Being a kid in the anime universe is a difficult and challenging task. Manga creators and animation studios show no mercy to their audience, especially the younger ones, who are faced with serious and sensitive problems, such as the destruction of the universe or survival in extreme conditions.
We have already seen some of this in dragonball, Naruto and more animated series that develop childhood traumas to characterize the main characters. It is curious how these approaches do not end up turning these characters into villains but into beings that overcome adversity.
The anime characters with the toughest childhood
Let’s take a look at the history of anime to see which are the most emblematic cases of difficult childhoods on the small screen.
Gohan (Dragon Ball): Goku’s son witnessed how his uncle Raditz murders his father in the first episodes of the Z Saga. As if this were not enough, the fight ends with Goku’s death and Gohan is trained by Piccolo.
Naruto Uzumaki (Naruto): Naruto is an orphan ninja who grew up being rejected and marginalized by his village because he has a demon sealed inside. His childhood was full of loneliness, lack of affection and discrimination.
Guts (Berserk): Guts is a warrior who lived a childhood marked by violence and tragedy. He was raised on a battlefield, where he witnessed the death of his mother and suffered constant abuse.
Edward Elric (Fullmetal Alchemist): Edward and his brother Alphonse lost their mother at a young age and tried to revive her through alchemy, resulting in the loss of Alphonse’s body and Edward’s leg. Since then, they embark on a journey full of dangers and sacrifices.
Gon Freecss (Hunter x Hunter): Gon grew up without knowing his father and was raised by his aunt. His childhood was marked by his father’s absence and his desire to find him, which leads him to face many challenges in his search.
Shinji Ikari (Neon Genesis Evangelion): Shinji is a teenager who is forced to pilot a mecha to fight monstrous beings called Angels. His complicated relationship with his father and the constant pressure of responsibility lead him to face emotional and existential challenges.
Ciel Phantomhive (Black Butler): Ciel is an aristocratic boy who loses his parents in a fire and is sold as a slave. After making a pact with a demon, he seeks revenge against those who wronged him, facing dangerous and traumatic situations.
Lucy/Nyuu (Elfen Lied): Lucy is a diclonius, a species of human beings with supernatural powers. Since childhood, she was mistreated and locked up due to her abilities. Her story shows the cruelty and violence to which she was subjected, generating a deep trauma in her childhood.
Yuki Nagato (The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya): Yuki is a human interface created by an alien entity. During her childhood, she was subjected to experiments and deprived of normal human emotions and experiences. This lack of emotional connection and her sense of loneliness cause her to have a difficult childhood.
Simon (Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann): Simon is a young man who lives underground in a world dominated by oppressive beings. His childhood is filled with challenges and tragedies, but as the story unfolds, he finds the courage and strength to face his fears and lead his people to freedom.
Jinta Yadomi (Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day): Jinta is a boy who bears the burden of the death of his childhood friend. He distances himself from his friends and plunges into solitude, until one day the spirit of his deceased friend returns to fulfill a pending wish. Through this experience, Jinta confronts his grief and learns to accept loss.
Sengoku Nadeko (Monogatari Series): Nadeko is a shy and reserved girl who struggles with low self-esteem and emotional problems. Her childhood is marked by loneliness and a lack of self-confidence, which leads her to face difficult situations in her adolescence.
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