A few months ago, a friend sent me a YouTube video of an anime I had never seen before. I don’t remember the title, but the animation was exquisite. It really made me want to draw better just seeing this. The play of light was lifelike, the scenery was well painted, not even a stitch of CGI to be seen.
And the colors. The colors were vibrant and intense. So vivid and perfect, you could tell that the studio that made this put their soul into it. Just marvelous.
… And then there was a story.
Now again, I don’t remember the anime, so I’m going to re-name the cast. I’m sure these names are not even in the same hemisphere as the actual names of the characters, this is just so I can tell the story here.
So there are two friends, one is Agatha and the other is Yuri. Both are in their early teens, but Yuri looks and acts like a 6 year old. Agatha dresses her age and has long, green hair while Yuri has brown pigtails that stop high above her immensely large head and a stereotypically GIRL outfit, frilly, bows, candy hearts, just supremely girly.
There’s a boy in this anime. Let’s call him Takato. Now Takato has no actual personality, he’s just here for the sake of eye candy.
Now Agatha and Yumi know this third girl, Tomoyo. Tomoyo looks almost as adorable as Yuri, but is wearing a long white shirt and pants. She too has green hair.
Tomoyo likes Takato, but he doesn’t notice her. In fact, he doesn’t notice anything. Tomoyo sees Yuri talking to him, and freaks the hell out, thinking that Takato is going to ask Yuri out on a date.
Now up until this point, this looks like a funny, cute, baby anime. Everyone has abnormally large, gem like eyes (yes, even for an anime) and the colors are all candy like. There’s even a catchy J-Pop tune in the background, and everything has bubbles and flowers on it.
Tomoyo leads Yuri away to a bright purple cave. There’s even cute little animals surrounding the cave, and Yuri is asking Tomoyo about a CD she wanted to share.
Suddenly, Yuri is bound to a rock and crying. Tomoyo screams something unintelligible, and pulls out a hatchet. Yuri blushes heavily, and says “It’s alright. I love you and I forgive you.” Yuri is then hacked to death by Tomoyo. WHAT THE FUCK??
There is blood everywhere, this may be one of the goriest things I’ve ever seen, and that’s scary considering that I’ve watched Sam Rami movies and Akira. Tomoyo is being splashed with Yuri’s life blood and laughing.
Suddenly, she stops hacking, grabs her head and screams. She is suddenly sad that Yuri is no longer alive.
As she’s trying to clean Yuri up, Agatha races to Tomoyo and screams. Apparently Yuri was never a threat to what Tomoyo wanted with Takato… because Yuri was Takato’s baby sister.
It was 9 a.m. before I finally went to bed.
Now had this had been one of those Akira drawn type, shock value anime titles, I wouldn’t care. But this was drawn like Magical Do Re Mi. Yeah. Imagine one of those kids with a hatchet blade. Not so cute now, is she??
Now the term Yandere used to be a slur that means “bi-polar” which is why I’m not comfortable using it. It’s like the N word or the term “retard”. You really shouldn’t throw this word around like that.
But Yandere is now a genre of anime, and it’s fan base is HUGE with people of all ages latching onto it. It actually can transcend all types of programming real easy, and Yandere characters are some of the most popular around.
A good example of Yandere is this:
Yeah, scary as shit right??
Now Yandere characters are nothing new, but there used to be more substance to them.
Used to be, a Yandere character was either an evil master mind, or the possessor of a great power that is just starting to manifest. (Imagine in the X-Men series if there was a new mutant who just now hit puberty. Yeah, like that.)
A good example of how Yandere used to be handled in anime is Sailormoon S character, Hotaru Tomoe:
Hotaru was an early example of Yandere. One minute she was a quiet, shy girl who keeps to herself. The next? She’s blasting people left and right and trying to steal her best friend’s heart, straight beating from her chest.
But Hotaru’s personality disorder had a valid excuse. She was technically three people in one:
Sailor Saturn: Forbidden Senshi of destruction on the verge of re-awakening.
Mistress 9: Mistress of Master Pharaoh 90, evolved Daimon, hell bent on destroying the world and harnessing the power of heart crystals and the Holy Grail.
Hotaru Tomoe: Innocent Goth 12 year old, whose possessed father was surgically speeding her through puberty in their basement.
See it all makes sense, and eventually this did all work itself out. The part of her that was Mistress 9 was killed by Hotaru’s good soul, Saturn and Hotaru died separately, and then the two were re-joined and reborn right on the field of battle, adopted by Sailor Pluto, and teenaged lesbian common-laws Sailors Neptune and Uranus and then raised to be a good Sailor Senshi and sent to a nice school. (… what?)
Until 2000, Yandere characters had super powers and a valid explanation for their behavior, and always there was either a cure or work-around that would later help the character live a long and happy life. Most of the time they were hidden super heroes, like in the case of Hotaru.
Now? Not so much. A Yandere usually has no powers, no actual reason is given for their behavior, and now they’re in children’s anime.
This morning I woke up to an episode of Beyblade, which I was unaware is still producing new episodes. There was a flashback scene after character Masamune meets up with a friend in a wheelchair. (I don’t actually follow the series, so I Wiki’ed his name.)
In the flashback scene, Masamune is shown as a little kid, pretty much being shat upon by total strangers, playing with the Beyblade tops and their accessories. (Product placement? Nooo. Perish the thought!) So lil’ squirt goes into a center where they’re playing the game.
Tons of kids are in a room, joking, laughing and having a good time playing.
Seeing the game, Masamune asks if he can play too.
Suddenly, all of these kids gang up on him, shaking him and threatening his life. “WHAT THE HECK IS YOUR PROBLEM? WE DON’T WANT YOUR KIND AROUND, GET LOST!!” Wow, total Yandere scene, even the music changed.
Then an extremely mannish child (seriously, have the animators ever even SEEN a tween before?!) challenges him. Masamune wins, and suddenly the kids who threatened to punch his face in want to be his best friends.
It’s one thing to tell a poignant tale, but this has gotten out of control.