Anime Review

Anime Hajime Review: Future Folktales

Original Run: April 4, 2020 - June 27, 2020
Number of Episodes: 13
Genre: Adventure

***Warning, the following may contain spoilers for Future Folktales. Reader discretion is advised.***

Series Synopsis

The year is 2050, and the capital of Saudia Arabia, Riyadh, is a technological marvel. Living here are the three siblings Maha, Rayan, and Sultan (voiced respectively by Naomi Ohzora, Sachiko Kojima, and Megumi Urawa).

Although they may live in the future, the trio’s lives are familiar to all young children. Every day, they come across new problems to solve and challenges to overcome. To help them is their knowledgeable grandmother Asma (voiced by Masako Nozawa).

No matter what her grandkids may be facing, Asma has an old Arabian folktale to help point them in the right direction.

Series Positives

This is going to be one of those short reviews since you only need ask yourself one question:

Can you accept what Future Folktales is?

Accordingly, Future Folktales is a children’s show comprised of a collection of – as the title suggests – folktales. There is no overarching narrative, and all the episodes can be watched in whatever order you please. None of the stories were deep, complex, or overtaxing, since, as I said, this series was meant for a much younger audience. Each tale, told by Grandma Asma, centered around a single moral lesson that directly applied to the show’s central trio of children, Maha, Rayan, and Sultan – typical kid’s programming.

Was Future Folktales good? I can certainly say I have seen better series aimed for children – few, if any, in anime form, though. However, I think it would be better to think of this show in terms of condescension; did it talk down to its intended audience? To that end, I don’t think so.

Admittedly, my knowledge of customs, culture, and traditions in the Arab world is limited, so I can only take this series at face value. Thus, nothing about Future Folktales appeared hostile, misinformed, or grossly inaccurate.

I am, of course, talking about the folktales themselves. Granted, my Arabian folklore is lacking, so I can’t tell you how accurate any of the stories were. I can probably guess and assume some of them were toned down to be more kid-friendly. I don’t see why ancient Middle Eastern fables would be any less brutal than European fairy tales, but prove me wrong.

When it comes down to it, I am more impressed that this show exists. I am never against people being exposed to different cultures. If Future Folktales is any indication, many of the morals the West values are shared by many people the world over.

At the bare minimum, this series was a well-intentioned effort, and I can appreciate that.

Series Negatives

Although Future Folktales may have been well-intentioned, that isn’t the same as saying it was well-executed.

The animation, for example, wasn’t good. Stylistically, this series was unique. I can’t think of any other anime that looked anything like this one did. However, once things began to move, that was when Future Folktales went downhill in a hurry. Stiff, cheap, simplistic, bland, these are just some of the words I can use to describe this show’s visuals.

Funnily enough, I can use many of those same words to describe Future Folktales as a whole.

If you were to ask me which story was my favorite, I couldn’t give you an answer. The folktales were all roughly the same level of quality – neat, but I don’t care.

I am not saying that the stories themselves were uninteresting. In the hands of a charismatic, well-spoken storyteller, I’m sure these tales are excellent. The problem, Future Folktales wasn’t that. I doubt you could leave a kid in front of this show, and expect them to sit through the whole thing enraptured. They might make it through an episode.

As a side note: I would recommend not watching this series in one long marathon session. Watching this show an episode a day would put it in a better light.

Now, the aspect that was the hardest to swallow about Future Folktales was the “future” part. Why was this series set in the year 2050? I haven’t the slightest idea.

Well, that’s not entirely true. I do have a theory.

This series took place in Saudi Arabia. Besides the flying cars, solar panels, and recreational space flights, there was one telltale sign that this was not the present day. Future Folktales was a view of a country that might one day be, but one that sure as hell isn’t here now.

Saudi Arabia is wealthy, and the idea of it becoming technologically advanced to the level seen in this show isn’t fantastical. No, I’m more referring to the issue of women’s rights. I might be wrong, but if this series were set contemporarily, wouldn’t a girl as young as Maha not be allowed to roam outside the house without a male escort?

Just a thought.

Still, had it not been for this series’ setting, its lackluster presentation would have caused it to become instantly forgettable. Currently, it is only gradually forgettable.

Final Thoughts

I didn’t hate this show, but I didn’t like this show either. I merely thought it was okay.

 If you care about fun stories, exciting animation, and all those sorts of sparkles and jazz, this series is not for you.

However, if you’re in the market for something unique, and you’ve got half an hour to spend on an episode, then I don’t see the harm. Future Folktales might be worth a look.

But these are just my thoughts. What are yours? Have you seen this series? How would you advise Future Folktales? Leave a comment down below because I would love to hear what you have to say.

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For Anime Hajime, I’m LofZOdyssey, and I’ll see you next time.

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