Since it’s Father’s Day here in the States, I thought I’d look at a few anime dads for the holiday. Sometimes, it’s hard to find any parent in an anime since it’s easier to tell a story when the youthful protagonist isn’t restricted by parental boundaries. Children are the products of their upbringing though, so occasionally parents will have more than a perfunctory presence in a show. Fathers shape their children in ways different than mothers and including one is an opportunity to explore that process. Here are a few of the more notable dads, for good or ill, found in anime:
Neon Genesis Evangelion – Gendo Ikari
Okay, this man is probably the most famous of anime fathers. His signature sitting position has certainly been parodied well beyond creativity. However, his parenting skills leave much to be desired. When his son arrives, he has him live with a stranger rather than himself. He commands Shinji to pilot the EVA machines despite the boy’s opposition. Furthermore, Shinji finds that Gendo appears to have built stronger ties to fellow pilot, Rei Ayanami, than himself. The father-son relationship between these two is tense to say the least.
Ranma ½ - Genma Saotome
Another candidate for “worst father of the year”, Genma is responsible for Ranma’s gender-switching predicament. He took the boy to the mystical spring and then dumped him into the waters even after learning they are cursed. To make matters worse, we learn during the course of the series that Genma has sold Ranma’s right of marriage several times including once just for some breakfast. He’s also been know to abandon his son in the heat of battle. Unreliable and untrustworthy are the earmarks of this dad.
Naruto - Minato Namikaze (the 4th Hokage)
Naruto’s dad isn’t exactly a bad father, but for all practical purposes he is a non-existent one. He sacrificed all he had to protect the Konoha village and sealed the Nine-tails within the boy. Whether or not that decision was a gift or curse depends on how you view Naruto’s childhood. Later in the Shippuden series, we finally hear from Minato, but it’s hardly amends for years of virtual abandonment. Still, what was done was done and the 4th Hokage’s faith in his son is unquestionable.
Fullmetal Alchemist – Van Hohenheim
This guy provides a mixed bag of paternal issues depending on which series you look at. In either case, Van Hohenheim disappeared from the Elric brothers’ lives when they were very young and did not return until the outlook for their future was bleak. He’s is old beyond his years so perhaps the passage of time has distanced him from humanity. Or perhaps the events which created his longevity altered his priorities. “Father”, who you could describe as an alternate image of Hohenheim is a more traditionally manipulative and callous father figure to his offspring.
The Slayers - Crown Prince Philionel El Di Seyruun
Philionel is the ruler of the Kingdom of Seyruum and the father of daughters Gracia (aka “Naga”) and Amelia. He is a hefty, impassioned man whose devotion to justice is unparalleled. He has passed that dedication along to younger daughter, Amelia. His relationship with her is one of tear filled pride and protection. She can do practically no wrong in his eyes, although that faith is warranted since she’s as equally virtuous as him. His relationship with Gracia isn’t fully explained and is assumed to be estranged. It is suggested in the 4th season that Gracia suffered from amnesia and therefore her whereabouts might be considered unknown to him.
Lucky Star - Sojiro Izumi
The quintessential “pervert” dad, Sojiro is an attentive and caring father with highly questionable hobbies. He values the splendor of youth although his attempt to capture it on film can prove troubling for daughter, Konata. It probably wouldn’t correct to label him a pedophile; however in the loosest sense “lolicon” might be appropriate. He is a non-threatening character played for laughs and the respect he has for his daughter is genuine.
Gintama – Umibouzu
Kagura’s father is well known as one of the galaxy’s greatest alien bounty hunters. It wouldn’t be precise to say he abandoned his daughter and her brother, Kamui but work kept him away during much of their young lives. A secondary reason for this was to forestall the Yato Clan’s rite of passage in which child kills parent. Umibouzu himself wound up battling Kamui and nearly killed him but not for Kagura’s plea. Father and daughter themselves also crossed umbrellas when he learned she was living a somewhat peaceful life on Earth. Kagura’s rejected Yato tradition and seeks to join her father only when she is strong enough stand by his side as an equal.