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Why are parentals often completely absent in SOL anime?
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Posted 9/15/13 , edited 9/15/13
So I was just kind of thinking...

Why is it that so often in slice-of-life or school-related anime...there is generally just an obscene and utter lack of parents? You can't say it's for lack of opportunities either, because very often in most any anime of the sort, there will be plenty of scenes where they will be at any number of the characters house and the parents will just never be there. What's stranger is that you might often see teachers, or other school related adults but it seems the show will go out of their way to not identify parents.

Sometimes they will throw in a small bit somewhere stating that the parents are often "away" or something similar, for example Yui Hirasawa's parents from K-ON apparently liked to travel all the time. As reasonable, I suppose, as that sounds, it generally begs so many questions. Her and her sister Ui are basically raising themselves if what we see in the show is any indication.

I was only using K-ON as an example, but it is just one single example in a sea of anime where the parents just simply don't exist. It isn't the case with all anime, obviously, but I feel as though it is blatantly common among the slice-of-life genre that you pretty much never see parents, even when an exorbitant amount of time is spent at any of the characters homes.

Even stranger, is sometimes you will see parents, but the show goes out of its way to hide their face or maybe even their entire upper body, or maybe even only the ankle up! I was generally surprised when in one of the latest episodes of Monogatari (non-manga reader) you see Araragi's mother for the first time. Generally at any other point in the show, she is non-existent despite a lot of scenes (long ones at that) taking place in their home. The characters even have plenty of dialogue that refers to their parents as having done this or that, or currently busy doing this or that.

I know that Japanese children aren't raised home-alone, this can't be some kind of exemplification of their child-raising culture, so I'm just curious what you guys think...why is it that much of modern anime these days seem to passively elicit this idea that parents seem to not exist, even if they might be mentioned by the characters. Why do parents either get blurred out, cut off, or just plain eclipsed from any screen time?
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Posted 9/15/13
They don't have to create character designs for characters that would only show up in one or two episodes.
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Posted 9/15/13

staphen wrote:

They don't have to create character designs for characters that would only show up in one or two episodes.


Yet there is plenty of anime that will show the parents despite the fact they may only show up in one or two episodes...Monogatari is a pretty good example and I even talked about it.

Truth be told in the other example I gave, Yui's parents do have a design. They are shown very briefly but they completely neglect to draw their faces in.

It would seem your reasoning is flawed.
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Posted 9/15/13
It's not flawed. It depends on the studio and the budget for the show. Don't tell me you believe that designing and drawing a face doesn't cost any time or money. And the fact that a few shows do create character designs for one-shot characters does not make the point any less valid.

That being said, I don't have any data to back up this theory. It's just speculation.
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Posted 9/15/13
I'm of the mind that this allows the viewers to better relate or "self-insert" themselves into an Anime Characters shoes.

The idea is everybody HAS parents, but everybodys parents are different. The easiest way to self insert someone is to obviously remove the majority of character traits, and your parents are super important!

Think about it, how important have your parents been towards shaping your life? Many Slice of LIfe anime like to act as if you don't become a person until High School, how until you make these friend you're a dull brick of grey sludge.

American Cartoons aren't exactly exempt from this, as it can serve a purpose.

Think Fairly odd Parents. The names of the Mom and Dad? Mom and Dad. While they were crazy and eccentric, they exemplify the generic parents in every way, with there personalities and ideals tending to shift greatly between episodes. They served the narrative. Timmy was supposed to be both relatable, and a "self insert" character. He was awesome and it wasn't hard to imagine yourself as Timmy.
That was this self insert thing done right.

Back to the Japanese Anime.

What strikes you as different with Characters whose parents are shown? I tend to find them far more relatable and with much more realized characters.
Think Tomoko from Watamote, how as crazy and essentric as she is, her Brother is only a little different. She's got a relatively normal family thing going on, and is quite relatable. She's a product of her interests, instead of a product of our interests/wallets

Then I'll throw down the parents from the early Mobile Suit Gundam and Mobile Suit Zeta Gundam.

Amuro Ray and Kamille Bidan both had parents. They have names and were visible on screen, they had spoken lines and personalities. From Tem Ray's scientific mind and eventual mental retardation, to Kamaria Ray's pacifism and distrust of violence.

Then you have the Bidan families staunch loyalty to their Jobs and sexy party time with mistresses and...stuff.

The Parents made the characters far more...real. But for the negative, far less me.
I like them, but I don't relate very well to them.
My parents arn't like them. They're totally different. Knowing this, I see these stories as those not my own. I don't relate with them. They're separate characters who would have turned out differently if they knew my own parents.

Lots of random blegh I'm typing here, but I hope you get the jist of my ideas.
Parents tend to complicate things, they really do shape who and what you are to a fantastic degree, more so than anything else in your life.
That said, they're not required for the later sections of your life. You'll meet plenty of people in your life and never meet their parents.


