It’s indisputable that families are important to everyone. We all need support to get through the good and bad parts of life, and family is indispensable for that. So, since 1994, we’ve celebrated The International Day of Families on May 15th every year.
But of course, not all families are built the same—being blood-related isn’t the only thing that can tie people together so closely in an unbreakable bond! With that in mind, here are some of the most mismatched yet valuable families in anime that prove that you can truly find family anywhere if you look hard enough.
Libra from Blood Blockade Battlefront
In Blood Blockade Battlefront, our real-world city of New York has been transformed into a city filled with monsters and superhumans now called Hellsalem’s Lot. Soon after that happened, the secret crime-fighting organization Libra was founded, and when the show starts, we find protagonist Leonardo Watch being accidentally initiated into the group. Libra itself is full of those monsters and superhumans, who have become outcasts in society, but within Libra they have found a home. Leo himself has family in his sister Michella, who Leo has moved to Hellsalem’s Lot to support, but in Libra Leo finds a whole other kind of family filled with misfits like himself.
In the anime, the characters of White and Black serve as a contrast but also complement to the ragtag team in Libra. They actually are family, but one inherited their parents’ signature psychic abilities while the other didn’t. Black is bullied as a child for his powers; meanwhile, White has a complex about how simply being born without a power makes her a failure. Leo’s experiences with his sister and Libra enable him to embrace both of them and the bond they share is sure to bring a smile to anyone’s heart.
Mirror-World Kyoto from Kyousougiga
The family in Kyousougiga is more conventional than the other ones on this list, but only structurally. In the show, a high priest named Myoe has the ability to give life to his drawings. This strange power causes him to become an outcast, though, and he ends up creating a whole other world called Kyoto, or “Mirror Capital.” One of his drawings, a rabbit named Koto, makes her way back to him with assistance from a bodhisattva, and they fall in love. Eventually, they adopt a human orphan, and Myoe draws two siblings for him, before Koto’s agreement with the bodhisattva reaches its end and Myoe leaves as well.
From there, the orphan Yakushimaru and his “siblings” Yase and Kurama stay in the mirror Kyoto, managing a strained and complicated relationship as well as being leaders of their alternate reality. That is, until a girl from the other world, named Koto like their mother, appears, searching for a way back to her own family. That event leads this complicated cast on an emotional and heartfelt journey, and what they find is how much family means to them, even if they might not technically be related to each other.
Yorozuya from Gintama
It might be hard to see on the surface, but Gintama‘s protagonist Gintoki Sakata has been through a lot. An impoverished orphan, Gintoki eventually found a home under the tutelage of kind-hearted Shouyou Yoshida. This eventually ended in tragedy, leading Gintoki and his fellow student to participate in a war that ended with no prospects for samurai like them. As a result, Gintoki started Yorozuya, a “business” of sorts that takes on odd jobs of any kind.
This reflects Gintoki’s listless personality, but also suits the story perfectly, as it results in him coming together with the other protagonists Shinpachi and Kagura. Shinpachi is left alone with his sister Tae to maintain his family’s dojo after their father’s untimely death, and Kagura, a member of the strong Yato clan who doesn’t want to be part of her family’s legacy. Together this band of misfits helps others with similar problems come to terms with the ever-changing world around them and become closer as a result despite how wildly different their origins are.
The Kawamotos from March comes in like a lion
Rei Kiriyama has one of the most grounded and tragic backstories among characters listed here. The protagonist of March comes in like a lion‘s parents and sister all died in a traffic accident when he was very young, leaving him a foster child with one of his parents’ friends. His foster father taught him shogi, which he turned out to be extremely proficient at, but his new siblings saw this as their father favoring their new brother, and buillied him relentlessly for it. As soon as he could, Rei moved out, seeing himself as a burden on his adoptive family.
Luckily, Rei ended up finding the Kawamoto family, because the elder sister Akari found him on the street after his shogi peers left him drunk and abandoned. Akari and her sisters Hinata and Momo have similar circumstances, having been abandoned by their father and eventually left alone when their mother died while they were still relatively young. Rei reluctantly finds peace and acceptance in their household, especially through the middle sister Hinata who experiences a similarly harsh form of bullying at school as Rei did with his foster siblings. It might be rough, but together the Kawamotos and Rei find a sense of belonging with each other.
The Bebop from Cowboy Bebop
Perhaps the most ragtag group of all here, the crew of the Bebop also share a largely common origin story with each other. Not much is known of Spike’s early life, but it was rough enough to lead him to find a family in the crime syndicate Red Dragon. This lead to tragedy, as his relationships in the organization ended up strained, to the point that he ends up faking his own death. His story is even reflected in Jet’s; while Jet was in the law-enforcement system with the Inter-Solar System Police, he ends up betrayed as well, buying the fishing ship that becomes the Bebop and really starting the story off himself.
Things only get more complicated when we consider the other members of the Bebop. Faye is from roughly our times, having been frozen after losing her family in 2014, and unfrozen fourty-four years later, saddled with debt. Later she is also betrayed by the man she fell in love with, accidentally agreeing to take on his debt as well, leading her to a life of crime. Edward is just a child, but her father’s negligence led him to forget he left her at a daycare at all, and she ends up having to carve a life out entirely for herself. Together, Cowboy Bebop‘s cast ends up supporting each other through it all and becoming one of the most complicated yet compelling found families of all time.
So, there are just a few of the best non-traditional families in anime. There are plenty of others, and the definition of family can even be extended further. For example, who hasn’t watched a show like Naruto or Haikyu!! and felt like the teams have felt like families in their own ways?
Are there any other anime families that inspire you or make you think of your own experiences? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below!
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