I’ve been thinking that anime generally underutilizes parents. Why are they never around? What if Touma had a mom instead of being screwed up by her brothers? How come Ui seems to be Yui’s mother figure? Where are their real parents? How come parents are always on permanent business trips? Why do the kids always have their own apartment? Do their parents really hate them that much? I imagine this isn’t a realistic picture of Japanese society, but anime has twisted my view. If I ever went to Japan, I think I would be shocked to see nuclear families.
When anime does have parents, they typically make better use of dads than they do with moms. Whether they’re the wise sage, or played for foolishly hilarious gags, or even really weird (Chiyo’s dad anyone?) they tend to be a little more dynamic. Meanwhile moms more often than not fall into the strong, silent supporter role (unless they’re bad moms).
It was very hard to come up with this list. While there’s no shortage of mother figures, I tried to limit it to actual moms (either biological or “legal”) vs. older sister figures like Haruka Minami. I was shooting for a top 10 and bottom 5, but I ran out of moms to do so. So here’s my top 8 list of best anime moms, and my bottom 4 as well (in no specific order).
This is all based on stuff I’ve seen, and things I remember. But what good moms am I missing out on? And what loser moms have I missed? I’m sure I’ve missed a bunch. Drop a line in the comments and let me know!
Note: I’ve tried to keep out the details but there may be some spoilers.
My top 8 best anime moms
1. Ren Seto from Seto no Hanayome. Seto no Hanayome is one of the few shoes that I can remember in which a.) parents exist b.) they make great use of them in the story. In fact, it probably features the two most epic comedy dads that I can remember. But let’s not have the moms be forgotten either. San-chan’s mom takes the cake as the top mom in the show. She’s the only one who can keep her husband and his cronies in check. She gave birth to San-chan (bonus points!). She has a knack for teasing Nagasumi. She has special mermaid powers. Oh, and she’s gorgeous. Case closed.
2. Haruko Kamio from Air. Ok, she’s not a mom of the biological sort, I don’t think she was even “legally” Misuzu’s mom. And she probably deserves some negative points for her penchant for drunk driving. And her unwillingness to become too close to Misuzu and eventual pawning to her biological father. But the final episodes in which Haruko begs to take Misuzu back from her dad for a few days so they can spend her last few days together was one of the saddest scenes I can ever recall. While Haruko may never have wanted to embrace being a mother, it’s clear in their final moments together that she does with all her heart.
3. Sanae Furukawa from Clannad. I’m not a fan of these dramatic visual novel adaptations, and I didn’t even bother with Clannad ~After Story, but I will say that they do have some pretty good parental presence. Sanae is a comically terrible baker (which is a WIN in of itself), but she does a fantastic job as a mom for Nagisa, Tomoya and Ushio (from what I’ve read).
4. Eureka from Eureka Seven. Ok, I’m cheating here. She wasn’t really a mom. Either biologically or legally. But since those three little brats called her “mom” I’m sticking her in this list anyway. Besides, anyone who could lovingly take care of those incredibly obnoxious and ill-behaved orphans deserves to make this list. While I’m at it, Ray Beams would’ve made a fantastic mom, if she had a kid that is.
5. Akiho Nogizaka from Nogizaka Haruka no Himitsu. She’s in the same vein as Ren Seto: affable, level-headed, but still the only person tough enough to keep her yakuza husband in check (this seems to be a requisite for gangster’s wives).
6. Oka-san Michisio from Seto no Hanayome. Now the question with Oka-san Michisio is what you’d consider a “good” mother. Is she “good” because she seems to ignore her husband, while crushing on Masa-san? Is she “good” because she supports her son’s marriage to San-chan, because she doesn’t believe that her son could possibly do any better? Maybe, maybe not. But I do know that she’s hilarious, and possibly an even better mother-in-law than an actual mother. That makes her “good” enough to make my list. Plus, like everyone else in that show, she’s a total babe.
7. Trisha Elric from Full Metal Alchemist. You get a better sense of her character in the first FMA than you do in the one that’s on right now. But she’s a loving, supportive mom who’s a tremendous influence on her kids, and strong enough to raise them on her own while her husband is out fighting wars, until she succumbs to a terminal illness. Without her, there’s no FMA. How could you argue with that.
8. Chigusa Saki from Shakugan no Shana. She’s stereotypical in the “stick to the kitchen, be gentle, give good advice” way, but I really like how she dotes on Shana and is willing to act as her mother figure as well. Plus, she put the Crimson Lord in his place, that’s proof enough for me that she’s better than your average mom.
My top 4 worst anime moms
1. Marianne vi Britannia from Code Geass. You arrange your own “death” which mentally scars your son for life, and literally cripples and blinds your daughter. Only to return later in a mindf*ck sequence with some hair-brained scheme to brainwash the entire world and screw everyone, including your kids, over. It’s telling that after all the fighting that Lelouch did trying to find his mother’s killer, he doesn’t bat an eye when he wisps her away into the void, erasing her and King Chuck from existence.
2. Sachiko Yagami from Death Note. Seemingly she’s a pretty normal mom, loving, supportive, yada yada. And in fact, she has a miniscule amount of time in the anime anyway. So why is she on this list? She’s on this list just for giving birth to the greatest serial killer ever.
3. Hayate’s mom from Hayate no Gotoku! You never even see her face. And it’s hard to mention her without mentioning her husband too. But when you waste away all your son’s earnings in a gambling spree, and then sell your debt, as well as your son to the yakuza… well, let’s just say you won’t be winning any awards for your mothering skills.
4. Yasuko Takasu from Tora Dora. While she seems to have a good heart, and she did end up “raising” a good son, clearly this is a woman who was not ready for motherhood. She’s less of a mother figure for Ryuuji than a roommate. I think it was either luck of the draw or Yuuji’s strength alone that he didn’t turn out to be a gangbanger like his dad.