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Discuss all topics related to anime.
561

The "One Parent" Rule
Topic by: jross3
Posted: August 13, 2006 - 12:07 AM PDT
Last Reply: August 15, 2006 - 1:25 PM PDT

author topic: The "One Parent" Rule
jross3
post #1  on August 13, 2006 - 12:07 AM PDT  
I was watching Inuyasha tonight, and it occured to me:
All of these people only get to have one parent.

Kagome's father is MIA; so are/were Shippo, Miroku and Sango's mothers. Sesshomaru's mother is never even mentioned, but he got to grow up with his father. Inuyasha got to grow up with his mother, but his father was dead.

And it's not just InuYahsa. When I think about it, there's a HUGE number of other characters like that.
Where would I even begin to list them? Ichigo (and his sibs) in Bleach all lost their mother; Ishida only had a grandfather, Chad only had an uncle.
In Cardcaptor Sakura, Sakura's mother had died - and when we get to see the Li family house, Syaoran's only parent is his mother. And when they are reincarnated in Tsubasa, Sakura and Syaoran each only have a father.
I remember reading a long time ago (this may have planted the seed of this thought) that in Hikaru no Go, Hikaru's father is also mysteriously MIA.


Yeah, there are exceptions - it's only natural that there would be two unless something happened to one (or both) of them. But what bothers me is that there are so many missing parents who are never mentioned - as if the child magically appeared one day.
And on top of that, there's a lot of dead parents too. Japan isn't supposed to be that dangerous, so why do so many parents die? Are they all too busy with work to exist?


So the rule is this: Each character gets -one- parent. The lucky ones can have two, but when they do, neither parent gets to be important. There are exceptions, but not many. Isn't that the oddest thing?
hamano
post #2  on August 13, 2006 - 7:26 AM PDT  
It's not so strange considering how much Japanese "story culture" is influenced by Marchen and other traditional folk-tale/fairy-tale genres... The two parent family is the NORM in the real world, and so the protagonist who is destined not to be just a normal everyday kid must have something unusal in his/her origins or background. Even if the kid comes from a 2-parent family, often there's a step-mother or step-father involved.

This used to be more unusual in shows/manga aimed at smaller kids... Nobita in Doraemon, Usagi in Sailor Moon, they had normal Mom and Dad families. I think the trend started with more sophisticated shows where an aspect of darkness and angst was involved, aimed at older children and possibly adults. In Gegege no Kitaro the title character is a boy who was born from the womb of his dead mother. He dug his way out of the grave on his own, and he has a father, but the dad is a single eyeball with a little body with arms and legs.

It's not just Japanese anime of course. Orphans and single-parent households abound in Western cartoons as well, from Finding Nemo to Bambi to Snow White etc etc. I guess we can venture into Joseph Campbell territory and speculate about how deeply ingrained the "one parent" or "no parents" or "multiple parents" rule is in the human imagination. Jesus was a boy who strove to maintain a relationship with his "real" father while being raised by the man who was married to his mother. Zeus was the absentee father of many mythological heroes scattered around the Greek world.

I guess nowadays it's become sort of a convention, along with weird hair-color.
woozy
post #3  on August 13, 2006 - 9:16 AM PDT  
ditto what hamano says.

There's also the more modern practical explanation that for children to be allowed to have the freedom to have these marvelous adventures one has to explain where the heck are the parents who are supposed to be taking care of them. hence, supposedly, orphans is a convenient plot device.

Now I, personally, don't buy that explanation (sounds like modern parent guilt/self-righteousness rationalisation to me) and am more inclined to buy hamano's and joseph campbell's explanation of something in our mythos. However I don't understand what in our mythos; just that something is in our mythos.

Huey, Dewey, and Louie were Donald Duck's and Daisy's nephews or so they told everyone --- The Firesign Theater

A similar convention that I never really got either is why in cartoons and comic strips whenever there were child-adult relationships they were nearly always "uncle" (or aunt) and "nephew" (or niece) and almost never parents.
hamano
post #4  on August 13, 2006 - 12:33 PM PDT  
Ambition, drive and desire stem from a feeling of loss and privation. What could be worse loss/privation than the love of a parent who has died? Greatness is magnified when it emerges from an unexpected, lowly, humble place.

I think human imagination is such that we look for the worst origins we can think of for those characters who are destined to be great. There ARE some characters who seem to be born to greatness, but often their background is something they have to be able to overcome or transcend to attain true greatness. Or they end up being secondary or supporting characters in the story.

Abraham Lincoln -> humble beginnings...

Buddha -> had to overcome being born a prince to attain greatness...

