What is love? It is a subject of countless debates and studies among many fields of knowledge. Is it a philosophical concept, a scientific phenomenon, a divine virtue, or is simply something that cannot be understood?
Now, I’m not going to go deeper into the boring stuff and go straight to the point. Some anime fans have or have had a feeling of attraction towards anime characters. It may be as as subtle as simple admiration, or as extreme as absolute obsession. It is a fact that anime figures sell very well, that people claim anime characters as mai waifu and that some fans retreat to their basements, throwing away their lives, just so they can immerse themselves in more anime. Now, the question is: Why do some anime fans act like this?
Why are we attracted to nonexistent characters that we know for certain that the chances of him/her jumping out of our TV or computer screens are zero? Perhaps we should go back to the idea of what love is.
All fields of knowledge agree on one thing about love: it’s a kind of attraction. We should also be reminded that love is not limited to interpersonal relationships. One can love to strive for a certain goal, for example. Or he can embrace a certain political philosophy. These things can also be considered love. But what do these have to do with 2D love?
Like political philosophies or goals in life, the attraction to fictional characters may very well be a kind of love for the ideal. By ideal, I don’t mean perfection, but something that the viewer finds very appealing to the point of an emotional and/or sexual attraction, be it for his/her looks or personality, many anime characters are made to appeal to a certain audience, if not all of them.
Let’s take for example, one of the recent favorite waifu candidates among otaku, Tenshi from Angel Beats!. One will notice how her character is made to appeal. Her looks, her mannerisms, her tendency to be soft-spoken,
her seiyuu, how she can use deadly weapons while maintaining composure and still have a vulnerable and lovable side are all things that had made her popular. Note that this set of characteristics appeal greatly to most viewers because they are the “ideal” characteristics that viewers want to see on their screens.
Another possible reason for the strange tendency of anime characters, or fictional characters in general, to have appeal different from, say, real world people is that real people usually put on different personas to adapt to the situation at hand, and tend to react to external stimuli through mostly raw emotion, instead of a general personality pattern, and usually leads to some negative reactions from observers (see those reality shows once in a while).
Fictional characters are different. Their personalities and looks, of course, are crafted by the minds of their creators. It makes sense that if the creator wants his/her character to sell, the character must be constantly appealing, and in check with his/her set personality, else, he/she may lose his/her original fans. This “agreement” on the part of the audience and the creator may be what generates this greatly polarizing thing we call moé.
This brings up an interesting point: why go to the point of romantically falling for the character? As I pointed out earlier, fictional characters act considerably different from their real world counterparts, even if they’re modeled after real people.It may be the vivid representation of the personalities of fictional characters that rarely deviate from what people expect.
Archetypes, like the all-time popular tsundere, have a distinct set of tendencies and personas to be employed in a story. You wouldn’t expect a tsundere to suddenly go ax crazy over his/her object of affection without proper development. Of course, this leads to the viewers’ belief that the said character will still have the same personality, say, 20 years later (Not to mention that he/she will never grow old!). This may be what leads some to fall for anime characters.
Bottom line: people love anime characters because they embody a certain kind of ideal beauty.
But then again, it may just be all for the looks.
Now what do you, dear readers, have to say about 2D love?
- This is purely speculation. Don’t treat this post as the absolute truth.
- As you may see, my ideas are a bit all over the place. I blame university.
- This post took me 3 weeks to finish. That’s how tight my schedule is. (I go to a university far from home, so I have to stay in a dormitory [that has no internet connection so I can only type on weekends].)
- I now have to do a research paper on the packaging of otaku in the Philippines. It was the topic approved by my professor (who was a member of the UP AME [University of the Philippines Anime and Manga Enthusiasts].)
- 2D love and long-distance relationships disproves the chemical explanation for love! Screw pheromones, it’s all about the personality! *says the person who studies chemical engineering*
- I now realize that I am, in fact, an idealist despite my complete denial of it until now.
- I have absolutely no idea why I’m making this notes section.