Finding good family-friendly content on Netflix can be tough. The streaming service is filled with neon-soaked movies and shows, and there's also the virulently popular (yet critically reviled) CoComelon, which always seems to have a seat on the Netflix top 10.
Also, as someone without kids, I rarely actually look through the virtual bins of wholesome G-rated content for myself (I do manage our best family movies on Netflix page, though). It's only with the rare, exceptionally brilliant program such as my new favorite, that I find myself immersed in this world of smiles and cheer.
That said, I am supremely impressed with Netflix over its latest import: Hajimete no Otsukai. Well, that's its name in Japan. On Netflix, you'll want to search for "Old Enough!" and prepare to fall into cute and adorable vibes you might have a hard time finding anywhere else. And it may become the latest entry to our list of the best Netflix shows.
What you need to know about Netflix's Old Enough!
Each episode of Old Enough! follows one or two children on an adventure that is framed as a huge deal. The child is followed by a camera crew to make sure all goes well, but they have to complete a specific goal as best as they can, without any help or interference. A narrator explains how well the child is meeting the goals, and the episodes are as short as 12 minutes and can be as long as half an hour.
Sometimes the tykes are going on every-day errands — the first episode is all about two-year-old Horoki on a trip to get flowers to offer at his grandmother's altar, as well as fish cakes and curry — while others are a bit more involved, such as the episode where a three-year-old has to navigate the bus route home on his own.
Right now, Netflix has 20 episodes of Old Enough!, and if the series is enough of a hit, we could expect many more episodes to come over. Old Enough! has been a hit in Japan on Nippon TV, airing in prime time for more than 30 years, so there's probably many more episodes that Netflix could bring.
Why I love Netflix's Old Enough!
We live in a world where reality TV shows fall into a few specific buckets. You have your drama-filled programs with backstabbing galore (programs such as The Kardashians and competition shows like Survivor). Then, you have wholesome competition shows (see: The Great British Bake Off and The Great Pottery Throw Down).
Old Enough! falls into a whole new world: a wholesome show with extremely low stakes. Or at least the stakes were low for us. For these kids, each day is a huge deal. And the narrator kind of adds to that, explaining each mission with a bit of playful intensity. For Horoki, the narrator explained that "This errand actually requires a one-kilometer journey each way! That distance is a new record for a solo errand at two years and nine months!"
One of my favorite episodes so far is episode 18, which follows the 4-plus year-old Keita, the only son of parents who both have busy jobs (dad works on the upkeep of the Tokushima vine bridge, mom works at a tea house). Keita's parents know they kind of spoiled and babied him growing up, and he's gotten a reputation as a bit of a crybaby.
So, mom asks Keita to go on an errand for tofu and konjak (a local plant). What Keita doesn't know is that both items are very large and heavy, which is why his parents specified to bring back smaller amounts. They also asked him to pick up a specific mustard, because they know he's afraid of the mascot on the packaging. All throughout this tasking, Keita is sort of spaced out, in that smiling and distracted way that kids often have.
Keita first refuses to go on the errand, and eventually complies. And along the way, we see his parents worrying about him, and ... well, I won't spoil it for you, but Keita's memory definitely underminds him.
Old Enough! has won me over with the charm of these kids, and how the show presents their dilemmas. You don't need me to tell you that life these days is especially stressful, and so I'm happy to say that Old Enough! is practically the perfect relaxing show to watch.
Netflix surprises yet again — proving it's not formulaic
Personally, I'm pretty impressed with Netflix for pulling this show out of Japan's world of TV and introducing it to a ready and willing American audience. I would wonder what took Netflix so long, but it's kinda clear.
Netflix is applying the lessons it learned from the success of Squid Game — that subtitles shouldn't be a barrier for enjoyment — to more demographics. We can only hope that Netflix will use its global reach to try and make different versions of Old Enough! for different countries, as there's a whole world of eccentric kids out there.
In other streaming news — a huge upgrade is here for the best streaming service, as the new HBO Max app is finally rolling out. Plus, we've got everything you could ask for about tvOS 16. Looking for something else to watch this weekend? Two titles are on the line in the UFC 273 live stream.
We've also got all the details for how to watch the Red Sox vs Yankees live stream this weekend as the MLB live streams are back. Similarly, we've got the info on the Astros vs Angels live stream on Friday Night Baseball — which is actually free!
Also, Plex just became one of the best streaming apps, with two new features that are mighty interesting and show where Apple and others fail. Plus, new Nielsen survey reveals what people hate most about streaming. Netflix has also confirmed that Locke & Key will be ending after three seasons, which means the growing list of Netflix shows canceled in 2022 has a new entry.