Netflix’s Most Addictive Show Is ‘Old Enough,’ About Cute Japanese Toddlers Running Errands

Netflix's Most Addictive Show Is 'Old Enough,' About Cute Japanese Toddlers Running Errands

The most bingeable new series on Netflix right now is not a true-crime scammer drama with an exorbitant music budget, nor is it a trashy dating show featuring some of the worst people ever to appear on television. It’s not even a bodice-ripping, tension-filled meditation on horniness in Regency-era London.

No, the most bingeable show on Netflix right now just so happens to be a Japanese reality series about unsupervised toddlers running complicated, multi-step errands for their parents. It’s called Old Enough!and it’s even more wholesome than it sounds.

Old Enough! first came to my (and the internet’s) attention last week when journalist Kathryn VanArendonk tweeted about watching it after it was fed to her by the streaming platform’s algorithm. VanArendonk wrote, “Me: the Netflix algorithm doesn’t know me at all. Netflix: Here is a Japanese reality show about very very young children being sent on ambitious solo errands.”

The screenshots she shared depict a pigtailed little girl sternly reminding herself to stay on task and later, after successfully completing the errand, congratulating herself by exclaiming, “I’m brilliant! I’m a genius!” Naturally, I immediately opened Netflix in a new tab and proceeded to watch seven episodes in one weekend.

As a 25-year-old who regularly and remorselessly forks over the UberEats delivery fee to order lunch from the Popeyes not 400 feet from my apartment, I initially viewed the title of the series as a personal attack. Sure, if 2-year-old Hiroki can walk along a major highway to buy spicy curry sauce from the grocery store alone, technically I am “old enough” to pick up my own fried chicken sandwich. But the narrator describes Hiroki as a “little errand genius” and I am not a genius at anything, least of all errands. Plus, it’s drizzling outside. Moving on.

With super-short episodes averaging 10 to 15 minutes in length, it is almost alarmingly easy to lose track of how long you’ve been watching. Each episode follows more or less the same format. A narrator introduces the child by stating his or her name, age, and the episode’s challenge. Then, often one of the parents will explain the errand to the child, arming them with supplies like a backpack to carry home any groceries and a colorful flag to help them safely cross the street, before sending them off.

Sometimes, two kids will team up and tackle the task together. Errands range in difficulty from retrieving a flounder from the hatchery attached to the family’s seafood restaurant (though in Hana’s defense, the hatchery is terrifying, and she is 2) to navigating busy roads and hiking several blocks to shop at the bustling fish market.

With super short episodes averaging 10 to 15 minutes in length, it is almost alarmingly easy to lose track of how long you’ve been watching.

A camera crew follows at a close distance, trying for the most part to stay hidden from the episode’s subject. One of the job requirements to join the production team must be a heart of steel, because they are obviously not allowed to help at all—even when, for example, sweet little Hinako spends half an hour struggling to uproot a giant cabbage from her grandmother’s garden, a job that the narrator points out typically requires use of a sickle. It is at once heartbreaking and funny and adorable to watch Hinako fret that her mother will be mad that she’s late as she walks home in the dark, dragging a cabbage—roots and all—nearly the size of her 4-year-old frame.

Old Enough! is new to American audiences, having just recently landed on Netflix, but it has been a popular series in Japan for over 30 years. There are currently 20 episodes from various seasons available to stream in the US Excuse me while I forgo all of my own errands in order to watch every single one.

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