“Here we go again.”
It’s what I continuously say season after season when another discourse comes to light within the anime community. I don’t think it would necessarily be a problem if the discussions were fruitful and people were more understanding, a problem that I talked about back when responding to Irina’s article several months ago. That’s not to say that I think discourse is invalid or that I think that people shouldn’t be discussing how they feel about a particular show, but there’s a limit as to how you should do it and treating your debate partners with respect and understanding while doing so.
We’ll make everyone’s dreams come true!
Note: This will contain some heavy spoilers about the ending of the Love Live! The School Idol Movie. If you haven’t seen the movie before reading this post, then I’d suggest doing so beforehand.
Idol shows are one of those things within the anime community that people either love or absolutely hate. There’s a lot of polarization between fans that like shows with “mature and gritty” stories and those that tend to enjoy milder, “moe” settings. While anime be at all places within that spectrum, idol shows tend to fall on the “moe” side merely because of the character designs and the content discussed, and therefore causes a lot of “tension” (read: shit-posting) between the two fanbases, especially when it comes to the online anime community. Some associate the “moe” side of the spectrum with slice-of-life comedies that have no story or overarching plot; I personally think they’re just missing out.
Fair warning, while I try to be unbiased to an extent in my discussions, I feel this one is a bit more opinionated than my other ones. I’m not deeply entrenched in 4chan’s /a/ or other anime communities, so my viewpoint about the terms “waifu” and “best girl” comes from a different perspective. Anyway, I hope you enjoy reading my discussion!
If you’ve ever watched Azumanga Daioh, there’s a hilarious scene where the creepy teacher of the school, Kimura, drops a picture of a beautiful woman from his coat pocket. The students pick it up and comment on how she’s very beautiful and looks like a nice woman, wondering who she might be. The creeper of a teacher suddenly appears from behind them and exclaims in deadpan, broken English that she’s “Mai waifu.” The students freak out, not only over his sudden appearance, but that such a beautiful and charming woman would be married to a suspected pedophile and scary man.
Originally, the terms “waifu” and “hazu” were borrowed from English in the early 1980s in order to better define modern marriage in Japan as the original Japanese term for wife, “Kanai”, means “inside the house” and the term for husband, “shujin” or “danna”, means “master”. Obviously outdated, “waifu” and “hazu” were adopted to show a modern expression of equal treatment. While Japanese otaku definitely would have used the term before, fans of the show Azumanga Daioh thought the juxtaposition of a possible pedobear with a wonderfully nice woman, as well as the teacher’s broken English response, were so funny, the term “Mai Waifu” came to become a meme for the people of the Internet. The term means that a female character a person enjoys is so loved by that person, they claim to be “married” to them. People have also used it to refer to their favorite character in general, disregarding gender and including male characters in a humorous, but endearing way as also their “waifus” and sometimes “husbandos”. While for some, the level of love towards their fictional character is just a fun aside to their own lives, many on the Internet latched onto the idea of having an actual love interest in their two dimensional favorite characters. This in itself is not bad as I feel we’ve all been there to certain extents. I know I personally love at least half of the main characters Joss Whedon has ever written and, given the chance, I would absolutely date Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly and I’m a hetero male. However, it’s important to note that these fantasies can be taken too far.