I don’t get it, anime. What is your fascination with dead parents in so many of your shows?!
For the majority of anime, how many of them either feature a character or characters with one or both parents having passed away? Going even further, how many main characters in anime go the entire show without even referencing their parents at all? It almost seems like that in anime, parents are unimportant unless the anime itself revolves around the family. In so many battle-themed anime, a dead parent is par for the course, like it’s a way for the main character to have a reason to fight, a reason to conquer the evils of the world.
But here’s an interesting concept. It might be a little confusing so bear with me here. Ahem!
…What if the main character fought the evil villain of the show…because he/she is evil? HOLY SHIT WHAT A REVOLUTIONARY CONCEPT! SOMEONE CALL THE POLICE, I’M SHAKING THE ENTIRE FOUNDATION OF THE WORLD WITH SUCH AN IDEA!!!
But in all seriousness, why can’t that happen in various shows? Why is it that in a lot of shows, the reasons for the main character wanting to defeat the villain in the end have a lot to do with a parent being killed, or at the very least a family member, whether it’s their parents, grandparents, brothers, sisters, uncles, aunts, daughters, sons, whatever that may be. There is such an abundance of family deaths in anime and I really don’t understand why, coming from someone outside of Japan. Is there something within Japanese culture that I don’t know about that could explain this?
And this isn’t limited to battle-themed anime. Take Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai! for example. This show is very light-hearted the majority of the show, with characters that are very cheesy and over-the-top. But for main character Rikka and her sister Touka, their parents passed away in an accident. Why? What for? Does Rikka chuunibyou condition HAVE to revolve around the death of her parents? No it doesn’t! Take an already depressing show like Anohana, where it revolves around a dead girl from the main character’s childhood. But that’s not enough, his mother has to have passed away as well. What’s the significance of that?! Is it not depressing enough for Jinta to have the burden of Meiko’s death still lingering in his mind?
A lot of the time, I feel like parents are dead in these shows and it offers little to no significance to the show, beyond “Hey, this character’s mother died. Feel sorry for him/her.” and nothing else. In some cases, it works really well, take Your Lie in April for example, where Kousei’s mother had a negative impact on his entire life and then when she passed away from sickness, it fucks him up even further, to the point he quits playing piano because he lashed out at her the last time they spoke. There are times where a parent passing away can really work to set up the character’s personality and character arc over the course of an anime, but a feel a lot of the time, it’s just there. No real significance to speak of.
Sometimes a dead parent can work as a way to flesh out a character’s backstory, the reasons why he/she fights, why he/she is mentally scarred. But I feel that more often than not, it’s used improperly and used like a background to the actual show. A mother and/or father is dead, oh well. That’s what it feels like sometimes.
I know it’s fiction, but can we start using death (especially in shows that don’t feature death much or at all) like it actually means something. Every show isn’t Hellsing, make deaths mean something!