A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Models positive behavior and teaches kids about helping others.
Four main superhero kids are racially diverse friends. Some elements of Japanese culture are specifically mentioned and celebrated. Girls and boys get to do equally awesome superhero things. One main character is a wheelchair user and is depicted as being as capable as his superhero peers. But he is sometimes shown doing activities that real kids may not be able to do (e.g., climbing a rock wall with his hands while still in his chair). None of the kids' personal identities are explicitly discussed, which would make them more memorable for preschoolers who do not typically pick up on subtleties.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Team Zenko Go is an animated preschool superhero series about a group of helpful kids. There's no violence, suspense, or scariness or any other iffy content, which makes the fun appropriate even for the youngest viewers. The superheroes are kids who perform "zenkos," or good deeds, to help their neighbors in their home of Harmony Harbor. The kids are fabulous role models who demonstrate positive character strengths like teamwork, compassion, and humility, and they're diverse across race, gender, and ability. Parents can feel great about their kids watching this clever, fun, and high-energy preschool series (and may find it hard to resist watching along themselves).
Is It Any Good?
Without any of the suspense or violence usually found in this genre, Team Zenko Go makes superhero fun accessible to the youngest kids. It feels full of adventure and cool, even though the missions are preschooler-relatable problems like returning a lost baby tooth so that the tooth fairy can visit. Zenko somehow manages to be both dynamic and fun without falling into the typical preschool show habit of the characters delivering every line at maximum energy. Characters talk about their emotions and own up to making mistakes. This animated series borrows from The Incredibles stylistically, which of course itself is inspired by many of the greatest movie superhero characters. The incredible animation and design, as well as the understated style, make this show uber-watchable (even for grade school kids and grown-ups). Grown-ups will love the repeated emphasis on doing good deeds and acting selflessly to help people in the community.
Team Zenko Go's positive representation also deserves mention. With the four superheroes each from a different cultural background, and with there being two boy and two girl superheroes, many preschoolers will find a character that they can identify with. Ari uses a wheelchair, and the other characters treat him with assumed competence and focus on his incredible inventions instead of the fact that he uses a wheelchair. One drawback is that none of the kids' personal identities are explicitly discussed, which would make them more memorable for preschoolers who do not typically pick up on subtleties. Japanese culture is celebrated throughout, though again in a fairly subtle way. That said, Zenko is clearly trying to bring all kids along on its fun ride.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.