old enough

Netflix’s show with kids doing things by themselves

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For more than thirty years on the Japanese channel Nippon Television has been on the air Hajimete no Otsukai, a program featuring children from two to six years old, each time different, to whom parents entrust small missions or errands to be carried out independently: do a small shopping, for example, or take some clothes to the laundry. From March 31 on Netflix is ​​available a selection of some episodes of Hajimete no Otsukai, some long just under ten minutes, others just over twenty, re-presented with the title Old Enough !, (“Big enough”).

TO watch Netflix charts in recent weeks Old Enough! did not arrive among the ten most viewed series on the platform, but to take a tour online there are still several profiles and sites that talk about it, perhaps even only for its objective peculiarity and japaneseity. Someone presents it as a simple, funny, affectionate and comfortable program to watch in order to relax; someone else took the opportunity to do some quick reasoning about Japanese culture and its television: “a television”, he wrote the Japan Times «which has often been mocked by foreigners, and which instead seems made especially for the era of social media ».

The idea behind Hajimete no Otsukaias well as his name, comes from an illustrated children’s book published in 1976, which told precisely 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 “intrinsically Japanese”, was taken as a starting point for a segment broadcast within the news program Tsuiseki, after which, also by virtue of its success, it became an autonomous program. In the years, Hajimete no Otsukai it aired in the evening and has always been very popular. Even today, special “specials are broadcast in prime time a couple of times a year. Some show how the boys and girls protagonists of the older episodes have grown up, some have as protagonists the children of famous people and there have even been cases in which the children protagonists of the most recent episodes they are children of children, now grown up, protagonists in the past.

The short episodes of Old Enough!which go straight to the point and show only the wandering of children towards their goal, are 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 is also given to the presentation of the families in question. All episodes of Old Enough! they are from a few years ago, and the furthest back in time seem to be about 15 years ago.

In reference to the attention (for now difficult to quantify) obtained by Old Enough! outside Japan, the Japan Times he wrote that “it shows how fascinating Japanese television can be, give positive emotions and have relaxing properties”, offering a program in which “the stakes are very low”. The New Yorker is among the many ad sites have noticed as, although it is a few decades old, the format behind Old Enough! you seem made for YouTube or even TikTok.

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

Of course, the children of Old Enough! they are anything but alone. They are chosen after what are told as accurate selections, the path and the task to be carried out are decided together with the families, the people who live along the path are informed of the thing and, in addition to the cameramen, the children are also followed and preceded by other people, usually disguised as people who are there to do other things, but sometimes recognized by children. In short, everything is obviously less spontaneous than it seems, and consequently much safer, even when, for example, there are roads to cross.

On the possibility of remaking the format at the base of Old Enough!: has already been done. There are versions of the program in different 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 aired on Italia 1 in 2007, hosted by Federica Panicucci and Dario Bandiera: su TV BlogGiorgia Iovane thehe told more specifically, judging it “terrible”, among other things because “it profoundly betrayed the spirit of the program, transforming it into a variety that tells children as funny not as” intentional agents “”.

A possible problem with the Italian version, as well as a strength of the Japanese one, is that in Italy, as in many other countries, entrusting a task to a child of that age is often seen as dangerous rather than fun. but above all as something to just laugh about, not as a small and necessary (as well as maybe even fun) initiation rite.

Such as has explained to Slate Hironori Kato, transportation planning professor at the University of Tokyo, “in Japan many children walk 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 off 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 the criterion with which they were chosen or if and when the arrival of new episode packages is expected: which is however very likely, given the attention paid to the series, given the large archive from which to fish and given that the arrival of the series on Netflix it’s part of a larger collaboration agreement between the platform and Japanese broadcaster Nippon.

– Read also: The place where Japanese soy sauce was born

Speaking of relaxing and fun Japanese TV stuff, a couple of weeks ago Amazon announced that in 2023 a new version of Takeshi’s Castlewhich in Italy made itself known, together with another similar program, thanks to Mai dire Banzai, of Gialappa’s Band.