You know, the older I get, the more I appreciate when adults in anime are actively horrified and angry to learn what sort of things the children main characters have been through.
Like, I get that a lot of kids programming is about wish fulfillment for its viewers. There are a lot of absent adults, a lot of worlds where kids hold all the responsibility, do all the fighting, because that’s an understandable thing to appeal to. Kids often feel over-controlled so a world where kids like them are free to travel and explore and fight and triumph without any adult supervision sounds pretty rad. I’m sure I was into that when I was younger.
Years down the line, it strikes me though how young these kids really are. And on the cusp of Real Actual Adulthood, I’m much more aware of how huge real independence is. I’m all the more appreciative when an older, more experienced person steps in and takes the reins, takes responsibility for me in a situation that’s asking more than what I think I can handle.
I think that’s why I’m so emotionally moved by adults in anime stepping in for the kids, taking up the responsibility or else feeling genuine anger over the realization of what these kids have gone through. Because responsibility is scary, and responsibility when you’re young is scary, and seeing these older characters understand that and step in just fills me with such relief and appreciation. And it’s better even if the adult characters are still fairly young, and still afraid of the situation, yet willing to sacrifice their own safety and comfort on the behalf of actual children who—all wish fulfillment aside—should never be placed in the situation they’re in.
Roy “we left children on the battlefield to do our fighting” Mustang, feeling so outraged, so powerless over what he just let happen, that he’s moved to break all his careful protocol so Ed, Al, and Ling aren’t left to face danger alone. All Might, Aizawa, and Thirteen fighting to the bone against the villain invasion, All Might losing his characteristic smile for the first time we’ve seen, because the children under their watch have been placed into danger that they should not have to face at such a young age. Reigen alone insisting Mob shouldn’t feel cornered into using his powers, shouldn’t force himself to suffer while fighting Claw, that Reigen himself will fight them instead despite his own lack of powers because he feels responsible toward Mob.
It’s a trope that means a whole lot to me and I live for the anime that acknowledge it.