Male characters in shonen anime must have a lot on their minds—holding a steady job, keeping away the baddies, and even saving the world. So can you imagine being a dad in a shonen anime world? Being a father in the real world is hard enough, so it’s kind of understandable that the dads in shonen anime aren’t quite up to snuff. Here’s a look at three shows with dads who suck at parenting:
[Warning: This article contains spoilers for Naruto, One Piece, and Yu-Gi-Oh!.]
Image provided courtesy of VIZ Media
Name: Naruto Uzumaki
Children: Boruto, Himawari
Who thought that Naruto, the hyperactive ninja in an orange-like-a-traffic-cone jumpsuit (which probably wouldn’t help with stealth in any covert operation, by the way), would ever become a dad. Ah, it only feels like yesterday when this ninja Dennis the Menace was drinking expired milk and then spending the entire day on the crapper after trying to trick his crush into making out with him. Yes, this really happened.
Despite being an orphan who wanted parents more than anything, Naruto is never around to be with his son Boruto or daughter Himawari. Instead, he leaves that to his wife, the docile Hinata. Naruto is surrounded by hundreds of ninjas who are willing to assist him, yet he doesn’t even take one day—heck, he doesn’t even take one night off to celebrate his daughter’s birthday! To make matters worse, he always makes empty promises about spending time with his family, only to break said promises in the end. Damn, man, take a paid vacation! Literally, the only reason Boruto goes to such lengths to compete in the Chunin Exams is because he wants his dad to stop working for one second and look at him!
It’s no wonder why Naruto is such a bad dad, though—I mean, Naruto’s dad Minato was a complete jerk himself. Throughout his childhood, Naruto is shunned by the villagers for the fox spirit his own dad sealed inside of him, leading to him to endure emotional torture and pain for the good first ten years of his life. “Yeah, thanks for the birthday present, Dad! All I really wanted was a coupon for ramen! Or maybe an Xbox!”
Image Source: ONE PIECE.com(ワンピース) on Twitter
Name: Monkey D. Dragon
Series: One Piece
Child: Monkey D. Luffy
Apart from Usopp and Luffy (and most recently, Sanji), the Staw Hat Pirates’ fathers are seldom mentioned. But Luffy’s father is not only a bad dad—he’s also the most sought-after criminal in the entire world. OK, as a revolutionary trying to free the world from a tyrannical government, it’s hard to really call him a bad criminal, but because he’s so busy trying to save the world, he’s completely neglected his son for his entire life.
Basically a next-level Naruto, Dragon doesn’t make any promises to Luffy—he doesn’t even talk to him, period. Who’s Luffy’s Mom? Who knows! Dragon didn’t bother to tell him or even leave him any information. Even when Luffy is having a life-or-death battle to save his elder brother Ace, Dragon’s reaction is basically: “Meh. Not my problem.”
Well, tough shit, I guess.
Image Source: Official Yu-Gi-Oh! on YouTube
Name: All of them
Yugi’s dad is so bad that he isn’t even around to make sure his son actually goes to high school instead of ditching to play children’s card games. Apparently overseas on business, Yugi is forced to live with his mother (who has only one scene of screen time in the entire show, which is even cruelly cut from the 4Kids dub of the show) and his grandfather who somehow makes a living for the three with his trading card game shop despite it all. His father doesn’t even bother to come back when Grandpa—aka Yugi’s dad’s dad—is incapacitated not once BUT TWICE by fanatic card game billionaires. I think we have some apathetic parenting in this household.
But Yugi’s dad might be one of the least worst dads in all of Yu-Gi-Oh!. Every single father I can think of in this show is a complete asshole. Bakura’s dad—at least, in the canon of the Dark Side of Dimensions film—went crazy with power, ended up getting killed in his quest for said power, and even got his son possessed by the spirit of an evil Egyptian artifact.
Jonochi’s father, although not featured in the anime fans know in the west, is an alcoholic who even abuses his own son, leading to his standoffish personality when Yugi first meets him. Heck, even the villain Marik probably would have never become a villain had his father not forced him to get a painful tattoo (not a temporary one, mind you) and whipped him at a young age—forcing him to create an entire evil personality that threatened to destroy the entire world… albeit with the power of card games.
But Seto Kaiba has it the worst off, without a doubt: He not only has one but two horrible fathers. First, there was his birth father, who ended up dying on him (THANKS DAD). This forced Seto and his little brother Mokuba to live at an orphanage where they played chess to earn their keep. They were eventually picked up by Gozaburō Kaiba, a billionaire who treated his new eldest son as nothing more than a vessel for his real son Noa, who was in a coma when Seto was adopted, but had his mind uploaded to a virtual world.
Not really understanding how science works, Gozaburō forced Seto to study in order become a tyrant just like him. And how did he encourage him? By putting a knife to his throat, of course! Clearly, Gozaburō knows just how to get that “Dad of the Year” mug on his desk. Unfortunately, this fatherly love leads to Seto ultimately betraying his father, taking over his company, and pushing his old pops into such despair that he commits suicide. But don’t worry! He comes back to check in on his son! …As a computer program seeking revenge.
So, yeah. Card games don’t necessarily lead to good dads.
If you want to learn about how bad a father Goku from Dragon Ball is, you can read our article about that. Yes, Goku is so bad that we had to write an entire article about just his fatherly faults.
VIZ Media publishes the manga of Naruto, One Piece, and Yu-Gi-Oh! in North America, as well as the Naruto anime. FUNimation Entertainment releases the One Piece anime on home video. Crunchyroll streams all three series on their website.