Sakugan Is a Dad Anime - Here's Why

The newly airing anime series Sakugan, may look like a sci-fi adventure show with kaiju and mechs, but at its core, it’s a dad anime -- and that’s what makes it worth the watch. Sakugan follows Memempu, a young genius, and her father Gagumber, a cave examiner, as they set off from their underground colony in a mech to find the place that Memempu has dreamed of. Set in a new mysterious world that blends technology and underground terrain, Sakugan's adventure and mech aspects may feel like the main attention-grabber, but the anime leans toward an emotional aspect that's truly at the heart of the show.

Dad anime typically carry through with more realistic storylines and can often be found as slice-of-life anime. Within these anime, fathers or father figures raise (typically) their young daughters by themselves, having lost their wife or family member originally in charge of the young child, which forces the father or father figure to take on not only household chores but also the dual duties father and mother roles. Sweetness and Lightning, Usagi Drop and Kakushigoto portray these dads as struggling but doing their absolute best to ensure their daughters are safe, healthy and happy. Their family is their number one priority in life, bringing about a heartwarming and emotionally compelling aspect that captures the hearts of the audience.

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Sci-fi and adventure anime typically don't carry this specific kind of emotional hold on an audience. The characters are typically a group of friends, chosen family or colleagues on the same mission. Sudden life and death, wonderment of the destination or goal, real-life consequences of mistakes and the potential traumatic backstories of characters are what usually pull the emotions out of the audience with these anime.

While the bond of friends, chosen family or colleagues may be strong, one could argue that at least with the dads from the previous examples, they’d truly do anything and everything for their charge in a manner superiorly selfless. With adventure or sci-fi anime, it can be difficult to reason that a character would realistically sacrifice themselves for the sake of another person of the group.

RELATED: Kakushigoto Has Anime's Perfect Father-Daughter Relationship

In Sakugan, Gagumber shows his love for and dedication to his genius daughter immediately. He indicates early on that he doesn't want her to grow up so quickly. However, he also explicitly tells her to move forward on her journey even if he were to die, sharing that while he knows this is dangerous, he’d rather be with her until the end to fight to achieve her goal. Despite his fatherly wishes, he puts them on this adventure to help Memempu realize her dreams. Their constant bickering will continue, but one can imagine the characters working to gradually soften themselves to compromise, not only to achieve their ultimate goal but also to strengthen their relationship.

The show appears to be primarily focused on this father-daughter relationship, their growth as individuals and as a unit, and their ability to work as a team fighting simultaneously as a single mech. Since the show allows for space to showcase heartwarming moments as well as foster them in a way that only a dad anime can, this will serve well to continue to engage audiences on a potentially deeper level than other titles in this anime genre previously have.

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Ricky Soberano (28 Articles Published)

Ricky Soberano is a freelance writer and editor in Brooklyn. She's the former Features Editor for Crunchyroll News and Managing Editor of VRV and Brooklyn Magazine. She's also written for Bustle, NYLON, Complex, and Maxim. She's usually slurping ramen like Koizumi.

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