10 Best Anime About Parenting | #parenting

Parenting is one of life’s greatest challenges: very hard to get right and very easy to screw up if not careful. In spite of what a bumpy ride it is, most parents will happily report that it’s incredibly rewarding and that the lessons learned through raising a child are invaluable.

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The journey is depicted in several different anime, including cute slice-of-life shows like Gakuen Babysitters or deeply emotional fantasy films such as Wolf Children, with all the laughter, tears, and joy that come with the job.

10 Sweetness and Lightning

Tsumugi in Sweetness and Lightning digging into a hamburger steak and rice

Math teacher Kouhei Inuzuka has just lost his wife, and is suddenly in over his head trying to take care of his young daughter Tsumugi full-time. One of the household jobs he has little experience with is cooking, which he is so hesitant to try that he feeds Tsumugi mostly premade bento boxes. When his student Komori invites the two to her family’s restaurant, they stay after hours and start learning to cook together in one of the best food-related anime.
With each recipe they try, Kouhei grows more confident and skilled with cooking and parenting alike. One example of this is in the episode “Hated Vegetables and Bits in Gratin,” where Kouhei responds to Tsumugi’s reluctance to eat vegetables by creating a nutritious dish that she will find tasty.

9 Beelzebub

A group of characters chasing after a baby in the Beelzebub anime

The average human baby is hard enough work: try raising the infant son of a Demon King! To learn how to be a proper successor to all things demonic, the baby is sent to Earth to find the most evil human there to be raised by, and he decides that teenage delinquent Tatsumi Oga fits the bill. Tatsumi’s feelings about suddenly becoming a parent are deemed irrelevant.
Unable to get rid of Baby Beel (which Tatsumi prefers to the baby’s real name, Kaiser de Emperana Beelzebub IV), Tatsumi must now balance his brawls with other delinquents with struggling to raise a baby whose ridiculously destructive demonic attributes flare up at random.


8 Somali and the Forest Spirit

In a world where monsters reign supreme and humans have been hunted to near extinction, a golem discovers an abandoned human child in his forest. She latches onto him instantly, calling him Dad. The golem is willing to assume this role, but only temporarily: unbeknownst to Somali, her father has only one more year before his body decays, and all their traveling is to find her a human family.
In one of the most heartwarming anime of 2020, the intensely sweet bond between Golem and Somali deepens as Golem learns how to be a good father to her. While its occasional hard left into horror is jarring (this is a world whose inhabitants will kill and eat the main child character if they discover she’s human), those moments only emphasize Golem’s determination to protect his daughter against all odds.

7 The Boy and the Beast

When angry, lonely nine-year-old Ren is separated from his father and placed with his uncaring extended family, he runs away and ends up in Juutengai, a world of magic and beasts where he is hated for being human. He bonds with the world’s other outcast, the bear beast Kumatetsu, who becomes his foster father in his years in Juutengai.
As Kumatetsu raises Ren into a young man, they both become wiser and more mature. This culminates in Kumatetsu sacrificing himself to help Ren survive his battle with Ichirouhiko, another human boy, who was adopted by Juutengai nobility and raised in denial of his heritage. Ren returns to the human world and reunites with his birth father, entering adulthood a better man for his time with his beast foster father.

6 Gakuen Babysitters

Two crying babies in the Gakuen Babysitters anime

Sometimes older siblings are thrust into the role of parent as well. Ryuuichi Kashima becomes the only family his toddler brother Kotarou has left after they lose their parents in a plane crash. Though they are given a new home, Ryuuichi is still the primary caretaker of his brother, as well as responsible for the other children looked after by the school’s babysitting club.
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Sweet, gentle Ryuuichi takes well to a caregiving role, but is still a teenager who sometimes is overwhelmed by his new situation. However, the series’ overarching message is that family can be found anywhere and it’s good to rely on them, best shown in “Episode 12” when everyone the Kashima brothers have befriended comes to celebrate Christmas with them.

5 Wolf Children

Ame as a wolf in Wolf Children

Hana has two children, Yuki and Ame, with one of the last living werewolves. But soon after, Hana’s husband is killed, and she is left with children whose wolf halves she doesn’t know how to handle. What’s a mother to do? For Hana, the answer is the best she can with what little she has.
As in The Boy and the Beast, another of Mamoru Hosoda’s best movies, Hosoda emphasizes that parenting is about sacrifice. To protect her children, Hana moves the family from the city to the countryside, where they can explore both halves of their heritage in peace. Yuki grows as attached to the human world as her father, and moves away to attend middle school. Ame rejects humanity to live in the forest as a wolf. Hana is left behind in their isolated home, completely alone but satisfied that she raised her children well.

4 You Are Umasou

Umasou smiling in the You Are Umasou anime

Usually, a carnivore would readily eat an herbivore. But good-hearted Tyrannosaurus rex Heart was raised by herbivores, and when he strikes out on his own and meets a baby Ankylosaurus, he just can’t bring himself to make a meal of it. Instead he resolves to raise him as his son.
Based on the series of children’s books by Tatsuya Yamanishi, this 2010 film follows the adventures of Heart and Umasou, who mistook Heart calling him umasou (“looks tasty”) for his father naming him. Heart protects the baby from many predators, up to and including Heart’s own biological father Baku, and the two search for a home to call their own.

3 Aishiteruze Baby

A girl hugs a young man in the Aishiteruze Baby anime

Playboy Kippei Katakura sails through life without a care in the world. This all changes when his five-year-old cousin Yuzuyu is dropped into his lap. Yuzuyu’s mother Miyako was dangerously stressed by being a single parent. For both of their well-being, Kippei is to act as Yuzuyu’s surrogate parent.
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Raising Yuzuyu teaches Kippei responsibility. He sends her to school with homemade lunches, teaches her to swim, and fixes the pajamas her mother made for her when they’re accidentally ripped. It reaches the point where, in the episode “Dumpling, Yuzu, and Kokoro,” he tells his love interest Kokoro that he can’t be in a relationship with her yet because Yuzuyu’s care needs to be his first priority.

2 Kure-nai

A young man and a girl inside a car in the Kure-nai anime

Shinkurou Kurenai works a very odd job after school: he mediates disputes for a living, which has made him a strong fighter. His latest client is seven-year-old Murasaki Kuhouin, who has run away from her aristocratic family to escape their traditions, and requires Shinkurou’s services to protect her from being taken back by them.
Murasaki has spent her life isolated by her family, so in addition to being her bodyguard, Shinkurou also finds himself responsible for teaching her the ins and outs of everyday life, like attending school and interacting with neighbors. Under his guardianship, Murasaki becomes more able to trust others.

1 The Tale of the Princess Kaguya

Princess Kaguya is taken away in The Tale of Princess Kaguya

This final film of renowned director Isao Takahata is a retelling of a Japanese folk tale, and one of Studio Ghibli’s best films. A bamboo cutter finds a tiny girl in a bamboo shoot. When he takes her home to his wife, the girl transforms into a human baby, and the couple take this as a sign from the gods that they are to raise her to be a lady worthy of her divine status.
At its core, The Tale of the Princess Kaguya is all about parenthood, namely the grief a parent feels putting years of effort and love into raising a child only to lose them. When Kaguya is taken back to her original home on the Moon, all her memories of her mortal life are erased, and her parents will never see her again. Whether viewers interpret this as a child’s estrangement from their parents or outright premature death, the film’s take on parenting is that it is inevitably tragic.
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