battle hymn of the anime tiger mom

Dango dango dango dango dango daikazoku…

I guess I’ll just start with my own personal commentary for Amy Chua’s Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother: HAHAHA. I know a lot of children of Tiger Moms. If this is really how kids are being raised in Shanghai, the rest of the world has nothing to worry about.

I think, in the end, if you are going to succeed or not, you’re going to sink or swim on your own. The people I met in college who became the most successful were those who came from nothing (nothing as in no drive from their parents, even if the parents were successful themselves) and drove themselves to be successful. There’s just something about that personal fire and desire that makes these people who they are, either because they want a better life for themselves or a loved one. That drive is what matters. That drive is what counts. That drive is what is special. And no amount of violin practice or rote memorization can replace that drive.

How else do I know this is true? Anime.


What do all the typical anime heroes and heroines have in common? They have an inner drive. That is what separates the Simons from the Shinjis. Tomoya wasn’t successful because he had friends– he was successful because he had the drive to make the friends (and some magical help)– and his drive was to make Nagisa happy in the end. That drive? Made him become a decent man. Made him finish school. Made him get a job. There was no Tiger Mother.

They just don’t exist in anime.

Can you think of a Tiger Mother in anime? Tick tock. Can’t? There’s only one: Gendo Ikari, which is probably argument number one against strict, taskmaster Tiger Moms. Funny to compare him to Yui Ikari who is almost portrayed as saint-like. Stark contrast, no? Also fun to picture how Gendo and Yui ended up and procreated Shinji… I mean… I can’t believe Yui fell for Gendo’s charms. It must be crazy animal sex or blackmail. Cannot think of any other reason.

Moms in anime are portrayed almost exactly opposite of a stereotypical Tiger Mother (or Japanese Education Momma, but similar in demeanor just different 2011 meme instead of 1997 meme). They are caring. They are good cooks. They love their kids and let their kids run wild even if they’re up to suspicious stuff. Hell, there was even an anime on recently about a little middle school girl whose parents allowed her to keep XXX-rated eroges and almost bonk her older brother.

Let’s go through some quickly… just from the top of my head… Yui Ikari? Saint-like. Akiko? Sweet, at least sweeter than her jam-mu. Sanae? Dressed up as a schoolgirl to seduce her daughter’s boyfriend’s loser friend. Nagisa? S-class mom. Haruhi’s mom? Lets her buy sleazy costumes better suited for an adult video set and stay out late with suspicious guys. Saki’s mom? Lets her date a terrorist with a great, big Johnny. Nanoha’s mom? Great cook. Madoka’s mom? Power Suit Mom. Urd’s mom? Temptress. Yasuko? Loves, loves Ryuuji. Aki Hinata? Bouncy protector of Earth. Chigusa? Dressed Shana up in a ponytail in a failed attempt to seduce Yuji. Mizuho? Wanted both her daughters to continue working for Yoshitaka. Sayoko? All for Asami. Fumio? All for Kenta. Haruka in Hosaka’s fantasies? Amazing. Achika Masaki? Was briefly in son’s harem a la Michael J. Fox’s Back to the Future. Nancy Makuhari? Gave up a lot for her son. Keima’s mom? Let’s Keima play games all day long on his PFP… which is only a ruse since we all know the truth: Keima is a pimp who peddles out all his conquests on Craigslist err Backpage. Yuno’s mom? Loved Yuno, even as Yuno was plunging the knife into her. Yui and Ui’s mom? HAHAHA. Weda? Dresses up more of a tramp than Hild and eats men like Hild. I feel like the two would get along. I would definitely watch some Jungle wa Itsumo Devil-sama.

Let’s just say not a Tiger Mother in the bunch. Zip. Zilch. Nada.

Closest other than Senor Ikari? Maybe Fate’s mom, but she created her… so more of a scientist / lab rat than mother / child. Takumi’s dad was fairly strict, but Takumi never succeeded until he started to gain the self desire to win and race against Vin Diesel. Senjougahara’s mom was strict with her, but only because of the cult influences. Mmm… I guess strict parenting makes for terribad anime.

Even looking at bad parents in anime, aren’t they generally the dad? Like how Tomoya’s dad is a drunk. Or how Lulu’s dad is a megalomaniac. Or how Kamina’s dad left him. Or how Alison’s dad molested her (oh wait, this was Melrose Place. My bad.). Or how Durandal was an asshole. Or how Shichika’s dad treated Nanami. Or how the entire cast of a 7th Expansion visual novel turned anime has nothing but dysfunctional parents.

I just think it’s funny how anime borne during the period of the past few decades with Education Mommas and now the reborn Tiger Mothers just aren’t depicted in anime. I guess none of the scriptwriters, writers, scenario designers, hacks, directors, producers want one. They all want to be some plucky hero with a harem, but none of them wants a Tiger Mother. And they all want someone like Nagisa as an ideal mom. Mmm. Interesting. Someone caring. Loving. Sweet. Encouraging. Maybe even a bit clumsy. But strong. Very strong. Stronger than Tomoya.

