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 each and every episode of this anime series includes fight scenes involving weapons, physical contact, and life-threatening spells between demons and their human accomplices. As with most adaptations of Japanese manga series, many of the battles include wham-bam flashes of light. Demons and humans often fall down in pain. Some characters also experience inner turmoil over figuring out their own roles and deciding whether they can trust others.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
Every 1,000 years, one hundred mamodos (demons) come to Earth to fight other demons as part of an ongoing battle to reign as king. ZATCH BELL follows one such demon, who, while he was unconscious, was discovered by a man and sent to mentor the man's son, Kiyo Takamine. Zatch has no memory of the demon world, how he arrived on Earth, or any characters from the past. But since mamodos can't work alone, Zatch gets help from Kiyo, an aloof 14-year-old middle schooler who isn't well-liked at school; the pair learn that working together isn't easy, since they come from different worlds and react differently to situations. Joining Zatch and Kiyo are Sherry Bellmont, a girl who can't forget her difficult childhood and wants to keep a particular demon from dominating her best friend; Tio, a tomboy demon who has trouble finding trust in others; Umagon, a demon searching to find a human partner; and many more.
Is it any good?
The show's focus on relationships and the ability to trust a partner distinguishes it from many other anime adaptations. The series isn't just about violence -- although there's plenty of that, with constant battles involving spells and weapons -- but also about the relatable challenges and questions of identity that the characters face. Characters often think aloud about painful experiences in their past, and related flashbacks and evocative music add to the drama. Each character has his or her unique problems -- problems that aren't too unlike what kids face today.
The "battles" seen in some episodes can use dramatic visuals, language, sound effects, and music that becomes gratuitous, drawn out, and, at times, difficult to watch. There are also mild flirtations between characters, which lead to blushing and stammering. Overall, with its graphic violence, the characters' internal struggles, and the occasional eyelash-batting, parents may find Zatch Bell inappropriate for kids under 10.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the challenges the two main characters face when it comes to working together. They don't always like or understand each other, but they still have to work together as a team. What strategies can kids use when paired with others? How does communication help in these situations? Families can discuss the appeal of anime in general. Is the violence necessary for the story? How could anime series be less violent and still interesting? Since it's clearly dubbed in English, this series provides an opportunity to discuss Japan's history and culture.
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