On Mature Themes in Children’s Media

Around the time Pokemon Sun and Moon came out, I heard some odd murmerings. Numerous people could be found saying the game was too dark, that they should have left out the darker undertones of the story. One comment that particularly struck me was someone saying children’s media should strive to depict the world as we want it to be, not the darker aspects of the world that is.

Now, I am not one to advocate for ultra-dark themes in Children’s media. I’m not looking to scar kids, and I certainly don’t want to scare them away from growing up. That being said, I think it’s important that media targeted at children shouldn’t be afraid to tackle issues which crop up in the real world. Both because children can handle this, and because it’s something they likely will, or even may have already, encountered.

The story in Sun and Moon frequently dwells on themes of child abuse, neglect, and stunted social development. While it would be nice to plug our ears and ignore this, the fact is that issues like these affect children and adults all around the world. It affected me. It’s far better for children to encounter this in a cheery, welcoming setting, and learn about it there, than to be ignorant of it until they are older. More importantly, it is better for them to be exposed to it in a manner which tells them “having a shitty childhood does not mean you are forever broken, or any less of a human being.” It encourages empathy with those who have suffered child abuse, rather than blaming the faults of the abused on the abused.

The world can be a dark and unwelcoming place at the best of times. But it’s far better for people to slowly taught this at a young age, and prepared for it, than to let them grow up naive and enter the world unprepared for hardship. At the same time, it’s important that they be taught the world can be a bright and fun place, in spite of how dark it can be at times. This Sun and Moon accomplishes very well, in a manner that I particularly love.

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