Lists, Psychological

Think Your Family is Bad? – 14 Dysfunctional Anime Families


No matter what holidays you celebrate, November and December are the months for family. You go home, you eat food, you argue about your obsession with Japanese “cartoons”, and then retreat to different corners of the house to get separately drunk. Good times, right? Well, if you think your family is pretty representative of dysfunction junction, there are some notable examples in anime that might put things in perspective.

While an abusive father or dead mother might be cheaply used in many anime series to create plot drama or even character development, many series often go far beyond that. So, get ready because there is physical, sexual, and emotional abuse a-plenty in these 14 dysfunctional anime families.

*Note: Spoilers. There are spoilers ahead.

The Izumi’s – Lucky Star


The Izumi family is the least dysfunctional family on our list, but they are still pretty odd. With a dead mother, a bachelor father is left to raise his otaku and increasingly odd daughter on his own. However, while that is fairly standard, if not commendable that he actually stuck with her, he does have a nasty hobby as a lecher and seems particularly fond of his daughter’s school friends.

The Yagami’s – Death Note


If you count obliviousness as functional, than the mother and sister in the Yagami family are perfectly normal. However, it is the boys that really rend this family asunder. One major dynamic in Death Note is that Light’s father is the one hunting down Kira while Light is actually the killer. His father’s faith in his son blinds him to the evidence and eventually gets him killed. However, the biggest dysfunction in the Yagami family must come after the series ends. With Soichiro dead, Light gunned down by the cops, and Light’s sister near comatose with trauma, I’d imagine it would have wrecked the mother in every way.

The Aisaka’s and Takasu’s – Toradora

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Part of what made Toradora such an excellent romance is that you have two young people, Taiga and Ryuuji, whose dysfunction was very much shaped by their odd families. Taiga bonded heavily with her father who turned out to be a flakey scumbag while at the same time pushing away her mother and her new family. While they eventually reconciled, this event leaves Taiga angry, alone, and living in squalor due to not being able to take care of herself.

Ryuuji’s family is a whole different ball game. He grew up believing his father, a thug, got stabbed to death via stories his mother told. He found out later that his father actually left when his mother was pregnant. While his mother, who had ran away from her parents, admirably raised him as best she could, she was still very much a child herself and has since remained in that mentality. This fostered a very caring nature in Ryuuji, but his thug face suggested otherwise to those who judged him by physical appearance alone.

The Elric’s – Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood


There is a whole lot of tragic back story to go around in Fullmetal Alchemist, but one of the most obvious dysfunctional families in anime is, of course, the Elric’s. I mean, they didn’t turn their only daughter into a chimera (no, I didn’t forget him), but they did grow up with an absent father and placed all their affection towards their mother. When she died, they tried to bring her back against all sound reason and ended up severely maiming one brother while almost disappearing the other.

The Gasai’s – Future Diary


Both main characters as well as many side characters in Future Dairy feature horrible families. However, while Mr. Amano murdering Mrs. Amano while furiously trying to rid himself of debt is pretty messed up, it is not quite as horrible as the Gasai’s. In Yuno’s flashbacks, it is shown that she was ceaselessly pushed to excel by her adoptive parents. When money troubles hit, her father began to stay late at work and her mother began to abuse her. She went so far as to lock her up in a cage until she became perfect.

Eventually, Yuno turned this around on her parents, locking them in the cage instead. However, after failing to check on them, they ended up starving to death.

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The Arima’s – Your Lie in April


The Arima family in Your Lie in April is likely one of the most emotionally complex families in anime. While Kousei’s father is your typical absent Japanese salaryman, it is his mother where most of the dysfunction stems from. She was a talented musician until an illness left her unable to play. Initially she did not want her son to be a musician because of the pressure, but when he turned out to be a prodigy, a friend encouraged her to let him play.

Unfortunately, as she got sicker, she wanted to pass on as many skills for his success as possible before she was gone, forgetting music was a thing to enjoy and more for him to financially support himself. It led to great technical skill, but it also lead to the pressure she had wanted him to avoid. However, the pressure that really weighed on Kousei was the thought in his young mind that if he played well, his mother would get better.

This left him broken after she died and initially left audiences hating her. However, as the series went on, through flashbacks you saw a kindness and began to learn more of her motives that left that hatred a little more conflicting.

The Mercenary’s – Berserk


Go ahead and name a family in Berserk that isn’t messed up? Between Casca and her parents selling her into slavery, Griffith and his life on the streets, the Midland royal family, and even Farnese making Serpico burn his mentally ill mother, there is a lot of family drama to go around. However, rightly so, the worst family dysfunction lies with the main character, Gutts.

Gutts was a child that was born from the corpse of a woman who had been hanged. It was likely he would have died, but he was rescued by the wife of the mercenary Gambino. Initially, their family life was okay. However, when Gambino’s wife died, it left him angry, blaming Gutts as bad luck. With a father who took his anger out with beating and sword play, Gutts quickly turned into a warrior and, after Gambino’s maiming, a caretaker. Yet, despite how good he did on the battlefield, it never earned the praise he sought from his father.

All that is pretty twisted, but the most twisted part of Gutts’s early life was kept from the anime. In the manga, Gambino sold Gutts for the evening to another mercenary, Donovan, who viciously raped him. This is what would lend to Gutts stabbing his father, running away, and having massive touching issues.

