In my ongoing battle to negotiate the lines of blissfully unattached fandom and genuine media engagement, I’ve run into a lot of different facets of anime watching in which this weird dynamic is found. On the hot seat this week is characters—waifus, husbandos, best girls, and everything else—and thinking about the ways that the general marketplace of fandom and industry seem to be at odds with lasting remembrance of anything at all.
But, sometimes, you find the perfect seat on the carousel. This article is about all of that.
8 thoughts on “Aniwords – The Great Waifu Carousel”
I’ve always wondered…maybe people are in love with the concept of waifu/husbando/best girl/best bro etc… rather than that particular waifu/husbando/best girl/best bro etc…would explain why people shuffle through beloved characters so quickly while stabilizing a pattern of similar characters that they like.
Hmmm this is an interesting thought, and probably an accurate one to some extent! I know I always enjoy picking out my “best girl” each season! It’s just a fun thing to do. I suppose I also hold the competing value of sustained remembrance as well; fortunately, they’re not mutually exclusive!
Yes, that’s what I was going to say as well. Most anime characters fit within broad stereotypes, especially in genres like harem comedies, so there’s no point in being attached to one particular instance of the type you like, unless they really stand out from the crowd. Furthermore, if a character is too well rounded, has too much of a personality, it becomes harder to see them as waifu/husbando material too, at least for me. Which also helps drive a quick turnover in waifu favourites in fandom.
Yes, that’s true. I really liked Appropriant’s 12 Days of Anime post about Saekano the other day, and he touched on that same issue in relation to the main girls in that series (and how Megumi Kato deliberately defied the standard genre stereotypes). Quote:
“You can see [Megumi] has feelings and emotions, and they certainly show a pattern towards being cheerful and compassionate, but you wouldn’t be able to tell very well from her facial expressions, body language, tone, basically anything other than her words. Unlike other heroines I’ve been familiar with whose personalities are so vibrant and easy to spot, Megumi proves to be a total enigma to the rest of the cast….Her perceived uselessness explains a lot about what VNs, and to an extent mainstream anime, desire out of their characters: transparency. The rest of the girls in Saekano are transparent in this manner, between Eriri’s petite twintail tsundere antics, Utaha’s cool verbally abusive remarks, Izumi’s dutiful imouto charm, and Michiru’s brazen selfish shamelessness….Every action they took, every feeling they felt, all of it had to be within the confines of their personality. Not because it would make them good characters but instead because it makes it easier to relate to them….What is desired out of such girls is an immediately recognizable and completely consistent character. That’s why Megumi’s presence as an anomaly in the system plays such a crucial role in keeping the story grounded in reality.”
The series reviewer at Random Curiosity also made similar comments in their wrapup review of the series. Quote:
“Archetypes, like the tsundere childhood friend, the aloof senpai, or the free-spirited cousin, are all just wrappers around what is essentially still a human being. The humble anime writer is free to focus on their specific ‘attributes’, but at the end of the day they still need to do the hard work and give them real characterisation and explore their personal circumstances….[Megumi] is a subtle character by design. She does not adhere to an immediately obvious archetype, does not have any exaggerated emotional cues, and does not narrate her internal monologue at the drop of a hat. She is ‘flat’, because she is written first and foremost as if she was real person, and real people, before you get to know them, are all flat. Yet she still manages to play the part of the ‘heroine’ extremely effectively, not by becoming more sparkly, but by sticking to her strengths.”
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I don’t really have a husbando because I actually have a husband, but sometimes I call certain characters my husbando to make my real husband jealous. 😉
I find that the only characters I can think of like a husbando are the ones that I shamelessly love despite their obvious flaws. So Renji Abarai from Bleach was probably the first character I thought of that way. Guy’s an idiot and a dork a lot of the time, but I can’t help finding him lovable. But my primary “husbando” is Kamina from TTGL and I think he always will be. No other character has managed to tug on my heart strings in quite the way he does.
Likewise, I don’t really have any character I consider a waifu (not because I’m married, just because I don’t like the connotation of it).
Kamina is great, too bad he’s dea–
I tend to think that characters are like the stories they inhabit – the best ones live on in the collective consciousness, the lesser ones fade away with time. There’s “flavor of the week” and then there’s the ones who have real staying power. I used to have a rule with music where I never bought an album from a new band until I’d been listening to them for at least two years, on the same basic principle. That gave me enough time to decide whether they just had a few catchy songs but nothing else to interest me once I got bored with those, or if it was a group with some substance that I’d actually want to listen to over and over again. But that’s totally the opposite of what the record companies and anime companies want – they want you to buy and consume the flavor of the week and then move right on to the next flavor of the week. I just refuse to play that game.
Also, are you familiar with the International Saimoe League? That’s an annual popularity contest where participants can vote for their favorite moe girls (and as of this year boys, too) in round-robin competitions against each other. What made me think of it in relation to your thoughts about characters getting picked up and dropped is the face that the yearly winners of that contest have rarely been the most current characters. This year’s winners were Chitanda in the female competition and Accelerator in the male, last year’s winner was Itsuka Kotori from Date A Live, 2013’s winner was Ruri Goko from Oreimo, and 2012’s winner was Kanade Tachibana from Angel Beats (who also won the “Tournament of Champions” competition this year). Of those five, Kotori was the only one to win in her first year of eligibility – everyone else had been around for 2-3 years or more by then.
I’m pretty picky with my music, too! Even with anisongs, I don’t just buy willy-nilly, but pretty carefully consider if the stuff I buy will be stuff I’ll still want to listen to a year from now. To this point, I’ve done a pretty good job, I think! Some of the anisongs on my current playlist I’ve had for years and still love listening to.
And yeah, I am familiar with Saimoe. Never participated or followed it all the way through, but I am aware that often the winners don’t come from the current year’s anime. It’s a very interesting thing, that’s for sure.