My Hero Academia, Airbender & More: Do Heroes Have to Be Bad Parents?

After DC FanDome and mulling over the new concept behind Superman & Lois as working parents struggling to balance their professional and personal lives. I started thinking of parenting in pop culture and how it is often represented in terms of our heroes. Spoiler? It is not always a good thing. It must be tough having to leave behind the call to save the day and the drug-like gratification that comes from it to have to change diapers and raise decent little human and/or super beings. I appreciate this story archetype and often struggle to find it believable when the hero seems to be perfect at everything they do. So with that in mind, I took a look at some pop-culture anime heroes that have elevated the struggle of balancing family and work to a new level: Avatar: The Last Airbender, Avatar: The Legend of Korra, Naruto, and My Hero Academia, as well as some thoughts on that perspective in the "Harry Potter" franchise (a personal favorite).

Avatar: The Last Airbender (Image: Nickelodeon)
Avatar: The Last Airbender (Image: Nickelodeon)

Aang ("Avatar: The Last Airbender"): It must not have been easy being the sole survivor and having the burden of being carrying the culture of Airbending. Not just that, but having to train one son that might be able to restore it and pass it along. That said, I always felt bad for Tenzin having to pay for his father's shortcomings. While he and his siblings got along, it was a sad episode when they start going at each other for Tenzin being daddy's little airbending boy. Aang might have been the Avatar who saved the world, but Tenzin was the one who paid the price for his father's shortcomings yet still tries to hold the unit together.

Toph ("Avatar: The Last Airbender," "Avatar: The Legend of Korra"): Another stellar hero and first metalbender. Toph was my top favorite character on Avatar The Last Airbender. I love her strength and how she did not need anyone to save her. However, On Legend of Korra we see how much different it was for her daughters. She tried giving her daughters the freedom she did not have, but it was also too much. She was still the Toph I love and I am so glad they patched things up at the end.

Naruto ("Naruto"): Yes, the orphan kid who was shunned by a whole village and then became a Hokage himself. Despite not having a dad to have the experience, it must have been hard for Naruto to be that for Boruto… except that balancing his professional life seemed to be more of a challenge than anything else. Naruto was put into the position of having to play a "savior" role for those around them while also attempting to craft a "father" persona based on what he hopes are quality examples of "parenting" and "family" around him.

Endeavor ("My Hero Academia"): Yo! Talk about f*cked up parenting! Endeavor definitely took it to a whole new level. I mean, he is the reason why most of the Todoroki family probably needs therapy. Dude was just trying to make a genetic weapon rather than a family. That said, I am glad he is trying to turn it around and become a better father- though starting with being a decent human being with emotions and a solid role model might be a better start.

Harry Potter ("Harry Potter" franchise): As you can tell, I've been on an anime/animation kick up to this point, but I would be remiss to leave out Harry Potter. After finishing the book series, I always wondered how Harry would be as a dad. Several times over the years, Harry got called out for having a hero complex; I can imagine it must not be easy to lead a normal life after so many years chasing after a "high" that matches "saving the day." Then again, it always angered me when they did because they could never understand what Harry had to deal with by having part of Voldemort's soul inside of him. That's why I respected Harry Potter and the Cursed Child for at least making the attempt to show the struggle.