It's his birthday, let's cut him a break
Gendo Ikari of Neon Genesis Evangelion has long held the reputation of Worst Parent Ever in the anime world... and to be fair, he doesn't have the cleanest track record. Sure, he gave his kid a giant robot, but there were lots of strings attatched. Sure, he tried to get back together with his wife, but that doesn't have quite the same implications as most parents making that attempt. There's also, you know, all the psychological abuse and manipulating teenagers into life-or-death situations.
Usually we'd be on the side of naming Gendo the World's Worst Dad (or at least somewhere pretty far down the ladder), but it's his birthday today. Sure, he's an absentee father at best and a megalomaniac at worst, but we can cut him a break for a few hours. So in honor of his big day, we looked through other series to find parents who make him look good by comparison. This was, surprisingly, not a difficult task at all.
We've cut our list down to seven. Can you think of more who make Gendo look good by comparison? Shout them out in the comments. For now, here's our pick for parents who pop Commander Ikari up to World's Okayest Dad.
Shou Tucker (Fullmetal Alchemist)
If you think Gendo is guilty of putting career before family, get a load of this guy. Shou Tucker is highly respected for his advances in alchemy, but they're the result of some really severe corner-cutting at the expense of other people's lives.
You've probably had the upshot of Tucker's experiments memed away for you already. If not, suffice to say Edward Elric was not thrilled when he discovered how Tucker managed to shortcut his way to a chimera capable of speech. At least Shinji could get out of the robot afterwards.
Ragyo Kiryuin (Kill la Kill)
What is it with all these anime parents wanting to use their kids for experiments? Ragyo joins the list, having subjected multiple children to her Life Fiber tests. The one that worked, she kept and abused. The one that didn't work, she just straight-up threw away. Gendo may be distant, but at least he didn't literally bin his own kid.
Ragyo's in it for the long haul, though. Her treatment of Satsuki is deplorable by any standards, and just keeps getting worse as the show goes on. Honestly, the only reasons to give her the time of day are her amazing hair and the fact that "Blumenkranz" is a banger.
Hayate's Parents (Hayate the Combat Butler!)
This entry is a twofer, as combat butler Hayate Ayasaki was unfortunate enough to get a pair of awful parents instead of just one.
Contrary to our overachievers on the list so far, Shun Ayasaki and his wife are anything but motivated. Dad has no desire to get employed, and Mom gambles all her money away, leaving Hayate to support the family as a child. Eventually, he's rewarded for all his hard word... by having his organs sold to the Yakuza to cover his parents' massive debts.
Fortunately, he's now in the employ of the Sanzenin household, where working as a servant is a considerable step up from his old situation. Seriously, at least Shinji got a robot and a hot roommate.
Mom (The Promised Neverland)
Childhood can't last forever. At some point, we'll have to leave our comfy houses, our home-cooked meals, and our parents who will kiss our cuts and bruises better, and head out into a big, scary world. Thank goodness the children of The Promised Neverland have Mom to watch over them in that brief time... just as long as you don't pry too deep into what's going on.
When Emma, Ray, and Normal peel away the facade of Grace Field House, Mom eventually stops making any effort to play the fool. She's aware of just how horrific things really are, and her answer is to just suck it up and enjoy it while you can. If you're willing to do that, everything's fine. But if you refuse to play Mom's game, she'll pull no punches—and she's a lot stronger than she looks.
That was a nice break, but now it's time to go back to experimenting on kids.
Sunagakura's Fourth Kazekage had a problem: the village's budget was being stifled in favor of cheaper services from elsewhere, and he had to make his ninja worthy of being hired. His solution? Put a giant sand monster inside his kid. The idea was that this would end up making said kid a valuable superweapon; instead, it ended up killing Rasa's wife and turning his son into an unwitting killing machine.
As a result, we've got Gaara: an angry, crazed young ninja whose only knowledge of his family was initially that they despised him. Fortunately his encounters with the ninja of the Hidden Leaf Village would begin to chip away at that sandy exterior, but Rasa's weird business model stuck him with a lot of damage first.
Dario Brando (JoJo's Bizarre Adventure)
Bad guys don't always come from bad dads, but in Dio Brando's case they sure do. Dario Brando was a good old-fashioned Victorian mess, an alcoholic and an abusive husband and father who worked his wife to an early grave. It's unsurprising that his own son sees fit to poison his old man just to get away—fortunately, Dario also swindled a favor out of the Joestar family for a good deed he never did, ensuring Dio would eventually have a good life.
We can put at least one positive mark on Dario's record, though: he exposed Dio for the patricidal freak he was, saving Jonathan Joestar's dad's life posthumously. We're not sure whether that makes up for the literal child abuse, though.
Any others you think deserve to be on the list? Or do you think Gendo's very special brand of parenting is still a match for these moms and dads? Let us know in the comments!
Kara Dennison is a writer, editor, and interviewer with bylines at VRV, We Are Cult, Fanbyte, and many more. She is also the co-founder of Altrix Books and co-creator of the OEL light novel series Owl's Flower. Kara blogs at karadennison.com and tweets @RubyCosmos.
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