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Families are one of the most important parts of your life. Now, we’re not saying that every family is perfect, since we know a lot of terrible families both in real life and in fiction, but the truth is, families help shape our personalities when we’re growing up, for better or worse.
However, in anime and manga, we tend to see more chosen families than biological ones. There’s a lot to say about the absent parents trope –in certain shonen manga, it seems as if every teen in Japan starts living alone the second they turn fifteen years old-, as well as the friends who become more important than blood siblings, the nakama. But what about the actual biological families who are great? The supportive parents, the annoying siblings who really love the main character, grandparents, uncles… all of them do exist, and when we find them, it’s not rare to see them become the readers’ favorite characters in the story.
To celebrate those families, here we have the ten best and most supporting families anyone would love to have in manga.
10. The Yamadas from Yamada Tarou Monogatari
- Authors: Morinaga, Ai
- Genres: Comedy, School, Shoujo, Slice of Life
- Volumes: 15
- Published: 1996 - 2000
Tarou Yamada is a very popular student at his school. He’s handsome, athletic, honest, and incredibly humble. He has a thousand small talents, and is always ready to help those who need him. What people usually don’t know, however, is that his family is incredibly poor. His father left them a long time ago, and his mother is a very irresponsible shopper, buying everything she finds whenever she has even a bit of money –even money that is for important things such as rent, or food. On top of that, he is the only one left to take care of his six little siblings, and act as the responsible parent they don’t have.
The thing is, despite her obvious problem with money, Mrs. Yamada loves her children. She tries to keep them happy and is really proud of Tarou. Tarou’s younger siblings are also a delight, knowing exactly how much he does for them, and always ready to give a hand too, without complaining too much about the situation they’re in. We can see how close they are from the first chapter, when Tarou arrives with a ton of bentos that girls gave him at school, ready to share them with the kids, as they tell him how they worked hard to also help him in the household.
The Yamadas don’t have a lot of money, but they have a lot of love. And even when, at times, you want to chastise Mrs. Yamada for overspending, they’re still a loving family, and thus, they earn the tenth place on our list.
9. The Akechis from Boku wa ne
- Authors: Fujiwara, Kiyo
- Genres: Drama, School, Gender Bender
- Volumes: 5
- Published: 2000 – 2004
Since his mother died when he was five years old, Tetsuta Akechi has seen less and less of his father, Shinji, who seems to be obsessed with work. So he is the one taking care of his younger sister Aki, and trying hard to make sure his father spends a little time with them. This is why, when his dad announces that he’s getting a babysitter, Tetsuta completely refuses, even if he’s just nine years old, because a babysitter would mean that his dad wouldn’t need to spend so much time at home. But to his surprise, Aki-chan, an old classmate of his father, happens to be the perfect housekeeper, and, more importantly, doesn’t hesitate to call on Shinji when he’s being neglectful.
At first glance, one would think that there’s not much to admire about Shinji as a parent. But once the story makes clear that he is trying to overcome the grief he felt due to his wife’s passing, and how he accepts Aki-chan’s help to reach his children, it’s hard not to see him as the doting father he really is. After all, not many parents would actually go out in drag just to be able to participate in a mother-child festival so that his son won’t feel singled out from his class. And Tetsuta is a very realistic nine- year-old who loves his younger sister, but at times he can be a bit bratty as he’s still growing up. Aki-chan only adds to the family dynamic, because even when there’s no romance between Shinji and him, it’s obvious he becomes part of the Akechis from day one.
Because they show that family bonds are unbreakable, and that family doesn’t end with blood, the Akechis have the ninth place on our list.
8. The Kazamas from My Girl
- Authors: Yumeka, Sumomo
- Genres: Drama, Slice of Life, Seinen
- Volumes: 5
- Published: 2006- 2010
Masamune Kazama is single, 23 years old, and works for a design company. Just as he has his first real success with a line of mechanical pencils with ladybugs, he gets a call from the mother of his old girlfriend, Youko, to inform him that Youko had an accident and died. Kazama, who had always hoped Youko would come back, is devastated, but is even more surprised when later on that day he meets a young girl, Koharu, who is not only Youko’s daughter… she’s his daughter too. Youko, worried that he would abandon his dreams to protect them, left him before he realized she was pregnant. Now in charge of Koharu, Masamune has to learn how to be a parent, just as he helps Koharu to learn to live with the pain of losing her mom.
The Kazamas as a family are a very interesting case, as we can see them go from complete strangers when they first meet, to a real family as time goes by and Koharu becomes Masamune’s first priority. Their relationship at first is very confusing for Masamune, as Koharu has many memories of Youko –and of the love Youko had for Masamune- that he doesn’t share, as he spent all those years thinking she had abandoned him for no reason. At times, Koharu seems mature for her age, but then something happens that reminds both the readers and Masamune that she is just five years old and misses her mom.
