Over the years, anime fans from all over the world have noticed that many of the young main characters live alone. The causes of this can vary; they may be because their parents work long hours, they may be orphans, or they may have made the decision to live alone on purpose. This is frequently influenced by the settings, which can range from fantastical to realistic slice of life.
But why do so many anime series have young main characters who live alone? Here's a closer examination of it to determine whether it's true and typical of Japan.
Most Frequently Used as a Narrative Device Is the "Minors Living Alone" Trope
A minor living alone is ripe fodder for all kinds of shippy moments in romance anime. The removal of parental figures means there's less chance of any romantic moments being interrupted. Sometimes, it can also lead to the protagonist allowing a potential love interest to live with them. After all, if their parents aren't around, then they can't say "no". Romantic Killer parodies this trope by having the main character Anzu's parents suddenly decide to leave on a business trip out of nowhere. Eventually, Anzu gets involved in all sorts of mishaps that predictably lead to her offering two attractive guys to live with her, although she still tries her darnedest to avoid any romantic situations.
A minor living alone can also be a source of great anxiety. Perhaps the main character has neglectful parents, or perhaps they have chosen to live alone due to a strained relationship with them. Perhaps they have a good relationship with their parents, but circumstances prevent them from being together. This character may have guardians in the form of other residents living nearby, resulting in a fictitious family dynamic. Many of the other apartment residents express concern about a toddler living alone and frequently check in on him in Kotaro Lives Alone.
Are Minors Living Alone Frequently in Japan?
Minors living alone in Japan is not as common as most anime would lead one to believe, but it is legally permitted in the country. Oftentimes, the primary reason is due to schooling. Because of Japan's declining population, many schools in rural areas have started to close down, leading to many high school-aged students seeking to further their education elsewhere. Sometimes these rural areas do have high schools, but they lack certain programs that their counterparts in the city offers. While it is more common for these types of students to end up moving to a dormitory, it isn't unusual for them to move to an apartment that their parents pay rent for.
This is one of the reasons why the protagonist of Heroines Run the Show relocates to a Tokyo apartment on her own. She desired to attend a high school with a strong track and field program, which her hometown's only high school lacked. However, it is simply used to bring Hiyori into the story and lead her to apply for a job as a manager for two rising idol singers, rather than being used as a tool for shipping or angst. Despite some of the silliness that ensues, this is one of the more realistic and grounded applications of the minors living alone trope.