Comfort Entertainment: Lovably Flawed Anime Characters

Screenshot of Hikaru Hitachiin from ‘Ouran High School Host Club’. Copyright goes to Funimation and Bisco Hatori.

Hi! It’s Annie!

Sorry for the late post! I think one major difference with the way I currently consume fictional content to the way I used to when I was younger, is my newfound appreciation for flawed characters. In this blog I constantly talk about how I love a flawed character, and that didn’t necessarily used to be the case. When a character showed a relatable flaw that involved them being somewhat rude to another character, I used to question their motivations and sometimes even become annoyed. So, re-watching some of my favorite shows that I haven’t watched for years now has given me a whole new perspective on them. And that means seeing a side of certain characters that I hadn’t before. Recently I’ve particularly been into watching K-Dramas and Anime, though K-Dramas is a new thing for me. So the only way I can talk about how my opinions of a character changed is to talk about Anime specifically. So that’s what I’m going to do! Here are some of my favorite characters from some of my favorite Anime, who I’ve been given a new perspective on when re-watching them.

Hikaru Hitachiin from ‘Ouran High School Host Club’:

Before: ‘Ouran High School Host Club’ was my very first Anime and has been one of my comfort shows for years. I think you might also be able to tell that this one majorly influenced my aesthetic. An elegant setting, pastel colors (mostly pink), a gorgeous and calming instrumental soundtrack, and the lighthearted goofiness of the show all fit right into my wheelhouse. Watching it again, it is very clear that some characters get more time to shine than others. We honestly don’t get a whole lot focused on either Mori or Kaoru. And this is because they usually share their stories with Hani and Hikaru respectively, both of which are usually the focus of the episodes those duos get. I used to not as much mind this with Mori and Hani, because Mori purposefully didn’t say much. But I couldn’t stand this with Hikaru and Kaoru. And while I wish both twins would have gotten equal time, there’s another explanation that made me realize the purpose of this. They, rightfully, decided that the brothers shouldn’t both have huge crushes on Haruhi, so they focus on the brother who does. Not a great explanation, but not a bad one either. However, the other reason why I used to hate this decision is because I didn’t like Hikaru. Specially for that episode where he insults Haruhi’s childhood friend. He’s pretty irritated for the majority of the episode and doesn’t truly apologize until the very end, though it is heartfelt. But the way he acts aloof and far off for most of the episode left me with a bad taste in my mouth.

After: Hikaru has recently become quite possibly my favorite character from Ouran. Why the massive change? Because I love flawed characters! And because I now find him incredibly relatable. Hikaru obviously has massive trust issues and is nervous of too much change at once. While Hikaru usually seems to be pretty out there and masks very well with humor, it’s his vulnerable moments that really break down what we occasionally see under all that. He’s worried that his friends will leave him at the slightest suggestion, he’s afraid of losing Haruhi who’s the only person who has ever been able to tell him apart from his brother, and he’s very afraid of being inconsequential to someone he considers himself to be close to. Because he’s a twin and he’s used to being thought of as not having much in the way of emotion and mostly just thought of as an act. And the episode I mentioned above is perfect at drawing out all of those insecurities that make him want to shut out everyone else in a desperate attempt to keep his heart safe and in tact. While Kaoru is much more well adjusted, Hikaru is still coping with his issues. Which is understandable. And I think it says a lot that as soon as he realized that Haruhi was not where he assumed she’d be; he went out searching for Haruhi in the rain for hours. No umbrella, no shelter. He only stopped when he could find her, help her with her own coping mechanisms for the thunder storm, and truly apologize for how he acted. Watching it again, it is a perfect example of a well written episode on a character flaw, complete with realization and redemption.

Satori Tendo from ‘Haikyuu!’:

Before: When I first watched ‘Haikyuu! a few years back, I wasn’t at all interested in the characters that weren’t from Karasuno. There were already so many characters to focus on there that I could barely even think about the massive fan base behind many of the other players from the other teams, except for maybe Nekoma. Obviously Nekoma has Kenma and some other gems, but the show purposefully makes them stand out. Especially because they are the closest friends and main enemies to the team at Karasuno. But the other teams and their players? Not so much. It felt like their time on screen was so fleeting and I couldn’t get all that invested in their stories. At least, not nearly as invested as I was with Karasuno winning that game and Nishinoya making those jaw-dropping saves. Upon my recent rewatch of ‘Haikyuu!’ I was absolutely certain that would be the case again. I mean, how could characters from other teams win me over when I’m already so busy trying to figure out my favorite character on the Karasuno team? And while I wasn’t won over by any team more than Karasuno, my appreciation for many characters went up while watching this show this time around.

