18 Best Anime with Children as Main Characters

18 Best Anime with Children as Main Characters
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A child is defined as a human under the age of 18 by many international laws. The age of maturity varies from country to country, but it is generally considered that you’re a child if you’re under 18 years of age. Taking this to the world of anime, we will find numerous anime series with main characters that are younger than 18, and making such a short list would be impossible if we don’t narrow it down. Namely, we have decided to make a list of the best anime with children as the main characters. But, with a twist.

Namely, knowing how the educational system in Japan works, we have decided to focus exclusively on younger children, i.e., those that haven’t entered high school yet. This means that this list is going to contain those anime whose protagonists are characters are 15 years old or younger. Since older children fall into the high school category, we won’t be focusing on them, so major shonen titles will not be included on this list (we have a separate one for those). Enjoy!

1. Digimon Adventure

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Original Run: March 7, 1999 – March 26, 2000 / April 5, 2020 – September 26, 2021
Number of Episodes: 54 / 67

Digimon Adventure series initially tells the story of seven protagonists, more precisely Digidestined, named Taichi “Tai” Kamiya, Sora Takenouchi, Yamato “Matt” Ishida, Takeru “T.K.” Takaishi, Koushiro “Izzy” Izumi, Mimi Tachikawa and Joe Kido. As they pass the time in their summer camp, snow accompanied by mysterious small objects falls from the sky.

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Each child having respectively acquired his object, they are sucked by surprise into a dimensional portal and subsequently lands in a world composed entirely of digital data, known as the “digital world”, parallel to the “real world”. As soon as they land, the children discover their respective Digimon dedicated to protecting them and dedicated to fighting different and powerful antagonists threatening the Digital World.

2. From the New World

ShinSekaiYori

Original Run: October 3, 2012 – March 27, 2013
Number of Episodes: 25

Set in a thousand-year-old Japan, Shinsekai Yori tells the story of Saki, a girl from the 66th district of Kamisu. In this age, all humans possess powerful telekinesis abilities and idyllically live in agrarian villages. Despite her parents’ fear that she could not awaken the power within her, Saki gains her powers at the age of twelve and joins her friends Satoru, Maria, Mamoru, Shun, and Reiko at the academy to develop her powers. But the kids are unaware that the city council monitors and influences the kids through teaching.

According to some evaluation criteria, some students are removed from society, such as those who cannot master the powers, such as Reiko, or those who violate the rules. The removed students are soon forgotten by all the other children; Saki and her friends have no recollection of Reiko.

Later, during a camp unsupervised by the professors, Saki and her friends come across a False White Nudibook, a legendary creature that turns out to be an ancient device containing a library. The False Nudibianco reveals to the boys the heinous crimes of their ancestors and what lies behind their powers.

3. Digimon Tamers

1200px Domatori Tamers

Original Release: April 1, 2001 – March 31, 2002
Number of Episodes: 51

Takato Matasuki, the 12-year-old protagonist of Digimon Tamers, is a fan of the Digimon card game. One day, after a game of cards with his two friends Kazu and Kenta, he discovers a mysterious blue card in his storage box. His reflex is to analyze it in his plastic Digivice which starts to shine in a strange way. Takato eventually realizes that he has become a “Digimon Tamer”, and accidentally creates his own Digimon partner, Guilmon, from a drawing.

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Takato then meets two other children, who later turn out to be tamers as well: Henry Wong and Rika Nonaka. He gets along very well with Henry right away, but the two boys take time to get to know and team up with Rika, who considers the Digimon to be “fighting machines”. As this group forms, Digimon invades Tokyo, Japan, specifically the Shinjuku district, appearing through multiple digital portals.

4. Demon Slayer

Nezuko fitting into the basket

Original Release: April 6, 2019 – present
Number of Episodes: 34

Demon Slayer is set in Taishō era Japan, Tanjirō is the eldest son of a family of coal merchants whose father has passed away. To meet his needs, he left to sell charcoal in town. Despite the difficulties of life, the family manages to find little happiness in their daily life.

One day, due to rumors circulating about a man-eating demon hanging around after dark, he is unable to return home and ends up spending the night with a Good Samaritan in the city. Only, everything changes on his return when he finds his family massacred by a demon.

Nezuko, one of his younger sisters, is the only survivor but she has been transformed into a demon. She initially attacks Tanjirō, but she continues to show signs of human emotions and thoughts, which is when a demon slayer named Giyū Tomioka steps in.

5. Kotaro Lives Alone

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Original Release: March 10, 2022
Number of Episodes: 10

Four-year-old Kotaro moves into a new apartment alone. He meets his new neighbor Shin Karino, who is a penniless successful mangaka. Kotaro is mature and independent for his age.

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6. Pokémon 

Pokemon1

Original Run: April 1, 1997 – present
Number of Episodes: 1,214

The Pokémon animated series follows the adventures of a young boy named Ash and his faithful Pokémon Pikachu. Ash travels the Pokémon world to obtain the supreme rank of “Pokémon Master”; to achieve this, he captures and trains Pokémon, in order to earn eight badges. The duo is often accompanied by a pair made up of another young boy and a young girl.

