‘Bizarre’ Netflix show Old Enough abandons toddlers in public – could you do it?

It’s controversial and shocking yet wildly popular. In Japan, where it first aired three decades ago, a fifth of the population tunes in to watch it.

But here's the question. Would you send your child out into the streets of Britain to navigate the supermarket and public transport by themselves?

Smash hit Netflix show Old Enough (its Japanese title is Hajimete no Otsukai – which translates to ‘My First Errand’) is made in the form of an entertainment documentary.

The weird-looking series is available to watch for British viewers now (we prefer Bridgerton ourselves!) but there is also talk of a version being made on UK soil too.

In Japan the Netflix doc has been airing for 30 years, with two three-hour shows broadcast each year.

Kids aged from just two to six years old are sent out into the real world world to go shopping or catch trains and buses – completely alone.

It’s a phenomenon in the East.

The reason it only airs twice a year is the amount of work that has to go into each episode before it's produced.

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The little kids are sent off on various ‘errands’ and all the routes have to be inspected by parents and production staff first, to check for dangerous roads or 'suspicious persons' before the children are let loose.

The selection process to find suitable youngsters is rigorous, as you would hope, yet after the lengthy selection process, the camera crew and safety team are given hiding places so the kids won’t spot them and all the local neighbours are informed of the task going on, so as not to alarm everyone and call the police when they see a four-year-old wandering aimlessly through the streets.

Part of the appeal – as well as being incredibly cute and often funny – is the show’s ability to instil confidence into the children.

Naturally they’re almost always at least daunted if not terrified when they first set out.

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This is hardly surprising – walking an entire mile to the shop would freak out most youngsters, not to mention their parents, paranoid with all the frightening news stories every day of children being in danger.

However, one thing the show does do is increase resilience in the children, and they clearly have a sense of pride in their own abilities after achieving their errands. They learned they were capable to do with thing without a parent or teacher’s help.

Interested to have a look? Just check out Netflix. And fear not, you don’t need to sit through the three hours of the original show, the versions edited for a British audience are a more time-friendly 20 minutes long.

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It’s a rollercoaster of a watch – from the young boy talking to himself as he collects flowers then remembers he’s forgot to collect the required curry.

A later episode features a girl who initially fails her errand and rushes back to her mum in tears. Once she’s gathered her strength and courage to go back out again you're on the edge of your seat cheering her on.

Set to funny music, with cartoon fonts and voice over – it’s all very 'comedy cute' in a Japanese style. How it would work here remains to be seen. Or when it would air.

But would you be putting your previous child forward? The jury is out.

Have a strong opinion on the show? Email [email protected]

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