Due to the beautiful relationship that they both create, and the sweet story that is shared with us, the Kazamas earn the eight place on our list.
7. Torakishi and his son from Chichikogusa
- Authors: Tagawa, Mi
- Genres: Shounen, Slice of Life
- Volumes: 7
- Published: 2013 – ongoing
Torakishi is an excellent medicine seller in ancient Japan. He knows all the herbs of the country, as well as how to prepare them and how to find them. Unfortunately, this means that he spends a lot of time on the road, away from his hometown. When his wife died, leaving him as the sole parent of their three-year-old child, at first he just ran away from the responsibility. Shirou was left under the care of Torakishi’s sister, and he kept working as if nothing had happened. But when Shirou turned five, he wanted to go with his father on his trip, and Torakishi couldn't deny his son. On the road, he then started to learn what it meant to be a real father.
There are some similarities between Chichikogusa and the previous entry on our list, My Girl. Both deal with single parents that have to figure out how to raise their child once they’re alone. But the differences are more than just the gender of their kids and the era when the story happens. Torakishi was able to see Shirou’s birth, and live with his wife Shiroi after that, at least for some time. He also had a very different idea of how to take care of a child. We see him learning how to be a parent, as well as see Shirou grow up and try to be a good son for his dad.
Their relationship is really sweet, and due to the way in which we see their relationship grow, Torakishi and his son occupy the seventh place on our list.
6. The Hondas from Yoningurashi
- Authors: Unita, Yumi
- Genres: Comedy, Slice of Life, Seinen
- Volumes: 4
- Published: 2003 - 2008
Taro and Chiharu are happily married and have two kids: the very energetic Yuri, who is four years old, and the baby Kotaro. They are a normal family, without many problems outside the occasional accident while potty training Yuri and Kotaro. We see them handle their work, their friendship with other couples and single people, as well as how Yuri and Kotaro grow up. It has its ups and downs, like every marriage, but we can see that they love each other, and they love their children.
The Hondas are very special because their lives are quite normal. Their biggest hurdles are things like trying to explain new concepts to Yuri and how many years they have left to play Santa for their kids. It’s a glimpse into a perfect model family life and we can’t help but smile at the situations they get into, be it the wonder of how kids seem to remember everything, or the realization that every time someone with a family sees something beautiful, they wish to share it with their whole family.
Because of how nice the Hondas are to each other and to their neighbors, they earn the sixth place on our list.
5. The Okajimas and the Ninomiyas from Orange yanne no Chiisana E
- Authors: Yamahana, Noriyuki
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Slice of Life, Seinen
- Volumes: 8
- Published: 2005– 2007
Natsumi Okajima just wanted the best for her family. But when her husband cheats on her, she can’t take it anymore and leaves with her girls, Rina and Luna, determined to make a new life for them in the cute little house with the orange roof that she bought with the divorce settlement money. Shotarou Ninomiya always had a dream: to have a beautiful house for himself and his family. And while that was shattered when his wife handed him the divorce papers, he still is optimistic that he can make things work and takes his sons, Ryouta and Youta, to the new house he bought, a cute house that his wife loved with an orange roof. Problem is? Both bought the same house.
One of the most endearing things of this manga is the way in which we see the relationship of each family and how they manage to overcome the big problem that is cohabitating in the same house without being related. Natsumi obviously dotes on her daughters, and the occasional visit of her sister makes it obvious that they’re very close. On the other hand, Shotarou knows he used to be too obsessed with his work, and that it’s what caused his divorce, so he is trying hard to be a better parent while trying to get his marriage back in track.
Since both families are adorable, and are living in the same house, they tie up for the fifth place on our list.
4. The Sakamotos from Family Complex
- Authors: Tsuda, Mikiyo
- Genres: Comedy, Shoujo, Slice of Life
- Volumes: 1
- Published: 1999 – 2000
The Sakamotos are the talk of their neighborhood because they all are so beautiful: Nanami, the mother, doesn’t look 41. The father, Hidetoshi, could pass as one of his own children. Harumi, the oldest brother, could easily be a model. Natsuru, the older sister, can pass for a handsome boy, and Fuyuki, the youngest sister, is a beautiful porcelain doll. The only one who is not stunningly beautiful is the middle son, Akira, which makes him feel a bit out of place within his own family. However, it is not because his family tries to make him feel that way: they all love him and show him support in every thing he does.
This is what makes the Sakamotos such an amazing family. Despite their good looks, none of them is conceited. They all act as a normal family, and they try to make Akira happy, even if at times they fail horribly at explaining how being beautiful can cause some troubles that Akira doesn’t face. And yet, the whole family tries to support Akira, just as Akira will do anything for their siblings and parents.
