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 an 11-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: Celebrating uniqueness. There are some things that feel like they should be totally obvious, right? Like celebrating the fact that the things that make us different also make us unique. Sadly, we find ourselves in a world where we tend to forget that.
As parents, it’s our responsibility to teach our children to not only embrace their uniqueness, but to accept and celebrate the uniqueness of others. This important lesson allows children to develop strong self-esteem and a sense of empathy and compassion for others.
This month, we’re taking a look at anime series that present unique characters and perspectives. As always, some of this content might not be suitable for your child. You are the parent and you know best! Let’s jump in.
Celebrating individual style in SK8 the Infinity
Look, the cast of SK8 the Infinity is full of unique style! The anime series is about a group of skaters that are all different, but united by one thing: Reki. Just kidding. It’s skateboarding.
Each of them has a unique fashion sense, hair color, aesthetic and even different skating styles. And each one of these aspects lends to a sense of self-identity: It’s how they express themselves in this world.
At a certain point in your child’s life, they’ll experiment with their style and encounter others doing the same. Allow them the freedom to explore how they want to express themselves. This fosters creativity and teaches acceptance. It’s a win-win!
Watch SK8 the Infinity on Funimation!
Celebrating different shapes and sizes in One Piece
I know I’ve mentioned One Piece a thousand times before, but that’s because it’s just so versatile! One Piece has a lot of characters. And with nearly a thousand episodes, there’s so much opportunity to get to know them.
And these characters come in all different shapes and sizes! From the long and lanky Monkey D. Luffy to the big and buff Kozuki Oden or the Charlotte Family, each character is unique. Just like people in the real world!
And yes, One Piece‘s style lends itself to cartoony appearances, but it still serves to emphasize my point. As children get closer to puberty, they may begin to feel self-conscious about their bodies. It’s important to remind them that there’s no perfect body type, and if you instill self-love in them, they’ll radiate that love for themselves and others!
Watch One Piece on Funimation!
Celebrating unique culture in Bleach
For many anime fans, Bleach easily makes it into our top ten lists. This action-packed series about substitute Soul Reaper Ichigo is known for its intricate stories, fantastic fight scenes, and twists and turns that will leave you speechless!
It also has a diverse cast of characters, like Yasutora Sado (a.k.a. Chad) who is half-Mexican and half-Japanese, or Yoruichi Shihoin, who is a Black woman with purple hair who transforms into a cat. It’s a series that presents unique cultures in its characters, like the members of Aizen’s Espada (which means “sword” in Spanish).
We live in a world full of culture, and those cultures feature unique languages, people and traditions. The more we learn about our pasts and backgrounds, the more we can feel a sense of belonging.
When your children learn about the heritages of others, it allows them to explore ways in which we’re all similar and celebrate the ways in which we’re unique. It encourages them to learn more and more!
Watch Bleach on Funimation!
Celebrating family in plenty of different shows!
Everyone’s family is unique in their own way! Some of us come from two-parent homes, like Keiichi from Ah! My Goddess: Flights of Fancy. For some of us, our parents are separated, like Tamaki’s in Ouran High School Host Club.
Sometimes we have a single parent, like Minako Ayuzawa from Maid-Sama!, or are adopted, like Goku in the Dragon Ball series. And maybe you have a family you chose, like Rei Kiriyama from March comes in like a lion.
We often get this idea in our heads of what a perfect family should look like, but “perfect” and “family” can mean different things to different people. And school-aged kids, especially, will encounter others with different family structures and dynamics.
Be sure to teach your little ones the true meaning of family: ones who make you feel loved, safe and accepted.
As parents, I hope you found this guide helpful! And I know, this was another serious one, but parenting is serious business.
Just remember: Every child deserves to be happy, and by accepting and embracing the uniqueness of the world, we can ensure that more and more people find that happiness.