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 11-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: Loss and letting go. Recently, I’ve experienced a lot of loss in life. A friend, an aunt and my maternal grandfather. And my best friend in the whole world, my dog Shadow. He was 17. It’s tough to let go.
Even though it was heartbreaking for me, it was confusing and scary for my son. Prior to these deaths, my son only ever saw two instances of it, though he was much younger then.
It was a lot easier to explain as a parent. After all, it’s common practice for parents to turn something sad or bad and try and make it magical. We’ve got to protect their hearts! Of course, him being 11 now, he can see through that stuff.
In anime, the concepts of loss and letting go are often key to building the plot. These events propel the characters forward, sometimes in a good way and sometimes not. How a character chooses to move forward plays a pivotal role in their development.
And so, let’s take a look at a handful of characters that worked through loss—and how they learned to let go. As always, you’re the parents and you know your kids best!
NOTE: Spoilers ahead for each series!
Sasuke and Itachi in Naruto
Many characters in the Naruto series know a thing or two about loss. But the loss that Sasuke and Itachi experience takes the cake.
A young genius ninja, Itachi was respected by the village and was the pride of his clan. Things should have gone well for him, but alas, it was not in the cards. Itachi was tasked bu Danzo to kill his family and clan, not even just his direct family members, to prevent an uprising in Kohana.
Itachi agreed, but only if it meant sparing Sasuke. And well…you know the rest. The Uchiha brothers both had to deal with the loss of their family and each other. Itachi was plagued with guilt and Sasuke with revenge.
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For Itachi, death was his only escape from pain. For Sasuke, he turned that anger into revenge, only finally letting go through acceptance. And, well, with a little help from his friends.
Accepting that a loved one is gone might seem easy in theory, but there’s a reason why it’s the final step in the grieving process. It’s hard. But moving forward doesn’t mean forgetting, it’s just giving yourself permission to heal.
The children in The Promised Neverland
Alright everyone, raise your hand if you felt tricked by this adorable-looking show! I’m raising my hand.
The Promised Neverland follows the children of Grace Field House, as they live their happy lives under the care of their “mother.” They play, laugh and hold onto hopes of being adopted. But, of course, that’s all a lie!
The orphanage is actually a breeding farm, and the children are just high-quality meat for wealthy demons to eat. Though, the loss of the children in The Promised Neverland is different than the others on this list: they lose their hope and innocence.
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This broken promise strips them of their ability to have a happy and “normal” life. And for kids, feeling normal goes hand in hand with feeling safe. A perceived broken promise like a death or sudden change can disrupt that feeling of security.
For the kids in The Promised Neverland, this means venturing into the wild on their own. For your child, it might mean working with them to show that these intrusions in normalcy are actually normal. Talk to them about things that happen in real life so that if they do happen, they will be better prepared.
Watch The Promised Neverland on Funimation.
Senku and Byakuya in Dr. STONE
For being about a world where humanity is turned to stone, Dr. STONE is a pretty positive series. It definitely has it’s moments of heaviness (which we’ll get to in a moment), but the show is fun, educational and packed with plenty of anime hijinks.
So you might be thinking that the loss in this show is that of humanity. Well, not exactly. This is a loss of time. Byakuya and Senku Ishigami are an adoptive father and son that lost time with each other.
Why? Well, Byakuya was part of the space crew in orbit when everyone on Earth was turned to stone. He and his crew eventually returned to the planet’s surface to find everyone, including his son, petrified. He soon realized he would never be able to see his son again, having to let go of the time he lost to find a way to help Senku when he wakes up one day.
When Senku emerges from his petrification, he quickly exhibits the same leadership his father did. He worked hard to help others and recreate society. Eventually, Senku finds his father’s clues, and though they lost time together, he still felt that connection. Even if that broke his heart.
Dr. STONE finds comfort in knowing that even though they were worlds away, Senku knew his father loved him and was always thinking of him. When we lose someone we love, we think about the time we’ll lose with them. Instead, remind your little ones to focus on the time spent—the happy memories. Those let us carry the ones we love with us forever!
Watch Dr. STONE on Funimation.
Koro-sensei in Assassination Classroom
For an alien smiley face with tentacles, Koro-sensei is surprisingly adorable. He’s also a devoted and supportive teacher to the students of Class 3-E, despite the fact that said students are ultimately tasked with assassinating him. And you thought new math was complcated.
Well, it turns out he allegedly blew up 70% of Earth’s moon and plans to destroy Earth in a year. You’d think they’d have checked his resume first. So he sounds like a bad guy, but Koro-sensei is actually carrying loss with him—the loss of self.
You see, Koro-sensei didn’t exactly commit these horrors, he’s just keeps up the lie for the betterment of others. As parents, we often have to make similar decisions. Sure, maybe not to that extreme, but it happens.
Take chores, for example. Your child may feel like they take away their “freedom,” but through them they learn responsibility, life skills and selflessness. Sometimes you have to lose something to get something back in return.
Watch Assassination Classroom on Funimation.
I hope this month’s guide will help you think about how to discuss loss and letting go with your children. It’s scary, serious and difficult, but it’s part of our job to prepare them. for all aspects of life.
Remember to remind them that no matter how scary life gets, they have you to help them through it. And their friend anime.