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Six Manga & Anime About Raising Kids

by Lynzee Loveridge, Feb 13th 2016

Anime and manga target a wide array of age demographics. Sure, there might be more in the teenage bracket but whether you're an office lady or a second grader, there's a manga magazine for you. This includes, albeit small, stories distinctly about parenting. Becoming a parent is a milestone fraught with its own hills and valleys. It's an entire lifestyle change built on sleep deprivation and learning the real meaning of selflessness and that's just if everything goes as planned. I'm halfway down the road myself for the second time, so it got me thinking: what anime and manga is available that gives a genuine look at being a parent?

6. Wolf Children Mamoru Hosoda's film about a woman that falls in love with a wolfman and, after a tragic accident, has to raise their shape-shifting children alone has it's moments of beauty. I'll be honest though, the film is ranked here at #6 based on how much it fails to capture the emotional turmoil of being a single parent. The film works better as sweet ode to Hosoda's mother, but it really lacks the honesty that needed to make Hana relatable to anyone raising children alone. Her good qualities though (that's all she has) are still admirable. The fantasy elements aside, her tenacity and open-mindedness to let each of her children choose their own path is exemplary; even if it meant letting a pre-teen boy live in the woods alone for the rest of his life.

5. Aishiteruze Baby A shōjo take on teen parenting and all the complicated messiness that can sometimes ensue, Aishiteruze Baby follows Kippei, a teenage playboy who ends up raising his five-year-old cousin. The manga and anime flirt with the ramifications of unexpected pregnancy without outright making Kippei a dad in the traditional sense. He has to quickly learn that there isn't any room for his selfishness, adapt to a time consuming day-to-day routine, and what it means to protect a child's sense of self when his cousin was essentially abandoned by a mother who didn't want her.

4. Father and Son This slice-of-life comedy follows "hands-on" dad Yōichi, whose wife disappears for long periods because she "gets lost." The manga is more concerned with comedy over a true-to-life depiction of parenthood. That said, the humor is meant to hit squarely with parents or anyone who spends a lot of time with children under the age of six. Shō is precocious in a way that might seem mundane to readers who haven't experienced a small child pulling everything off the shelf in a grocery store, arguing the meaning of a promise because kids take everything literally, or tricking them into staying preoccupied to get housework done.

3. Sweetness and Lightning Kōhei Inuzuka is a widow still mourning the loss of his wife. Since she died, he and his young daughter Tsumugi have eaten almost nothing but convenience store meals. He starts to realize that the absence of home cooking around a family dinner table is not cutting it. He enlists the help of high school student and amateur cook Kotori to teach him. Kōhei's earnestness to provide familial warmth for Tsumugi despite the absence of her mother is immediately touching. Bonus: this manga includes recipes in the back in case you want to try cooking for your own family.

2. Bunny DropThis entry only works if we pretend the latter half of the manga doesn't exist. The anime series, thankfully, does just that, so I can avoid getting into how all the goodwill built up in the first half is thrown in the trash. The story follows Daikichi, a perpetual bachelor who finds out when attending his grandfather's funeral that the man had a mistress and fathered a daughter. The girl, Rin, is elementary age and the rest of the family wants little to do with the responsibility of raising her. Seemingly on a whim, Daikichi takes up the role and finds himself thrust into fatherhood. The story is heartwarming without becoming too saccharine.

1. With the Light A story unfortunately cut short due to the author's death, With the Light: Raising an Autistic Child came out in 2001, approximately the same time that autism and its growing numbers were pushing to the forefront of public awareness. At the time, the condition was striking all types of fear into the population as different causes were posited and parents scrambled blindly to either "cure" their affected children or obsess over signs. With the Light was a breath of fresh air as mother Sachiko learns how to advocate for her son Hikaru, who has autism, and make connections with other parents fighting a similar battle for their own children with special needs. The manga also looks at how becoming a parent to a child who has medical needs can strain a marriage. Overall, the manga is a very sensitive and mature look into how autism was treated in Japan. The condition has garnered more sympathy from the population since, with some added help from SMAP.

The new poll: Okay, so there was a glitch with last week's poll where user input choices weren't properly adding to the list. I've fixed the problem, so I'm going to re-run the anime valentine poll. You can change your answer, too. Who is your anime valentine? If you don't see your choice, add it using the empty box!

When she isn't compiling lists of tropes, topics, and characters, Lynzee works as the Interest Editor for Anime News Network and posts pictures of her son on Twitter @ANN_Lynzee.

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