On 2D Love

Putting a yuri pic as a header pic for no real reason. What has this have to do with the post, you ask? Nothing really. Nodoka x Yue FTW, though.

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.

Note the complete domination of Nodoka Miyazaki in this post.

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?



  1. This is purely speculation. Don’t treat this post as the absolute truth.
  2. As you may see, my ideas are a bit all over the place. I blame university.
  3. 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].)
  4. 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].)
  5. 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*
  6. I now realize that I am, in fact, an idealist despite my complete denial of it until now.
  7. I have absolutely no idea why I’m making this notes section.

About Lucas Magnus

Trying to change for the better.
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30 Responses to On 2D Love

  1. iLegendC says:

    First!! Nice post, as usual~

  2. Azure says:

    What, no Setsuna x Konoka?

    I do love 2D simply because they are different from 3D. You won’t have to know them in person. They are ideal if you want them to be flat chested, they can be. They are not restricted by reality and people are thus enthralled by this quality they possess. Its a dream that we want to believe in.

    I’m almost close to the point of making Kurisu Makise mai waifu but nevermind… I never said that…

    • @fkeroge says:

      “What, no Setsuna x Konoka?”

      I just typed Nodoka Miyazaki on Google and the first pic was in the first page. I support Konoka x Setsuna too. In fact, I support it more than you can imagine.

      “They are not restricted by reality and people are thus enthralled by this quality they possess.”

      This detachment of anime characters from what we usually see in reality may be the greatest appeal of fictional characters. In a sense, everything about them appeals to a target audience to the point of some negative qualities being supplementary to the attractiveness of the character, instead of being a turn-off.

      “I’m almost close to the point of making Kurisu Makise mai waifu but nevermind… I never said that…”

      You’re a girl, right?

      • Azure says:

        Though if the fictional character was copy and pasted into reality, I don’t think that many people would fall for them.

        Excellent question; as my friend was telling me in a serious manner just last week: “Kurisu Makise is turning you gay. But I can understand what you mean.”

        • @fkeroge says:

          That may be true. Perhaps the traits that anime characters have cannot have the same effect when taken out of the screen.

          Most interesting anime characters are women, and most male main characters are as bland as wanton wrappers. So yes, I get your point.

  3. flomu says:

    Most people know of my intense obsession with Mikoto Misaka, and a lot of people assume I’d say she’s “mai waifu,” but SHE’S NOT, DAMN IT! STOP DOING THAT!!

    For me, Mikoto has the coolness and cuteness and everythingness to be my ideal 2D character, yet I wouldn’t say that I’m in love with her. I’m a crazed fanboy, not a crazed stalker!

    (Also, Setsuna >> Nodoka)

    • @fkeroge says:

      “Most people know of my intense obsession with Mikoto Misaka, and a lot of people assume I’d say she’s “mai waifu,” but SHE’S NOT, DAMN IT! STOP DOING THAT!!”

      I don’t understand what you’re trying to say here.

      “For me, Mikoto has the coolness and cuteness and everythingness to be my ideal 2D character, yet I wouldn’t say that I’m in love with her. I’m a crazed fanboy, not a crazed stalker!”

      Keep in mind that loving a fictional character doesn’t necessarily mean going to the extreme. I buy figures and magazines so that I won’t forget how anime has made much of a change in my personality for the better, as well as to immortalize the memories of entertainment that a medium I used to hate has given me.

      There’s nothing wrong about having romantic feelings for a 2D character. They are made to appeal after all. It’s just like falling in love with TV actors and actresses. Nothing wrong with that.

      And why do I feel that you are pinpointing someone with that claim of yours?

      “(Also, Setsuna >> Nodoka)”

      Heh. That’s your opinion. You’re entitled to it.

      • flomu says:

        I’m not saying there’s anything wrong with loving a 2D character (though I guess there sort of is…). I’m speaking more from a personal standpoint. My first blog was dedicated to Mikoto, and people naturally assumed I was one of those crazy otaku who took photos of themselves feeding cake to a character on a monitor. The thing is, I’m not like that! Asking me about my “waifu” irritates me, because I appreciate Mikoto as an anime character rather than as… well, a “waifu.”

        Heck, I’m not very passionate an otaku in the first place. I’m more of the guy who hangs around in the back of aniclub, knowing everything and anything about anime but not outwardly displaying it.

        • @fkeroge says:

          There is a difference between admiration (crush) and obsession. Of course, one may find him/herself getting attracted to a 2D character, but that doesn’t mean, to quote Valence, “…[go] off the deep end.” I can’t judge people who do extreme things like licking a picture of Azusa in their monitors, but I guess it IS kind of off-putting.

          And nothing good ever comes with prejudice. As my English teacher in high school once said, “To assume is to make an “ass” out of “u” and “me”.” Just ignore them and do what you want, as long as you don’t do harm to others.

  4. Valence says:

    Well, you can ask flomu about his waifu for details. What’s it like to have a waifu Flomu?

    Anyway, I don’t think people mean it when they say they love a character. Maybe like, intensely, but not truly ‘love’. Unless some folks have gone down the deep end, I doubt people can fall in love per se with a fictional character.

