Uncomfortably large age gaps are not uncommon in anime, and unfortunately it’s rare to see this trope handled elegantly. While some comically large age gaps, such as in human-supernatural relationships, can be passable and even make for a compelling love story, more grounded anime couples with large age differences are usually unhealthy.
Age gaps lead to unbalanced power dynamics and compromise the notion of consent, making them far from cute and relatable. Still, these shows take an already controversial trope too far, making for some of the worst age-gap couples in the medium.
This article discusses sensitive topics such as age gap relationships and incest.
10/10 Sato takes advantage of Shio’s childlike naivety
Good sugar life
Despite its positive title, Good sugar life is a horror anime focused on a disturbing relationship between a high school girl Sato and an innocent child Shio. What kind of love Sato feels for the little girl is vague, but their connection is undeniably disturbing.
Sato is an obsessive madman dedicated to protecting Shio at all costs, even if it means committing crimes. Shio cannot understand how disturbing Sato’s actions are due to her tender age, so she becomes attached to the older girl, deceived by her manipulations.
9/10 Kaho is blinded by her crush’s grown-up appearance
First love monster
The couple from First love monster does not appear to have a large age difference. While the 15-year-old protagonist Kaho Nikaidou looks her age, her boyfriend, Kanade Takahashi, is actually ten years old despite looking like a high school student.
While the series tries to portray this odd relationship as comical, Kanade’s childish behavior makes his romance with Kaho feel disturbing. A gap of 5 years is a critical difference at such a tender age, and the boy’s adult appearance does not change the fact that he is still in elementary school.
8/10 Soushi surrenders his life to his much younger master
Inu X Boku SS
Ririchiyo Shirakiin from Inu x Boku SS is a half-human and half-youkai teenage heir to a famous family. Her sheltered upbringing made her socially inept, leading Ririchiyo to move into an apartment complex that houses similarly odd individuals.
Still, the strangest acquaintance Ririchiyo makes is Soushi, her new servant with a creepy submissive personality. Seven years older than his master, Soushi dreams of devoting his life to Ririchiyo, eventually making her fall for him. Yet their disturbing power dynamics may be even scarier than the large age gap.
7/10 Naoka’s reunion with her brother from long ago does not go as planned
Koi Kaze decides to tackle not one, but two highly controversial taboos – large age gaps and uncomfortably intimate familial relationships. A child of a divorced couple, 27-year-old Saeki Koushirou did not recognize 15-year-old Kohinata Nanoka as his sister upon their first meeting in years.
Still, even after they both learn about being siblings, the already blossoming feelings between Koushirou and Nanoka don’t go away. Also, the uncomfortably realistic approach the series takes to portraying the relationships Koi Kaze even more disturbing to watch.
6/10 High school student Kei eventually marries his estranged teacher to legalize their relationship
The love story in the infamous rom-com Please teacher! is strange on several levels. Not only is high school student Kei Kusanagi’s love interest Mizuho Kazami his teacher, but she’s also an alien.
The show attempts to mask the controversy surrounding Kei and Mizuho’s relationship by putting the boy in a coma for three years. So while he has the mental state of a 15-year-old, Kei is actually 18, still five years younger than Mizuho. Uncomfortable on many levels, their love still blossoms, even ending in marriage.
5/10 Ryo tries his best to romance a teenage girl who wants nothing to do with him
It is disgusting to call this love
It is disgusting to call this love lives up to its title by presenting a creepy romance story between a 17-year-old student Ichika and Ryo, a womanizer ten years older than his love interest. Their story starts with Ichika saving Ryo from falling down the stairs.
Yet, when the playboy tries to flirt as a form of gratitude, he is coldly rejected. After that point, the show focuses on Ryo’s attempts to woo Ichika. While the girl rightfully rejects him at first, her slowly changing attitude towards Ryo sends the wrong message to viewers.
4/10 Nobunaga’s teenage bride comes from another era
Nobunaga teacher’s young bride
The standards for appropriate age gaps in relationships changed throughout history. Still, that cannot excuse a modern-day teacher Nobunaga Oda accepting a proposal from a 14-year-old girl, even though she came from the Sengoku era.
Nobunaga teacher’s young bride plays this sinister gimmick for laughs, causing a historical princess, Kichou, to magically appear in front of Nobunaga, a middle-aged man obsessed with harem games. Mistaking him for his historical namesake, Kichou asks Nobunaga to marry her – and the sinister teacher is happy to take advantage of this confusion.
3/10 The eight-year gap isn’t the strangest thing about Haru and Ren’s relationship
One of the most infamous shounen-ai age gap romances in anime history, Super lovers, starts with teenage hero Haru taking care of his new adoptive brother Ren, an 8-year-old with zero social skills. Fortunately, the romantic relationship between the two does not begin to blossom until a time shift ages Ren to 16 and Haru to 24.
Still, the dramatic age gap isn’t the most troubling thing about their romance. The show loves to focus closely on the two being brothers, which makes an already troubling premise that much worse.
2/10 Natsuo’s true love, teacher, and stepsister are all the same person
The infamous guilty pleasure anime Domestic girlfriend would be uncomfortable to watch if it wasn’t so surrealistically exaggerated. The overly dramatic premise of the show forces Natsuo Fujii to enter into a love triangle with his stepsisters, Hina and Rui.
While Rui is the same age as Natsuo, his true love, Hina, is actually his teacher, making her much older than the story’s teenage protagonist. The relationship between the siblings is almost comically toxic and complicated, taking the edge off the controversial nature.
1/10 Aoki Daisuke develops feelings for his 7-year-old student
Kodomo No Jikan
No age gap romance can compete with the controversy caused by Kodomo no Jikanan infamous series about an elementary school teacher Aoki Daisuke who becomes uncomfortably close with his 7-year-old student Rin Kokonoe.
While an attention-starved child falling in love with his teacher may be harmless, Aoki does not handle the situation responsibly and accepts his students’ feelings, much to the viewers’ disgust. Also, the series tries to portray him as the victim of Rin’s advances, which makes the relationship between the two even more disturbing.
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