Not too long ago, Phelan Porteous (Phelous) presented a video review of Our Friend Power 5 (a South Korean movie made to promote a toy line that unnaturally mashes up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Voltron, and must be seen to be believed).
This got me thinking about the types of roles that parent characters usually play on shows tailored for kids. I know that this is the type of thing that most people don’t even notice or care about, but I usually notice because I’m a weirdo.
I’ve noticed that in most Eastern (Japanese, Korean) shows that focus on kids going on amazing adventures, doing science fiction-y stuff and so forth, it will often be the father who has a secondary role in the proceedings, such as the dad being a professor or some type of scientist who will assist the kid protagonists in their adventures, while the mother will usually just be a happy housewife who has no connection to the fantasy side of the show other than being related to and living in the same house as the kid protagonist(s). Some examples include:
The Mifune family (from Speed Racer):
Mr. Racer – A former wrestler turned owner of the Go! racing team franchise.
Mrs. Racer – Subscribes to Good Housekeeping and Woman’s Day.
The Taylor Family (from Dinosaur King):
Dr. Spike Taylor – Archaeologist who assist the D-Team and sometimes directs the kids to that mission’s location.
Aki Taylor – Artist. Housewife. Makes a mean tuna casserole.
Now, my first thought is that something like this would never fly in an American kids’ show. If us yanks ever tried to have a formula like the one aforementioned, there would the inevitable cries of…
Most likely American kids show producers would deal with this issue by simply omitting the mother character altogether, which I don’t like. At all.
Now don’t get me wrong. Generally speaking, I prefer it when mother characters are active characters who do things, such as Phoebe Calisto from Miles From Tomorrowland, who’s not only a crew member of the Stellasphere, but she’s the ship’s captain!
…but even if the mother of the main family is basically Susie Homemaker, I’ll take that over the total absence of a mother from the household.
Personally, I haven’t seen any anime or Asian kids where the parents roles are reversed. That is, where the mom is the scientist/adventurer who helps the kids and the dad is just the dad. Mind you, I don’t watch a lot of anime, so if any such examples do indeed exist, feel free to enlighten me.
I know that this character isn’t a mother, but I want to give an honorable mention to Nintendo’s character Pauline.
In the course of the character’s history, Pauline went from being Mario’s one time helpless (and blonde) girlfriend who existed solely to be captured by Donkey Kong…
…to the mayor of New Donk City in Super Mario Odyssey. Not the Mayor’s aide or the Mayor’s secretary, but the freakin’ Mayor!
You’ve come a long way, baby!