This could only happen in Japan!
When I first read the blurb of the show ‘Old enough’ now airing on Netflix, I thought this was for real! As I’d heard of Japanese kids as soon as they’re of school age, they’d walk on their own to school- none of this drop-off in-front of the school in a luxury SUV thing.
But when we started watching, we better understood the premiss. So, these families and their kids, they’re chosen by the Producers to go on their first errand for their parents. So, this wasn’t a common occurrence for these kids but were fully scripted scenarios (some of which were only 2 and a half).
And I must say, the kids are super cute, the fact that they speak to themselves when their alone, not knowing that they are secretly recorded by a camera crew. Super cute! And one thing which stood out to me, was the fact that Japanese adults, speak to kids like adults as well. None of this talking down to kids or speaking motherese to them. And thus, the kids act in kind, responding back and acting more mature for their age.
After watching an entire week of Old enough, I couldn’t help but compare Aussie kids to the Japanese. We were in a restaurant and there were two kids on the other table losing their sh*t! Perhaps they were just fed up with sitting still. And I asked my wife “Do you think they’re candidates for Old enough?” And of course, they weren’t, as they showed no self-discipline, not like the cute Japanese kiddies.
So, if I haven’t sold you on Old enough yet. Here is my hard sell……
Each episode is only 9-15 minutes long, and there’s only 20 episodes in the series. So, you can easily smash through 3 eps in one sitting. The show always starts by setting the scene, capturing the scenic locations these families live in (mostly small towns and rural areas). Then we meet the family (usually mum and the child). Then the mother gets the child ready for the errand, making up an elaborate back-story to ‘trick’ the kid in believing that they (the parent) cannot do this task themselves, and then insists in how important this task was and must be done immediately. Then the parent gives them a bunch of verbal instructions, and it’s always funny watching the kid take in the information. And when ready i.e., dressed, and hidden microphone placed around their neck (sold to them as a good luck charm), off the kid goes to perform their first errand! Do Re Mi Fa Daijobu!
Sometimes the funniest part of the episode is watching the camera crew try to keep up with the kids or try their best to remain hidden in plain sight. It’s like a nature documentary, but the subjects are under 4-year-old humans, who just might spot the incongruous camera man, who they see multiple times throughout the day. So, with the camera crew surrounding the child from a distance, the kids are never really at any risk of harm. But it’s incredible that they allow them to cross the road by themselves! These little 3-year-old crossing semi busy streets, a few times the child has a flag which they raise so the cars can better see them. Super risky hey?
In the first few episodes, before I truly understood the set-up of the show, I was muttering “Where are their parents? This is so irresponsible of them!” And in some scenes the parent is watching on, while the kid struggles and I’m shouting out “go help them! You irresponsible parent!” But later I better understood, it was all apart of the show’s rules. The parents were to allow the child to complete their tasks on their own, even though the parent wanted to help them or run to their aid, but they had to control their natural parental urges and allow their kids to complete the task.
And the tasks included going grocery shopping, delivering items to dad (who is always so forgetful and leaves for work without a critical element of their profession), physically calling on people and bringing them home (like as if the telephone hadn’t been invented yet), and many other variations on similar tasks. But no matter how mundane the tasks might sound, but because these tasks are performed by tiny cute Japanese kids- it just makes it so entertaining! As kids will do kid things. Like take directions too literally, so if a barber store was closed and they were meant to use that shop as a point of reference, they were completely confused and went home without completing the task. Or kids being too shy to ask shop assistants, so after they couldn’t find a product themselves, they left without buying said item (which sounds a bit like me). Or kids being too shy to speak-up or call-out, thus they stand there for 20 minutes deliberating on what to do, which causes the camera crew to also stand around for 20 mins waiting for their eventual response. It’s super cute.
And I guess the big lesson here is, that the parents make them complete the task, no matter how the child might struggle or doesn’t want to do it. The adult remains firm and allows the child to complete the task they were set, and that does say something about their society. That is why Japanese produce products and services at a completely different level of proficiency and quality. As it seems there is no such thing as doing things half-assed, but everything must be done perfectly, at the highest level every time.
So, if you want to watch Japanese kids do the most mundane things, but because they’re 3 years old and super cute which equates to must watch TV? Then check it out on Netflix, just click HERE! We want more! We want more!