Review of Old Enough (1990)

Moving picture, 140 minutes

Seen in 2023.

I’ve seen only the 2022 and 2023 seasons, hence no rating.

On false pretences, various caretakers around Japan send their toddlers on a “first errand”. Nominally, the kids go alone or in pairs, but shopkeepers, bus drivers and camera operators along the way are in on the trick and keep an eye on the young.

The little bit of drama in this series comes not from the proto-reality TV lies, the challenging nature of the errands or the occasional tantrums, but from the show’s reliance on certain pillars of Japanese culture: People work to help each other out even when that means sending two- and three-year-olds into traffic on their own, so that one’s first errand is an important ritual where a child’s dependence starts to shift from their family alone to their community. More prosaically, and amusingly, camera operators sprint to reposition themselves as a cute kid takes a wrong turn and the studio audience sounds riveted.

moving picture non-fiction Japanese production series