Gurren Lagann never has you meet Simon or Kamina's parents.
But then you have High School DxD, which give you Issei's parents because it would be funny. They never needed to mention his parents, they don't have any plot significance. But the jokes they're able to give are as generic as they are funny. It's as if they're intentionally making fun of the "parentless" hero's.

Lots of shows don't have Parents, they aren't required for your characters to grow, but they're amazing at giving your characters depth. Don't half ass your Parent creation!

Think Yuyu Hakusho! Yusuke's mom was a complete waste of space. How she treated her life and the people around her really effected Yusuke. He was a lazy no good rotten jerk with a heart of gold who took care of his mom.

Think Toradora's Ryuji's Mom. She was also a horrible parent with a talent for running away from trouble. She even does the unthinkable during the course of the series! Ryuji's deeply affected by his mom's actions here, AS IT SHOULD BE.

Good parents, good reasons, good characters.
But if your hero is "a Blue-haired Generic guy" who's description includes "A lazy but nice guy" then you're totally not getting better parents.

Oh, and H-games. Your usual Visual Novel or Dating Sim has YOU be the player character, your Parents only provide slight context at the best of times. Ergo, why create fake parents to suck your players out of the experience?
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Posted 9/15/13

staphen wrote:

It's not flawed. It depends on the studio and the budget for the show. Don't tell me you believe that designing and drawing a face doesn't cost any time or money. And the fact that a few shows do create character designs for one-shot characters does not make the point any less valid.

That being said, I don't have any data to back up this theory. It's just speculation.


I don't believe that at all.

Everyone has read about how american cartoons became four fingered over time simply because it saved time and money not having to animate the 5th digit. Anime doesn't do this, however.

I get the idea, but I find reasoning of "saves time and money" to be a cop-out, because I see a much more provocative or interesting reason as to why anime tends to do this. It's just too specific of a quality in anime with so many other interesting reasons behind it that you can speculate beyond "They were lazy" or "They didn't want to waste the money/time".
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Posted 9/15/13

staphen wrote:

It's not flawed. It depends on the studio and the budget for the show. Don't tell me you believe that designing and drawing a face doesn't cost any time or money. And the fact that a few shows do create character designs for one-shot characters does not make the point any less valid.

That being said, I don't have any data to back up this theory. It's just speculation.


Proper parents arn't exactly "one shot" characters.

I mean, when I lived at home, my chances of seeing my dad every day was damn near 300%,

And a picture with a face ain't nearly a large enough time investment not to do it. Manga tends to be guilty of this too at times. Do you think they go bankrupt if they have one too many background characters?

Naaah, background faces are practically stock!
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Posted 9/15/13
Because when problem 4283 comes up, you have a choice, have the character work out the answer to it themselves or have them go to their parents. If you remove the parents, they only have option one and therefore the danger is increased. By removing the parents from the series or only mentioning them in the background, it's harder to remember they are there and could solve all the problems in a heartbeat.

But there's an even better reason, it's fantasy. Most of these shows are designed for teenagers/people in their early 20s and in Japan that means they'll still live with their parents. So, by not having parents in the show they can show an independant youth without any of the downfalls of independance.
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Posted 9/15/13

Watashination wrote:

Because when problem 4283 comes up, you have a choice, have the character work out the answer to it themselves or have them go to their parents. If you remove the parents, they only have option one and therefore the danger is increased. By removing the parents from the series or only mentioning them in the background, it's harder to remember they are there and could solve all the problems in a heartbeat.

But there's an even better reason, it's fantasy. Most of these shows are designed for teenagers/people in their early 20s and in Japan that means they'll still live with their parents. So, by not having parents in the show they can show an independant youth without any of the downfalls of independance.


What about Madoka Magika? A major plot element, however background it may seem, has to do with Madoka's Mom.

Without her mom in the show, the entire ending would have never happened. Not because it would be impossible, but because it was a problem that required some guidance to solve. Every problem that Madoka runs into she asks her mom for help figuring it out, and her Mom is there every time to provide some older sage-like advice. It's a very touching and realistic approach to things

As the old saying goes "Sometimes the most adult thing to do is ask for help"

Then you have the original Karate Kid.

That entire movie was based around Danniel being bullied at his new High School, moving from Jersey to Cali...I think it was Cali.
The whole "new scene" thing had karate-learned bullies picking on him. He was in High School and therefore at an age in which asking your mom for help, how ever practical it may be, would be a bad decision. He was at the learn to do thing yourself age. He didn't want to learn Karate, he wanted to be left alone, but not at the cost of his pride. The entire movie works from a standpoint that there are times in your life that you have to take charge.

That said, asking for help is once again, a form of taking charge. Not caring what others thing is also a form of taking charge.

I'll rack my brain and try to think of times in which no parents were a good thing for a character, but it can't be Orphans.

A lack of living parents often counts the same as living parents as characterization goes. If your parents lived you take after how they taught you, if they died you take after how that gap effected your life. Having them not around to show is what this Thread's about.

