There are a lot of TV shows out there and in this golden age of TV streaming, the choices have never been greater. So how do you cut through the noise and find the “Best of” for any chosen topic? Well, we’re here to help celebrate and shine a spotlight on some of the latest, greatest and unforgettable shows through the years.
For our ongoing series of articles depicting the best anime, our attention this time turns to family. From heartbreaking dramas to wacky and deceitful anime, there’s a good choice to whet your appetite.
Of course, if we’ve missed any of your favorites, feel free to comment below, and we’ll get them added on!
Clannad is a wholesome and heartbreaking anime about family, romance, and self-discovery. With its lovable and memorable characters, stunning animation and soundtrack, and beautiful storytelling, there’s a lot to explore with it.
This anime is about a boy named Tomoya Okazaki whose mundane life takes a dramatic turn when he encounters a girl named Nagisa Furukawa. He learns about her dream to revive their school’s drama club. After hearing the passion reaping from her voice, Tomoya promises Nagisa that he’ll help her achieve her goal.
The anime explores Tomoya’s friendship with Nagisa and others gradually. Every character offers stellar performance and a slice of importance in this narrative. The struggles and unfortunate circumstances that crop up in this anime feel realistic and relatable. You’ll leave the anime pondering about your own life and ways to improve upon it.
This anime’s second season dives into its familial themes, further. Be warned as that season is more devastating and heartbreaking than its first. It’s best to have a box of tissues lying around if you’re willing to give Clannad and its sequel, After Story, a shot.
Summer Wars is an original work directed by Mamoru Hosoda, the same man responsible for the hit film, The Girl Who Leapt Through Time. Like his previous works, Summer Wars offers fun and lovable characters and an appealing world.
This film is about a teenager named Kenji Koiso, who is a math wiz and part-time moderator for the virtual world called OZ. OZ is an original and popular cybernetic world where people can participate in common activities from sports to shopping. Due to its stellar security system, the majority of society has entrusted their lives with the program.
Meanwhile, Kenji meets his crush Natsuki Shinohara, who offers him a chance to attend a summer trip if he acts as her fiancé. He accepts her offer. While there, a mysterious individual sends him a coded challenge request to his cell phone. Upon cracking the code, Kenji accidentally unleashes a great danger on Earth. He must find a way to return everything to normal before it is too late.
This film offers an incredible plot that’s moderately paced. It highlights the dangers of online social networking wonderfully as some points presented feel relevant today. The art style and animation is creative and appealing. The human world and OZ feel wonderfully detailed. While some of OZ’s character models are done in CGI, none of them display lanky movements or uncanny designs.
Wolf Children is a great family anime with a strong message. The message is to remain smiling no matter how hopeless and heartbreaking your situation may be. It tackles this message phenomenally through its three-story arcs revolving around its protagonist Hana and her animal family.
Wolf Children is about Hana falling in love with a boy named Oookami. The two meet up one night and something bizarre occurs. Ookami reveals to Hana that he is a werewolf. At first, she’s a bit distraught, but her love for Ookami wins her over. This leads to them starting a family with two children named Ame and Yuki.
Ame and Yuki gain their father’s wolf transformation powers. Unfortunately, tragedy befalls this furry family, leaving Hana to care for her children on her own. Fearing for her children’s lives, Hana decides to move to the countryside with Ame and Yuki in hand.
Wolf Children details the harsh struggles and challenges of single-parenthood through Hana’s eyes. At the same time, viewers will witness her children grow up and gain newfound interests. One will value their abilities while the other will dread them. None of their developments feel rushed, as the film gradually showcases their characters undergoing personality and mood changes.
Sweetness & Lightning
Sweetness & Lightning is an adorable anime. The shenanigans its child protagonist Tsumugi Inuzauka finds herself in are hilarious and charming. Under its beloved atmosphere lies several dark themes involving death, despair, and issues that stem from parenthood.
Sweetness & Lightning explores Kouhei Inuzuka’s stress at balancing his parenting and work lifestyle. This is because his wife had passed away. Fortunately, one of his students named: Kotori Iida catches wind of his stress and offers a helping hand. They visit Kotori’s family restaurant and learn that she’s succumbed to loneliness due to her mother being away from work.
This gives Kouhei a great idea. He promises Kotori that he and Tsumugi will visit the restaurant daily if she can help him learn how to cook delicious meals. She accepts his offer and the anime follows Kouhei’s quest to make Tsumugi happy by learning the values of cooking and family.
Spy x Family
What does it mean to be a part of a family? This is a question that’s presented in one of 2022’s most highly-acclaimed anime hits, Spy x Family. While the Forger family is shrouded in mystery and deceit, they manage to display stellar characteristics that make each member feel genuine and memorable.
Our tale follows a spy named Twilight, who dawns the alias Loid Forger as a part of his next mission. His mission involves taking down a prominent politician named Donovan Desmond. He must eliminate Donovan to ensure peace between the countries of Ostania and Westalis. However, there is an issue. Donovan only makes his presence known at his son’s school called Eden Academy.
This doesn’t stop our famed spy Loid though. To get to Donovan, Loid enlists the help of a city clerk named Yor and an orphan named Anya. Little does Loid know that these two females harbor secrets of their own. Anya is an esper while Yor is a trained assassin. Although deception is the foundation of their family, they will realize how a family’s love for each other can triumph over anything.
While there are bits of action sprinkled in Spy x Family, this anime leans more toward slice-of-life elements. You can expect our characters to endure drama everywhere they go. The drama leads to hilariously fun slapstick. Its child protagonist Anya feels like the star of the show, and fans will get a kick out of seeing her try to resolve Loid and Yor’s issues including her own.
