Kamen Rider Kiva is a Japanese television programme for preschool aged children, featuring Gothic elements in both content and form which provide a layer of enjoyment for older viewers as well. The series features sexual jealousy, anti-miscegenation discrimination, genocide, betrayal, and haunting along with rubber-suited monsters and slapstick humour. This article uses Kiva as an ‘uncanny mirror’ to reflect Anglophone cultural constructions of childhood and the relationship between these constructions and television programming for children. Taking an interdisciplinary approach, it draws on sociological research and histories of childhood as well as media and child audience studies to argue that the segregation and exclusion of children plays an important role in the creation and maintenance of adult selfidentity. Children’s affinity for dark and frightening themes is denied and suppressed by adults because of the unease it creates for adults attempting to reconcile actual children with ideas about childhood innocence and purity - against which adulthood is defined. Children’s television programmes with Gothic characteristics challenge the adult/child audience boundary, opening up the possibility of intergenerational entertainment in a very different form to that of ‘family’ movies. Kiva allows children and adults to focus on whichever story element they find most compelling, from a whole which is presented equally to both.
childhood, Kamen Rider, children’s television, Japan Studies, gothic television