This Father's Day show some paternal affection for the many long-suffering old school anime dads!
Fatherhood is a tricky business, and the responsibilities of raising a child are even thornier when the child in question has superhuman strength, magical abilities, or the need to pilot a giant robot for the sake of all humanity. Come rain or shine, these papas persevere, and we here at Crunchyroll think it's time to recognize that fact with a look at how a handful of fathers approach their duties (or shirk them) in various old-school anime.
Some of these dads are rad. Some of these dads are mad. Some of these dads are bad and dangerous to know. But all of them are indubitably dads, and on this Father's Day, we celebrate the trials and tribulations of parenthood with a brief look at eleven classic anime dads in their natural habitats.
In no particular order, meet the fathers:
Origin: Urusei Yatsura
Threat Level: Salaryman
Profile: A humble, middle-management working adult who just happens to be the father of one of the most accursed teenagers in the universe, Ataru's Dad merely wants to read his newspaper, pay the mortgage on time, and maybe watch the occasional pro-wrestling match. With aliens constantly blowing up the house, though, this is easier said than done.
Where You Can Find Him: AnimEigo's DVDs are out-of-print, but you can catch Ataru's Dad in the Viz Signature editions of the Urusei Yatsura manga.
Origin: Urusei Yatsura
Threat Level: Oni
Profile: An intergalactic conqueror by trade and the father of perennial anime "best girl" Lum, Mr. Invader is a rough, gruff, simple sort of fellow with a large appetite for life. A straight shooter who tells it like it is, Mr. Invader fears no man...although he does fear his wife, who is a terror with an electrically-charged broom.
Where You Can Find Him: (See Ataru's Dad.)
Origin: Super Dimension Fortress Macross
Threat Level: Valkyrie
Profile: You may think you're smooth, but are you smooth enough to get your mortal enemy to marry you immediately after you a.) clobber them at the video arcade and b.) they try to stab you? I didn't think so. Max is the quintessential MacDaddy, although his parenting skills need some polish and his marital troubles inform the plot of Macross 7. It's probably a good thing that his eldest daughter, Komilia, has a strong skeleton.
Where You Can Find Him: The previous DVD releases of Super Dimension Fortress Macross by ADV and AnimEigo are out-of-print, but you can catch the entire original series streaming on Amazon Prime Video.
Origin: Dr. Slump
Threat Level: Mad Scientist
Profile: The only thing that prevents Senbei Norimaki from being crushed beneath the weight of his own ineptitude—or pulverized by the tiny metal fists of his robot daughter, Arale—is the fact that he's the father-figure in a gag manga, and thus he has “plot armor” that is seventeen inches thick. Senbei is ultimately able to marry Midori Yamabuki, the woman of his dreams, so he must be doing something right...
Where You Can Find Him: Although the Dr. Slump TV anime have never been officially released in the United States, Discotek Media has a DVD set featuring five Dr. Slump films, and the entire run of the original Dr. Slump manga is available in English from Viz Media, and you can check out Senbei's misadventures there.
Origin: Battle Angel Alita
Threat Level: Hunter-Warrior
Profile: When he's not out bounty-hunting for spine-stealing freaks, Daisuke Ido runs a cyber-surgery practice and acts as a surrogate father for his adopted daughter, the Martian cyborg super-soldier, Alita, who happens to be hundreds of years older than him. Parenthood is strange.
Where You Can Find Him: ADV's DVD release of the Battle Angel anime OAVs is out-of-print, but the Battle Angel Alita manga and its sequels and spin-offs are available in English from Kodansha Comics. You can also catch Christoph Waltz as Ido in the live-action Alita: Battle Angel film.
Origin: Project A-ko 2: Plot of the Daitokuji Financial Group
Threat Level: Billionaire Playboy
Profile: The head of the mega-corporate Daitokuji Financial Group and the father of genius inventor B-ko Daitokuji, Hikaru spends most of his time stealing his daughter's mecha designs and passing them off as his own for fun and profit. He's also not above borrowing B-ko's personal set of form-fitting powered armor if the situation calls for it, although later films in the Project A-ko series show Hikaru taking a more civic-minded approach.
