Brain Candy: The Universe Is Imploding…Don’t Tell Mom!

Not too long ago, Phelan Porteous (Phelous) presented a video review of Our Friend Power 5 (a Korean movie made to promote a toy line that unnaturally mashes up Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and Voltron, and must be seen to be believed).

This got me thinking about the types of roles that parent characters usually play on shows tailored for kids. I know that this is the type of thing that most people don’t even notice or care about, but I usually notice because I’m a weirdo.

Gonzo

“Nothing wrong with that! Weirdness is a lifestyle choice!”

I’ve noticed that in most Eastern (Japanese, Korean) shows that focus on kids going on amazing adventures, doing science fiction-y stuff and so forth, it will often be the father who has a secondary role in the proceedings, such as the dad being a professor or some type of scientist who will assist the kid protagonists in their adventures, while the mother will usually just be a happy housewife who has no connection to the fantasy side of the show other than being related to and living in the same house as the kid protagonist(s). Some examples include:

Speed Racer Mifune Family

The Mifune family (from Speed Racer):

Mr. Racer – A former wrestler turned owner of the Go! racing team franchise.

Mrs. Racer – Subscribes to Good Housekeeping and Woman’s Day.

Dr.Spike_taylor

The Taylor Family (from Dinosaur King):

Dr. Spike Taylor – Archaeologist who assist the D-Team and sometimes directs the kids to that mission’s location.

Aki Taylor

Aki Taylor – Artist. Housewife. Makes a mean tuna casserole.

Now, my first thought is that something like this would never fly in an American kids’ show. If us yanks ever tried to have a formula like the one aforementioned, there would the inevitable cries of…

Phoenix_Point

“THAT’S SEXIST!!”

Most likely American kids show producers would deal with this issue by simply omitting the mother character altogether, which I don’t like. At all.

Transfromers Rescue Bots Family

Boo on you, you mother hating so-and-sos! Go write for Disney feature films!

Now don’t get me wrong. Generally speaking, I prefer it when mother characters are active characters who do things, such as Phoebe Calisto from Miles From Tomorrowland, who’s not only a crew member of the Stellasphere, but she’s the ship’s captain!

Phoebe Callisto

“That’s Captain Mrs. Calisto if you’re nasty!”

…but even if the mother of the main family is basically Susie Homemaker, I’ll take that over the total absence of a mother from the household.

Maya & Miguel - Rosa & Santiago

Or both parents could be clueless domestics. That works too.

Personally, I haven’t seen any anime or Asian kids where the parents roles are reversed. That is, where the mom is the scientist/adventurer who helps the kids and the dad is just the dad. Mind you, I don’t watch a lot of anime, so if any such examples do indeed exist, feel free to enlighten me.

I know that this character isn’t a mother, but I want to give an honorable mention to Nintendo’s character Pauline.

Pauline

In the course of the character’s history, Pauline went from being Mario’s one time helpless (and blonde) girlfriend who existed solely to be captured by Donkey Kong…

Donkey Kong and Pauline

Stomp in the name of love!

…to the mayor of New Donk City in Super Mario Odyssey. Not the Mayor’s aide or the Mayor’s secretary, but the freakin’ Mayor!

Mayor Pauline

You’ve come a long way, baby!

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3 Comments

  1. 1. The comment with Phoebe becomes a bit interesting in hindsight given that she and Leo are out out of focus in season 3 (which is now called Mission Force One). The in-universe reason is due to the TTA recruiting Miles, Loretta, and MERC to form Mission Force One with their friends (Mirandos, Blodger, Haruna) when they graduate from the Cosmic Explorers. Behind the scenes, it was probably too expensive to keep Olivia Munn around full time while Tom Kenny is very busy.

    2. I’m not sure if it would count, but I think DuckTales (2017) is an interesting example. The show is currently exploring what happened to Della Duck, who’s Donald’s sister and the mother of Huey, Dewey, and Loiue. They never make any mention of a biological father, and given the adventure motif that’s established, it’s safe to say that she was the more adventurous parent.

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  2. Just to give you an idea how “in the know” I am, I didn’t know that there was a 3rd season of Miles From Tomorrowland; I honestly thought that the series had ended after season 2. I guess that’s my fault for not watching Disney Junior. I may check out some of Mission Force, although I don’t know how I feel about the producers sidelining Phoebe and Leo. The starship crew that’s also a family dynamic was one of the things that I liked about the show. Without that element, the whole thing sounds kind of generic, to be honest.

    Regarding Della: I suppose that she could be counted, although she has yet to make a physical appearance on DuckTales outside of pictures. I only recall Huey, Dewey and Louie’s father being referred to once in the comics. It was mentioned that he was hospitalized as a result of one the triplets’ pranks.

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  3. “Behind the scenes, it was probably too expensive to keep Olivia Munn around full time while Tom Kenny is very busy.”

    More than likely, it was simply a case of Disney believing that more kids would resonate with Miles From Tomorrowland if the parents were sidelined. The whole “kid empowerment” thing and all, although personally (and I’m well aware that I’m not the indented audience for Miles and harbor no delusions about that fact), I personally liked the family angle and without that element, the show is probably not as interesting, at least not to me.

    If it were simply a matter of Tom Kenny’s availability and Olivia Munn’s salary, then why not simply re-cast Leo and Phoebe? It’s just their voices, and I doubt that young kids would care how Phoebe and Leo would sound. Last time that I checked, there have been two voice actors (to date) for Miles himself.

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