Random Rant: Siblings in Anime

I have three older siblings, and two younger siblings alive today. Do you have siblings? Are you an only child? The baby? The eldest? The middle child? Somewhere between? If you’re interested in sibling relationships (and no, I’m not talking about “romantic” ones), you might wondere, how does anime portray siblings? It’s hard to say if anime is “accurate” or not, since every family is different and there are so many kinds of interactions and relationships between siblings. By being diverse with the sibling characters, though, I think anime represents the topic well. Let’s look at some examples of anime siblings.

Al and Ed from FMA: Brotherhood have a good relationship. They cooperate well and are open with each other. Ed is determined to get Al’s real body back from beyond the gate of Truth. He feels responsible for what happened. In one interesting part of the anime, Al begins to fear that he isn’t a real person anymore, but an artificially created soul attached to a suit of armor. Maybe his older brother doesn’t think of him as human now. Ed was angry that Al would even think that. After some drama, the brothers resolve the issue and Ed is sure to clarify that he knows Al is his real, one and only, little brother.

(Edward and Alphonse Elric)

Because of being possessed or having a strange ability that gives her another personality, Alluka from Hunter x Hunter has cursed and killed people before. The potential power she holds is frightening, so her family locked her up for years. Her older brother Killua took her out of that room and brought her out into the real world, believing in her goodness and never being afraid of her. He states in episode 147 that he’s going to continue taking care of her as her big brother. That’s quite a feat. I don’t know how well it actually works, but I salute Killua for being so sweet and dedicated, doing his best for his little sister.

Both of these examples show the dedication of older siblings to taking care of the younger ones. The reverse is also true. Younger siblings can care for and protect their older siblings. We see examples of this in several anime series. In K-On, the responsible younger sister, Ui, cheerfully and painstakingly looks after Yui, her lazy and air-headed older sister. The relationship of Yakumo and Tenma in School Rumble is basically the same. Older sister Tenma is a absent-minded and a bit dumb. The sensible and kindly Yakumo helps her function each day.

(Ui and Yui Hirasawa)

It’s great when siblings are dedicated to each other, but this isn’t always the case. Siblings often don’t (or can’t) get along. In Gintama, Kagura and her older brother Kamui have mutual dislike of each other and resort to physical battles. In Tokyo Ghoul, Touka joined Anteiku, the peaceable ghoul faction, while her younger brother chose Aogiri, ghouls who make war on humans and each other. They hate each other now– at least, on the surface. We see an extreme example of falling out between siblings in Akame ga Kill. Akame and her younger sister, Kurome, fight on opposite sides of a war. Kurome genuinely wants to kill Akame. Grim, huh?

Another thing you see with a lot of siblings is sibling rivalries or siblings who feel like they have to outperform each other. In Mob Psycho 100, Ritsu feels inferior to his psychic brother Shigeo, even though he’s smarter, physically stronger, better looking, and better at socializing than Shigeo. Shion Sonozaki from Higurashi is (understandably) jealous of Mion, who is more loved by the family and set to become one of the next village leaders. Mion and Shion also compete for the attention of Keiichi, the boy they both like. In Seishun Buta Yarou, Nodoka is jealous of her older step-sister’s talent with modeling and acting.

(Mion and Shion Sonozaki)

In most cases though, relationships of siblings are more complex than the examples discussed above. Let’s look at a few incidences of slightly more complex relationships. The dynamics of Rem and Ram from Re: Zero are interesting because Ram was regarded as more talented and useful thanks to her great skill with magic. A certain event, however, made Ram lose her former gifts. As maids in a feudal lord’s mansion, Rem began to shine brighter than Ram, better at everything hands-on, like cleaning and cooking. But Rem doesn’t feel any sense of pride because of her rise to the top. She thinks it’s her fault her sister was weakened, and she believes her sister will always be the superior one. It’s complicated, as you can see.

Another example of sisters having intricate or difficult relationships can be found in Kill la Kill; I wanted to mention that, but I can’t say more without a major spoiler. Enough about sisters, though. Mutta and Hibito from Space Brothers also have a not exactly simple relationship. To an extent, Mutta did always feel inferior to Hibito, but he tried not to be antagonistic because the brothers really love each other. When Mutta decides to join the same career path as Hibito, he finds himself empowered by his accomplishments, and supported unconditionally by Hibito. It’s a brotherhood that’s slightly tense sometimes, but positive overall.

(Hibito and Mutta Nanba)

For a final example, consider Kyoya’s relationships with his brothers in Ouran Highschool Host Club. We don’t actually get to see much of those brothers and how they interact, but the one scene we do have shows Kyoya being civil to them, but distant. It’s a sticky situation because both of his older brothers “outshine” him in the eyes of their father. In order to be seen as a proud son of the Ootori family, Kyoya must do something even greater than the amazing feats of his brothers. Being the third child can be difficult, depending on family dynamics. “The youngest has it easiest” or “the youngest is always spoiled,” are not true in all cases.

(Kyoya Ootori)

By now it’s clear that anime represents sibling relationships and interactions in a variety of ways. I think, with the amount of diversity there is, anime does a good job overall with depicting siblings. Do you agree? And who are some of your favorite anime siblings? Let me know with a comment, if you have the time or interest. I thank you sincerely for reading. Have a great day, and if you have brothers or sisters, remember to try your best to be civil with them!

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