A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Flavors of Youth is a Japanese anime dubbed into English. Although it looks back on childhood, its mature perspective is aimed at adults. The only content of concern is rare strong language, including "s--t" once and "damn" a couple of times, a parent slapping a teen in the face and another incident where physical abuse is implied, and a brief glimpse of a bleeding knife wound. It's a trilogy of three different stories that each explore themes about finding happiness, moving forward while keeping memories close to your heart, learning from past mistakes, and what's really important in life. One character drinks heavily once; in another story adults tell teens they can't have beer in the daytime. There are a few glimpses of background smoking and one close-up of a cigarette butt on the ground going out. A supermodel character takes a slimming pill, pushes herself too hard physically, and gets hurt when she faints. There's no sexual content except remembering a first crush and some mildly romantic, teen early-relationship drama.
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What's the story?
FLAVORS OF YOUTH is a trilogy of three separate stories, each set in a different part of China, that explore themes about recovering childhood happiness, learning what's really important in life, and keeping cherished memories close as you move through life. Shaomin looks back on his youth in Hunan province, feeling like dreary life in the big city will never offer the joys he felt as a kid eating rice-noodle bowls with his grandmother. Yi-Lin is a supermodel in Shanghai who takes her younger sister in after their parents die; she loves her sister, but her determination to stay at the top of her profession causes her to lose sight of what really matters. LiMo's life has been filled with regret ever since he let himself drift away from his true love, Shiaoyu. Memories come flooding back as he listens to an old cassette tape Shiaoyu made for him just before they parted ways. Will he ever get a chance to follow his heart?
Is it any good?
Lovely visuals from sweeping landscapes to detailed close-ups are about all the creators of Your Name have for us this time. Flavors of Youth gives us three distinct stories, each unfolding at a gentle, quiet pace with a generous dose of romantic sentimentality. But weak character development in each story unfortunately keeps viewers from being able to make a real connection with any of them, in spite of all that sentiment. The mature perspective of looking back on childhood doesn't offer kids or teens a lot to connect with either, with its focus on recapturing long-forgotten feelings.
Hard-core anime fans will enjoy the artwork, and it's not a terrible choice for teens and up who appreciate the simple things in life like a quiet evening of Netflix. Just don't look for a lot of emotional depth to enhance the eye candy.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about Flavor of Youth's trilogy format. Is it a good way to tell a story or explore a theme? Which segment was your favorite? What other movies have you seen with this format?
Were you surprised by LiMo's reaction when he learned Shiaoyu was probably in the hospital? What would you have done? Have you ever suspected someone was being abused? What did you do, or should you do?
Why is Japanese anime so popular? What do we love about it? What are some of your favorite anime movies or TV shows?
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