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Posted 9/15/13

Felstalker wrote:

What about Madoka Magika? A major plot element, however background it may seem, has to do with Madoka's Mom.

Without her mom in the show, the entire ending would have never happened. Not because it would be impossible, but because it was a problem that required some guidance to solve. Every problem that Madoka runs into she asks her mom for help figuring it out, and her Mom is there every time to provide some older sage-like advice. It's a very touching and realistic approach to things

As the old saying goes "Sometimes the most adult thing to do is ask for help"

Then you have the original Karate Kid.

That entire movie was based around Danniel being bullied at his new High School, moving from Jersey to Cali...I think it was Cali.
The whole "new scene" thing had karate-learned bullies picking on him. He was in High School and therefore at an age in which asking your mom for help, how ever practical it may be, would be a bad decision. He was at the learn to do thing yourself age. He didn't want to learn Karate, he wanted to be left alone, but not at the cost of his pride. The entire movie works from a standpoint that there are times in your life that you have to take charge.

That said, asking for help is once again, a form of taking charge. Not caring what others thing is also a form of taking charge.

I'll rack my brain and try to think of times in which no parents were a good thing for a character, but it can't be Orphans.

A lack of living parents often counts the same as living parents as characterization goes. If your parents lived you take after how they taught you, if they died you take after how that gap effected your life. Having them not around to show is what this Thread's about.


I think next time you should try to read people's posts before replying because this is a completely nonsensical response.
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Posted 9/15/13
The same reason why a lot of YA don't talk much about the parents. It's a storytelling choice, so that they can focus on the teen characters.
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Posted 9/15/13
The thing that I tend to find funny is when the parents always go on some business trip. I seriously never knew a business trip was that important enough to have both parents go together. The main character stays with their older or younger sibling while the parents are away for an extended period of time. The unexplained death just gets to me. Because I would love to know how they died in the end I get no answers.


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Posted 9/15/13

deadpanditto wrote:
The same reason why a lot of YA don't talk much about the parents. It's a storytelling choice, so that they can focus on the teen characters.


This. That, and parents are not the target demographic for those types of shows, so why bother pandering to them?
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Posted 9/15/13

Watashination wrote:


Felstalker wrote:

What about Madoka Magika? A major plot element, however background it may seem, has to do with Madoka's Mom.

Without her mom in the show, the entire ending would have never happened. Not because it would be impossible, but because it was a problem that required some guidance to solve. Every problem that Madoka runs into she asks her mom for help figuring it out, and her Mom is there every time to provide some older sage-like advice. It's a very touching and realistic approach to things

As the old saying goes "Sometimes the most adult thing to do is ask for help"

Then you have the original Karate Kid.

That entire movie was based around Danniel being bullied at his new High School, moving from Jersey to Cali...I think it was Cali.
The whole "new scene" thing had karate-learned bullies picking on him. He was in High School and therefore at an age in which asking your mom for help, how ever practical it may be, would be a bad decision. He was at the learn to do thing yourself age. He didn't want to learn Karate, he wanted to be left alone, but not at the cost of his pride. The entire movie works from a standpoint that there are times in your life that you have to take charge.

That said, asking for help is once again, a form of taking charge. Not caring what others thing is also a form of taking charge.

I'll rack my brain and try to think of times in which no parents were a good thing for a character, but it can't be Orphans.

A lack of living parents often counts the same as living parents as characterization goes. If your parents lived you take after how they taught you, if they died you take after how that gap effected your life. Having them not around to show is what this Thread's about.


I think next time you should try to read people's posts before replying because this is a completely nonsensical response.


Indeed, I do go on tangents with most of it. The initial Madoka Magika comment was directed at your post however.

The danger a problem represents isn't simply "increased" when you don't have your parents to turn too, and good problems shouldn't be so easily solved. You already don't ask your parents to fight your bullies for you, you don't ask them to save the world with you. My dad isn't Goku. He doesn't instantly solve problems for me. He exists as someone I should turn to if I ever need advice.
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Posted 9/15/13

rcsatcrunchyroll wrote:


deadpanditto wrote:
The same reason why a lot of YA don't talk much about the parents. It's a storytelling choice, so that they can focus on the teen characters.


This. That, and parents are not the target demographic for those types of shows, so why bother pandering to them?


Well, Multiple-Demographic appeal is a great way to lots of people watching your show.

And don't you have a parent? It's something that more people relate to than don't.

The thing about it being about Focusing on the Teen character works, especially in Drama pieces. You know, when one well timed question aimed at your mom or dad could totally mean the difference between a Threesome and "Nice Boat" ending. So why have them ask?

But then I think about Fate/Prisma Illya and how I waited 10 episodes to see Illya go ask one of her many extremely helpful older family members for help, and when it finally happens I feel as happy as all hell.

Sometimes that one question makes an entire show worth it.

I just find lack of strong parental characters in appropriate age characters weak storytelling.

Steins;Gate has college age characters, AND YOU STILL SEE SOME PARENTS IN HERE.
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