'Old Enough!' Is Perfect Comfort TV
The show about adorable Japanese children running their first errand is ideal relaxation television.
Say it’s a Saturday morning after a big Friday night, and you’re a little hungover. Or it's a Wednesday night after a long day at work, and every single brain cell of yours is already fried for the week. Either way, you’re on your couch, flipping through Netflix, in need of something easy and fun. You don’t want to watch a series like The Ultimatum (too harrowing) or Bridgerton (too messy). Good thing Netflix has licensed Old Enough!, a long-running Japanese show about toddlers running errands that is the ultimate in soothing television.
Ever since Old Enough! dropped on the streaming service in late March, it’s been amassing a new crop of fans despite the fact that the series has been around since 1991. The premise is charmingly basic. In each 15-minute episode, a tiny, adorable child—usually just 2 or 3 years old—is sent on their first-ever solo mission. The stakes are almost comically low. Will one kid remember to get the right kind of curry from the grocery store? Will another get his father’s clean sushi chef whites from the dry cleaner across the street? And, sure, these kids may occasionally be crossing busy thoroughfares, but they have little flags that alert traffic to slow down, plus we know that the camera crew is there to make sure nothing actually disastrous happens.
What makes this perfect relaxation TV is that you can completely identify with the difficulty of the mundane tasks. Take, for instance, Episode 5's saga of Naoki and his friend Seina, two 3-year-olds who have been charged with picking up snacks and an amulet near Naoki’s family’s toy shop. This seems easy enough, but it requires climbing the 202 steps up to the Shiogama Shrine that would be enough to wipe anyone out.
Noaki is absolutely a relatable king. He uses up all his energy too early, and keeps getting distracted because he wants balloons and toys. Meanwhile, Seina is trying her best to keep him on track. Seina basically is anyone who has ever had to keep their wasted friend in line. Naoki, in this moment, is you. Or how you were the night before you started to watch Old Enough!
Toshiyuki Shiomi, a professor at Shiraume Gakuen University in Tokyo, told the New York Times that Old Enough! has roots in Japanese traditions, which encourage independence and participation in household tasks. “It’s a typical way of raising children in Japan and symbolic of our cultural approach, which can be surprising for people from other countries,” Shiomi said. Of course, it’s also extremely cute. The parents are almost as equally nervous as their offspring, fretting on behalf of their toddler that they won't be able to remember all that's ahead of them. But the grown-ups who encounter these lone youngsters tend to be extremely encouraging, often stuffing their change and receipts in their tiny purses, and you want to cheer them on too.
Old Enough! is both extremely engaging—you get invested in the activities—and a salve. When you just can’t watch anything else, it’s perfect.