Sakura (Cardcaptor Sakura) and Tohru (Fruits Basket) -> destined for greatness because they were able to transcend the pain of the loss of a beloved mother....
woozy
post #5  on August 13, 2006 - 1:05 PM PDT  
In the "Goofy Movie", who was Max's mother? This might explain the "uncle" relationship so common earlier in comics; the thought of Goofy having sex is just so unpalatable. How did Nancy end up with a sex pot like Aunt Fritzi with whom the thought of sex is so palatable but the thought of childbirth so harsh?
hamano
post #6  on August 13, 2006 - 1:29 PM PDT  
Ah, another nice discussion brought down into the gutter... Sorry, jross, but I'm going...
jross3
post #7  on August 13, 2006 - 3:08 PM PDT  
> On August 13, 2006 - 1:29 PM PDT hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Ah, another nice discussion brought down into the gutter... Sorry, jross, but I'm going...
> ---------------------------------

eh
It wasn't a very broad topic to begin with. Your post pretty much answered all the questions I had, thanks :-P
woozy
post #8  on August 13, 2006 - 5:53 PM PDT  
> On August 13, 2006 - 1:29 PM PDT hamano wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Ah, another nice discussion brought down into the gutter... Sorry, jross, but I'm going...
> ---------------------------------

I don't consider this the gutter so much as yet more examples of the "orphan phenomenum". It's very standard even in "Nancy" and "A Goofy Movie" to have orphans or single parents. I think in both of these cases the role of Fritzi and Donald Duck as "parent" keep us from viewing them as being capable of having another role as protaganist. Then it cuts both ways in that being a child with parents keep as from viewing the child as hero in danger because if the child has parents she shouldn't have to ever be in danger.

Hell, even Christ didn't had to be the ultimate orphan for us to take him seriously.

woozy
post #9  on August 13, 2006 - 9:39 PM PDT  
Despite accusations that bringing the concept of sex into this discussion drags it to the gutter, I think the sexual conception of the protagonist is a central theme of western folklore and mythology. (I don't know if it is true of non-western stories. I don't see any evidence for it.) It's almost as though the mundane, sinful, prosaic act of inter-marriage daliance is too human for the creation of protagonist. Jesus not only didn't have a human father, he wasn't born of sex at all. For no aparent need, King Arthur was born of a sexual deception in which not only was his adoptive father cuckold but his mother was duped. On the other hand, his mortal enemy, as mortal enemies quite often are, is his bastard son. (Incestuous bastard son, to boot.)

Getting to the obiquitous of the uncle/aunt relationship of comic characters-- (I challenge any-one to name as many child-parent relationships in comic strips as uncle/aunt relationships; for every Dennis the Menace/parents there are ten Morty Mouse/Uncle Mickeys, Nancy/Aunt Fritzis, Huey, Dewey, Louie/Donalds)-- I think part of this because we can't view the parents (especially not the mothers) as people if they've been parents. (If you met Dennis the Menace's parents and Nancy's Aunt Fritzi at a cocktail, which would make the greater impression?) Even the incrediably liberal comic strip Gordo, had Gordo's ward a parentless nephew and nemesis was the nephew of the surrogate (virtuous, sensual over food and family, yet sexless) mother figure. I think part of this is we don't want to bring the concept of sex into comic world. If Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Aunt Fritzi, or Jiggs and Maggie want to stay interesting they stay sexless while real parents such as the Mitchel's (Dennis's Mom and Dad), Mr. and Mrs. Rich (does Mrs. Rich even have a first name), are characterless providers. (Blondie and Dagwood are the exception but in their case their children are utterly boring.)

Jiggs and Maggie... What ever did happen to their hippy nephew? Hmmm, the strip was called "Bringing Up Father". Did Jiggs and Maggie actually have any children?
Battie
post #10  on August 13, 2006 - 9:57 PM PDT  
> On August 13, 2006 - 9:39 PM PDT woozy wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Despite accusations that bringing the concept of sex into this discussion drags it to the gutter, I think the sexual conception of the protagonist is a central theme of western folklore and mythology. (I don't know if it is true of non-western stories. I don't see any evidence for it.) It's almost as though the mundane, sinful, prosaic act of inter-marriage daliance is too human for the creation of protagonist. Jesus not only didn't have a human father, he wasn't born of sex at all. For no aparent need, King Arthur was born of a sexual deception in which not only was his adoptive father cuckold but his mother was duped. On the other hand, his mortal enemy, as mortal enemies quite often are, is his bastard son. (Incestuous bastard son, to boot.)
>
> Getting to the obiquitous of the uncle/aunt relationship of comic characters-- (I challenge any-one to name as many child-parent relationships in comic strips as uncle/aunt relationships; for every Dennis the Menace/parents there are ten Morty Mouse/Uncle Mickeys, Nancy/Aunt Fritzis, Huey, Dewey, Louie/Donalds)-- I think part of this because we can't view the parents (especially not the mothers) as people if they've been parents. (If you met Dennis the Menace's parents and Nancy's Aunt Fritzi at a cocktail, which would make the greater impression?) Even the incrediably liberal comic strip Gordo, had Gordo's ward a parentless nephew and nemesis was the nephew of the surrogate (virtuous, sensual over food and family, yet sexless) mother figure. I think part of this is we don't want to bring the concept of sex into comic world. If Donald Duck, Mickey Mouse, Aunt Fritzi, or Jiggs and Maggie want to stay interesting they stay sexless while real parents such as the Mitchel's (Dennis's Mom and Dad), Mr. and Mrs. Rich (does Mrs. Rich even have a first name), are characterless providers. (Blondie and Dagwood are the exception but in their case their children are utterly boring.)
>
> Jiggs and Maggie... What ever did happen to their hippy nephew? Hmmm, the strip was called "Bringing Up Father". Did Jiggs and Maggie actually have any children?
> ---------------------------------

