By Yali Perez
The world of parenthood is a magical, beautiful and often challenging place. It has its highs and its lows, similar to the world of anime. Of course, that’s without the magical outfit changes. Wouldn’t that make getting ready in the morning so much easier?
As a single parent to a 10-year-old son, I sometimes use anime as a way to connect with him. Anime is something we mutually enjoy and is a great medium to discuss subjects without the pressure of feeling too serious. The aim of A Mom’s Guide to Anime is to use anime to help you navigate the world of parenthood.
This month’s focus: Back to school. Once a year, a day so magical and sacred comes around. Of course, we’re talking about sending the kids back to school. But this year, things look a bit different, including your child’s education. Are they learning virtual? A mixture of at-home and in-school? Regardless, there’s anime for that!
Let’s take a look at a batch of anime with school in mind, from the traditional, slice of life genre, to the nontraditional, because what better way to celebrate a nontraditional school year than with some interesting takes on school anime!? Grab your pen and paper, and let’s jump in.
The Cardcaptor Sakura series
Underneath its fabulous wardrobe changes, dangerous battles and an adorable talking sidekick is a story about normal kids living a not-so-normal life. Sakura Kinomoto is the titular Cardcaptor who must find all of the Clow Cards, magical objects that occasionally wreak havoc. When she’s not burdened with glorious purpose, she’s practicing her cheerleading, singing in the choir or studying for her English Language exams.
Though I’m sure your child would rather be able to record a virtual class with the Record Card or fly around freely with the Flight Card, they’ll just have to settle for watching these series during lunch.
The original Naruto series follows young Naruto Uzumaki and his fellow ninja as they take on some serious foes to protect the Hidden Leaf Village. As you can imagine, life is not easy for Naruto. He’s an orphan, he’s treated like an outcast at first, oh, and the nine-tailed fox is living inside of him.
And he also has to go to school! At the beginning of the series, Naruto attends the Ninja Academy. And there are many similarities between the Academy and school we might have attended. There are tough teachers, important tests and plenty of opportunities to get closer to classmates. But there are also lessons on betrayal, friendship and trauma, told through the series’ many villains and other ninja.
And while school in our world might not be quite like this, there’s plenty to relate to in Naruto’s struggle, and just enough to inspire your kids to keep working toward their dreams. Believe it!
My Hero Academia
OK, so this one is my son’s current favorite. And when you think about anime and school, it might be the first to pop into your head. Of course, we’re talking about My Hero Academia.
The story follows Izuku “Deku” Midoriya as he attends the prestigious U.A. High School, one of the top superhero schools in the world! Unfortunately, Deku doesn’t have a Quirk (a superpower), until his all-time hero All Might passes his own onto him! And our story kicks off from there.
What makes My Hero Academia so great is that there is almost certainly a character for your child (and you!) to relate to. Deku studies and works hard, Mina is an amazing dancer and great friend, Bakugo is arrogant but cares for his classmates. And those are only a few!
There is also a great lesson in this series about balancing academic life with home life, and how the two can often intertwine. Even now, it can be tough to balance virtual learning with reading, texting friends and making videos on TikTok. And you can watch the entire series in sub and dub, only on Funimation!
Kono Oto Tomare!: Sounds of Life
Kono Oto Tomore!: Sounds of Life is an inspiring series about music, school life and the challenges of growing up.
The series centers around the school koto club, the koto being a traditional Japanese string intrument, at Tokise High School. At the start of Kono Oto Tomare!: Sounds of Life, we meet Takezo Kurata, the lone member of the Koto Club, as well as Chika Kudo and Satowa Hozuki.
Throughout the series, we watch more members join, and with each one, a new set of challenges arise, along with a hearty batch of laughs. It might not have superpowers or ninja skills, but this series has so much heart, beautifully depicting the bond between friends.
It’s also a great way to introduce the concept of extracurricular activities to your child, even virtually! Seriously, my younger cousin was able to join her school’s band program via Zoom.
Love Live! Sunshine!!
Say hello to the students of Uranohoshi Girls’ High School! Love Live! Sunshine!! is an incredibly fun series that focuses on the music of the Aqours, the school’s idol group.
Each with an exceptional voice, the girls dream of becoming famous idols so they can save their high school that’s in danger of being shut down! The Aqours have a plan: win the Love Live! Competition and show that their school has what it takes to stay open.
And if the bubbly nature of the show doesn’t hook your child immediately, the music will! Love Live! Sunshine!! is the most lighthearted on the list, but it might be just what the kids need with so much seriousness happening out in the world. Also, this show can serve as a reminder that school can not only be fun, but extremely important.