March Comes In Like A Lion
March Comes In Like A Lion is an emotional anime with thought-provoking elements. This anime features incredibly written characters, a rich narrative with a nice message on perfectionism, and beautiful visuals and music. This is an excellent anime that points out the flaws of being talented in the most humane and realistic ways.
Our emotional story revolves around a gifted shogi player named Rei. Despite being the best player in the world, Rei feels empty inside. He finds it hard to make friends because of his perfectionist persona and the lifestyle his family forced upon him. Aiming for a fresh start, Rei moves into an apartment in Tokyo to live on his own.
Upon arriving in Tokyo, Rei meets a trio of sisters named Akari, Hinata, and Momo, alongside their grandfather. Akari’s determined to shatter Rei’s lonely bubble and poor lifestyle with motherly hospitality. This involves the girls’ opening to him through various tales of their past in hopes of giving Rei something he’d never attained before, a loving family.
This anime handles depression, loneliness, and stress brilliantly. Fans will appreciate the anime’s attempts at tackling these issues and will adore Rei’s journey to overcome these obstacles. The other characters have wonderful personalities and tragic backstories that some fans may resonate with. If you’re looking for an anime that tackles realistic issues surrounding perfectionism and sadness, check out March Comes In Like A Lion.
Looking for another anime where the child protagonist influences the life of an adult, Usagi Drop has you covered. This is an excellent slice-of-life anime with remarkable characters and beautiful storytelling. With its slew of lighthearted and dramatic scenarios, Usagi Drop is a worthy family-centric show.
Usagi Drop is about a 30-year-old bachelor named Daikichi Kawachi, who visits his family to pay respects to his deceased grandfather. Upon his arrival, he meets a young girl named Rin, who happens to be his grandfather’s illegitimate daughter. Unfortunately, everyone treats Rin like garbage and refuses to take care of her. Enraged, Daikichi offers to look after her, despite having no childcare experience.
Usagi Drop serves as an excellent portrayal of how challenging it can be to take care of a child. While children feel and look like sparkles of sunshine, Usagi Drop does an excellent job at showing how farfetched that outlook really is. You’ll see Daikichi undergo stressful circumstances that will make him unintentionally snap and go bonkers.
At the same time, this anime portrays how much children can impact the lives of others in a positive manner. If you’re looking for an anime that teeters between wholesome and dramatic, check out Usagi Drop.
My Roommate Is A Cat
My Roommate Is A Cat is a wonderful slice-of-life anime. It contains a relatable protagonist, a charming world, and a cozy atmosphere. It’s another anime like Usagi Drop where its lead character’s life is changed for the better due to a fateful meeting with an unexpected individual. Only this time, this individual isn’t a human but a tiny and adorable kitten.
Our tale follows 23-year-old author Subaru Mikazuki, who’d much rather stay home than explore the great outdoors and meet people. One day, Subaru visits a graveyard to pay respects to his dead parents but encounters something he hadn’t expected. He meets a small kitten named Haru. Since she appears to be lost, Subaru takes her in despite having no pet care experience.
Upon arriving home, Haru notices that Subaru can’t take care of himself which worries her. The anime focuses on the unlikely friendship between a man and his pet kitten. Unlike other animal anime, viewers will be to hear Haru’s thoughts about Subaru throughout the anime. The bond between these two unlikely companions grows gradually and never feels rushed.
Bonding aside, this anime does an excellent job of showing Subaru’s growth. He starts off as a naive caretaker but develops more into a fatherly figure as time goes by. His character will resonate with viewers who were also changed by someone they met in their lives. Along with its stellar visuals and music, My Roommate Is A Cat promises viewers will walk away smiling.
Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid
Following the trend of lonely humans having their lives changed by a creature is Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid. With its fun storyline, adorable and wacky characters, and comforting atmosphere, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid promises fans will have a phenomenal time.
The series suffers from an overabundance of fan service, though. There are many scenes depicting dragon-like females performing sensual actions or wearing crude attire. On the other hand, the anime doesn’t feature too many sexual themes which would make this an off-putting and bothersome watch. Unlike the other two shows with similar premises, Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid contains some action-centric bits.
The action-centric bits contain wonderful animation and will get your heart pumping. On that note, the storytelling dives into the history and lives of our dragon girls prior to their encounter with our female protagonist, Miss Kobayashi. Therefore, if you’re looking for a show with charming dragons, excellent fight scenes, and a focus on family bonding, check out Miss Kobayashi’s Dragon Maid.
Alice to Zouroku
Fans of Stranger Things and Elfen Lied will find Alice to Zouroku charming and familiar. Our tale follows a girl named Sana, who possesses the ability to create anything from her imagination. Unfortunately, her life isn’t as grand as her supernatural powers.
Sana is a laboratory test subject, who has never experienced the outside world before. One day, Sana escapes and meets a florist named Zouroku Kashimura at a store. Despite being chased by pursuers, Zouroku offers Sana a hand and scares them away. Afterward, Zouroku informs Sana that she can stay at his place. Therefore, the anime focuses on the familial bond between a man and a supernatural entity.
The chemistry between Zouroku and Sana is amazing and harbors different idealistic perspectives. The dangers and struggles they endure from the laboratories henchmen will fill fans with excitement and wonder. The characters undergo wonderful development which viewers will pick up on through our protagonists’ mannerisms and actions.
Visually, Alice to Zouroku is a beautiful gem that always glistens. Character interactions feel genuinely realistic and have a lot of charm. The soundtrack is splendid and well-executed. The animation studio did a fine job at placing it where it mattered most, allowing scenes to feel more impactful. If you’re looking for an incredible family anime with supernatural elements, check out Alice to Zouroku.
So, there we have it, our picks for the best anime through the years with a focus on family!
What do you think of our picks? Do you agree? Are there any notable omissions? Let us know in the comments below!