This week I decided to address the popularity of anime among kids on the spectrum. Yesterday, I discussed the serious difference between American expectations of animated entertainment and those of the Japanese. But that's all theoretical. This post is where the rubber meets the road.
While many anime shows are very popular among kids with AS (and popular among the general population of American youth), I chose to review Bakugan, which was the easiest for me to find on Youtube :P However, I have watched other popular anime and I think Bakugan is a pretty typical example of the genre as it is represented in America. The theme is a science fiction universe in which a group of children work with a group of beings (bakugan) to save Earth and the bakugan home world, both in the "real" world and in a virtual duelling environment. My personal opinion is that the plot is anemic and tries to compensate with the inclusion of an overly complicated setting, but that's not the point of this post.
I do not recommend this program for young children at all and urge extreme caution in showing Bakugan to children with AS, and all for reasons that can be applied to many anime programs.
- First, the characters (both humans and bakugan) exhibit extremely poor sportsmanship. They try to one up each other and are constantly vying for a fight.
- Second, both the music and dialogue create a very high stress environment for the story. The characters treat each event as being of the utmost importance.
- Third, in part because the show was originally in Japanese and has to be dubbed in English, the dialogue is of a very poor quality, both in terms of content and of vocabulary.
- Fourth, the adults are bad guys.
- Fifth, good advice proceeds from bakugan, not from adults, not from one friend to another. Imagine a child looking for guidance from a Bionicle figurine.
- Sixth, the female characters, like so many in the anime world, are highly sexualized (both in shape and dress) and very ditzy.
- Finally, human characters exhibit very poor manners.
For children with social deficits, all of these things can be very alluring, but they set an extremely poor example. They do not need to see programs that glorify the very behaviors that make learning, relationships, and social hierarchies so complicated for them.
What do you think?