You should read Camille Paglia's Sexual Personae. :D

Which brings to mind something off-topic (thanks to remember her in-depth study of the sexual nature/culture of Greeks). That movie, Lucky Number Slevin, was really good, but also really like a Greek or Shakespearean tragedy. They tacked a happy ending on it, of course, but it was otherwise in line with Greek mythology and some of Shakespeare's plays.

Which leads me further down the road of off-topicness to Emma Bull's War for the Oaks. It's an urban fae story with a punk/rock heroine and a main Fae character straight out of Midsummer Night's Dream. :D Written in '87!

Now back on topic with...Homer and Marge! I think older comics just kept away from sex for the sake of prudery. Nowadays, it's all about the spring-squeaking!
woozy
post #11  on August 13, 2006 - 10:17 PM PDT  
> Now back on topic with...Homer and Marge! I think older comics just kept away from sex for the sake of prudery. Nowadays, it's all about the spring-squeaking!
> ---------------------------------

Ha! I can't wait for the comic adventures of Battie and her adopted niece!

Battie
post #12  on August 14, 2006 - 11:09 AM PDT  
> On August 13, 2006 - 10:17 PM PDT woozy wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Ha! I can't wait for the comic adventures of Battie and her adopted niece!
> ---------------------------------

Don't say that!! I'm terrified of the day my little brother tells me he's getting married or that his girlfriend is pregnant. *hides under the bed*
woozy
post #13  on August 14, 2006 - 1:34 PM PDT  
> On August 14, 2006 - 11:09 AM PDT Battie wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> Don't say that!! I'm terrified of the day my little brother tells me he's getting married or that his girlfriend is pregnant. *hides under the bed*
> ---------------------------------


(li'l Bethany enters left and peeks under the bed)
li'l Bethany: It's the comic adventures of Battie and her adopted niece. My actual parentage is completely ignored. Now get out from under the bed, Aunt Battie. You can't hide forever.

(Outside a four-legged blue square creature about the size of a small goat walks by followed six or seven tiny square creatures about six inches high. Three are blue, two or three are purple and one is green.)
li'l Bethany (squeals): Oooh, it's woozy and his nephews, the woozle-bugs! Can I go outside and stomp on them, Aunt Battie? Please!
Battie
post #14  on August 14, 2006 - 7:35 PM PDT  
> On August 14, 2006 - 1:34 PM PDT woozy wrote:
> ---------------------------------
> (li'l Bethany enters left and peeks under the bed)
> li'l Bethany: It's the comic adventures of Battie and her adopted niece. My actual parentage is completely ignored. Now get out from under the bed, Aunt Battie. You can't hide forever.
>
> (Outside a four-legged blue square creature about the size of a small goat walks by followed six or seven tiny square creatures about six inches high. Three are blue, two or three are purple and one is green.)
> li'l Bethany (squeals): Oooh, it's woozy and his nephews, the woozle-bugs! Can I go outside and stomp on them, Aunt Battie? Please!
> ---------------------------------

...Only if she stomps the biggest one first. >:]

woozy
post #15  on August 15, 2006 - 12:33 PM PDT  
> On August 14, 2006 - 7:35 PM PDT Battie wrote:

>
> ...Only if she stomps the biggest one first. >:]
>

What bad advice you give to your niece! I'm going to tell on you to your Aunt Sonja!
artifex
post #16  on August 15, 2006 - 12:37 PM PDT  
> On August 14, 2006 - 7:35 PM PDT Battie wrote:
> ...Only if she stomps the biggest one first. >:]

If that happens, I'm adopting them.
What are they called? Woozlets?
I'll bet they each have special powers, like the purple one that is/isn't there. :)
woozy
post #17  on August 15, 2006 - 1:25 PM PDT  
> On August 15, 2006 - 12:37 PM PDT artifex wrote:

> I'll bet they each have special powers, like the purple one that is/isn't there. :)
> ---------------------------------

The blue ones, like their uncle woozy, can shoot fire from their eyes. The purple ones have the ability to choose which reality they wish to live in at which particular time (hence we never know quite how many there are)[1]. The green one has to power to make people related.

They'd be happy to spend some time with their Uncle Artifex.

[1] Square animals do not exist in nature. Hence woozies must be constructed much like boxes. Like boxes woozies are constructed out of planks. Red, Green, and Blue planks are primary colors and hence constant but purple planks are "inconstant" planks so without planks constant...

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