    • flomu says:

      Oh, shut up! Uru up! Shut sai!

      I’d’ve agreed with you a few years ago, but the things otaku do… It’s really scary/creepy.

      • @fkeroge says:

        Scary they may be, but they aren’t doing anything that does direct harm to you, do they? You don’t have to scour the internet to find, by your words, scary/creepy stuff that extreme otaku do. Besides, I think only a small fraction of anime fans actually hang out on the internet like we do.

    • @fkeroge says:

      I’m not too sure about that. Love is abstract, and can take on many manifestations. Even I am not sure if I have “fallen in love” with a 2D character. Perhaps I have, back when I was 14. And I have also liked a girl back in elementary and another one in high school. The feelings are just about the same, IMO. That indescribable feeling of attraction.

  5. Don’t listen to that flomu fellow, real fake that fellow, first he names his blog after Setsuna, he then hassles this girl named “sometimes” (I don’t know who that is) now he’s cheating with Misaki and last time I saw him swooning with Yukko!

    On a more serious note, I know what it’s like to really fall in love and I don’t feel that way about 2d girls (falling in love with real girls is much more, ehm, “excruciating” if you get me =S). I don’t personally know of any otaku that have gone that far with a single character yet. It sounds very obsessive, but it’s not like I don’t know where they’re coming from. We all feel a little bit like that. But let’s keep things in moderation.

    On the most serious note, KonoSetsu my first yuri ship. Needs more KonoSetsu.

    • @fkeroge says:

      Yeah, I know about Misaki/flomu’s blogging endeavors.

      I personally know a few people who would honestly say that they prefer 2D over 3D. It’s not like it’s a bad thing, really. It’s just preference. I went through a stage like that myself, so I know what they mean.

      “On the most serious note, KonoSetsu my first yuri ship. Needs more KonoSetsu.”

      They were my first yuri ship too. Negima was the first anime that I ever finished, and it was my first exposure to yuri. Nice to meet another comrade out here! ^_^

  6. Nopy says:

    My take on it is that anime characters define physical beauty (at least in asian cultures). For the most part, they all have large and expressive eyes, smooth skin, fair skin tone, silky hair, slim waistlines, small noses, and perfectly-shaped boobs. Why go for imperfect “3D” people with their hairy arms, pimples, fat, and oily faces when you can dream of perfection?

  7. Jacksonite says:

    I personally prefer fake cartoons over real people. They’re so much more realistic.

  8. Yumeka says:

    Great points in this post. You’re right that anime characters are tailored to have appealing traits while still maintaining certain human emotions for us to relate to. A good character is one who balances having appealing traits together with well developed complexity and realistic emotions, but not being as chaotically complex as a real-live person.

    Since nobody can truly define love, who’s to say that love for a 2D character is any less than love for a real person. They’re just different.

  9. tsurugiarashix says:

    I love and appreciate 2D characters, but I prefer to keep myself grounded in the real world. Although, it is nice dreaming of being with characters like Shana and Misaka opposed to more annoying girls. Too bad I can not say that since I have girlfriend XD

  10. Shance says:

    Your notes section should look better as footnotes, since I have to actually find where your notes connect to your writing. But like you said, university and stuff.

    Anyways, I think I find it fit to quote a certain fine gentleman:

    “Humans are capable of finding a familiar image in even the most abstract drawing.”
    – Harunobu Madarame

    Therefore, this superficial love for someone (or something, if we look at it in a logical and frank sense) that does not exist is the result of what our minds perceive in such a character. From the character’s looks, gestures, and eventual changes from story development, we are made to see, percieve and finally, feel for, the character that corresponds to our preferences.

    I have also made theoretical discussions and posts about 2D and its correlations to the human, three-dimensional emotion. You guys might find it enlightening:

    The 2D Files: The Case of “Simulated Depth”
    The 2D Files: Dimension 2.5

  11. blacksun88 says:

    i agree with you that it is easy for people to romatically fall for anime characters, simply because they can be easily viewed as the fictionalization of their idealized love interests… and most of the time they act in favour of the male protagonist as compared their real-life counterpart in nasty situation (which often favour themselves), so it is hard not to like them…

  12. Seinime says:

    I guess 2D love can be viewed as an ideal character/archetype, since I do wish some 3D girls would have some traits that 2D girls might have. Not that it’s impossible, but very rare/hard to see.

    Personally indifferent in 2D, 3D girls. Has to be 3D sometime. Some people take 2D love real far, and that’s their decision. I’m not sure how tolerant I would be though, if I actually see it.

    And @flomu is a player.

  13. Nadja says:

    Really interesting post.

    Personally, I really don’t think I could ever truly fall in love with an anime character. I do love some, but not obsessively. It’s mostly admiration that pulls me to some of my favorite characters, though I wouldn’t want to meet them in real life; I know I won’t meet them in real life (unless you count cosplayers haha). I suppose there’s just something more attractive about real 3D people. They react to you. They can hug you, kiss you, need you. 2D can’t do any of that.

  14. nicole says:

    what beautiful pictures.I love anime. the pictures look awesome.

  15. nicole says:

    have u watched ouran high school host club?

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