By Yali Perez
The world of parenthood is a magical, beautiful and often challenging place. It has its highs and its lows, similar to the world of anime. Of course, that’s without the magical outfit changes. Wouldn’t that make getting ready in the morning so much easier?
As a single parent to a 10-year-old son, I sometimes use anime as a way to connect with him. Anime is something we mutually enjoy and is a great medium to discuss subjects without the pressure of feeling too serious. The aim of A Mom’s Guide to Anime is to use anime to help you navigate the world of parenthood.
This month’s focus: Facing fears. Besides being a parent to a soon-to-be 11-year-old (he will always be my baby), I am also the cooler, older cousin to 17-year-old Mia. My role as said cousin is to provide guidance and a safe place for them to vent.
I recently asked Mia about her plans after high school. She said she didn’t know what she wanted to do yet, but that she feared being an adult. As she expressed her concerns, I realized that she no longer feared sleeping in the dark or her former babysitter who used to give her crunchy rice to eat. Now she feared growing up.
This got me thinking about fears and how to face them. Especially in this current climate of uncertainty, adults and kids alike are afraid. In a previous guide, I mentioned that fear is a normal emotion, but it tends be quite overpowering.
The solution to fear is to be brave, but bravery doesn’t always come easy. So I want to focus on characters and series that will hopefully inspire you and your little ones to be brave too!
Gon Freecss from Hunter x Hunter
When you think about fearless anime characters, Gon Freecss of Hunter x Hunter might be the first to pop into your mind.
Gon sets out on his journey to find his father, a known Hunter. For Gon, being a Hunter must be really great if it made his father leave him. And so he heads off from Whale Island to become a Hunter himself.
This is a decision Gon makes without any reservation at all. And if you’re a fan of the series, you’ll know well that Gon often makes rash decisions. To his credit, this contributes to his fearless nature. The Hunter-in-training takes on all challenges with the singular goal of finding his father, allowing him to stay brave and outshine any real fear or foe he has. Let’s face it, the Hunter Exam is scary.
If your child is struggling with being brave, maybe help them find something more important to focus on. It might help them overcome whatever fear they have!
Himeno Awayuki from Pretear
Pretear is a classic magical girl series, following a regular girl given magical powers because she is destined to save the world. Oh, and she’s also assisted by several hot guys. Is it too late for me to be a magical girl?
Our lucky protagonist, Himeno Awayuki, becomes the Pretear to help stop the Princess of Disaster (um, name of my autobiography) from draining Earth of its power source.
Himeno reluctantly takes the job but she’s not great at it, at first. Her inability to master her power and the pressure causes her to be afraid in battle. This gets herself and others hurt…a lot. But through learning and experience, she becomes more confident in herself and dramatically saves the world.
In my guide about negative emotions, I noted that confidence is a way to overcome fear and doubt. Think about ways you can help your kids become more confident! Fear stands no chance against strong self-esteem.
Echo Rec from Listeners
Echo Rec is similar to Gon Freecss in that he too has a singular goal. Rather than a Hunter, though, Echo wants to be an engineer. And he gets his wish when he meets µ, a mysterious girl with amnesia, who is destined to become a Player, sound warriors who use cool mechs called Equipment to fight the Earless, a shadowed threat to humanity.
But unlike some of his anime counterparts, Echo is very timid and he didn’t believe in himself. Though he’s thoughtful and calculated when it comes to his decisions, it takes a push from µ and a dash of self-confidence before he agrees to set out on his journey.
And sure, being a meticulous thinker can be a good thing, but it can also lead to overthinking. Overthinking can lead to your child (and many adults) to develop some pretty intense cases of fear. Echo has a lot on his plate, so it’s only fair he might appear anxious.
To help your kids manage things like anxiety, it’s good to remind them to focus on what they can do now. Second, help them plan for the future. Lastly, let your children know that no matter the task or the results, they have you to guide them!
Astro from Astro Boy
Astro, the OG on this list, might seem like an obvious choice for a brave anime character. But the reason he’s here isn’t only obvious. Yes, Astro is a robotic boy who can fly, has super strength and shoots lasers, so you might think he has nothing to fear.
But unlike the other characters on the list, Astro’s fear is the most ordinary and yet still so profound: he fears himself. No, I don’t mean his powers; I mean he fears not knowing who he is!
In every incarnation of Astro Boy, Astro struggles with his identity. Is he a robot? Is he a real boy? Is he a hero? Astro faced his fear of self by trying new experiences and, of course, with the support of his friends. Encourage your child to experience all that life offers them and let them know that no matter the outcome, you’ll be there!
Zenitsu Agatsuma from Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba
When you think about fearless anime characters, it’s probably safe to assume Zenitsu from Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba is not in your Top 10. The blonde Demon Slayer is a bit cowardly, but for good reason: he fears, well, everything!
He regularly talks about dying because of what he does, though he uses that as an excuse to try and be a womanizer. Spoiler: he’s not very good at it. Despite his fearful nature, when push comes to shove, Zenitsu has shown to be brave in battle.
This master of the Thunder Breathing Technique has gone toe-to-toe with foes bigger and stronger than him, albeit, he was mostly passed out. Zenitsu’s motivation for facing his fears is an exaggerated version of “Just do it.”
Sometimes, the best way to face your fears is head-on. It might seem like you’re giving your kid tough love, but a little push might be what your kid needs.
P.S. I’d like to dedicate this guide to Mia. Remember, don’t be afraid of the future because yours is bright!