How to Enjoy Anime with Kids
If it's a "cartoon" chances are your kids (under 12) will watch it, but will you? As an adult can you sit through endless episodes of Pokemon and YuGiOh on the WB and Cartoon Network? This is a guide to understanding children's obsession with these shows and how they can be education as well.
Basic premise for those who live in a plastic bubble - boy named Ash travels around with his pokemon (pocket monsters) to engage in pokemon battles in order to become a pokemon master, but he also learns about life while helping out others.
They started out with about 150 pokemon then gradually added more, then came out with another 100+. The ability to recognize and identify this many creatures is quite a feat for young children. During the first season of Pokemon (the Indigo League) my 3.5 year old daughter was able to identify almost all 150 Pokemon and she knew some I had problems with (nidorino, nidorina, nidoran, voltorb, electrode, etc.). When kids are obssessed with something, it's a great opportunity to teach them something worthwhile. She learned how to read age appropriate Pokemon books at 4 years old and by the time she was in kindergarten, she was pretty much an independent reader and now at 8 she reads the YuGiOh and Naruto manga (and books with less pictures, too).
The pokemon characters are usually based on real creatures so correlating them and teaching children about what is real and imaginary and their differences is a good opportunity. Pikachu is an electric mouse, rattata is a rat, they are both rodents. Charmander's name is like salamander, which is associated with fire in various myths, charmeleon's name is like chameleon, etc. Zubat has radar like real bats. The correlations are endless and are good starting points for learning about the real world of animals. You can watch national geographic after pokemon and look for similarities.
Compare the different classes of pokemon - grass, water, fire, electric, rock. Talk about their physical properties in real life and does the battle strategy make sense (water weak against electrical attacks, grass pokemon strong against electrical pokemon). You can introduce scientific concepts of conductivity, grounding, heat, density, etc.
Slightly older kids will prefer YuGiOh with its scarier monsters and cooler characters. The principle is the same. Kid goes around battling with holographic monsters based on a card game to become the King of Games (definition of YuGiOh). The earlier episodes actually have strategies that make sense. Once they get past the battle city semi-finals (around episode 100) strategy goes out the window since all the cards start having special abilities.
Some of the card strategies can be educational. When the giant moth is soaked by the mist, the electrical attack by Summoned Skull is amplified. When the moon is destroyed, it affects the tide, which in turn affects the sea creatures.
Then there is the Egyptian mythology element of YuGiOh. Pyramids are the tombs of the pharaohs. The millenium eye appears to be the eye of Horus, a symbol of protection used to ward off danger, disease, and misfortune. Of the millenium items, the ankh is a common symbol of life, and the scale was used by Anubis (God of Death) to judge man's heart against the feather of truth before admittance to the afterlife. Learn more about Egyptian mythology, mummies, and pyramids with your kids by taking them to the museum.
Just remember to look out for ways to educate your children and not let their minds completely rot while watching TV all day. Correlate shows with books, trips to the museum, and most importantly intelligent discussions with you as the parent.