Anime Underground

21 Anime Characters with Big-Time Parent Issues 

Justin Andress
Updated May 4, 2020 13k votes 3.6k voters 142.9k views 21 items

List Rules Vote 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.

Edward and Alphonse Elric Attempted to Resurrect Their Dead Mother
Edward and Alphonse Elri... is listed (or ranked) 1 on the list 21 Anime Characters with Big-Time Parent Issues
Photo:  Fullmetal Alchemist/Madman Entertainment

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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Guts is listed (or ranked) 2 on the list 21 Anime Characters with Big-Time Parent Issues
Photo:  Berserk/Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

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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Shinji Ikari is listed (or ranked) 3 on the list 21 Anime Characters with Big-Time Parent Issues
Photo:  Neon Genesis Evangelion/Netflix

Man, oh man, Shinji Ikari from Neon Genesis Evangelio had it rough in the parents department. At just the tender age of 3, Shinji witnessed the death of his mother Yui during the "contact experiment" with Eva-01 that went horribly wrong. As if that wasn't traumatizing enough, he was abandoned by his father Gendo only a year later, and was forced to live with his teacher Misato.

Although Misato is caring towards Shinji, his personal struggles plague him all his life, especially after age 11 when his father (now the head of NERV) calls on him to pilot Eva-01 and fight the angels that are attacking Earth. If coming face-to-face and being forced to obey your father who abandoned you as an infant isn't traumatizing, then nothing is.

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Family Rejection Is A Theme In 'Fruits Basket'
Family Rejection Is A Th... is listed (or ranked) 4 on the list 21 Anime Characters with Big-Time Parent Issues
Photo:  Fruits Basket/Crunchyroll

Tohru Honda’s life was shaped, in part, by his mother Kyoko’s teachings. Though she only appears in flashbacks, her conversations with Tohru have a profound impact. Kyoko was rejected by her parents at an early age and even disowned outright after she participated in a gang fight at school.

Rin Sohma thought she had an idyllic life with her parents until she asked them if they were happy. That turned out to be a mistake, as the stress of maintaining the facade eventually took its toll. They became abusive and neglectful to the extent that Rin ended up hospitalized with a panic disorder.

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