Sunday, October 30, 2011

What is Yandere?

Feel the love?
Within circles of anime fans, names are given to character types to categorize them in neat little boxes. Tsundere is a term that is affectionately given to a character that has fallen in love with someone else, but stubbornly refuses to admit that they are in love. In anime and manga, there is another type of character that is affectionately called “yandere” in many circles. This name is given to a character that appears cute and harmless on the surface, but underneath they are controlling, obsessive, and even insane about the person they are in love with. It describes a character that has a level of mental instability, and uses the idea of romance as a way to fill the void. Yandere characters in anime and manga are unique, but they represent a larger issue. What is behind the yandere personality and why is it so popular in anime and manga?

In the media of anime and manga, yandere characters are typically extremely beautiful people who are normal people on the surface, but underneath they are obsessive, controlling and sometimes even insane about the person they are in love with. Yandere characters typically stalk the person they are in love with. They are obsessed with them, dreaming about them all the time and thinking about them all the time. Once a relationship develops between a character and a character with this disposition, the yandere character typically controls the person they are with. They are jealous when the person gets in contact with other people because they see them as taking them away. The yandere character wants to monopolize whatever free time they have with the person they love, so they are overprotective. In horror anime and manga, they even go to extreme cases by killing off characters they see as a threat to their deep love. They also develop a psychosis, a delusional reality that is different than the real world. In short, they are characters who would do anything for their vision of love and affection.

Yandere characters exhibit a level of bipolar disorder where they would swing from a depressive episode that may contain psychosis to an elevated mood that is close to euphoria. The euphoric stage is known as Bipolar Mania, where someone has increased energy and a feeling of absolute bliss. It swings to the other extreme after a period of time to the depressive state. In the depressive state they can become more depressed, but in more extreme cases they start experiencing psychosis. People in psychosis may experience hallucinations and delusions, which may change the personality and the thought process of the person. I have to stress this, characters who are yandere have a level of bipolar disorder, but not everyone who is bipolar is a yandere character type.

I believe the popularity of yandere characters stem from the characters presented on screen or in print for anime and manga. Due to the largely male market of anime, yandere characters are disproportionately female. Unlike tsundere characters, there are a far larger proportion of female characters that have this personality trait than males. They also tend to dress up a character with a yandere personality with male ideals of a “perfect woman.” Anime and manga characters with this disposition trait tend to be exceptionally beautiful, have enviable proportions, and have an affable temperament. Not only that, this character has absolute loyalty to whoever they are in love with. Yandere characters, like tsundere characters also tend to spice up whatever story they are in and they make it more interesting. Yandere characters are popular; it is a combination of idealized good looks, incredible loyalty, and a good story element to the largely male audience which contributes to their popularity.

When written well, a yandere character adds a lot to the storyline. The insanity of Yuno Gasai in Mirai Nikki is a big draw for the audience. It adds an element of unpredictability in the storyline that otherwise would not be there. Part of the unpredictable element is the danger that is now added in the storyline. The other draw is that it typically happens to characters where there is a huge discrepancy with their looks and their actual personality. The difficulty is that the character is exhibiting a personality disorder that in real life would normally be dealt with through a psychologist. Now you know what a yandere character is and how they are in anime and manga.

Yandere Characters
Belarus - Hetalia

Kotonha and Sekai - School Days

Shion (and to a degree Mion) - Higurashi

Shouko - Baka to Test

Nanami - Revolutionary Girl Utena

Lucy - Elfen Lied

Kaede - Shuffle

Yuno - Mirai Nikki


Anonymous said...

Dang, I hope that I don't meet any yandere characters in real life.

Anonymous said...

I like it