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Five for Families: Destination animated films take viewers to Asia
From left, Beetle, Kubo, and Monkey set off on a promising path in animation studio Laikas epic action-adventure "Kubo and the Two Strings," a focus features release. - photo by Caresa Alexander Randall
Here are five movies from various platforms that families may want to consider. Because not all are appropriate for younger children, age recommendations are included.

The beautiful landscape of Asia is found in many animated films. The art of origami, the birth of legends and the entertainment of anime is featured in these five films for families to consider.

In theaters: 'Kubo and the Two Strings'

A young boy, aided by a monkey, a beetle and a magical shamisen, must face a vengeful ancient spirit. Parents Previews praised the "beautiful craftsmanship" of "Kubo and the Two Strings" and the "universal themes and worthwhile messages," but suggests that a basic understanding of Asian customs and religious philosophies will be useful. The website noted that the difficult circumstances in the story "provide the characters with an opportunity to talk about the importance of love and family, beliefs about life after death, and the purpose of sorrow during mortality." The website cautions that the deep topics and visuals may be confusing and scary for young children, but "connoisseurs who look at animation as an art form, will most likely find this amazing production to be the masterpiece they were hoping for." recommends the film for viewers ages 9 and older.

Amazon Video: 'Mulan'

Set in ancient China, a young girl goes off to war, in her ailing father's place and saves the emperor's army. The Dove Foundation awarded the film its "Family-Approved" seal for all ages, calling the "lively musical comedy adventure" a "family treasure." The website refers to the film as one of "Disney's finest efforts," with "sheer heartfelt emotion" that will "enthrall audiences, young and old." recommends the film for viewers ages 4 and older.

DVD: 'Kiki's Delivery Service'

Kiki, a young witch on a mandatory year of independence, supports herself by running an air courier service. Common Sense Media calls the coming-of-age, anime adventure "an ideal film for the entire family." The website also notes the film's attention to detail "rivals that of many a bigger-budgeted Disney feature" and realistically portrays Kiki's growing pains. recommends the film for viewers ages 5 and older.

iTunes: 'Big Hero 6'

In the city of San Fransokyo, a teenage genius finds his late brother's secret project, a medical robot made to help people, and trains the robot to be a fighter in order to avenge his brother's death. Parents Television Council states that the film is filled with positive family values, adding that the film "is a delightful animated movie perfect for families and kids, packed with excitement, action and humor, but also with genuine emotion, character growth, heart and morality." recommends the film for viewers ages 6 and older.

DVD: 'Ponyo'

Inspired by "The Little Mermaid," this film tells the story of a goldfish princess who longs to be a human after she falls in love with a human boy. The Dove Foundation awarded the Japanese animation film its "Family-Approved" seal for all ages and called the movie "charming" with "some great issues to talk about." The website noted that lessons taught include learning about the environment, being responsible, taking care of others and following your dreams. recommends the film for viewers ages 5 and older.
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