Anime is just a huge medium where Tiger Mothers are as common as Vegans in a Brazilian BBQ joint or an awkward white guy on an NBA hardcourt. Tons more examples, both for and against, since anime is a great, populous medium, but I guess bottom line from the trend is… if you want to create a little boy or girl who will acquire a harem, pilot a giant mecha, gain friends, get involved in a kinky hot springs special, and save the world, don’t be a Tiger Mom. Just engineer, either socially or genetically, a kid who has an inner drive to succeed and piece the heavens with their drill.

Much, much better than being a Tiger Mother and ending up with a brat who broods at home listening to Nirvana all day long on their S-DAT player.

20 Responses to “battle hymn of the anime tiger mom”

  1. Louise Zero’s parents: turned their third daughter into a psycho bitch who abuses the guy that says he loves her. I suppose the first two didn’t turn out too bad, so maybe it was the raw material…

  2. The only one I can think of is the main guy’s mom from Noein. She basically drives him crazy and won’t let him hang out with his friends.

  3. I approve of the Nagisa image. Shows potental for special MILF-dom class with a long ponytail by the time Ushio is a teenager. One wonder if Sanae can manage to keep her figure for ten more years so whoever the lucky (or unlucky perhaps) harem lead that gets Ushio in there with have both MILF Nagisa and GILF Sanae thrown into the mix. Bonus points if Kyou (and/or Tomoyo) has upgraded to high school teacher.

  4. >”Saki’s mom? Lets her date a terrorist with a great, big Johnny.”

    Wasn’t she dead before the story even started?

  5. Problem with a Tiger Mother in any anime story is, well, with one around, you can’t really do anything. They’ll be over you telling you to do this and that, etc.

    And no one really watches anime just so they can see themselves projected on TV, watching them make the same mistakes so that they can be told off again.

  6. I think Chichi in dbz is a good example, she made Gohan study so much he ended up weaker than when he was a kid.

  7. If you want to go by anime logic, the best parents are the parents which are dead.

    Think about it, how many anime protagonists have dead parents and go on to do amazing things.

    Also Anikis are fine too (also better after dead)

  8. There was 1 in Eyeshield 21 – the mother of Manabu Yukimitsu who was against club activities until Hiruma convinced her by saying that by being involved in the nationals would help boost his resume.

  9. There’s one anime genre that uses the Tiger Mother heavily that I think you’re overlooking. When I read the description the very first character that came to mind was Genma Saotome. While he’s a parody, what he’s a parody of is still around.

    Even today in series like One Piece, it’s common for young male protagonists who are skilled in the art of combat to have as the justification a paternal figure who put them through hellish and cruel training from a very young age. Even though it’s usually focused on martial arts, I think it fits the Tiger Mother archetype.

  10. It’s very rarely a main character trait – but it does see some use for secondary characters (often the ojou type, or the school genius). Think Yui from TWGOK (until Keima came along at least).

  11. But Nanoha-mama was a Tiger Mom. What do you have to say about that?

  12. Baka to Test. The elder sister. She’s kind of a tiger mom too to her younger brother

  13. I still must complain about the light background color with the white link text…makes it next to impossible to read any lines used as hyperlinks…including your own tags. It is just one of those things that annoys me because I had to figure out how to make sure that didn’t happen at one of my old jobs.

  14. Awww…what a nice picture. Too bad everybody died. Nagisa died. Ushio died and Tomoya had a nice hallucination before he died.

  15. I liked this post. I think you should write more social commentary.

  16. Oh, you can drill drive into a kid, it just needs to happen waay earlier than high school. One more observation/theory: since it’s Japan, which last time I checked is (just barely) still Asian, all the tigeriness if more evenly distributed into teachers and, it seems, kaichous of various stripes.

  17. Taiga moms? For a second I thought this was going to be about Fate//stay Night…now I have an image of a thousand Taiga Fujumura clones prowling the streets. They would probably have to contact the Fuyiki City zoo if that happened.

  18. Wish fulfillment. The writers and animators are killing their overbearing mothers off in fiction as revenge for the smothering hells they lived through. How many anime teens live in idealized single-occupancy efficiencies? You don’t think that’s actually the case, do you? But it does make for more effective plotting. Look at Welcome to the NHK. It couldn’t work if he was a real hikkikomori, jerking off while his mother waits outside his door with dinner cooling off in her hands.

  19. Closest I can think of right now is Kyouran Kazoku Nikki‘s Kyouka-sama.

    @Mitch H.: I’m pretty sure that’s an actual scene in NHK

  20. It was in the NHK manga, but the anime dialed down the discomfort level a heck of a lot. I watched the later after reading the former & kept tensing up in expectation of getting slapped in the face with the mega-creepy that never really appeared. Seriously, the manga was like 83% more evil than the anime.

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