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 Yo-Kai Watch is an enjoyable anime series that explores emotions in a creative, engaging way that can help you talk with your kids about their feelings and how to cope with struggles such as low self-esteem, sadness, and anger. The show oversimplifies the process of solving what can be complex troubles (a bad mood is quickly overcome by the arrival of a happy or confident new character), but it's a great way to start a conversation about emotions. Expect some mild name-calling ("weirdo") and to hear "butt" a lot. Nate and his friends also suggest that they're attracted to girls and break some rules such as watching forbidden movies late at night.
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What's the story?
In YO-KAI WATCH, during an excursion in the woods, a boy named Nate happens upon an ancient tree with a machine that dispenses a mysterious capsule. Upon opening it, Nate meets Whisper, a ghost-like spirit who schools him in the lore of Yo-Kai, unseen beings who influence people's behavior in mischievous and cruel ways. Whisper gives Nate a special watch that allows him to see the Yo-Kai and to call on others who can counteract those who cause trouble for unsuspecting victims. Together with a cat Yo-Kai named Jibanyan, Nate and Whisper set out to battle the troublesome spirits causing mayhem in his town.
Is it any good?
This anime series takes a surprisingly intuitive and visual approach to exploring emotions, even if the whole unseen-forces-controlling-people's-actions angle is a bit disconcerting for younger kids. Viewers can see the Yo-Kai causing the ruckus even if the characters can't (minus Nate, of course), and each one's appearance directly relates to the specific mood it evokes. The juggernaut Dismarelda causes people to argue; persistently annoying Negatibuzz makes people doubt their self-confidence; and so on. Similarly, positive influences such as Happiere and Blazion light up the scene as courage, joy, and hope incarnate.
Not only does this make for many colorful, creative characters, it also encourages kids to identify different emotions and accept them as normal. Their mood swings may not be caused by spirits, but to be honest, sometimes it feels that way, and often the best remedy for a bad mood is an influx of positive energy. In any case, Yo-Kai Watch is a great starting point for talking about feelings and behavior with kids and tweens.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about feelings. Kids: Is it always easy to identify when you're sad, angry, or frustrated? Do your feelings sometimes appear without your knowing how and why? What are some constructive ways to cope with them?
Kids: How do the Yo-Kais' appearances reflect their personalities? Is it always so easy to pick out positive and negative influences in the real world? Have you ever been surprised by a person's real nature after passing judgment on them?
Had your kids heard about or seen the Yo-Kai Watch video games and characters prior to watching this show? If so, did that inspire them to watch? If not, are they curious to try the games now? How does what we see on TV influence the things we want? Is that always a bad thing?
Themes & Topics
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