watch Totoro one million times, but eventually they will find other anime that go against societal norms. That’s what good anime tends to do. You are better off preparing them with a show that deals with those issues (somewhat) well, like Usagi Drop, rather than have them come to you later with School Days or Yosuga no Sora.
In addition to that, this is a story about family and the relationship between parent and child. The bond there extends beyond blood ties and beyond family politics or relations. It’s a bond forged by experience. Any parent can relate to that on the deep level it was meant for.
Recommendation: Inoculation to prevent future surprises and it’s also somewhat relatable.
Parents have tough lives. Anime can serve any purpose, and so you can use Mushishi to show them that anime can serve as a relaxation method for them as it might for you. It’s such a simple show that is either episodic or bi-episodic, and so it is easy to watch with breaks in between. Mushishi puts no pressure on you to binge-watch and so you can watch it at your leisure.
Recommendation: Show them the versatility of anime in terms of watchability.
#7: Uchuu Kyoudai
I’m an engineer, so this anime really appeals to me. That being said, you might have parents who work in a similar field. Even if they work in a professional position, they can appreciate what it means to live your dream through hard work and just that little bit of luck (okay, a lot of luck). Uchuu Kyoudai has that, and so much more.
Recommendation: If your parents work in a professional position (preferably engineering, perhaps medicine or law).
#6: Gauche the Cellist
You might hear your parent say, “Why does anime have to be so complicated? Why can’t it be simple like a Disney movie?” Sure, you could show them a Ghibli film (and there is one coming up on this list), but why don’t you make them eat their words? Gauche the Cellist takes simplicity and makes it beautiful with the power of music and imagery. It’s not complicated in terms of art style, story or even the music that’s in it, but it weaves it all together in a warm, fuzzy tapestry that decries those accusations that say anime is all about the details.
Recommendation: If your parents have seen something of anime, but it’s all been modern and story-oriented, this will open their mind a little more.
It’s not often that you get an anime that could do well in North America against an HBO or AMC original, but Fate/Zero might be a contender for that distinction. The story is there, the art is exquisite, the atmosphere is dark and overbearing and the sound is great. Last of all, the cast is large and varied. The reason it doesn’t compare to something like Breaking Bad or Mad Men is that there is no central character upon whom everything relies. However, this anime still manages to tell a great story in spite of that. So it’s not necessary to have a Don Draper or a Walter White, as long as you can spread the emotion over everyone. That is the point you are proving by showing them Fate/Zero.
Recommendation: For parents who are addicted to the great T.V. shows of recent years and are skeptical about whether anime can compete.
#4: Ghost in the Shell
In the same way that Akira burst into the scene, Ghost in the Shell was a cult phenomenon. For those who were already sci-fi fanatics, this movie played to the nostalgia for the sci-fi culture of Asimov, Dick, and Blade Runner. Ghost in the Shell gave those lovers of that world something new and fresh during a time when Tarantino had already broken out into the scene and the 90’s already had it’s flavor. To think that the world was so different in tone from what the Ghost in the Shell predicted just 20 years ago is amazing to behold.
Recommendation: If you have sci-fi loving parents, or parents who love the 90’s for whatever reason, this is the way to go.
#3: Death Note
This one is similar to Fate/Zero, except that the 2nd half of this is insane. That being said, it’s actually perfectly fine for consumption if the person watching it has no relative scale of comparison when it comes to anime. Therefore, this show as a whole is terrific for any parent. It’s mature, and yet toys with the idea of a juvenile playing god. It’s a story of cat and mouse, deception and mystery, the thrill of the chase. This stuff is all great for parents because they can either try to relate to it, or look at it from the outside as a viewer.
Recommendation: For parents who want to see how dark anime can get, this is a light preview. No need to shock them yet.
#2: Princess Mononoke
This is the show that got my mother into anime, and by “into” I mean that she watches it occasionally when she has the time. That’s still a pretty big commitment for her, so I take that as an accomplishment. Mononoke is unlike the rest of the Ghibli repertoire in that it has a very clear message, but that message can change as you change your point of view. It speaks to environmental dangers of societal progress and the price of war, as well as sacrifice and resilience in desperate times. Mononoke is not your average Ghibli flick and people tend to forget this when they go passed it on a list of their favorites.
Recommendation: If they feel Ghibli is too childish and can’t make a prescient point, here’s the answer.
#1: Master Keaton
Despite the fact that by adding this entry, I am basically rewriting my top 10 list of anime, I’m going to add it anyways because it makes no sense not to. Master Keaton is the anime for people of an older generation. If there’s an episode you don’t like, then there are several that you do. If you don’t like gunfights, don’t worry, there’s an episode about family reconciliation. If you don’t like archaeology, don’t worry, there’s an episode on underestimating your enemies and your friends. Keaton has something for everyone and this is no exaggeration. You don’t need to make a show 100 episodes long to appeal to everyone, in fact most shows that reach that point tend to appeal only to a singular fanbase anyways (for whatever reason).
Recommendation: Any parent who has older tastes. If they like the History channel, this is good for them too.
Well that’s all folks. Stay tuned for further developments and until next time, have a great day!