Strained relationships between family members can probably relate toーsome more than others. It is truly an unpleasant side of society that many films and TV shows have represented over the years. Anime is usually seen as a go-happy medium of entertainment where it is always sunshine, rainbows, and smiling faces with the occasional superpowered battles.

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While it is true that a majority of them do fall under that category, it would simply be unfair to claim that anime shows never tackle any major issues beyond the generic world-ending dangers. There are several examples out there when even anime shows have explored deeply psychological and socially relevant themes of difficult or even entirely dysfunctional families. This list seeks to look at a few such cases.

10 Domestic Girlfriend – The Fujii Family

Domestic Kanojo characters holding each other

Although fairly well-written, the family situation in Domestic Girlfriend is a hot mess. Natsuo Fujii is tired of his one-sided feelings for his teacher, Hina Tachibana, and decides to have a one-night stand with a stranger, Rui. The following day he discovers that the woman his father plans on marrying is the mother of the girl he had a one-night stand with, who in turn is the sister of the woman he likes. He’s now stuck with the love of his life and the girl he lost his virginity to, and the fact that they are two separate people and his step-sisters don’t really help.

9 Sword Art Online – The Yuuki Family

asuna and her mom sword art online

The “Mother’s Rosario” storyline is considered one of the best arcs of SAO, and a big part of why fans love it is that it puts some much-demanded attention on Asuna’s character. Mostly an action-adventure anime, SAO’s plot usually doesn’t delve too deep into its characters’ family and backgrounds, but “Mother’s Rosario” was an exception. Through it, a glimpse into Asuna’s private life is given, and it definitely didn’t look cheerful. Her mother is a disturbingly oppressive woman, and the interactions between the two don’t leave any questions about what the overall family situation is like.

8 Hayate The Combat Butler – The Ayasaki Family

Hayate the Combat Butler, utilizes comedy to gloss over many serious aspects of the plot. An example is that Hayate Ayasaki’s parents racked up a ton of debt due to their gambling habits and dealt with the yakuza for their son’s organs as repayment. It is supposed to be comical, but that shouldn’t take away from how disturbing it is.

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It is also shown that Hayate has been working various jobs since and was single-handedly providing for his deadbeat family. When he is asked at one point if he would ever give his parents the chance to redeem themselves, he straight refuses.

7 Assassination Classroom – The Shiota Family

assassination classroom nagisa with long hair abusive mother.jpg

Although Nagisa Shiota looks feminine, that doesn’t justify what his mother Hiromi Shiota did. Nagisa’s mother, Hiromi, always wanted to give birth to a girl. Instead, she gave birth to Nagisa and decided to make him dress like a girlーthat included making him wear his hair down, having him wear clothes he didn’t want to, and forcing him to do whatever she wanted as her doll.

Although this gave him immense psychological pressure, it also had him gain the ability of immense bloodlust which makes him the perfect assassin in terms of sneakiness. His father left the family because of Hiromi’s obsession, leaving Nagisa to deal with the pressure his mother placed upon him.

6 My Hero Academia – The Todoroki Family

my hero academia todoroki talking with his mother.png

A big part of Shoto Todoroki’s character arc in My Hero Academia revolves around his rather poor relationship with his father, the currently No.1 hero Endeavor. His father’s obsession with surpassing All Might drove him to oppress his family members. He forced Shoto to go through harsh training while at the same time didn’t care about his other children’s welfare, nor the health of his own wife, and sent her away when she fell sick.

RELATED: My Hero Academia: Shoto Todoroki’s 5 Biggest Strengths (& 5 Weaknesses To Work On)

Although recent events have shown that Endeavor and Shoto’s relation has been remedied a little, it doesn’t excuse his past actions.

5 Dororo – The Daigo Family

Best: Dororo

No father worth his title will ever abuse his own children, but Hyakkimaru’s literally served him up to the demons as a sacrifice even before he was born. As a result of this, the infant Hyakkimaru was born without any limbs or organs, and in return, his father’s kingdom was blessed with prosperity. Dysfunctional doesn’t even begin to describe their situation. His brother is determined to kill him, and his mother dies in the process of trying to stop them from murdering each other.

4 The Fruit Of Grisaia – The Sakaki Family

The Fruit of Grisaia is a harem anime similar in style to Mongatari, about a group of students at a prison-like school where only people with special circumstances have been gathered. Yumiko Sakaki is one of the lead heroines, and similar to all the other female characters, she comes with her fair share of emotional baggage. Her introverted personality stems from the fact that her mother rarely showed her compassion, and her father was a business tycoon who didn’t have the time for either of them in his life. When Yumiko is forced to move in with her grandparents, they also become the type who is only lusting after her father’s money.

3 Hanasaku Iroha – The Matsumae Family

Hanasaku Iroha poster of all characters

Hanasaku Iroha is a wholesome slice-of-life story for the most partーbut mixed with family drama that nearly all of the characters are involved in. The plot follows a teenager Ohana Matsumae who has to leave Tokyo behind and start working at a countryside inn. The events that follow are fun and everything, but it doesn’t really hide the Matsumae family’s problems.

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Ohana’s grandmother has a lousy relationship with her daughter due to their history. On the other hand, Ohana’s mother abandons her and runs away with her boyfriend, leaving a fatherless child to fend for herself.

2 Your Lie In April – The Arima Family

Purposefully or not, sometimes parents push their unrealized dreams on their children, and Your Lie In April showcases this particular matter quite seriously. The anime is frequently mentioned as one of the most depressing series around. A big part of it is how the protagonist, Kousei Arima’s mother, negatively affected his life. His father was never around, and although his mother cared for him in her own demented way, she beat him physically when he failed to follow her instructions.

1 Monogatari Series – The Hanekawa Family

The Monogatari series has an abundance of heroines present in the story, and Tsubasa Hanekawa is one of the most prominent ones. Although Senjougohara is Araragi’s true love, his relationship with Hanekawa is special in its own way. One of the many seasons of the show, Nekomonogatari, focuses specifically on her character and family. Due to circumstances, she is forced to live with her step-parents, who treat her extremely poorly, going as far as not to give her a room of her own and making her sleep in the hallway. Hanekaway is usually shown as one of the most positive characters in the series, but she purposefully hides her stress away from others, not to worry them.

NEXT: The 5 Strongest Families In Shounen Anime (& The 5 Weakest)


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