A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this action-oriented anime series is based on (and makes subtle references to) a video game, so tuning in may pique kids' interest in playing. The show's frequent battles are presented as the only solution to conflict -- plus, this prevalent violence lacks consequences. The show also has a noticeable lack of positive role models; the few adults who exist are villains plotting the heroes' demise, and the kids' level-headed female mentor dresses in scanty clothing that accentuates her curves and shows her cleavage.
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What's the story?
When a nefarious king wages war on a small village, young Shu (voiced by Yuri Lowenthal) fights back with a surprising talent -- the ability to call on the ancient powers of a Shadow called Blue Dragon (Lex Lang). As Shu learns more about his ability, he joins forces with Jiro (Sam Riegel), Kluke (Michelle Ruff), mentor Zola (Cindy Robinson), and their own Shadows to hone his skills and help rid the world of evil. But when the enemy's got Shadow wielders of their own, these young heroes are in for a tough fight.
Is it any good?
Not only is this anime-style cartoon based on a video game (making it a virtual commercial for the product), but the plot and dialogue make subtle references to the game. In one scene, for example, two kids summon their Shadows to spar for practice; when the scrimmage is over, they say "game over" to zap them from sight. What's more, the show relies solely on violence for conflict resolution and entertainment. But rather than participate in battles themselves, the kids summon their apparently invincible Shadows to do the dirty work. Despite that, they often suffer the same fate as their Shadows, so there's plenty of falling, crashing, and banging around that gives way to unrealistically short-lived injuries.
In the end, there's little redeeming quality to BLUE DRAGON, which makes no attempt at teaching positive messages and lacks notably strong adult role models. Moreover, astute anime fans may grow bored with the show's plot, which bears strong similarity to that of the long-lived Pokemon franchise. All in all, there are plenty of reasons to direct your kids' attention elsewhere.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what makes someone a hero. Kids: Do you consider the characters in this show heroes? Why or why not? In what ways are their actions heroic? Do all heroes use violence to achieve their goals? What other methods of solving problems can be used instead of fighting? Who are some of your favorite heroes?
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