We all know that happy, whole families in anime are rare and more often than not parents are just people the creator can kill for a tragic back story. However, sometimes it is easier to pretend that there are no parents at all by making a teen live completely alone in an anime series.
However, living alone isn’t actually that uncommon culturally in Japan. Often teens live alone for a variety of reasons, most of which have to do with what high school they go to. Often schools are chosen by reputation and quality, so parents are less likely to take their child out of a good high school that will look good for their future. So, if they need to move or if their child got into a really good school outside of their area, they might pay for a small apartment. Some of these schools might also have dorms, but not always.
Certainly some kids go a little wild without parental supervision, but most spend a lot of their time at school with their clubs and only come home to sleep. While living alone as a teenager is practically unheard of in the west, it can and does happen in Japan. However, it is not as common as many anime plots make it seem. So, what are some examples of this in anime?
Taiga in Toradora
In many shows that showcase teens living alone, it paints them in a relatively good picture. Their apartments are always almost immaculately clean and they are shown to have some life skills to take care of themselves. However, Toradora, the magnificent beast that it is, completely turns this trope on its head. Taiga, while living in a very nice apartment, is completely inept at taking care of herself. She lives off gas station food, she never cleans, and she actually starts getting sick because of it. Due to her bad attitude, it is difficult to get along with her parents, so they just put her in that apartment, but didn’t teach her how to take care of herself.
Naruto from Naruto
Naruto’s parents were killed before the series started when he was born in a spoiler-y sort of incident. However, as a newborn, he also had the thing that killed his parents – the nine-tailed fox – sealed inside his body. This caused the rest of the village to shun him, so he has pretty much lived alone his whole life. His apartment is small, but it is presumably paid for by the villagers or at least the Third Hokage who seemed to be low-key looking after him.
Rei from March Comes in Like a Lion
Rei’s family situation is complicated and actually one of the larger focuses of the show. He lost both of his parents and was adopted by his father’s shogi friend. However, his talent at shogi garnered his foster father’s attention and caused contention between Rei and his foster siblings. In order to stop this, he moved out onto his own despite his foster father still very much wanting him there. However, unlike many shows where teens live alone, March Comes in Like a Lion explores how lonely it is to live alone.
Kotoura in Kotoura-san
Due to her powers, Kotoura was shunned by her mother, who did it right in front of her child. Due to this, needless to say it gave her some issues. For much of her life, she believed her powers would bother any other family or roommates as well, so she put herself in seclusion. Her living expenses are paid for by her grandfather.
Nanami from Kamisama Kiss
While technically Nanami doesn’t live alone, she did for a long time previous to the series as you find out through flashbacks. You find out that her father is a literal piece of shit and after her mother’s death from illness, she likely did everything on her own. While she does live at the shrine with her spirit friends, objectively as an outsider it really does look like she lives alone.
Kousei from Your Lie in April
While Kousei apparently has a father, he takes little to no interest in his life during the events of the anime. He works abroad and doesn’t seem to really notice that his son is spiralling into depression. However, despite living in his big house alone, he is cared for by both his neighbor/friend and her mother as well as a family friend that started looking after him following the death of his mother.
Many Magical Girls in Madoka Magica
Although Madoka and her friend Sayaka both live with their family, it seems every other magical girl they meet lives alone. It seems like it is fate for these magical girls. However, for Mami, her parents died and she has no other family, so she has no choice. For Homura, she is presumably estranged from her family, which she prefers for various spoiler reasons. Finally, for Kyouko, she did not have a choice in living alone either after a violent event destroyed her family.
Ryou from Gourmet Girl Graffiti
Ryou is actually one of the younger characters to live alone on this list. Her parents left on a business trip when she was young and she was left with her grandmother. However, after her grandmother dies she just…Keeps on going. It is actually her loneliness that contributes to the plot of the series. Of course, it ends up being double teens living alone together when her young cousin comes to attend cram school in that city during the weekends.
Nozaki in Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun
The titular Nozaki doesn’t live alone because his parents left or because he goes to a good school. Instead, he lives alone because he chooses to. It was agreed upon that if he became a successful mangaka, which he did, and that he be able to support himself, which he does, that he could live alone.
The Sisters in Minami-ke
Minami-ke centers around three sisters, one in high school, one in middle school, and one in grade school. They have three distinct personalities and a wide group of friends, but they live alone. It is never addressed where their parents are, but it can be assumed that they are far, far abroad or possibly even dead. They are supported financially by family, with a cousin sometimes coming over to give them money for living expenses. One could speculate that their parents died and three children would be a lot to add to a household so it was just be easier for them to live alone off of inheritance managed by family until they came of age.
Do you know any more anime series where teens randomly live alone despite not being adults? Let us know in the comments section below.
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