This week has been hectic.
The program I'm in (Children's Entertainment) is putting together a half-hour webisode (I know that sounds rather uncommon but there's a long story to it) to be released every week, for a total of 5 episodes.
Filming for Episode 1 just finished today, and by golly was it one heck of a roller coaster ride for everyone.
More notes about that sometime soon.
So, today let's talk about a little bit about Nintama Rantarou.
Nintama Rantarou is a long-running 10minute short tv animation series that's been around ever since I was little. It focuses on three 10-year-old boys who are ninjas-in-training at a school specifically for training ninjas. It's very kid-friendly, and the original comics are also running to this day and are popular as well.
It can be cheesy, it can be corny, but there's a lot of heart and good morale, thanks to NHK (Japan's public broadcaster). I mean, it's a very solid show, so well-loved by a wide audience range with a secure fanbase (child and adult alike).
I stumbled upon the opening credits video on the internets a while back and I've been hooked since. Well, back to it after a long hiatus. I grew up with it, then I was too cool for it, then for some reason in my senior year of high school I fell for it again, then forgot about it through my university years.
Now, I have remembered my love for this series.
What really appeals to me (and to the general audience, I believe,) is the never-changing child perspective. Of course there are a few adult-centric episodes, but the majority of them are focused on the child protagonists and their mishaps or troubles or adventures. They are never vessels for an adult agenda (or at least, it's very well calculated). And because it's an NHK program, there's that sense of security and safety, especially for people like me who grew up on NHK shows like Nintama Rantarou.
A unique thing is that this show is set in the Muromachi period, a time in Japan feudal wars and such were not uncommon - the school for ninjas indicate a demand for ninjas who infiltrate and take down enemy bases. Essentially, a school for violence (as North American ethics would put it). Kids handle firearms and blades and stuff themselves - the younger students will have teachers supervising, but many of the upper-years will be seen walking around with guns and snakes and shuriken (throwing knives). This would never be seen in North American TV...
As a child-oriented anime series, battles are depicted in ways that makes it clear they are 'dangerous', but not so to outright threaten the audience. But through the episodes that deal with the ongoing battles all over the place (which are sparse and far-between), it tells a story about ethics and morale and good character without being overbearing or patronizing.
On the other hand, one of the protagonists, Kirimaru, is clearly stated that he is an war orphan, and that he stays with a teacher during the holidays. But rather than making his story sad and melodramatic, it shows Kirimaru always very positive and very eager to live through anything (portrayed through his intense and excessive obsession towards money).
The series is actually very layered (moreso in the original manga) and sometimes even quite challenging, but overall it is very safe and appropriate for children (5-10) to watch.
I really think this show is a gem. It's such fun to watch, and really, isn't that what's important?