My Dysfunctional Anime Dad

Today is the fourth time I get to celebrate father’s day as a dad.  My oldest now understands that it’s kind of a “party” day, as he calls it, for daddy.  It’s really nice to see my son get happy for me when I open a present, instead of wanting to open it himself.

I got to thinking about fathers in anime – there just aren’t too many good ones (or at least good ones that get a strong measure of screen time).  Like mothers, many are simply absent.  Others are really bad (*cough Gendo Ikari *cough).

But there are a few good ones.  I recently mentioned Jintan’s dad from Ano Hana.  And Nagisa’s father Akio, from Clannad, is awesome in a variety of ways.

The one father I remember most, though, isn’t exactly the best dad in the world.  When I participated in the Diary of an Anime Lived series, I focused my post on Tomoya’s dad from Clannad, and particularly his back story as presented in After Story.

Tomoya, Nagisa, Ushio, and Naoyuki
Art by けら

Tomoya and his father, Naoyuki, have a dysfunction relationship (and one that includes physical abuse and abuse of alcohol).  And while the show is very dramatic, I feel that their relationship is representative of one that many have with their owns dads.  There are bitter feelings and anger for many in regards to their fathers.

I’ve often heard it say that many Christians, particularly young women, have a hard problem identifying with God as “father,” because their own fathers were stern, inattentive, and/or hurtful.  This may be particularly true in Korean culture, where abuse like that involving Tomoya’s dad is a very common story.  But it may be true for all Asian cultures and even in the west.  Certainly, problems with parents isn’t exclusive to Korea.

And though abuse and some of the other painful things I mentioned aren’t excusable, I will say that dads sometimes have it rough.  Usually not raised to be emotionally open, many have problems being the loving parent a child needs.  Compound onto that societal pressures to be successful in career and finances, many become distant as stress builds through a lifetime of bills and other difficulties.  From personal experience, I also believe that many male/female differences are ingrained in us from birth – more differences that I think we typically attribute.  Most men find it a challenge to be good caretakers of children because in addition to the way they were reared, they were simply born that way.

But still, I think most of us have at least some good memories of our dad, if not a treasure trove of them.  Despite imperfect love from our fathers, the fact remains that almost without exceptions, dads love their children.

So I hope today that you’ll pour some love on daddy-o.  And if things are awkward or painful between you and your father, maybe you can be gracious and start reconciliation by saying, “Happy Father’s Day.”  It always take someone to take a step in faith first, and the truth is, most men of an older generation won’t be the ones to take that leap.  So it may be up to you to tell dad that despite it all, you still love him.  And he probably needs to be told – a dad doesn’t always get the hint.

After all, he may be a father, but he’s still just a man.

Happy Father’s Day!

4 thoughts on “My Dysfunctional Anime Dad

  1. Nice post, so I take it you’re Korean? The stereotypical relationship is that the father goes and works his ass off while the Tiger mother nags and nags. Trust me, first hand experience… kind of. I may be Korean but I’m lucky that my parents were Westernized. 😛 My friends, not so much.

  2. I’m glad you didn’t get it so hard as others. 😛

    I’m half-Korean. Luckily, my Korean mom wasn’t what I would call a Tiger mom. My dad is white, and so my experience with my father was quite different from that of my friends and wife (also Korean).

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