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: Negative feelings. The beauty of life is that it is ever-changing, giving us the opportunity to have different experiences each and every day. But life can be scary. Trauma can bring negative emotions to the surface, and that can be difficult for children to express and cope with. Heck. It’s difficult for us adults too.
As parents, it’s important for us to make our children feel comfortable enough to express negative emotions, as well as to remind them that it is normal to have feelings, good and bad!
Let’s take a look at five anime that highlight different “negative” emotions. Many of these series feature mature or darker themes, so I recommend using this for more of a personal reference. You’re the parent, so you know your child best.
The feeling of fear in Outlaw Star
When you think about Gene Starwind, you might bring up his rugged good looks, his bad boy charm or his cool ship. But underneath all that outlaw swag was a scared child.
When Gene was young, he and his father were attacked in space, and his father died saving him. This incident gave Gene a fear of space, and he spent much of his life avoiding a call to the stars. But his dream was to pilot a spaceship.
The pressure to dream and the power of fear can be quite overwhelming for a child, equally so for adults. As parents, we sometimes trivialize what we deem to be a “childish fear” or try to iron it out with tough love. While the intention might be good, the end result can be detrimental.
Gene didn’t open up about his fear of space and tried to cope with it alone, taking on some unhealthy vices. Your child should be brave and tackle their fears head on, but sometimes you need advice, therapy or some really great friends to overcome them the right way. It’s OK to be scared, and it’s important to remember that.
Feelings of insecurity and doubt in Smile Down the Runway
Smile Down the Runway is a series that illustrates the many aspects of the fashion industry. Yet while the show’s characters are all striving toward their dreams and showcasing their love for fashion, they’re also struggling with personal insecurities.
There’s Chiyuki Fujito who dreams of becoming a model, but her doubts about her height tend to interfere with her confidence. There’s Ikuto Tsumura, who wishes to be a fashion designer, and even though he has the proven talent, he holds doubt around his financial status. Even Kokoro Hasegawa, a rising top model, finds herself more interested in designing than modeling, causing a rift in her professional development when her manager and a bad contract make her feel like she’s not good enough.
While insecurity is a type of fear, it can often be harder to overcome. How do you help your child face their own inner voice? The answer can be found in two things: perseverance and confidence. You are a part of your child’s support system, and part of that role is to instill that motivation in them. By teaching them to never give up and to be confident, they can overcome any doubts they may have.
The feeling of guilt in Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood
You’ve probably heard phrases like “mistakes happen” or “nobody’s perfect” a million times. It’s very cliché, but it’s most certainly true. Anime often takes these idioms and turns them up a notch, like in the case of Edward and Alphonse Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood.
They were just two kids who wanted to bring their mother back to life, and they thought they could use alchemy to do it. While their intentions were pure, the end result was anything but. And the brothers’ mistakes left them with intense guilt, especially since those mistakes took a physical toll from them.
While it’s a bit of a hyperbole in this case, even small mistakes can leave children feeling ashamed or guilty. This can lead to lying or anxiety. Think about it—haven’t you ever made a mistake and didn’t want to tell your parents? It’s vital that you create a channel of open communication, no matter how big or small the issue might be. Guide your kids through the remedy and equip them with what they need for the future.
The feeling of anger in the Dragon Ball series
Let’s take a look at the Prince of all Saiyans: Vegeta. While fatherhood has certainly tempered him, the hothead powerhouse gets angry quickly. Granted, if you were constantly fighting reality-destroying evils, you might be angry too.
But like most on this list, Vegeta’s anger stems from early trauma. When he was young, his home planet was destroyed, leaving him believing that he was one of the last of his kind. But it also had him striving to be even more powerful. And then he met Kakarot, and his life changed (though it took awhile). Sure, there were times when his anger consumed him and led him to make rash decisions, but he wasn’t always in control.
And that’s really at the core here. Anger is a negative emotion that you might find your child dealing with the most, but it’s a learning opportunity. Tantrums might make your child feel like a tiny Saiyan, but it requires patience to move past them. What good ever came from two Saiyans fighting each other, anyway?
The best way to help your little ones deal with anger is to help them find a healthy outlet and give them time to calm down. Whether it’s shooting some hoops or reading a book, discuss the best ways to help your child channel their frustration.
The feeling of loneliness in The Rising of the Shield Hero
Loneliness can make you feel angry, afraid, insecure and ashamed. At its core, it’s a deep sadness, and when it’s tied to trauma, loneliness can be dangerous.
In The Rising of the Shield Hero, both Naofumi Iwatani and Raphtalia have survived some horrific and lonely experiences. But together, the two overcome their past and become the true definition of heroes.
If your child is struggling with feelings of loneliness, they are going to need a strong support system. Parenthood often awakens our protective instincts, and they can be very helpful. But you also need to open your heart and mind. With both of those, you can help your child manage this difficult emotion.
Take some time out of the day and do something fun together, and meet them where they’re at! This could be working on a puzzle together or watching their favorite TV show. They might not have to defend a faraway kingdom, but they can learn to be strong in the face of loneliness and learn to be comfortable with themselves.
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