Where You Can Find Him: All four of the Project A-ko films are currently available on DVD from Discotek Media, and Hikaru Daitokuji makes an appearance in at least three of them.
Prince Philionel El Di Seyruun
Threat Level: PACIFIST CRUSH!
Profile: Heavy is the head that wears the crown, especially when your wife is deceased and both of your daughters spend most of their time adventuring rather than helping to run the kingdom. Despite his rough and tumble appearance, Prince Philionel El Di Seyruun (“Phil” to his friends) is a benevolent ruler with a gentle heart who believes in pacifism, kindness to all creatures, and the occasional spinning lariat delivered with just the right amount of loving violence.
Where You Can Find Him: Funimation releases the Slayers TV anime on home video in the United States. The Slayers movies and OAVs were at one time published by ADV, but Phil isn't in those releases, which are also out-of-print.
Origin: Azumanga Daioh
Threat Level: Norio Wakamoto
Profile: A creature of myth and enigma, Chiyo's Dad is not actually a cat. He can fly at Mach 100 and deflect bullets. He's paid by the government. He may or may not be Santa Claus. Nothing is true. Everything is permitted. Eat your tomatoes.
Where You Can Find Him: In dreams, Chiyo's Dad is everywhere. In real life, the ADV and Sentai Filmworks DVD releases of Azumanga Daioh are now out-of-print, but the original Azumanga Daioh manga is available in English from Yen Press.
Origin: Ranma 1/2
Threat Level: Panda
Profile: It's possible that deep down, Genma Saotome cares about the well-being of his son, Ranma, more than he cares about martial arts or training. If this is the case, then Genma has a really poor way of showing it. Genma's ceaseless training regime has afflicted both father and son with shape-changing curses, and Genma's poor planning has inflicted traumatizing ailurophobia on Ranma, and that's not even counting the dire consequences that Genma's promises to Ranma's mother entail...
Where You Can Find Him: When not playing with a tire or chewing on bamboo, Genma Saotome can be found in the Ranma 1/2 manga and anime, which are both released in the United States by Viz Media.
Origin: Wicked City
Threat Level: FALCON PUNCH!
Profile: A member of the Black Guard that protects the boundaries between the human world and the Demon Realm, Taki Renzaburo is pretty new to this whole fatherhood thing, since his first child isn't born yet when the Wicked City film concludes. With a James Bond libido, a pistol that can shoot through walls, and a right hook that can crush faces, Taki is more of the “who's your daddy?” type.
Where You Can Find Him: Wicked City is available on DVD from Eastern Star, but we warned, even though this is Father's Day, this film is not kids' stuff.
Origin: Grappler Baki
Threat Level: Ogre
Profile: Some would say that Gendo Ikari of Neon Genesis Evangelion is the worst dad in anime, but I'd argue that even Gendo levels of shitty parenthood pale in comparison to the walking natural disaster that is Yujiro Hanma, the father of underground fighters Baki and Jack Hanma. Yujiro's bloodlust is all encompassing, and Baki's friends and family often pay for it with their lives. Yujiro's bad dad deeds are too numerous to count and must be seen to be believed.
Where You Can Find Him: Funimation's DVD release of the 2001 Grappler Baki TV anime is out-of-print, but the most recent Baki anime is currently streaming on Netflix, and Akita Shoten Comics publishes the New Grappler Baki manga on Comixology.
And that's our look at some classic anime daddies, but this sampling is by no means meant to be an exhaustive list. Anime has a long and rich history, the full spectrum of fatherhood in all its beautiful and messy permutations would take a lifetime to explore. Who are your favorite classic anime dads? Which honorable (or dishonorable) mentions do you think should make the list?
And from everyone here at Crunchyroll, we wish you a very happy Father's Day!
Paul Chapman is the host of The Greatest Movie EVER! Podcast and GME! Anime Fun Time.
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