[AniFemTalk] Dads of anime and manga

If you’re on Twitter, you couldn’t help but notice it was Father’s Day in a few countries yesterday. Our timelines were full of good anime dads and some great discussion, so let’s gather some of that here!

  • Who are your favorite biological fathers of anime or manga?
  • How about your favorite father figures with no biological relation?
  • Which are the worst dads, and is there anything at all that redeems them?
  • What positive single father narratives does anime and manga have?
  • How about positive representations of queer dads?
  • What are the best fatherly moments you’ve seen in anime or manga?


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  • Lebdawho

    Best dad ever is Fujitaka Kinomoto from Cardcaptor Sakura. Even though he never seemed to get angry, he taught his kids how to be responsible, communicative, and did it all as a single dad. The warm fuzzies are always with me.

  • Peter Kovalsky

    Worst: Ikari Gendo. ’nuff said.

    • Peter

      I dunno. I think Endeavor may have him beat.

      • Peter Kovalsky

        I mean, don’t get me wrong, Endeavor is an epic asshole, too. But he regards Shoto as an object, which is gross, but makes the rest of his conduct more or less comprehensible. Gendo definitely sees Shinji *as a person* and then continuously disregards that personhood on utilitarian grounds, which feels like a much more intentional, participatory kind of awful.

        • Brainchild129

          That and you can’t beat “I want the world to die so I can see my dead wife again.”

  • Peter Kovalsky

    Also worst dad: whatshisname from Hunter x Hunter. For a show that was so smart about so many things, I was really frustrated by it having let his absentee, deadbeat, I-got-bored-and-wanted-to-have-an-adventure bullshit off the hook.

    • Lassi Ahlberg

      I do think Gon’s relationship to him is interesting though. Sure, Ging is an asshole, but Gon is kind of cool about it. Gon’s weird reaction to being abandoned intrigued me, and got me hooked to the show.

    • Frank Umbriel

      That’s actually a cultural difference. I was of your opinion too and kinda disappointed but then I saw this video: https://youtu.be/W6RzOWKp680

      Very good analysis of Ging Freccs and how ge is rooted in Buddhist philosophy

    • Anna

      How was he let off the hook? There was a whole room full of characters who called Gin a bad father, and who celebrated Leorio for punching him in the face. Hunter X Hunter has absolutely acknowledged that Gin’s parenting is bad, and it was great!
      Gon has a different perspective, of course, but that’s completely consistent with his personality, so it didn’t exactly come as a surprise.

  • GreyLurker

    There is a new Manga called Dr. Stone and I have to say the Dad of the main character there is a pretty damn good one. First Grade his son declaires he wants to go into space, not when he grows up but now. Kid starts to study space flight, his dad notices and talks to him realizes “damn this kid is smart” Sells his Car, Buys his Son a EVERYTHING he needs. Chemistry sets, telescopes, astrolab, microscopes, every inch of scientific equipment this kid is going to need. Kid ends up sending a rocked with a camera and dolls of him and his friends into orbit (well it exploded in orbit but at least the camera sent back a photo).

    Kid is hooked on science for the rest of his life.

    3700 years later the kid must rebuild civilization with the power of science.

  • Elena M. Aponte

    I think one of my favorite father figure relationships in anime to date
    is the relationship between Reigen Arataka and Mob in ONE’s Mob Psycho
    100 series. They have a very realistic mentor/student relationship,
    fraught with complications. Reigen has to perform fatherlike roles for
    Mob on multiple occasions, but also lies to him far too often to prevent
    Mob from being hurt by the world. It’s not a perfect relationship, but I
    think it does a lot to eschew gender norms and toxic masculinity.

  • theendnote

    Even though Yasaburō claims to the contrary to his face,* Sōichirō Shimogamo from The Eccentric Family (Uchōten Kazoku) seems to be a pretty kickass dad. I appreciate that he takes each of his children, and even those of the surrounding community, as they are, helping them to accept their failures without shutting down. I think there’s a case to be made that Yajirō even eventually snaps out of frogdom because of the memory of his father’s advice.

    *Lightheartedly, I think.

  • Favorite biological fathers? Kotetsu Kaburagi (Tiger & Bunny) and Sōichirō Shimogamo (The Eccentric Family) spring to mind.

    Father figures with no biological relation? Hmm, I think Hannes was doing a pretty good job in the just-ended season of Attack on Titan. Also Zōroku Kashimura (Alice & Zōroku), and Arataka Reigen (Mob Psycho 100).

    Worst dads? Umatarō Temma (Astro Boy). His inattention or carelessness leads to the death of his biological son, and then he follows that up by building an intelligent, thinking, feeling robot as a replacement… and then selling him to the circus. I mean, Gendō Ikari at least managed to keep Shinji alive.

    Anything redeeming about him? Uh, Atom: The Beginning sometimes manages to play Temma’s horribleness for laughs? Yeah, no, not really.

    Another terrible father figure: [spoiler] in Erased. Redeeming feature: He was good at his day job.

    Positive single father narratives? Zōroku and Kotetsu.

  • smashman42

    Best dads(bio):
    The father from Sweetness and Lightning is obviously an example of a good single dad, realistic too cause he screws up sometimes but still tries to fix things.

    We don’t see a great deal of him, but Takeo’s dad in My Love Story seems to be a pretty decent guy for the little screen time he gets later in the story.

    Haruhi Fujioka’s dad from Ouran High School Host
    Club is pretty damn good really. Probably see a lot more of him in the manga than the anime with it being at least twice as long and all, so if you’ve only seen the anime the picture of him might be pretty different. The guy does seem like a bit of a screw up as an adult with the way he goes along with some of the crap the club gets up to, and how he seems like the kid and Haruhi the adult, but you can’t deny they have a really good relationship.

