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21 Anime Characters with Big-Time Parent Issues

Updated November 12, 2020 16.6k votes 4.1k voters 165.9k views21 items

List RulesVote up the anime and manga characters with the worst parent issues.

Anime characters with parent issues are a dime a dozen, but the mommy and daddy issues these anime characters have are hard to rival. From abandonment issues to the tragic deaths of parents, it doesn't get much worse than the situations on this list.

It seems that in the collected world of anime heroes and villains, the governing rule is that functional parents simply can’t exist. Sure, heroes occasionally get mentors, but by and large, most anime and manga parents are either no good at the soccer mom game or are gone before they can really make a difference. This is not a landscape of Martha Kents. Main characters are either forced to watch their parents perish, leave, or simply never get written in at all.

If you thought Bruce Wayne had some parent issues, the tortured billionaire has nothing on these anime and manga characters who have some serious emotional complexity driving their relationships with their parents.

Spoilers ahead.

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  • It’s hard out here for a mercenary leader, and no one is more aware of that fact than the shout-happy, demon-slaying machine Guts, the star of Berserk. Raised by an adopted father named Gambino, a mercenary leader himself, Guts spent his entire life learning the trade under borderline cruel, absolutely loveless circumstances.

    Gambino was such a monster that he even sold his adopted kid out to a friend for an evening of horror. Granted, Guts ended up slaying his rapist a little bit later, but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t traumatized.

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  • 2

    Edward and Alphonse Elric Attempted to Resurrect Their Dead Mother

    When you think of anime characters with "mommy issues," the Elric brothers are probably the first to come to mind. After losing their mother as children, the duo dedicates a chunk of their lives to resurrecting her using alchemy. The first episode of the 2003 Fullmetal Alchemist anime series opens with Ed and Al committing the ultimate taboo by trying to bring their mother back from the grave, resulting in Edward losing an arm and a leg while Alphonse loses his body entirely.

    The rest of the series is spent searching for the Philosopher's Stone - a powerful talisman that supposedly allows the wielder to overcome the rules of equivalent exchange in alchemy. Edward's goal is to bring his brother's body back so he doesn't have to live in a suit of armor anymore. What's worse is that later in the series, their mother does actually come back in the form of a homunculus named Sloth, who serves as secretary to King Bradley. The boys unknowingly created her the night they tried to bring their mother back, and Edward is ultimately the one to destroy her by turning her body into ethanol. Someone get this kid some counseling, and fast.

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  • 3

    Todoroki Got His Scar From His Mother Due To His Father's Abuse

    Todoroki Got His Scar From His Mother Due To His Father's Abuse
    Photo: Bones

    Shoto Todoroki from My Hero Academia had a rough childhood. His father, Endeavor, is one of the top Pro Heroes in Japan but could never surpass All Might. As a result, Endeavor decides to marry Rei so that their children can have both a Fire and Ice quirk and become the No. 1 hero. Endeavor's obsessive drive made him an abusive father and husband towards his family as he only cared about Shoto Todoroki (who possessed both quirks) and ignored the rest of his children.

    He relentlessly trained Shoto to the point that he would vomit during lessons. Although Shoto's mother tried to stop her husband's extreme methods, she slowly became mentally unstable due to her fear of her husband. She finally snapped when she saw Shoto's left side (which reminded her of Endeavor) and poured a kettle of boiling water on his face.

    Endeavor sent her away to a psychiatric ward, leaving Shoto unable to forgive his father for making his mother this way. Until the Sports Festival at U.A., Shoto refused to use his Fire quirk as a way of defying his father.

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  • 4

    Kakeru Naruse's Mother's Suicide Leads Him To Attempt Suicide Himself

    In Orange, Naho Takamiya receives several letters from herself 10 years in the future about a boy named Kakeru Naruse who will soon transfer to her high school class. As the specific events in the letter start to come true, she realizes the letters are real and follows their advice to the tee.

    In the first episode, Kakeru doesn't come to school for two weeks, which we later learn is because his mother took her own life. As Kakeru opens up to Naho, he explains that much of his life outside of school consisted of taking care of her and appeasing her whims and mental illness. Naho's letters explain later that in her future, Kakeru is overcome with depression and guilt for not protecting his mother, and he takes his own life. 

    With the help of her friends, Naho manages to convince Kakeru that life is worth living - but he is severely damaged from the experience nonetheless, and his guilt about his mother never goes away.

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