Sadly, it's not uncommon to find anime lovers who are are 10 - or even 20 - years apart from one another. Even though they're works of fiction, many anime relationships are alarmingly unhealthy. This is especially true of anime couples with big age gaps, as their relationships rarely feel consensual. If the couple is composed of two consenting adults who just happen to have been born in different generations, that can be acceptable, but when a show features a relationship between an adult and a child, warning sirens should be going off.
Japan isn't the only country that produces tales of relationships with cringe-worthy age gaps; there are plenty of unfortunately paired couples to be found in Western media as well. While some people enjoy the forbidden thrill offered by these narratives, others are simply disgusted. As the world becomes increasingly less tolerant of power imbalances that invite coercion, it's difficult to find these types of stories cute.
The widest age gaps to be found in anime involve relationships between adults and (often prepubescent) minors. To add to the weirdness, a surprisingly large number of multi-generational anime relationships form between relatives. While everyone has a right to love and be happy, sometimes anime creators take things a little too far.
Kodomo no Jikan is a series that takes the concept of age gaps farther than anybody ever asked for. In the show, 23-year-old Daisuke Aoki is an elementary school teacher who gets way too close to his seven-year-old student, Rin Kokonoe.
The series begins with Rin making a slew of sexual remarks to her teacher. The poor girl has been psychologically damaged by a turbulent home life, and has grown up with a skewed view of the world. Since Rin is a literal child, one might hope that her teacher would recognize signs of a problem, and act accordingly to get her the help she needs.
Unfortunately, Aoki does just the opposite, and eventually falls for his young student. The two become an official couple on her 16th birthday, causing the entire audience to vomit in absolute disgust.
Boku no Pico is the butt of a running joke in the anime community. Whenever someone asks for general recommendations, at least one prankster will pop in and suggest the series, claiming that it's a "masterpiece." All jokes aside, Boku no Pico is one of the most notorious shotacon anime out there, and it's pretty wholeheartedly gross.
While working at Café Bebe, 15-year-old Pico meets Tamotsu, a 22-year-old man who quickly escalates the relationship into something aggressively sexual. Not only is the age gap illegal (the story takes place in Tokyo, where the age of consent is 18), Tamotsu spends the whole series trying to coerce the innocent Pico into everything from cross-dressing to full-blown sex.
To make matters even worse, Pico looks and acts way younger than 15; it's almost as if the creators were trying to make a show that could be marketed to predators.
Koi Kaze is an anime that tackles age gaps - as well as uncomfortably close familial relationships - with painful and unflinching realism. When 27-year-old Koshirou Saeki and 15-year-old Nanoka Kohinata first meet, they don't realize that they're siblings. They do, however, take note of the 12-year age gap that exists between them.
Despite the major setback, the two develop feelings for each other. From this point on, their love is relentless, even when they realize that they're biologically related. If nothing else, Koi Kaze will give you a lot to think about.
Much to the dismay of those who watched the tonally divergent anime, Rin Kaga and Daikichi Kawachi of Bunny Drop end up getting married at the end of the manga.
While this might not immediately come across as awful, it's important to note that Rin and Daikichi first meet when Rin is six years old, and that this encounter occurs just after the death of her father. At first, no one will take the orphaned girl in, so Daikichi decides to adopt her. Somehow, their parent/child relationship morphs into something romantic and sexual as Rin grows older. To make matters worse, Rin's dad happens to be the 30-year-old Daikichi's grandfather.
The affair is written off as acceptable because it's eventually revealed that Daikichi's grandfather actually adopted Rin, which means that she and Daikichi aren't genetically related. However, prior to their marriage, Daikichi raised Rin as though she were his daughter. The whole thing feels emotionally and physically wrong, and the age gap between the two is unarguably wild.