The Secret Stars of Anime: Listen To Me, Girls. I Am Your Father!

Listen To Me, Girls. I Am Your Father! (Japanese name:  Papa no Iu Koto wo Kikinasai!) is a light-novel-adapted anime from early 2012 that, since viewing it, has been an exemplary case for me of “don’t judge an anime by its first episode”. While it is not a show I can recommend to everyone due to an above-average level of fanservice and some aspects that might make some viewers uncomfortable, it is also nowhere near the “fanservice pseudo-incest romcom” that the first episode might suggest it is. The story starts out with new college student Yuuta Segawa, as he settles into his small apartment and goes to school and meets people at his club, before he is visited by his older sister, who raised him by herself after their parents’ deaths. His sister, who is about to go on a trip with her husband, asks him to visit her house and look after her three daughters, two of which are stepchildren: the fourteen-year-old Sora, the ten-year-old Miu, and the three-year-old Hina. As such, the first episode ends with Yuuta visiting the house, meeting Miu and Hina, and accidentally walking in on Sora while she’s changing in the bathroom. Admittedly, it’s not the best beginning for a show.

Then, at the end of the second episode, there is news of a plane crash, Yuuta’s sister and her husband are presumed dead, and Yuuta boldly declares he will look after his three nieces so that their other relatives, none of whom are willing to take in all three, do not separate them.

If you ask me, separating siblings, whether orphaned or because of a divorce, is never a good idea.
So much for this being a silly fanservice romcom.

From this point on, the show reveals what it truly is about: a story of a family staying together against all odds. While Sora does have a crush on Yuuta (there’s actually a reasonable explanation for it), on Yuuta’s part he keeps his relationship with the girls purely familial (it helps that he has his own love interest in his college club senpai Raiko). His motivations are driven by his memories of his sister, who also defied her relatives so the two of them could stay together, and the series is overall at its most heartwarming when it shows him doing his best to be a good guardian/older brother figure to his family.

This is not the first time I have written about this show, as I previously wrote a guest post on it some time ago. That post looks at how Yuuta’s adoption of his nieces relates to God’s adoption of us as His children. Notably, while the other relatives believed that, by providing better material comfort, they could make the girls happier, the girls were willing to put up with worse living conditions so they could stay together. Likewise, choosing to be adopted by God may lead to giving up material comfort, but being part of His family is far more valuable.

For this post, in honor of the recent Newman’s Nook post on examples of good and bad parenthood in anime, I will note some things from Yuuta’s perspective and look at what kind of an example of “parenthood” this show gives. It is not really a perfect example, as Yuuta is really overall too young to be a proper father, and acts in some ways more like a big brother. Nevertheless, since the title of the show does presume that Yuuta is trying to at least be something like a father to the girls, his is an example worth looking at.

One point that stands out is how much Yuuta is sacrificing for the sake of keeping his family together. Adopting the girls means not just sacrificing his privacy and living space, but also a good amount of his time as he works part-time for the money to support three more people, in addition to time actually spent with them and helping them out. I must say that I have a lot of respect for those parents, especially single parents, who sacrifice their time and resources for the sake of their children. The sacrificial love of a parent is one of the most beautiful kinds of love out there, and while one might argue that it was irresponsible of Yuuta to try to look after three girls without the proper resources to do so, one cannot deny the deep, familial love he had for them that made him willing to sacrifice what little he had for their sake.

Even with his sacrificial love, though, Yuuta’s lack of experience definitely hinders his ability to serve as a “good” father. He is clearly in over his head, and finds himself in many situations that he just cannot handle on his own. Thankfully, he learns that he does not have to handle them on his own, as he starts to get help from his college friends. He also gets some help from various other people around him, and even has Sora help him out at times. Now, not being a father myself, I can only imagine what it be like once I do start a family, and all I can say is, I sure as anything do not want to try being a father without any outside help, or else I would certainly mess things up big time. Overall, I believe that a good human father is one who is humble enough to recognize he does not know all the answers to fatherhood and is willing to ask help from those around him.

Finally, it is worth noting that Yuuta does treat both Sora and Miu as family, despite not being blood related to them. One point the show makes is that, even though Yuuta is not the girls’ actual father, and cannot directly replace their missing father, he can still be a father to them. In this world, where many children’s blood fathers are not around for one reason or another, having other older male figures who are able to take on some of that fatherhood role is a very good thing. This is another reason why having others help in parenting can be a good thing: if a child is missing either a mother or a father figure, others can step in to help fill that gap. And, of course, being blood related is not what is important, as long as you love your children like family.

In Sora's case, she had met Yuuta a couple of years ago and had a crush on him since then, which at least is understandable even if it makes things awkward in the present.
Again, credit to Yuuta for keeping focus on familial bonds, rather than getting any weird not-blood-related ideas.

Overall, this show stands out to me as one that steps beyond the kind of story it could be, given its light novel origins, and instead delivers a heartfelt story about family being what you make of it. It does admittedly have a fair number of issues, though. The fanservice level, while not nearly as bad as it could be, is still above average, and while the show does avoid going directly in any pseudo-incestuous directions, it does spend a bit too much time on Sora’s crush on Yuuta as well as typical romcom hijinx between the two. Some might also be a bit put off by Miu, who often tries to act in adult ways despite being only ten, as well as maybe encouraging Sora a bit too much with her crush. Also, the big otaku guy who’s into little girls is just plain annoying. As such, I cannot recommend it for all anime fans, particularly Christian fans. Yet, for all of its flaws and issues, the fact that it does keep itself from getting too out of hand means that the really good parts of this show—the parts where the group shows how close they are as a family—can stand out and make the show very much worthwhile for those willing to not get too bogged down by its problems.

(That said, if you watch this show on Blu-ray or DVD as opposed to on Crunchyroll or Hulu… please, for your sake, do not watch the extra OVA episode. Don’t worry; you aren’t missing anything other than a fanservicey disaster.)

This post was written in honor of Tomohiro Matsu, the author of the original Papa no Iu Koto wo Kikinasai! light novels, who unfortunately passed away from illness on May 2nd. He did get a pretty sweet coffin, at least.

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