Since they’re such a close family, and we get to see how they support each other in every chapter of this short manga, the Sakamotos are the fourth entry on our list.
3. The Fukuyoshis from Fukuyado Honpo
- Authors: Yuuchi, Yayomi
- Genres: Drama, Shoujo
- Volumes: 11
- Published: 1995 -2000
Hina, Arare and Hana Fukuyoshi live with their very strict mother at the confection store that their father founded in Kyoto. Their personalities are very different: Hina, the oldest, is very responsible and helps her mother as much as she can. Arare, the middle child, is seemingly a party girl who has no interest in finding a job or a husband and likes to be lazy all day long, but the truth is that she cares deeply for the store. Finally, Hana, the youngest, is very shy and is still trying to find her own way in the world and the store. Their mother usually has troubles with Arare and her laid back attitude, but all the family comes together whenever there’s a crisis in the store.
The dynamic between the Fukuyoshis is very interesting, as it relies a lot on the traditions of the old capital, and thus, their relationships with other characters are riddled with protocol and etiquette. We see this in Hina’s conversations with their frequent customer, Hinoyama-san, or their interactions with their Wagashi chefs. This makes the situations very hard to read at first, as we’re guided by Hana’s narration through the ups and downs of her family’s life.
Because they show us that blood is thicker than anything, and that every problem can be fixed if you’re with your family, the Fukuyoshis have the third place on our list.
2. The Wakanaes from Family Compo
- Authors: Hojo, Tsukasa
- Genres: Comedy, Drama, Romance, Slice of Life, Seinen, Gender Bender
- Volumes: 14
- Published: 1996 – 2000
When it comes to families, the one thing you want from them is unconditional love. That it won’t matter what you do, or how you choose to live your life, they will be there for you and love you always. And few manga families manage to get this simple task as right as the Wakanaes, who not only love each other, but will also adopt anyone who isn’t as lucky with their own families. And it’s no surprise, given how unconventional they are, because Sora Wakanae, the father and famous manga author, was born female, and Yukari Wakanae, the mother who is incredibly feminine, was born male. This comes as a surprise to their nephew, Masahiko Yanagiba, when he comes to live with them, but soon he realizes that it doesn’t matter, as long as they are happy. Sure, he is a bit confused by Shion, his cousin, who hasn’t decided which gender they want to be, but even so, he can’t help but want them to be happy too.
In a world where, unfortunately, many families have chosen to ignore their children if they are LGBT+, the fantasy of the Wakanaes is a very welcomed one. One can but wish that all families were like them, open and free of judgment. Even when, at times, Masahiko acts stupid and wishes his aunt and uncle were “normal”, they don’t berate him for that. Instead, they try to make him feel comfortable, even if at that moment, they need to go against their usual wishes.
Because it is hard to find a more supporting family in manga or in real life, the Wakanaes more than deserve the second place on our list.
1. The Mankanshokus from Kill La Kill
- Authors: Akizuki, Ryo (Art), Nakashima, Kazuki (Story)
- Genres: Action, comedy, Ecchi, School, Superpower, Seinen
- Volumes: 3
- Published: 2013 – 2015
Life is pretty rough for Mako Mankanshoku. She lives in a city that is completely controlled by her school’s student council, where the highest ranking students are the richest and the ones who can’t get into the top grades are dirt poor. Given that she falls asleep pretty much the second she sits in her desk, her family lives in the lower slums. And yet, none of them complains: Her father, Barazo, is the town’s unlicensed doctor (who at times mentions that dead patients are good patients because they don’t sue); her mother, Sukuyo, has made making croquettes out of anything into an art; and finally, her younger brother, Mataro, manages to get some money by leading a gang of child delinquents. And none of them bat an eye when Mako pretty much makes them adopt Ryuuko Matoi.
Family is a very important subject in Kill La Kill, and there’s not a family that is more loving or close than the Mankanshokus. That makes them special not only in the manga (and the anime that inspired it), but also in the whole genre that tends to use too many absent or killed parents for the main characters (and in fact, Ryuuko has both an absent parent and a dead one). Their reactions to each other, and how obvious it is that they care for everyone they call friends, is what makes anyone smile as soon as they’re in the story again. Sure, they have their bad moments, but in general, they’re the family that sticks together at all costs.
Since there’s nothing that will separate them, and they will fight for each other to the death, the Mankanshokus have the first place on our list.
They say you can choose your friends, but you can’t choose your family. And with that in mind, it’s very easy to find reasons to complain about your family members. And this is why sometimes it’s hard to find great families in fiction; After all, no family is perfect in real life.
So tell us, what is your favorite manga family? The ones you would like to have as your friends, or relatives? We can’t wait to read your answers in the comments below.