My 7 year old daughter has been obsessed with Avatar: The Last Airbender (and Korra to a lesser extent) since we first showed it to her a couple of years ago. I’m sort of anime-adjacent - some of my friends are pretty big fans and I’ve watched a few of the bigger series and movies.
Kiddo has watched and enjoyed most of the Studio Ghibli catalog. She’s good at following moderately complex story lines but she’s still at an age where romance makes her go “bleah”. Some violence is okay as long as it’s not gratuitous or gory.
Are there any series (either TV or OVA) that you’d recommend for her?
If you have a Crunchyroll subscription or don’t mind the ads, I think Erin (also known as The Beast Player Erin) would be a great anime to show her. It’s got some scary elements to it (like giant lizards, war, and some characters die), but it’s still a kids show based on a children’s novel. It also works for adults as well; it’s not only for kids. The story covers Erin’s life from when she’s a child up to being an adult. It’s about her learning of the world and how to navigate it, eventually escalating to her being right in the middle of the politics of a civil war. As the title suggests, she excels at handling beasts from her heritage and life experiences. It’s a bit long at 50 episodes, but it’s such an incredible story. I really recommend it.
Tribe Cool Crew is a ton of fun for kids and adults. It’s a show about some kids who start a dance group, and it has this really slick style that’s sort of a mix between the Pyuo Pyuo series and Jet Set Radio. It dives into some surprisingly serious subject matter at times (like the main kid’s hero being a Micheal Jackson like star who speaks out for the less fortunate around the world and is nearly assassinated in one episode), but it’s mostly slice of life, positive lesson stuff. Also notable for having an overweight character in the main cast who isn’t the butt of a joke but considered the coolest person of the group.
Try looking into My Hero Academia. The anime has some pacing issues, but it’s a really popular superhero shonen battle series about learning your own worth. It has a ton of fun characters and some great action to boot. You may also want to look at One Piece, pretty much the gold standard for shonen works. MHA does have some intense-ish violence at points, but the series itself doesn’t take it too seriously.
Little Witch Academia is also worth a nod, it’s a ton of fun and has really cartoony, lively animation and designs.
My first thought on reading this was Fullmetal Alchemist, but it’s been long enough since I last saw it that I’m honestly not sure if the violence might be too much for a seven year old? I don’t think it’s notably more gratuitous than most shonen fighting series, at least, but it still might be worth checking out an episode or two yourself to see if you’re comfortable with it.
Beyond that… It’s a pretty left-field recommendation considering the Avatar link - they’re almost nothing alike, really - but I absolutely loved Cardcaptor Sakura when I was that age (Heck, I still do.) so I pretty much always bring it up when people ask about good anime for kids.
Finally… You might want to try her on one of the 'mon shows? I grew up on Digimon Adventure 01 and 02, and I remember Digimon Tamers being really good too.
EDIT: I’ll also second Little Witch Academia. Really fun show, and it’s all on Netflix. (At least, where I live.)
My Hero Academia is the current gigantically popular anime show, basically the definitive shonen franchise of the current generation of comics - there’s some kinda violent elements to it, like for example Deku busting up his fingers or Stain’s entire deal, which should be noted. The first season is just 12 episodes so if it’s not working out it’s an easy investment. Also it has a pretty competent dub which makes it an easier watch for kids.
ps I wouldn’t really recommend stuff like FMA since it’s geared to a more young adult audience.
Does Sailor Moon hold up?
Little Witch Academia. Main character who isn’t very magical goes to an all girl school for witchcraft. Very slap sticky, great animation, and a vibrant art style. I’m currently on episode 8 and so far it’s pretty family friendly.
Edit: My bad for skimming and not noticing LWA has been recommended like 3 times already.
How does your daughter feel about robots?
I would advise checking some wiki’s on what ever you’re interested in My Hero Academia is very well liked but I’m not sure if I would want to introduce a 7 year old to anime with a show that has characters dressed like this:
You might not have an issue with that and that’s fine! but something worth bringing up
If she’s down with subtitles get her some Precure. Heartcatch and Go Princess are the best ones but almost any of them will do. Not Max Heart or Precure 5 GoGo because they’re direct sequels and won’t make sense on their own (also Max Heart is bad).
Sailor Moon Crystal is also good these days after a rough first season, and there’s a new Cardcaptor Sakura series on at the moment which is great.
Cardcaptor Sakura holds up really well and is about a kid pretty close to your daughter’s age, if thats a consideration. It’s a weird thing though because Im pretty sure it has two different dubs and Im not sure which one is on Crunchyroll.
