Have I ever mentioned how grateful I am for my family? Well, I am deeply thankful, indeed, for my family. Especially after this.
You know those moments, where you are searching for something so necessary, and yet so mundane, like, say, toilet paper, at a moment of need, and find yourself completely poleaxed by the apparent lack of it in the entire house? And if you managed to find any, it’s completely ruined and useless? That’s a bit like what I feel going into this post.
If I thought the relative lack of adults in anime was astounding, the lack of families has me absolutely shocked. The family is practically an endangered species in anime, most of them destroyed or simply absent in one way or another.
And of those few examples I can readily name, which clear the first hurdle of “existing,” an astonishing percent of them immediately fail at a second hurdle: they are dysfunctional to the point of ruin.
The Brittanian royal family from Code Geass, where parents and children are set in a lifelong battle to the death to determine who rules? The Charlotte family from One Piece, where the children are more a collection than a family, all living in constant fear of their horrific mother, used and abused? Any of the “illustrious” and “upstanding” families which are constantly demanding to the point of abuse and which cast out their own children for the terrible sin of not automatically wielding godlike power or some-such nonsense? (I am thinking of both Chivalry of a Failed Knight and Kaze no Stigma when I say that) Even the relatively tame example of the Sohma family from Fruits Basket makes me shudder at the thought of being part of it.
Seriously, few things have made my blood boil more than the appalling behavior so many of these families exhibit towards their own.
And then there’s hurdle number three: actually mattering to the subject of the anime, the story, in some way. I might be able to outnumber the number of “bad” families in anime if I made an exhaustive list of every time a family ever appears, but most of them are worse than merely bad: they’re irrelevant.
As such, nothing more on them.
So, it actually took a bit of effort to scour my library for five existing, good, and relevant families I could pick.
1) The Takanashi sisters: Hikari and Himari
Interviews With Monster Girls
I don’t recall if we ever meet their parents, but I do know that the sisters have both parents and they work so their daughters can live comfortably and such. As for the sisters themselves, Himari is the more calm and reasonable one, balancing out Hikari’s eccentric behavior. They’re twins, and they look out for each other, as siblings should. 🙂
The show is about these monster girls and how they deal with the world, in light of their unique conditions. Himari is an important part of how Hikari does that, looking after her, watching over her, and helping out with her idiosyncrasies. I see a bit of myself and my own family in that.
I think my favorite moment is when they explain how Hikari, as a vampire, needs to relieve the itching in her fangs every so often by lightly chewing on someone. And they cut to Himari reading a book when her sister comes along, asking, and she doesn’t even bother looking up from her book, just holds her arm out and has Hikari turn the pages as needed. Something about that scene just tickles me!
2) Jiyuu and Sai Nanohana
Jubei-Chan: The Ninja Girl
While I would love to have picked five whole families, I had to give up that idea right quick. And, in the process, I had to revise my idea of “whole” family.
The Nanohanas consist of a father and his daughter. Jiyuu’s mother, Sai’s wife, died awhile before the story begins. It is a loss which has shaped them and their relationship ever since.
Jiyuu is about the sweetest girl you’d ever meet, a hopeless Pollyanna character, compassionate, and she keeps the house from falling apart around them. Sai is a writer…
…I am suddenly reminded of a quote attributed to Alfred Hitchcock, to the effect of, “I am a writer, and therefore automatically a suspicious person.” But I digress. 😉
Sai is a writer, a novelist of some sort, including ghost writing, I remember right. He’s not rolling in wealth, but he makes enough to get by. He’s a devoted, albeit eccentric, father, and the similarities between him and Jiyuu make the familial connection clear. When he learns that there are supernatural forces putting his daughter in danger, he does not hesitate, he jumps into the thick of things, with a clever idea that helps good triumph over evil.
My one complaint is how, the one time Jiyuu is absent, because she’s been gravely injured, he listens to exactly the wrong voice as it pours poison in his ear, and when he sees his daughter next, he doesn’t talk to her at all before slapping her. He does learn from this, but, still, really?
In general, though this father-daughter duo is just great to watch.
3) Kurosaki Family
Isshin, Ichigo, Yuzu, and Karin Kurosaki are another family that lacks a dearly-departed wife and mother.
Ichigo is the delinquent youth who gets into fights all the time and refuses to conform to the socierty around him. Obviously, the chief hero of the story. My favorite thing about him? His drive to protect others is rooted in his resolve to protect his sisters. Speaking of:
Yuzu is a sweet little girl who, after her mother’s death, assumed responsibility for all the household chores. That was just how she dealt with it, by giving to her family.
Karin is Yuzu’s twin, but starkly different. She can see or otherwise sense ghosts, she’s a tomboy, a tough guy kind of girl, and that is how she dealt with it, by being the strong shoulder for others to cry on.
Isshin is an eccentric (that is a recurring theme here) father who looks after his children and cheers them every day. He also has hidden depths and abilities.
Though the Kurosakis do not always feature prominently, they are undoubtedly devoted to each other as family, and they all have their roles to play.
4) Mikage Family
Aki Mikage is the obvious love interest for the show’s protagonist, and in a show that is about his growth and development, his experiences with her family are pivotal.
The Mikages aren’t a particularly remarkable family. They’re quite normal. The men and women work alongside each other, everyone doing their part. The women of the family are excited at the matrimonial prospects of Aki and her very good friend who happens to be a boy. (LOL) Aki’s father absolutely forbids it even before it begins, as most fathers would. The eldest member of the family, the partriarch, is wise from experience, considerate, and leads the family not only in dealing with the present issues they face, but also in looking to the future.
That’s my favorite moment with them as a family, actually. The family meeting, where Aki finally comes out and tells her family about her true love: horses. And they listen. They make a decision, together, to find a way to keep the farm going and help Aki achieve her dreams, and find a way they do.
5) Izumi Family
I feel like I’m really stretching, here. I’ve picked a pair of sisters, two families with no mother, and now a family that is just kind of… there. I mean, I love Izzy and his parents as much as the next person. But the families of the Digidestined don’t take a very active role in things, most of the time, do they?
That said, I really love Izzy’s parents. They have an unusual, highly intelligent boy, and they do their best by him, supporting him, nurturing his tremendous intellect and his character as best they can. They have a certain amount of trust in him as well, in fact, they trust him quite a lot when it counts. And I really, really love that they adopted him. 🙂
My favorite moment with them… hmmm, I think it would be whe Izzy tried telling jokes. They were just so adorably bad, and still his parents applauded! 😀
And that’s my picks, for five families from anime.
Who would you pick? By all means, comment below, and cheer my day with news of another good anime family! 😉
Silver Spoon and Ninja Girl, I’ve not seen. I definitely approve of the other three choices though. For me, some of the best families come from Mamoru Hosoda’s work. The Shinohara/Jinnouchi family in Summer Wars and the family in Wolf Children, for example. I also like the Kuramoto’s in Flying Witch and the Kohinata’s in Amanchu!.
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Oh, the Wolf Children family is great! Love that movie! 🙂
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Me too! It’s such a sweet story 🙂
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The Mikage family is great… And Matt make a great choice with the Kuramoto’s in Flying Witch.
My favorite anime family though, that’s probably the Inuzuka family in Sweetness & Lightning – the whole anime (and even more so in the manga) is all about family connections. When you toss in Kotori Lida, you have a strong “found family” as well. (And everyone knows how much I enjoy “found families”.)
It’s interesting that you chose to concentrate on blood/marriage families – and not “found families” or “families of choice”.
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Hm, never seen Sweetness & Lightning.
As for “found families,” well… stay tuned for next week. 😉
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