Fathers, be good to your daughters
Daughters will love like you do
Girls become lovers who turn into mothers
So mothers, be good to your daughters, too
In anime, an archetype of a distant and cold father has long been pervasive. Gendo Ikari is foremost among them, but there are many other examples of dads whose lack of affection (or presence) have had a powerful impact on protagonists. I wonder if this has something to do with the undeniable fact that many Asian fathers of previous generations were harsh toward their children. But as we can see with Ed and Al’s dad in Fullmetal Alchemist and with Eren’s in Attack on Titan*, there’s a lot of love that dad’s carry toward their kids, even if they’ve caused their children hurt. Perhaps that reflects another side (or a wished-for side) of Japanese fathers.
While these daddy issues are often limited to one character per anime, one series in which there are plenty to go around is Steins;Gate. Between the future and past, there are several fathers that get emphasized in the series. And on this Father’s Day, it seems to be an apt time to examine them.
Better yet, we can go a step further and see how these Steins;Gate father-child relationships compare to that of the Heavenly Father toward us. As with character relationships between father and sons/daughters, many people have cold relationships with God, perhaps out of misunderstanding, lack of effort, or something else. But like a father who proves that he loves his child to no ends, there’s far more than meets the eye.
Warning: Spoilers galore in the post below.
Faris and Father: Denying the World
Episode 17 of Steins;Gate focuses heavily on Rumiho Akiha (aka Faris NyanNyan). Faris has a world to her liking in the form of an electric Akibahara, but is without her dad, the most important person in her life. She changes the timeline by saving her father, which not only revises the character of Akihabara, but also sets the lab on a difficult course.
Though Faris’ relationship with her father is far from perfect, it’s clear that she cherishes him. She has everything in the world – everything she adores – but Faris is willing to give it all up to regain that intimacy with her dad.
The Heavenly Father offers a similar choice. A relationship with God is at odds with the world. We are commanded to give up everything and carry our cross if we would love God – to be able to give up all and follow Him to the end of the world, if necessary, like a lovestruck fool. As Christians, our brains know it, and sometimes (perhaps not nearly enough) our hearts do, too, that God is more valuable, worth more than gold. Like Faris’ father, He is worth giving up everything else we love.
God is worth it.
An Unlikely Pair and Responding in Love
The strangest father-daughter relationship in Steins;Gate is between Daru and Suzuha. The latter, having traveled back in time, is desperate to find out the identity of the dad she never knew. In episode 16 of the series, it is Mayuri that figures out that Daru must be her father. Their reunion, unfortunately, must be cut short due to all the craziness that is occurring.
Daru, for all his sloth, reveals one attribute of God – that of a Father who isn’t some statue in the sky, but rather moved by His love for us. Once Daru discovers that Suzuha is his daughter, he moves down the path of becoming a hero of sorts. He works at the time machine constantly with a determination that is unlike his normal character. He isn’t doing it for a date with Faris or for an anime cel; he does it when he sees how much Suzuha is hurting.
God is moved by the human condition. He sees our hurt and responds to it with love and warmth, showing us the way we should live and giving us an opportunity to live eternally with Him. And of course, He does it all via His own sacrifice. The story of the Bible is pretty amazing in this way, that it features a perfect God who is so moved by our plight that He’s willing to die for us. If that’s not a response out of love, I don’t know what is.
Kurisu and a Jealous Father
The most painful father-daughter relationship in Steins;Gate is between Kurisu and her dad. In fact, if there is a primary villain in the series, it’s perhaps ultimately him. He is so driven by jealousy that he would kill his very daughter, who had only wanted to make her father proud.
Jealousy can be a terrible thing – it can destroy relationships and tear people apart. Certainly, Kurisu’s father displays this hurtful jealousy, believing that she’s taking away the acclaim he deserves.
But can jealousy ever be a good thing?
The Bible declares that God is a jealous God. He wants our praise – He refuses to give it up to any other. He demands all of us. And if God is who He says He is, then yes, jealousy in this case is good – it’s right and just and results in a life fulfilled. The Jealous God is jealous for our sakes as well, not for His own petty feelings, as was the case with Kurisu’s father.
Even in a relationship as broken as that one, and as flawed as the other two in Steins;Gate, we see glimpses of who the Heavenly Father is. Even in our own relationships with dad, many of whom are broken, there are perhaps times when we’ve seen a godly love, and most certainly, we remember the devotion we once had to our fathers.
I hope that today you’ll have an opportunity to wish your dad a Happy Father’s Day, and that you’ll remember a different dad, too, and wish him the same.
* I’m rewatching Attack on Titan, and to the contrary of many in the fandom, Eren’s dad actually seems like a wonderful fellow. Our negative impressions of him come from one of Eren’s dreams, which also contained events we definitely know did not happen. What we have seen, though, is Eren’s dad crying at the thought of his family being in mortal danger.