From kids who are just starting to make their own media choices, to adults who want to share their passions with their loved ones, many anime fans dream of getting their parents into anime. However, figuring out how to do it is easier said than done, as it’s difficult to know which anime your parents will like.
If you’re trying to choose the right anime for parents, it’s best to find series that don’t contain the genre’s usual tropes. These cliches can be confusing or off-putting for non-anime fans, and they contain elements that may not be appealing to older generations.
You’re going to want to tailor your choices around your parents’ interests. If your folks’ collection of jazz LPs takes up an entire room in your house, Kids on the Slope or Cowboy Bebop could be the perfect way to get them hooked on anime. If your parents don’t like watching violent stuff, you might not want to let them know that you love Psycho Pass.
You know your parents best, so use that knowledge to help them pick out their next favorite show.
For this list I’ve tried to keep it to shows that are non-ecchi, and overall not particularly graphically violent (there are some questionable entries though, and they are addressed). I’ve also excluded plots that may make them think you are a bit of a psychopath and/or deviant. Most of all, I picked shows that had good hooks in the beginning. You only have one, maybe two episodes to hook anyone you are showing an anime to.
For the fans of crime thrillers, Monster is a must. It takes a well known moral and philosophical quandary and turns it into a devastating game of cat and mouse. Furthermore, when it comes to mature anime, it doesn’t really get much more mature than this.
Erased, as a murder mystery, has a bit of a way of setting hooks in you real early. Providing your parent can look past the ability to go back in time, which is never even tried to be explained, Erased can grab them with its intrigue and keep them in the seat.
Cells at Work
If you need proof to a parent that anime can be educational, this is ya boi. It is cute and silly sometimes, but it does actually do a really good job of explaining the inner workings of your body and what functions they preform.
Attack on Titan
Yes, yes – I said no overly violent anime. If your parents are strict on it, then yeah, this is not an applicable show for them. However, if they can handle their gore, Attack on Titan is very, very good at hooking people early and creating an imaginative, albeit terrifying world that begs to be discovered.
Although also on the violent side, Parasyte’s violence isn’t as needless as something like Attack on Titan can be at times. Furthermore, for the general sci-fi fan, it can be a fun romp. To its credit, Parasyte is also good at making you really love a main character that is very much just some dull nerd.
Why Samurai Champloo, but not Cowboy Bebop? Well – and don’t be mad – Cowboy Bebop is a touch boring in the initial episodes, and, unlike Samurai Champloo, it doesn’t have an easily followed plot. Cowboy Bebop is a lot of short stories that give little nuggets of character plot over time. Samurai Champloo has western influences, good comedy, likable characters, and all of the things that makes Cowboy Bebop great with the normie-friendly benefit of having a clearly defined plot in the first episode.
Although ReLife may be set in high school, it is all about regrets. The overall theme of regrets is something anyone can relate to, and the series really stresses enjoying your younger years to the fullest. I feel its poignant message can get through and really shows anime in a pretty positive light.
Wolf Children is a particularly good choice for getting parents into anime. The story follows Hana, a college student whose life is derailed after she falls in love with a werewolf. The two decide to start a family, but Hana’s lover dies soon after, leaving her to raise their werewolf babies alone. While the premise might sound a little silly, it’s an emotionally resonant movie that’s won several awards in Japan, Norway, and New York. Your parents will appreciate the tale’s main subject; it’s primarily about the struggles of raising children, which nearly all parents can relate to.
Any anime series about a parent and child is a pretty safe bet, unless it’s like Oni ChiChi or something. Usagi Drop is definitely something that can warm the hearts of mothers, but less maternal parents may find it a touch boring.
Why Gungrave of all things? Because it is part weird ass sci-fi future and part mafia betrayal story in pretty equal measure. It spends about half the series telling the back story and investing you in the characters before it returns to the dystopian-ish present for an old fashioned story of revenge.
If series like Viking or Game of Thrones were your parent’s jam, then Vinland Saga is the anime to show them. While it’s not quite as visceral, the intrigue and character stories are pretty top tier in it. It does a lean a bit on the violent side, but any one that likes historical shows will likely enjoy it.
