There’s no way you can watch anime this season without seeing The Promised Neverland. Zac and I discussed it on the podcast last week. I wanted to stress that Emma’s tenacity is what keeps me coming back for more of that drama (and its manga) over and over again. When you see a brave orphan who refuses to give up on her chosen family, you can’t help but root for her. Nearly every orphan in this week’s column faces some sort of odds, but Emma may have the toughest of all of them. In the world of anime and manga, there are many heroes who overcame their orphan status to find happiness. You’ll learn more about ten different personalities, their struggles, and how they conquered (or are still fighting) them in the following profiles.
1. Rin Okumura (Blue Exorcist)
No one expected Rin and her father, who is Satan, to have a happy ending, but thanks to the show for at least establishing that Satan fucks. Rin’s mother was murdered for sexing up Satan, and as a result, he was left an orphan. As a result, a family friend (who tragically dies as a result of Satan’s wrath) takes in Rin and his twin brother. Many teenagers would be tempted to embrace a life of crime and debauchery if they had a childhood like this one. No, Rin! He may get into a few fights with jerks, but his primary goal is to surpass his brother as the most powerful exorcist in the world (and defeat his dad)
2. Shirō Emiya (Fate/stay night)
Shiro’s entire existence was engulfed in flames. Home, parents, and nearly all of him are all gone. Kiritsugu Emiya saves him (magic!) through a chance encounter. After Kiritsugu’s death, he left his adopted son with his magecraft skills and a yearning for retribution. Shir had a difficult childhood, but he overcame it by developing a strong sense of righteousness and finding methods to be of service to those in his immediate vicinity. Those abilities come in handy when he’s caught up in the Holy Grail War. As a result, he develops into a formidable wizard of his own.
3. Tohru Honda (Fruits Basket)
She lives in a tent on the outskirts of the Sohma property when we first meet her. In order to ease the burden on her family after the death of her mother, she tells them she’s staying with friends. Since she has a strong sense of empathy, Tohru is more concerned about the feelings of others than she is about her own. There are times when she prefers to look at the bright side of life. The fact that she sleeps outside every night doesn’t make her feel depressed, however. While she’s living with the Sohmas, her outlook continues to benefit her, and it ultimately aids in Ky’s recovery (and a lot of other members of family).