A Mom’s Guide to Anime: Navigating Friendship

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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?

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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: Navigating friendships. I recently had to let go of a 13-year friendship. This person has been there for me for so many important life events, including the birth of my son. I truly cherish this person, but we’ve found ourselves at different points in life, and there was no real solution for us to be our authentic selves and meet in the middle.

This got me thinking about my son and his friendships. Right now, he’s at a stage in life where he’s making deeper connections, like having sleepovers, playing games online, chatting about girls or shopping for the latest drip. But the deeper kids become integrated into each other’s lives, the harder it can be if those friendships end.

This month, we’re breaking down different kinds of friendships your child might encounter. Just like relationships, friendships are fun and necessary parts of growing up. As always, you’re the parent and you know your kids best.

The social circle in Anime-Gataris

A hilarious series about a high school’s anime research club, Anime-Gataris focuses on the chatty and certified otaku, Minoa Asagaya. As you could probably guess, the members of the club become Asagaya’s social circle, and they often spend their time together after school debating anime, even during a literal apocalypse.

For kids, social circles are a network of friends that can provide safety, council and enjoyment, and they are likely the friends your child will interact with or turn to the most. That’s right, you are now second.

Social circles can be great, but we all know that if you find yourself in the wrong one, it can lead to trouble. Talk to your kids about what makes a good friend, though totally expect them to roll your eyes at you. Hey, it’s still important!

Watch Anime-Gataris on Funimation!

Best friends in Natsume’s Book of Friends

It’s probably not surprising to find a recommendation with the word “friend” in the title on this list. Though, to be fair, I could probably use this adorable series for every category. But I know you like variety.

Natsume’s Book of Friends is about the titular Natsume, who has the ability to see and interact with spirits. This ability has made his life rather lonely, that is, until he inherits his grandmother’s “Book of Friends.” But Natsume does have more friends than just spirits.

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His best friend is Kaname Tanuma, who leads a similarly lonely life and can also see spirits, though not with the same clarity as Natsume. Together, they’re not only able to overcome their loneliness, but help each other deal with the spirits they see.

A best friend is your closest companion. In this series, Natsume and Tanuma bring out the best in each other, keep each other’s secrets, and will do anything to protect each other. At some point, your child will likely have a best friend or two, and as incredible as it is to have one, it’s important to set the right boundaries with any relationship!

Watch Natsume’s Book of Friends on Funimation!

Frenemies in Ranma 1/2

Speaking of friends that might overstep boundaries, let’s talk about “frenemies.” A frenemy is a person who pretends to be your friend, but is secretly and actively planning your downfall. By being close to you, this person has easy access to hurt your or call out your shortcomings. Let’s take a look at a Ranma and Ryoga in Ranma 1/2.

Ryoga has said, on several occasions, that Ranma is his enemy. Though, Ranma hasn’t reciprocated those feelings. Ryoga does everything he can to not only be more powerful than Ranma, but better looking and smarter. Yes, this also includes helping Ranma to keep a close watch on him. Ryoga later uses the term nemesis, of course.

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There will be times when your little ones might come across a frenemy. For kids, it’s not always something easy to see, but as parents, we tend to have another sense about it. While we don’t want our children to be paranoid, it’s good to teach them about possible frenemy red flags.

Watch Ranma 1/2 on Funimation!

Rivals in NarutoNaruto Beginner's guide

Anime and rivalries go together like cheeseburgers and french fries. Seriously, we could spend all day talking about rivalries, but I have plans and so do you. Perhaps another time. And what greater rivalry to showcase than the one between Naruto and Sasuke!

The key difference between a rival and a frenemy is that rivals acknowledge each other as such. There’s a level of respect between them. Naruto and Sasuke respect and acknowledge each other, and yes, there were plenty of times where things got disrespectful, but their rivalry drove them to their next level of power and status.

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If anything, their rivalry is more about promise than competition, a promise to get stronger, and when they’re both ready, they’ll meet again. It was more of a fight, but you get the idea. Having a rival isn’t inherently a bad thing, though. They can be a friend who keeps you motivated, who respects you on a personal level, and still wants to see you do your best while also pushing themselves past their limits.

Though their rivalry can be polarizing, to say the least, real-life rivalries can be a positive thing! Though, if it leans into not being fun and feeling more intense, remind your child it’s OK to disengage.

Watch Naruto on Funimation!

These are just a handful of friendships your child will encounter as they grow up. Maybe we’ll do a Part 2 down the line! Of course, all relationships should keep you positive, and if they don’t, they might have to go.

Saying goodbye to a friend, or maybe even a frenemy, can make you feel sad, but there will always be a new opportunity to make another friend! Plus, we all know who our kids’ real best friends are.

See you next month on A Mom’s Guide to Anime!