Seraph of the End
Seraph of the End leans a bit violent, considering it is about vampires and starts off with a bunch of dead kids. However, it is that shounen kind of violence where its not particularly shocking, but it is necessary. What the show does do is creates an imaginative world where vampire rose from the shadows to control the world, a vampire plot that hasn’t been played out like all the rest.
Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann
This might not be the choice for every parent. It can be weird as shit, but also incredibly creative and even inspiring. It really encapsulates what a lot of anime is in its essence. It creates an ever-expanding world that you get to explore from the underground to the stars. Unfortunately, because the series moves at quite the clip, it might be hard for those only causally paying attention to catch the plot.
Any anime that subverts tropes is going to likely be pretty interesting because it is often the most creative. Your parent likely isn’t familiar with magical girl tropes, but they likely do have a certain expectation of anime. The bright, cute characters meet that expectation near exactly until everything goes horribly awry.
While Silver Spoon may not be the best at setting hooks with its plot and content, it is an interesting show its its own right. It shows a lot of what goes into where your food comes from, and the educational nature of that will display positively to your parents that you aren’t just watching weird boobie-boobie shows.
Great Pretender is visually slick, and instead of being violent, it is something much better – clever. It isn’t about murdering, it is about Robin Hood-style thieving with often no blood spilled. Even the first minor con is pretty stunning. It just happens to be a plus that it is easily accessible on Netflix as well.
Photo: A Silent Voice / Kyoto Animation
A Silent Voice lit the world on fire when it was released, and for good reason. This beautifully animated film tells the story of Shouya Ishida, who is trying to make amends for his regretful past; he once bullied his deaf classmate, Shouko Nishimiya, when the two were both in elementary school
The story is a great way to show your parents that anime can have a positive message. Shouya recognizes that he did something grievously wrong, and seeks to atone for his misdeeds. If you have something you need to apologize to your parents for, you may want to wait until you’ve actually said you’re sorry to share this movie with them. Showing them how anime shaped your good values is a fantastic idea, unless you’re not actively displaying said values.
Yona of the Dawn
What is charming about Yona of the Dawn is that it takes your standard fairy tale princess and viciously thrust her into the realities of her world. Ousted by a coup held by her once-crush, she finds the world under the reign of her father was not so great. All the while, you watch her gather allies and grow into what will be an great ruler someday. Your parent may also get to taste the exquisite pain of an anime series ending and likely never getting a second season.
These are series I’d like to recommend, and the reasons I didn’t after further reflection.
- Japan Sinks 2020 – I love that it is a disaster series about a family trying to survive. I also like that it is crushingly tragic without being overly graphic. However, there is one real awkward sex scene during their time with the cult that you might not want to sit with them through.
- Death Note – Many parents love Death Note! However, as it is about a normal kid becoming a psychopathic mass murderer, it may not leave them with the best first impression if that is what you chose to show them.
- From the New World – Depending on how progressive your parents are, they might have some questions that you are not ready to deal with as to why you showed them a series where all the kids are bisexual. Otherwise, it’s an excellent supernatural mystery with slick visuals.
- Violet Evergarden – The animation is art and the plot is really quite mature in Violet Evergarden, yes. However, holy hell is it so boring to get into initially. It’s not the type of show that will keep someone already disinterest in anime awake during it. If they are committed to staying awake, it can be a great watch. It is particularly good if your parents are into slower moving art films, and not all about that high octane action.
- Fullmetal Alchemist – This is a good choice, but probably prep yourself to answer a lot of questions during it. FMA creates a complex world, and while it may hook them, those not into anime may want ask a lot of questions.
- Astra Lost in Space – While I enjoyed the overall mystery of the series, the sci-fi lost in space plot, and how the characters all found ways they can be useful with their own talents, there are some (not many) shower scenes. It’s just one or two shots of the female form covered in mist, but still, might be a bit awkward.
- Clannad – This would be a fine choice if you were looking for a romance anime to watch with your parent. However, two things – the animation style can put people off and it can generally feel too immature early on until it gets to those hard hitting feels moments.
Do you have anime series that you would recommend people watch with their parents? Let fans know in the comments section below.