The Kokonoe’s – Kodomo no Jikan


Kodomo no Jikan is a show about little girls trying to seduce a grown man, so it is already pretty messed up from the get-go. However, while it uses the inappropriate sexual advances of young girls as a thing of comedy, it actually veneers some pretty dark issues. While the main little girl, Rin Kokonoe is mischievous and determined, she was not always the way she was. Raised by a single mother, Rin’s father figure came when her cousin Reiji moved in and began a love affair with her mother. Accepting of it, they lived as a normal, albeit weird, family until Rin’s mother died from cancer. She became a living doll after this, only coaxed out of it by her friends.

After defending a friend by bullying her teacher to a nervous breakdown, Rin falls in love with their next teacher, Aoki. Despite her advances, he refuses her each time. After she begins to get even more forceful, she ends up blackmailing Aoki and almost injuring her love rival a number of times. At home during all this she is becoming increasingly uncomfortable with Reiji’s obsession with her and desire to make her into his wife. Yet, as uncomfortable as she is, she is conflicted because she wants him to remain as her father and only family.

The Aoyagi’s – Loveless


Loveless is a show where the majority of its plot actually surrounds the dysfunction of its main family, the Aoyagi’s. The primary focus of Loveless is on Ritsuka who lives with his mother who is suffering from a mental illness. This has driven her to become both physically and mentally abusive to him, compounded by the death of his older brother. Throughout all this, his father plays the absent Japanese salaryman who is always at work.

However, as it turns out, Ritsuka’s brother Seimei is not dead, but faked his own death because he is a murdering psychopath that terrorizes other characters in the series. Yet, Seimei also holds Ritsuka emotionally captive with his abuse and weird control issues.

Needless to say, Loveless is a pretty on the nose title for this series.

The Zoldyck’s – Hunter x Hunter


A dysfunctional family is not a stranger to the shounen genre, but Hunter x Hunter really runs with it. While the Freecs are no Brady Bunch, it is the Zoldyck’s who ran off with the biggest piece of the dysfunctional family cake.

As the most skilled family of assassins in the land, you can expect the family dynamic to be a bit wrong particularly since they are taught to abandon all emotion. Trained from birth with weapons that compliment their Nen, they are trained to kill and this has made many of them hard. At one point Killua is tortured by one of his siblings, but the pain is something he can just fall asleep to.

Even before that, Killua’s older brother attempts to manipulate him into thinking he is just a killer which is a ploy to try to get control over him. With more filial murder and members of the family locked away in isolation for years, there is a lot of crazy to go around, but Killua’s friends keep him rather well adjusted.

The Ushiromiya’s – Umineko: When They Cry


Umineko takes the very real concept that when you have a very rich family and many who could inherit a great sum, they will do terrible things to each other. However, even outside all the blackmail, emotional abuse, and physical abuse, the Ushiromiya still takes family dysfunction to the extreme. One of the worst moments of their family comes from the head of it himself. Kinzo, after fathering his main children, fell in love with Beatrice and fathered a child with her. After Beatrice died birthing that child, he dove into the occult to try to bring her back. Meanwhile, the bastard child grew up to look like her mother, enticing Kinzo to force himself on her believing that it was Beatrice reincarnated.

After his sexual abuse resulted in an incestuous child between them, he tried to get the wife of his eldest son to raise it. In one timeline, she does so lovingly. In another, she ends up dropping the child off a cliff only to have it live and become a servant in the house.

The Ikari’s – Neon Genesis Evangelion


The whole Ikari family is kind of a clusterfuck of problems that all stem from the mother. Yui Ikari was kind, intelligent, and motherly. After she met Gendo in college, they started a presumably happy family, but that all went sideways when she died. Her son, Shinji, was kept at an arm’s length by his father which caused great resentment. However, while Shinji was away growing up, Gendo was trying to salvage his wife’s soul from EVA-01 and place it back into a body. When this failed, the emotionless doll Rei was created. Even though there was no part of Yui in Rei, she garnered affections from both Gendo and Shinji.

The Britannian Imperial Family – Code Geass

charles zi britannia from code geass

No royal family is particularly normal, but in the case of Code Geass’s royal family, it is not generations of inbreeding that created the crazies, it is pretty much just their father. Charles zi Britannia is a big fan of social Darwinism, so he not only encourages class conflicts in the world, but among his own children. This likely was brought about by his own family murdering each other for succession during his childhood.

While Lelouch’s climb towards the throne is not quite as bloody as his father, his use of the Geass greatly throws a wrench into all of his sibling’s plans and personalities. For instance, his oldest brother, inept in most things, is demoted to regular foot soldier after Lelouch is made emperor. On another occasion, his sister Euphemia is accidentally brought under the Geass control and starts a massacre of Japanese people, something that is so against her caring mentality, that ultimately results in her death.

The Sohma’s – Fruits Basket


Of course the Fruits Baskets family would be on the top of our list. As bad as some of these other families are, Fruits Baskets plays its family drama out masterfully. One of the biggest moments of contention throughout the whole series is the children of the Zodiac. Despite their family knowing it would happen, almost all of them call their children monsters, which only pushes them into the arms of the Sohma “patriarch” Akito that pretty much manipulates them in order to keep them close and obedient.

Despite ample emotional, physical, and even sexual abuse, many of the Sohma kids remain relatively well adjusted, if not just on the outside.

Did we miss some of your favorite anime dysfunctional families? Tell us about them in the comments section below.

1 Comment

  1. Satoko Hojo’s family (well, mainly the uncle) from Higurashi No Naku Koro Ni would’ve fit on this list well. Also, the Sakamaki’s from Diabolik Lovers. The parents were horrible, and the brothers aren’t that great to each other.

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