Netflix’s show with kids doing things themselves

For more than thirty years on the Japanese channel Nippon Television has been on the air Hajimete no Otsukai, a program with children from two to six years, each time differently, as parents entrust small missions or errands to be performed independently: for example, do a little shopping, or bring some clothes to the laundry. As of March 31 on Netflix is ​​a selection of some episodes of Hajimete no Otsukai, some last just under ten minutes, others just over twenty, recreated with the title Old enough! (“Big enough”).

Have seen the Netflix charts in the last few weeks Old enough! did not arrive among the ten most watched series on the platform, but to take a ride online, there are still more profiles and pages talking about it, perhaps even just for its objective peculiarity and Japaneseness. Someone presents it as a simple, fun, loving and enjoyable program to watch to relax; another took the opportunity to make some quick reasoning about Japanese culture and its television: “a television,” he wrote Japan Times «which has often been mocked by foreigners, and which instead seems made specifically for the era of social media ».

The thought behind Hajimete no Otsukaias well as his name, comes from an illustrated children’s book published in 1976, which accurately narrated the empowering task (otsukai) entrusted to a little girl who is asked by her mother to go and buy some milk.

Towards the end of the 1980s, the book, translated into English and presented as “inherently Japanese”, was taken as the starting point for a segment broadcast in the news program Tsuiseki, after which it also by virtue of its success became an independent program. In the years, Hajimete no Otsukai it was broadcast in the evening and has always been very popular. Even today, specials are broadcast a few times a year during prime time. Some show how the boys and girls’ protagonists in the older episodes have grown up, some have as protagonists children of famous people, and there have also been cases where the children’s protagonists in recent episodes are children of children, now adults, protagonists of the past.

The short sections of Old enough!which goes straight to the point and only shows children’s migration towards their goal is the central part of Hajimete no Otsukai, but not the only one. In the long Japanese program, there are other spoken interludes, and more space has also been given for the presentation of the families in question. All sections of Old enough! they are from a few years ago, and the way back in time seems to be about 15 years ago.

With reference to the attention (for now difficult to quantify) obtained by Old enough! outside Japan Japan Times he wrote that “it shows how fascinating Japanese television can be, evoke positive emotions and have relaxing qualities”, and offers a program where “the stakes are very low”. That New Yorker is among the many sites that have noticed how the format behind, even though it is a few decades old Old enough! you appear to be made for YouTube or even TikTok.

Among those who have been interested in the program these days, some have wondered how right it is to let two-three-year-olds leave the house aloneand where possible it would be to do something similar abroad.

Of course the kids off Old enough! they are anything but alone. They are chosen according to what is told as exact selections, the road and the task to be performed are decided together with the families, the people who live along the path are informed about the matter, and besides the cameramen are the children. also followed and followed by other people, usually disguised as people who are there to do other things, but sometimes recognized by children. In short, everything is of course less spontaneous than it seems, and consequently much safer, even when, for example, there are roads to cross.

About the possibility of changing the format at the bottom of Old enough!: has already been performed. There are versions of the program in several Asian countries, there is at least one in English and there has even been one in Italy. Or rather, there was a pilot, trial episode, which, however, was not followed up. It was called “I recommend … be careful!” and was broadcast on Italia 1 in 2007 with Federica Panicucci and Dario Bandiera as hosts: su TV blogGiorgia Iovane told it in more detail, rating it “terrible”, in part because “it deeply betrayed the spirit of the program and turned it into a variation that tells children just as funny not as” conscious agents “”.

A possible problem with the Italian version, as well as a strength of the Japanese, is that in Italy, as in many other countries, it is often perceived as dangerous rather than fun to leave a task to a child of that age. as something to just laugh at, not as a small and necessary (as well as maybe even fun) inauguration rite.

As explained to Slate Hironori Kato, professor of transportation planning at the University of Tokyo, “in Japan, many children go to school alone.” The fact that three-year-olds are left alone to do things as adults is therefore certainly an exaggeration, but still less out of the mark than it might be elsewhere. According to Kato, in addition to a different cultural approach to the issue, it also has to do with the fact that in Japan, roads and infrastructures are made to be safer for pedestrians, even those of preschool age.

To return to Old enough!, it is not known what criterion they were chosen with, or if and when the arrival of new episode packages is expected: which, however, is very likely, given the attention to the series, given the large archive one can fish from and in considering that the series’ arrival on Netflix is ​​part of a larger collaboration agreement between the platform and the Japanese television company Nippon.

– Also read: The place where Japanese soy sauce was born

Speaking of relaxing and fun Japanese TV stuff, Amazon announced a few weeks ago that in 2023 there was a new version of Takeshis slotwhich in Italy made itself known, along with another similar program, thanks to Never say Banzaiby Gialappa’s Band.

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