In Pokémon Sun and Moon, Ash will no longer have a “travel” companion at all since he must pass the various trials on each island and therefore has no “companions” strictly speaking but rather a classmate. During the episodes, the group is confronted by a criminal organization calling itself Team Rocket. This organization attempts to steal and capture other Trainers’ Pokémon or Legendary Pokémon.

7. The Promised Neverland

The Promised Neverland Season 2 Episode 4

Original Run: January 11, 2019 – March 26, 2021
Number of Episodes: 23

The Promised Neverland revolves around Emma, ​​Norman, and Ray. They are three 11-year-old orphans who live in a Victorian country orphanage run by a mother figure, Isabella. Their life flows peacefully, between play, rest, and daily aptitude tests, the results of which are used to draw up a ranking of the most intellectually gifted children.

From the orphanage, it is impossible to see the outside world as it is surrounded by high walls which are forbidden to approach. One day Conny, a six-year-old girl, is taken up for adoption by a family and is preparing to leave the facility, forgetting a puppet she was very fond of. Emma and Norman, therefore, decide to bring the soft toy back to their friend before she leaves for good and they head for the only door in the walls.

Once there, the two discover a shocking truth: after seeing Conny’s lifeless body, they discover the existence of monstrous beings (the “demons”) and their business with Isabella, who gives them the children to send to the “rich” to eat them.

8. Detective Conan

Detective Conan Episode 967 release date

Number of Episodes: 1,066
Original Run: January 8, 1996 – ongoing

Detective Conan follows Shinichi Kudo, a 17-year-old high school detective frequently associated with the police. During a visit to an amusement park with his childhood friend, Ran Mouri, he discreetly overhears a private conversation between two individuals – Gin and Vodka – belonging to a mysterious criminal organization whose each member is dressed in black.

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Spotted then stunned, he is forced to swallow a new poison (APTX 4869) developed by this organization, before being left for dead. This poison, supposed to kill him without leaving a trace, causes him to regress to his former physical appearance as a six-year-old boy due to a rare and unknown side effect. In order to hide his true identity and invest his time in tracking down this organization called the “Organization of Men in Black”, he adopts the pseudonym of Conan Edogawa.

9. Digimon Frontier

DigimonFrontier

Original Run: April 7, 2002 – March 30, 2003
Number of Episodes: 50

For a long time, a group of ten Digimon gave their lives to overcome the forces of evil that threatened the digital game world. These warriors created artifacts from their own data, the twelve “spirits” before leaving the digital world in the hands of three celestial Digimon. However, one of these three Digimon, Cherubimon, decides to imprison these companions in order to reign supreme.

To remedy this situation, another celestial Digimon Ophanimon summons five young children elected from the real world thanks to the Trailmon (Digimon with the appearance of hybrid trains). In the digital world, these five chosen ones find two spirits, each to transform into Digimon warriors. However, while they find their respective spirits, the five chosen are chased by several Digimon, henchmen of Cherubimon.

After killing four of those five minions by the elect, Koji Minamoto discovers that Duskmon, the legendary evil fifth warrior, is Koichi Kimura’s true twin brother. With Takuya’s help, Koji manages to free his brother and the latter fights alongside them in the form of Löwemon.

10. Made in Abyss

Made in abyss movie social

Original Run: July 7, 2017 – ongoing
Number of Episodes: 25

The story of Made in Abyss centers around an orphan girl named Rico, living in the town of Orse, located in the Beoruska Sea. The city surrounds a strange and immense chasm, commonly called “the Abyss”. The Abyss contains artifacts and remnants of an ancient lost civilization and is in fact a popular place for cavers to excavate such items that can be sold abroad.

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These cavemen undertake dangerous expeditions through the mist of the chasm to find as many as possible. However, the further a person descends into the Abyss, the more the curse of it weighs on their health, with more and more severe symptoms appearing when ascending the different levels. Few adventurers have descended to the lowest areas and ascended to narrate their experiences.

11. Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

anime reviews fullmetal alchemist brotherhood

Original Run: April 5, 2009 – July 4, 2010
Number of Episodes: 64 (+ 4 OVA)

The plot of Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood happens in the country of Amestris, a country where alchemy is elevated to the rank of universal science, two brothers, (Fullmetal Alchemist) Edward and Alphonse Elric, travel the country in search of the legendary philosopher’s stone. Their father left them and their mother, Trisha Elric, died a few years later of an illness, leaving her two young children behind.

Sometime later, the two brothers try to bring her back thanks to alchemy, defying the law which formally prohibits human transmutation. They will pay a heavy price. Edward, the eldest, will lose his left leg, his little brother his whole body. Ed will sacrifice his right arm by sealing the soul of his little brother Alphonse in armor.