Sailor Moon also holds up really well, but the only place to get the original series digitally and legally that Ive found is Steam, and its pretty pricy. It has a little bit more of the ensamble cast of super-powered characters thats present in Avatar so there may be a throughline there, though.
Ill also boost LWA here, for the same reasons every one else has. Great animation, slapstick comedy, and overall family friendly fun.
I’m not gonna make a huge case against MHA here, but I will say that the themes, characters and level of violence in that show probably skew a little older, like early teens. Its a great show, but maybe watch a few episodes on your own before deciding to show it to your kid.
Would Steven Universe count? I don’t recall anything being especially inappropriate for the age range of the top of my head though it’s not technically anime
Steven Universe and OK K.O.! are both great alternatives that play on a lot of anime concepts without dipping into the more intense violence or sexual objectification of teens that you’ll get from a lot of shonen.
Chiming in to nth LWA and Steven Universe. I remember I loved Doraemon quite a lot as a kid myself (as “小叮噹”), but I realize that is probably a bit dated – and honestly, from what I can remember of it, it wasn’t anywhere as rich as your AtLA or your SU or whatnot, more of a Saturday morning cartoon type vibe.
I would agree FMA is probably a bit too dark and gory in places. Unfortunately, while Arakawa also has more family-friendly work adapted into anime format (Silver Spoon, a slice-of-life about going to agriculture school), I’m not sure whether it’s the sort of thing that would interest a kiddo!
Oh absolutely the 2003 series. That was fucking grim. Brotherhood takes awhile before things get dark, and it never reaches the same heights as 03 did. Still, definitely not a show for younger audiences once it gets going.
this is a show in which the main characters ability involves reducing his limbs to bloody pulps is “they might see a boob” really your primary concern wrt age appropriateness
Actually I haven’t seen the show I just knew about that character and it was the first example of this I I saw listed I knew off the top of my head
I haven’t watched it myself but hey, the new Voltron series is geared toward kids/younger audiences isn’t it?
When I was 7 I absolutely loved Digimon and Sailor Moon and Cardcaptor Sakura and I don’t see why they wouldn’t hold up or the more recent series remakes wouldn’t be as fun.
And I’d second people saying that she might enjoy My Hero Academia if she enjoys action and superhero stuff. Honestly, in terms of age considerations I’d be more concerned about the occasional skeevy-sexist moments with Mineta than some mild cartoon violence and cleavage - but that’s obv your call depending on your daughter!
Aw man, I always find questions like this so hard to answer. My parents showed me Psycho when I was 4, and I’m happy that they did, so my baseline for what is child appropriate is pretty off. Would anyone else agree that Escaflowne might be a good show for a 7 year old? That’s around the age I watched it at least. I haven’t seen it in a while but it influenced my developing tastes in a way that I continue to be thankful for.
It’s got a similarly “epic” story that covers a lot of the same themes as Avatar, features strong characters with involved relationships and has beautiful animation. There are a couple of moments that feature fairly intense violence for a child, a good amount of blood is shown but the majority of episodes are much less gory. Additionally, there is an intersex character who suffers fairly extreme trauma at the hands of regressive body politics. Their story concludes with a sort of justice served and they aren’t sidelined or killed off in the way that marginalized characters can be; but there’s an odd gender essentialism therein that I’ve been conflicted on whether it is commentary or offensive.
Edit: I also want to recommend Princess Tutu. It’s a magical girl show that draws most of its inspiration from classic fairy tales. Only the twist is that, rather than focus on punishing its characters to impart a moral lesson as a lot of those tend to do, it’s largely about doing better and rejecting the fatalism of our flaws. It’s got some romance in it but I feel like it’s not the focus so it might be a good choice. It’s definitely kid friendly, with a few mildly unnerving aspects more than anything.
I kinda wanted to recommend Escaflowne as well. But I hesitated because of the romance parts. I think if I was 7 year old a lot of the points you listed would be overshadowed by “KNIGHT ROBOTS ALRIGHT!” but who knows maybe I’m underestimating kids. . .
If it doesn’t work out they can always revisit it in the future. 12 year old me gobbled up every bit of Escaflowne.
I can’t speak for how well Cardcaptor Sakura holds up as I haven’t seen it in years, but I remember it capturing the imagination of 9-10 year old me. Digimon was great and is still great. At least the first season.
And for my off-field, not an anime at all, but a great show that I thought would be complete trash until me and my 5-7 year old cousins watched 5 episodes in a row recommendation; Barbie: life in the dream house
Oh I forgot Yokai Watch It’s like a more modern Pokemon but a bit more grounded in the real world. Heck watch Pokemon