    Best Non-bio:
    Your example of All Might is great, not just for Deku as he’s trying hard with all the kids. I mean you could pass the stuff with the other kids off as just being a good teacher, but isn’t a good teacher also kind of a parental role model as well? I especially like the effort he goes to talk to Katsuki (further in the story than the anime atm) even though Bakugo brushes him off.

    Piccolo looks like a good father figure compared to the bio-dads in Dragon Ball (Vegeta does get better right at the very end), but that first arc of Piccolo dumping Gohan in the wilderness and secretly watching that he was okay was pretty messed up from Gohan’s POV, plus the pretty brutal training of a 4-5yo kid.

    Gendo Ikari – do I really have to list all the awful?

    Genma Saotome – abusive training methods, teaching his son to be a petty thief, running away from any and all responsibility, forcing his kid into an unwanted marriage as a meal ticket… I could go on. In the context of the world of Ranma 1/2 (where every other person is a pretty much a psychopath) he probably does ‘love’ his son in his own way, maybe.
    Actually almost every father figure I can think of in that series is awful (eg Akane’s, Ukyo’s) as are most of the mother figures (holy shit Ranma’s mother! Konatsu’s horrible (manga only) step mother) – Cologne (Shampoo’s great grandmother) is probably the only decent parental figure in the whole thing that we get a really good look at. Shinnosuke’s grandpa is pretty good, just a bit dim and they are only in the story for one little arc but he’s the best father figure in the series I can think of. The Jusenkyo guide has a daughter too but we don’t really know what sort of parent he is, though given the others he doesn’t have a high bar to pass to look good.

    Full Metal Panic! (the light novel series and manga adaptations, the anime only covers a fraction of the story) has a few bad father figures, one quite good one, and one pretty complex example.
    Richard Mardukas is a pretty good father figure for Tessa overall (though way overprotective in the gag parts). Technically he’s her subordinate but he’s basically been looking out for her since her parents were murdered. The story says one of the higher ups in Mithril was supposedly her father figure, but the story has Mardukas much closer to her than this other guy ever seemed to be.
    On the bad side, Kaname’s father is away working in New York for the UN and just left his daughter back in Japan with an apartment and keeps her cashed up (though her took her younger sister with him). There is a trend of teenagers living alone in animanga, but surely leaving them with family would be much more likely?
    I think it is different anime vs light novel (not sure which way the manga takes it) but the psychopath antagonist Gauron is an ‘adoptive father’ to twin girls in one form of the story. Given this guy’s dream is to murder and rape Sousuke he can’t possibly be a great dad, can he?
    The mixed example would have to be Kalinin for Sousuke.
    In the side stories for the light novels way more of their background is shown, and we see that they guy didn’t really have a choice about making Sousuke a child soldier, it was done to Sousuke in spite of Kalinin’s initial efforts and whenever he tried to give Sousuke a chance at a normal life things always went wrong. It ends up being a reverse redemption story where Kalinin ends up pulling a Gendo Ikari with the whole end the world to get his dead wife back bullshit, but for the first half of the story Kalinin seemed to be doing a pretty good job considering the unbelievably shitty circumstances.

    Geez, I think I said this on Twitter when Amelia tweeted about it originally, but it is way easier to think of the bad father figures than the good. Most of the good parents in general that I can think of are background characters (eg: Takeo’s parents in My Love Story seem pretty good, but they don’t get much screen time) or at best supporting characters.

  • ML Tyler

    Kohei from “Sweetness and Lightning” is trying so hard. A polar opposite to the stoic “Strong Father” norm, he is a kind, sweet nurturing parent to Tsugimi. Thrust into both roles after his wife’s death, he’s frequently at sea, but again, tries so hard.

  • HyruleJose

    – I honestly don’t know, are there ANY biological fathers in media that are ever alive and present long enough to leave a positive impact on their child?

    – That would have to be Piccolo seeing as to how Son Goku is up there with Ging Freeds as far as shitty deadbeat anime dads go so Piccolo did far more to raise his first child right than he ever bothered too AND HE’S THE GUY WHO LEFT HIM STRANDED ALONE IN THE WILD FOR SIX MONTHS!!!

    – Endeavor is worst anime dad by far, every Icy-Hot Prince Zuko needs their own Ozai and Endeavor is every bit the horrendous dirt bag the original was. The only thing that even remotely redeems them is that he’s still techniquely a good guy but that’s not saying much.

    – I haven’t seen or read them yet but I’ve heard that Usagi Drop and Sweetness and Lightning are pretty great single father stories.

    – The closest I can think of is Ryoji Fujioka and I say closest I can think of because I don’t know if they’re supposed to be trans in which case they don’t technically count as a dad? Are they gender-fluid maybe? Or do they just like cross-dressing which is fine but it doesn’t necessarily make them queer it could just mean they have a unique fashion sense.

    – I’ve been thinking about those All Might dad hugs all weekend so lets go with that because I can’t think of anything better.

  • Gorion

    Just to add a few ‘good’ biological dads from anime:
    * The dad in Madoka Magica is a stay-at-home dad who takes care of the daughters and seems quite loving and well-adjusted (even though Madoka’s role model is clearly her assertive mother)
    * Detective Conan has Richard Moore who is a decent dad, albeit a flawed person overall (actually my favorite character on the show), and Conan’s dad apparently shows up and helps from time to time

    Yup, that’s the shortlist I’ve got after some brainstorming. My friend once mentioned the dad in Clannad was great but I haven’t seen enough to comment.

  • Belaam

    If you’re going to accept All Might as a good father figure, I think you have to take Korosensai too.