After: No character caught my eye from another team quite like Satori Tendo. He first caught my attention on my rewatch when I was looking at dubbed scenes from ‘Haikyuu!’. The dub was the first way that I watched it and really got me into the show itself, so I miss some of the crazy hilarious comedy from the dub. It’s really difficult to find the dub now, so I usually have to watch the sub when I go back and watch it. But nothing quite grabs your attention like Satori’s demented and hilarious singing. “SMASH WHAT?” But when it actually came time for me to watch the match between Karasuno and Shiratorizawa, I was not expecting the emotional blow I would receive from the slightly creepy and demented appearing character. His tall stature and wide eyes do emphasize the intimidation factor, which he certainly uses on the court, but that doesn’t mean he’s respected for it off of the court. Satori was often made fun of for his looks growing up; continuously declared creepy, called a monster outright, and said to be too much to be friends with classmates and teammates alike. Something that he coped with by allowing himself to be true to himself on the court and showing that maybe looking creepy was good for something. Though he’s usually a fan of the looks of defeat on the faces of the other teams, it doesn’t make him a bad person off the court. He’s been known to comfort teammates when they cry and is overall a pretty fun guy to be around. His sense of loneliness only endears you more to him…and obviously the singing too. The singing is amazing. In the manga he becomes a chocolatier at the end; how cool is that? Though this isn’t like Hikaru where he became my new favorite character, that title still goes to the unbeatable Nishinoya, he actually became one of my favorite characters. Even ranking above a few Karasuno players, which is really saying something for me.

Ryuji Sakamoto from ‘Persona 5’:

Before: I know, I know, this isn’t necessarily an Anime. But they did make an Anime for it that I’ve watched and loved, so I’m going to say that it counts. Ryuji was my least favorite character on my first playthrough watch of this game. I don’t quite remember entirely why because I’m so in love with the character now, but I have some ideas. Ryuji is a bit of a delinquent who has absolutely no filter and will just say anything that comes to mind. That includes saying exactly what he thinks of Ann’s looks and also constantly getting into fights with Morgana that I found to be very irritating at first. Ryuji was a character that I just couldn’t come around to, no matter how long the game spent with him.

After: Ryuji is now my favorite character after Ann. Part of that is the dub actor Max Mittelman who put so much heart and comedic timing into his performance of Ryuji. Often times I feel Ryuji is a needed foil to Morgana and I always appreciate his input. I am actually now firmly among the crowd of people who are not happy with the scene where he was essentially beaten up after the girls perceived him to be dead! I didn’t remember that from my first time watching my sister play the game. Seriously, that was so misplaced. But Ryuji feels so real to me now revisiting the game or the Anime. He’s this perfect example of a High School kid who was victimized by the schooling system. He doesn’t fight back just to fight; he fights back so that nobody ever has to go through what he did ever again. And he’s one of the most willing to speak out when something messed up happens. Ryuji not having a filter is something he uses to his advantage. It’s something he uses to advocate for a better world. And while not everything that comes out of his mouth is incredibly profound; it would be weird if not having a filter was a character trait only applied to him when it best suited him. I’m glad that he’s consistent and, most of all, I’m so glad that he’s Ryuji. A comfort character for me that I never knew I needed previously.

I would absolutely love to make another list like this and include more female characters, but unfortunately we still do struggle with seeing many female characters with development like this. I hope I’ll eventually find some to talk about in the future! But these three characters that I’ve listed above really have become very dear to me and some of my new favorite fictional characters of all time. When writing or watching media, we all have to remember that nobody is perfect. Nobody copes with things the same way. And showing a character who’s flawed or attempting to figure out coping mechanisms is not only relatable, but very much needed. We need to have examples in media that show people that it’s ok to be working through issues and trying to find the next step. It’s a part of life. And just like these characters, it doesn’t make you any less lovable to struggle sometimes.

See you across the pond!

Sincerely, Annie

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