Edward decides to enlist in the army at the age of 12 as a State Alchemist, passes the exam with flying colors, and obtains his alchemist name: Fullmetal. Helped by Edward’s state alchemist status, the two brothers will seek, at the risk of their lives, the stone that will give them back what they have lost, but the secret of the philosopher’s stone is well kept.

12. Sword Art Online

Sword Art Online

Original Run: July 8, 2012 – September 20, 2020
Number of Episodes: 96

Sword Art Online (SAO) is a massively multiplayer network role-playing game (VRMMORPG) virtual reality released in 2022: thanks to the NerveGear, a helmet capable of stimulating the user’s five senses through direct manipulation of the brain, the players can impersonate and control their own in-game character directly with their mind.

SAO officially opens on November 6, 2022, but logged-in users realize that it is impossible to log out. The creator of the game, Akihiko Kayaba, reveals himself to be a psychopath and informs them that he has imprisoned them: if they wish to be free again, the last level of the game must be reached and passed (represented by the 100th floor of the flying castle of Aincrad, in which the final boss is found), however in the event of a game-over or forcibly removing the NerveGear, the hardware will cause the player to go into a cerebral coma by means of electric shocks to the brain.

13. Dragon Ball

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Original Run: February 26, 1986 – April 19, 1989
Number of Episodes: 153

Dragon Ball anime tells the story of Son Goku, a little boy who is very good at martial arts, and who has a mysterious monkey tail. He meets a young woman named Bulma, and the two go together in search of the Dragon Balls (seven magic crystal balls which allow, if they are united, to invoke the dragon Shenron, then offering to grant the wish of the one who pronounces a specific formula in front of him), meeting many adversaries along the way (most of them being competitors in the quest for the famous balls, often with selfish or even evil intentions), some of whom later become allies, such as Yamcha or Ten Chin Han.

14. Sailor Moon

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Original Run: March 7, 1992 – February 8, 1997
Episodes: 200

Sailor Moon follows Usagi Tsukino, a normal fourteen-year-old, a little inclined to study and sports, a little careless, and a crybaby. Her life changes when she one day saves a black kitten from a group of kids. That same evening, the cat introduces herself to her as she enters from her bedroom window, tells her name is Luna and gives her a pin.

This item gives Usagi the power to transform into Sailor Moon, the warrior of love and justice, dressed in a sailor suit and protected by the Moon. Her task, explains the cat, will be to defend the inhabitants of the Earth from the continuous attacks of the Dark Kingdom, as well as to find her companions to track down the mysterious Princess of the Moon.

15. serial experiments lain

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Release: July 6, 1998 – September 28, 1998
Number of Episodes: 13

After the suicide of the young Chisa Yomoda, some girls receive e-mails from the girl. The suspicion is that this is a bad joke, but one of them, Lain Iwakura is particularly intrigued. After asking her father for a new NAVI (Navigator, the evolution of the PC), she starts surfing the Wired (a computer network similar to the Internet) in search of answers.

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From here on, a series of inexplicable events disrupt her life. She learns that another Lain, quite similar to her physically but temperamentally opposite, has made her an appearance of her both in the Wired and in the real world and that the Knights (knights – a group of hackers) are particularly interested in her.

16. My Hero Academia

MHAcademia

Original Run: April 3, 2016 – present
Number of Episodes: 113 (+ 5 OVA)

In a world where 80% of the world’s population has superpowers, here called “Quirks”, we follow the adventures of Izuku Midoriya, one of the few humans without Quirks. Despite this, Izuku still dreams of joining the super-heroic branch of the great Yuei academy and one day becoming one of the greatest heroes of his time.

17. Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day

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Original Run: April 14, 2011 – June 23, 2011
Number of Episodes: 11

A group of six childhood friends split up after one of them, Meiko “Menma” Honma, died in an accident. Ten years after this tragedy, the leader of the group, Jinta Yadomi, isolates himself from society and lives in seclusion.

One summer day, however, Menma appears to Jinta, looking older, asking him for help in fulfilling her wish. She believes she needs to accomplish it to fulfill her destiny. But Menma doesn’t remember what her wish was, causing Jinta to reunite with her childhood friends again, as she believes they are the key to solving this problem.

However, the hidden feelings, internal conflicts, and persistent of feelings of sadness by Menma’s parents result in complications for the group as they struggle not only to help Menma but themselves.

18. Hunter × Hunter

Hunter × Hunter

Original Release: October 16, 1999 – March 31, 2001 / October 2, 2011 – September 24, 2014
Number of Episodes: 62 / 148

Hunter x Hunter revolves around Gon Freecss. Gon Freecss is twelve years old and dreams of becoming a hunter. Hunters are elite citizens authorized to do almost anything they wish on simple presentation of their membership card: they can thus acquire free of charge any object for sale on the funds of the association; requisition all vehicles, accommodation, and tools for their work; and are de facto entitled to exercise all trades in the world, being able to become bounty hunters, chefs, archaeologists, zoologists, vigilantes or consultants in various fields as well.

His father, Ging Freecss, whom he does not know directly, is considered one of the greatest hunters of his time. It is also to find him that Gon wants to become a hunter.

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