By Yali Perez
The world of parenthood is a magical, beautiful and often challenging place. It has its highs and its lows, similar to the world of anime. Of course, that’s without the magical outfit changes. Wouldn’t that make getting ready in the morning so much easier?
As a single parent to a 10-year-old son, I sometimes use anime as a way to connect with him. Anime is something we mutually enjoy and is a great medium to discuss subjects without the pressure of feeling too serious. The aim of A Mom’s Guide to Anime is to use anime to help you navigate the world of parenthood.
This month’s focus: Relationships! Recently, I jokingly asked my son if he had anyone he wanted to give a special Valentine’s Day gift to this year. His reply was silence…followed by blushing! This sparked a thought:
“How do I talk to my son about love and relationships?”
So, I turn to my trustworthy source: anime. Let’s take a look at some series that showcase positive relationships, whether it’s young love, friendship, or the bond between parent and child!
The Relationship Between Siblings in Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
The relationship between siblings is one of the earliest and most important foundations in a child’s life. They are often the foundations for future friendships. A sibling is one’s first friend, and they teach us about sharing, loyalty and competitiveness.
There are many great sibling relationships in anime, and one great example is Tanjiro and Nezuko Kamado from Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba.
One can easily argue that the two of them are close because they only really have each other, but their bond goes beyond that. Before the horrific events that befell their family, they relied on each other, shared responsibilities, and were a source of comfort for one another.
If it wasn’t for the love they share, Tanjiro wouldn’t have been able to get through to Nezuko. It’s important to help your kids foster good relationships. One day we might not be around, but we can make sure they still have each other.
The Relationship Between Parent and Child in My Hero Academia and Puella Magi Madoka Magica
The bond between a parent and child is often one’s first introduction to love and relationships. This sets the foundation for everything else, so no pressure. Key elements of a positive parental relationship include setting boundaries, showing support, positive reinforcement, and creating a safe space for expression and constructive feedback.
In Puella Magi Madoka Magica, Madoka Kaname and her parents, Junko and Tomoshisa, are a great example of a positive parent/child relationship. While the show certainly has its darker themes, there is a great family dynamic with Junko as breadwinner and Tomohisa as a supportive, stay-at-home father. Madoka is able to be the responsible and caring person she is because of this example from her parents.
In My Hero Academia, we learn very early on just how supportive Inko Midoriya is to her son Deku’s quest to become a hero, even though he doesn’t have a Quirk.
Throughout his childhood struggles, Inko cries with her son, and when the time comes for his dream to come true, she shares in his happiness. She even makes his costume for him! Even when things get dangerous, she always voices her concerns but is willing to entertain an alternate opinion. It’s this unwavering love and support that shine through in Deku and his own relationships.
The Relationship Between Friends in Yu Yu Hakusho
As your children grow, friendships will become their primary relationships. And friendships are great! They can help your child create a sense of identity and community, and let them put into practice what they’ve learned from their parents or siblings.
Though the meeting of Team Urameshi in Yu Yu Hakusho is nontraditional, to say the least, their friendship is undying. Literally. And though the show has more mature themes and their relationship is fostered under extraordinary circumstances, the bonds between them are fairly realistic.
Each member on the team, from Hiei to Kuwabara, has unique differences, but they learn to respect each other through them. Like real friends, they sometimes fight and argue with one another, but they make up for it by displaying unwavering trust and loyalty. Team Urameshi knows they can count on each other, no matter what.
This series can help you bring up the question of “What can your child do to be a good friend?”
Romantic Relationships in Snow White with the Red Hair
Talking to your kids about romantic relationships can be extremely difficult. Part of you just wants to say, “No dating ever!” but romance is a part of life, and we as parents have to try and prepare our kids for it.
In Snow White with the Red Hair, Zen and Shirayuki are a fantastic example of young love. The pair meet as strangers and over time develop feeling for one another. But just like in the real world, love isn’t that simple.
They face challenges throughout the series, but they learn how to work through them as part of their relationship. Zen and Shirayuki share the values of trust and good communication, and they spend time supporting each other. They talk about their dreams. They fully accept and respect each other.
Zen doesn’t just love Shirayuki because she’s got red hair, and Shirayuki doesn’t just like Zen because he’s a Prince–their feelings are true. Don’t be afraid to use positive examples like this to show your kid what a relationship could look like. And feel free to loop in your own experiences!
Not-So-Great Relationships in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood and Assassination Classroom
One of the hardest parts of discussing things with your child is that you want to be honest, but you also don’t want to scare them. Love and relationships can be challenging. And when they’re bad, they can be really bad.
In the anime world, there are plenty of examples of negative relationships between characters, but these serve as positive learning experiences for others. Ultimately, these relationships will give you examples of how to set the right boundaries, establish safety and educate them about comfort levels.
Shou abused the relationship he had with his daughter Nina to turn her into a chimera, simply to prove that he could. Hiromi, on the other hand, had Nagisa pretend to be a girl because she really wanted a daughter instead, and then went on to drug and lead Nagisa to commit arson.
I picked these two examples not because they’re extreme, but because they help to illustrate what a negative relationship looks like, even if something like the chimera situation isn’t exactly realistic. The lesson is clear: sometimes the people you love and trust can cross these boundaries.
It’s important for us as parents to help our kids understand this, and show them how to remove negativity from their lives.
What ways have you discussed relationships with your children? What questions do you have? Share this post and let us know! And we’ll see you next month for A Mom’s Guide to Anime.
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