By Emily Ashby,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
French cartoon about Native boy has positive messages.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this TV show.
Generalized Native American traditions are explored, particularly those from the Great Plains, portraying the day-to-day life of Yakari's tribe and their connection with the land around them -- such as how food, clothing, and weapons were made from hunting buffalo. The show isn't meant to be accurate, given its magical elements and the fact that viewers never learn Yakari's specific background beyond "Sioux" (which is a confederation of several tribes).
Kindness, charity, and fairness are important, and positive acts are often rewarded. Communing with nature and sharing natural resources with others, including animals, are central themes. People have different skills and can help in different ways. It's important to stand up for others and to encourage and support those around you. But the series does fall into clichés about Native Americans -- see "Diverse Representations" section for more.
Positive Role Models
Yakari embodies the joy, excitement, and curiosity of childhood, as well as a thirst for knowledge. He's eager to grow up but minds the advice of his elders and his spirit guide, always learning from what they say to him. His unique gift of being able to communicate with animals helps him to show understanding and kindness toward others. Both adult and child members of his tribe are also shown to be good influences on the whole. But Yakari and other characters do fall into clichés about Native Americans -- see "Diverse Representations" section for more.
While the show is a generally positive representation of Native culture for kids, it's important to note that it's not an authentic or specific one. Yakari and other human characters belong to a Sioux community, but it's never said which. Plains traditions are explored, portraying the day-to-day life of Yakari's tribe and their connection with the land around them. While characters are positive role models, they fall into stereotypes as "noble" characters living in a utopian version of history. This cliché often gives Native characters mystical powers; in this case, Yakari has a spirit guide who gives him the ability to talk to animals. Some character names are designed to have comedic value, such as Eyes-Always-Shut, which may amuse kids but risks making fun of the culture. The series was created by White Europeans and voiced by White actors. Gender roles are reinforced in places, such as men hunting and women cooking, though girls and women are seen as able to take on traditionally masculine roles when challenged.
Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.
Violence & Scariness
Wild animals are occasionally menacing and frighten Yakari and his friends, leading to scary scenarios for the humans. Forest fires, lightning, falling rocks, and other natural disasters threaten the human and animal populations. Bows and arrows are used, though arrows aren't shown to hit any living creature. Kids ride off on their own and camp overnight without parents.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Some name-calling, like "stupid," "fur ball," "clumsy," and "klutz," usually acknowledged as unfair by characters.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Products aren't mentioned in the show, but tie-in books and toys are available to purchase.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Yakari centers on the adventures of a young Native boy with a unique gift. He's a positive role model for kids, showing courage, empathy, and strong communication skills. His "Sioux" tribe -- it's never specified which -- has a strong sense of community, promotes peace, and respects nature. Each story teaches a lesson through Yakari's experiences, and kids see how qualities such as patience, kindness, and determination are rewarded. Despite these positive aspects, characters fall into stereotypes about Native Americans as "noble," mystical (Yakari's spirit guide gives him the ability to talk to animals), and living only in the past. This simplistic series has kid-friendly messages and may encourage further exploration into Dakota and Lakota history, but be aware that Yakari was created by White Europeans and is voiced by White actors.
Where to Watch
Videos and Photos
Based on 4 parent reviews
A good, not overwhelming, movie for littles
Report this review
Report this review
What's the Story?
YAKARI is an animated adaptation of a Franco-Belgian comic book series of the same name. It's the story of a brave and kind young Native boy who's graced with the ability to talk to animals thanks to his spirit guide, Great Eagle. His adventures take him all over his environment in the Great Plains, where he befriends a menagerie of wild animals. Along the way, he's joined by his pony, Little Thunder, and his best human friend, Rainbow.
Is It Any Good?
Yakari is a great example of the beauty of simplicity in kids' entertainment. There's nothing fancy about this series, from the traditional animation style to the uncomplicated stories themselves, so it's easy for even young kids to follow along. Yakari's ability to talk to animals adds a fun element for children, and adults will likely enjoy that those characters join the human adults in being positive influences on the spirited but well-meaning boy.
Yakari focuses on a peaceful tribe and emphasizes community and nature. It explores Great Plains traditions, but if you're looking for "authentic" storytelling, this isn't it. For starters, the show generalizes Yakari into a "Sioux" tribe but never specifies which. Stereotypes like mystical Native characters -- Yakari has a "spirit guide" who gives him the ability to talk to animals -- and the reinforcement of traditional gender roles keep this series from feeling as compelling as more authentic shows like Molly of Denali or Spirit Rangers.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about what the central characters learn from their adventures in Yakari. How does Yakari overcome the challenges each day brings?
Kids can think about the similarities and differences between Yakari's lifestyle and their own. Do you have things in common? Can you relate to activities like playing, doing chores, or learning from elders?
Native main characters are seldom seen in mainstream television. How is Yakari's culture portrayed? Do you think it's positive, or does it fall into stereotypes? Can you think of other Native characters on screen, and how do they compare?
Yakari is brave, empathetic, and good at communicating with others. Why do you think these are important character strengths?
- Premiere date: December 24, 2005
- Cast: Benjamin Nathan-Serio, Eleanor Noble, Sonja Ball
- Network: Online
- Genre: Kids' Animation
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Great Boy Role Models, History, Wild Animals
- Character Strengths: Communication, Courage, Empathy
- TV rating: TV-Y
- Last updated: February 8, 2023
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.
Suggest an Update
Where to Watch
Our Editors Recommend
Best Cartoons for Kids
Best Preschool TV Shows
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate