Anime dads are few and far between. Generally speaking, good anime parents are a rare commodity. Between absent (or dead) parents and those other useless adults, it was a challenge to come up with these few anime dads that deserve to a celebration. I finally put together a list of all the animes I’ve watched so I could methodically go through them when I’m drafting these articles. Of the 83 on that list, I only came up with ten anime dads that are present (though that is a stretch at times) and positive influences in their children’s lives.
I want to start off by giving a special (albeit late) Father’s Day shout out to my father. Only a handful of years ago our relationship was vastly different: we couldn’t communicate, there wasn’t much respect, and we were in a swamp of unhappiness with one another. I like to share a particular Mark Twain quote when I’m thinking about how things began to get better for us. When I think about the things that make a good dad, a couple of the lessons I’ve taken from my own father pop to the forefront. As I’m sharing about the following anime dads I’m taking those lessons and applying them to what I see. So, thank you, Dad!
Spoiler: There will be a handful of little spoilers as I share about these anime dads. However, I hope not to ruin your enjoyment of these animes. My wish is that the little taste here will motivate you to go out and binge each of these fantastic shows.
Anime dads: Joichiro Yukihira – Challenge your kids
There’s a tough line to toe between challenging and crushing your children’s dreams. I guess that as a child you want to live up to your parents’ expectations and as a parent you want to let your children know it is not always an easy road. To find the balance between those two points must be the trial of parenthood.
Joichiro constantly baits Soma into food battles. He feels the fire in Soma and challenges him on a daily basis. Joichiro also sees the unique talent that Soma possesses (namely that he always learns from his defeats and failures). The way he brings out Soma’s ability is by challenging him. Joichiro knows that he is the one Soma looks up to and only by giving him a good fight each and every time can he help unlock Soma’s potential.
Anime dads: Taiyang Xiao Long – Be present for your kids
Living in a regular world is rough enough…bullies, school anxiety, and family drama are consistent in all our lives. One can only imagine how hard it would be to be a parent in a dangerous world where children must harness power to protect the world from creatures of destruction. Make that more difficult still for the single parent who puts himself in danger’s path.
We haven’t gotten a lot of Taiyang but be sure that he is there for his girls, Ruby and Yang. He encourages their desires to become huntresses despite losing both of their mothers to the dangers of the calling. When his daughters come home broken and depressed he is there with fatherly advice (and bad dad jokes). It might be Qrow to encourage Ruby to go out on her next mission, but Taiyang knows his daughter can be the leader to make it a success. He chooses to let her go while he stays to help Yang recuperate her mind and retrain her body after injury.
Anime dads: Makarov Dreyar – Protect your kids
Let me borrow from a great new pop culture daddy in our time, Yondu. “He may have been your father, boy, but he wasn’t your daddy.” Yondu says over and over that he protects Peter Quill from danger (i.e. his crew eating him). That is what a daddy does: he protects his kids.
Makarov may not be a father to the kids in the Fairy Tail guild, but he is sure a protective papa. He doesn’t let his apparent failure with his own son (and, for a time, grandson too) ruin his reputation as a father figure to the family he builds in Fairy Tail. When his guild is attacked without reason or provocation, Makarov pursues a just punishment from the authoritative body. After that fails, he stands up and puts himself at the vanguard of a retaliatory strike against those who would harm his family. When his family is under threat from the inside, Makarov again protects the guild by dismissing those responsible. It hurts him as a grandfather but his responsibility to protect those who trust him implicitly.
Anime dads: Minato Namikaze/Jiraiya/Iruka Umino – Teach your kids
(What would one of my articles be if I didn’t break my own rules?) These three previous lessons…challenge, be present, protect…they are all part of the larger rule that a father needs to find a way to instruct his children. We (as humans) achieve a kind of immortality through children. It is the responsibility of all parents to teach their kids to be better people than they were.
This trio of anime dads embraces the previous lessons and evolve them into the fourth precept: teach your kids.
The challenge: Minato is a father for a matter of minutes before he must make the unenviable decision to leave his son with a most challenging task. To keep the Nine Tails monster from running rampant through the village, Minato seals the beast’s power into infant Naruto.
Being present: Jiraiya is missing from Naruto’s childhood years (as he is gathering information outside the village) but when he gets the opportunity to become his sensei, he returns to give Naruto the time and training to harness the power left to him. Jiraiya is there for the biggest bulk of Naruto’s training (the stuff that takes place between Naruto and Shippuden). Most importantly he passes on his philosophy that the world needs to empathize on every level (we all experience pain and that is why we must be kind).
Protection: Finally, there is Iruka. There can be no clearer representation of protection than Iruka’s broken, exhausted body hunched over a frightened Naruto. Iruka accepts Naruto even when the village does not, even when he harbors such hate for the beast within Naruto. Iruka is the first hand that reaches out to Naruto; he is the first to begin to build a home (even if it is just an emotional home) for Naruto.
Anime dads: Conclusion
Truth told I struggle to attribute these lessons to fathers alone. In my mind the characteristics of a good father or good mother apply to the other half of this equation. I feel like parents should challenge, be present, protect, and impart wisdom to their children. It isn’t a matter of male or female. Father and mother are the words we use, but a good parent will be a good parent regardless. Honestly it is probably fortunate that I missed doing a Mother’s Day article for the anime moms out there. Because it likely would be the same lessons with mothers instead.
Did you wish your father (or grandfather or father figure) a Happy Father’s Day? What is important part of being a good father? What anime dads do you think I missed here in this article? Leave a comment below or reach out to me on social media (Twitter – Instagram) and let’s talk about it.
Next week I’m going to be returning to a previous idea but giving it a twist. I hope you’ll come back and read it!
Featured image: Aniplex