Waifish Waifus – A Commentary

Today's waifu on the go: No longer restricted to a dusty shelf or placed near a monitor, this Houki "nendo" has been taken for a ride by it's owner.

Today’s waifu on the go: No longer restricted to a dusty shelf or placed near a monitor, this Houki “nendo” has been taken for a ride by its owner. Picture Source: Nitroxide, wild man and anime enthusiast.

This isn’t your sister’s figurine,

It’s a much beloved and treasured article for an anime fan. At least the ones that like Houki Shinonono from the anime Infinite Stratos.

In this particular editorial piece, I will discuss some of my thoughts on the concept of the waifu, and the meaning that it has for today’s hustle bustling “on the go” anime fan.

Drawing from my own pool of limited knowledge of the past, my first experience of the “waifu” factor was probably Sailor Venus.

Back then, however, I saw her as a childhood crush and a favorite character rolled into one loveable package that the younger, more naive and innocent, version of myself couldn’t resist getting excited over her appearances in the Sailor Moon anime and her transformations.

Though to be fair I had a very similar attraction to some of the girls in Pokemon, leading me to think that I didn’t have a waifu, being the up and coming anime enthusiast I was back then.

I could, but wouldn’t, say that this is where it began for a lot of people, but carrying on a pledge of loyalty of my affections for anime girls, for some 20 or so years, would be a tremendous and award deserving feat. As for generalizations, the concept has probably existed throughout time immemorial, what with artists and female muses, sculptures, and even ancient graffiti in the ruined city of Pompeii.

Makes me wonder if Hadrian Augustus had a waifu back then.

Makes me wonder if Hadrian Augustus had a waifu back then.

Speaking of history, the word “waifu“, like some might think, does not have a history of a being a racist or derogatory mockery of the Japanese enunciation of the english word “Wife”. It actually has its roots in a very popular anime/manga series, Azumanga Diaoh (lit. Great King Azumanga) in a scene in episode 15 where one of the characters, Kimura, drops a photo of an attractive woman. When his students clamor around the photo, he announces that the woman is in fact “Mai Waifu“.

Though that’s the internet meme version that is popular today, Japanese men have been saying “waifu” in reference to their wives for some time now, far predating the show, but nonetheless a rather interesting historical foot note.

The term “waifu” became rather popular in the mid 2000’s, and with the spread of the term, so came the definitions. It generally came to define an anime fan’s favorite character, or to a more extreme example, the object of desire for an otaku. For those interested, there’s an easily looked up FAQ on what a waifu is, but for posterity, I won’t link it here.

Collections of figurines, as well as posing them, is a common hobby of anime fans. Picture Source: A good friend of mine, you know who you are, and thank you for giving me some photos for this article, even though it took a long time.

Collections of figurines, as well as posing them, is a common hobby of anime fans.
Picture Source: A good friend of mine, you know who you are, and thank you for giving me some photos for this article, even though it took a long time to end up writing this article..

Use of the term “Waifu

Over the long passage of time from 2002, to our modern-day, misuse of the term “waifu” has become more common.

Though I previously mentioned that the definition stretched to include favorite characters, it was not always that way. Numerous flame wars, trash talking, and disrespect were dished out in regular intervals when someone talked about their waifu online (though nowadays, it’s devolved into idiocy of “best girl” discussions). In fact, one could say it was much more personal to someone than just favoritism, almost like a lifestyle or religion based of material goods and a fictional 2d character.

The Japanese equivalent is “俺の嫁” (lit. my bride) which has a more serious connotation than the joke-like western version.

It essentially became a meme, and like all memes, they run their course (sometimes right into the ground). Ironic usage, status symbol propping, and in some cases having a waifu just to fit in are part and parcel in our decade. The term has even been used by professionals in media, not just in quotes, to describe female anime characters/protagonists. Truly we live in an ever-changing world, don’t we?

Summer anime goes through a rigorous process of QA and vetting, so that we can pass off the pinpoint goodness to you, the readers.

Pictured here is resident writer Don Don Kun under stress about discussing his waifu in public channels and popular media.

Dreaded are the days where anime fans will have to contend with the mass media using their terms to describe fan favorite female actors.

Scholars predict that this will be the future "that we chose"

Scholars predict that this will be the future “that we chose

What I’ve always found amusing was that in some cliques/communities, having a waifu is pretty much mandatory as it functions as a sort of “street cred” for them, but they have one ironically because it’s the hip thing to do. So I’m never sure if they like that character or it’s just a passing fad until something new comes along. Talk about cognitive dissonance.

Why “Waifish“?

Well for one, “Waifish” isn’t actually a proper word, but it does have the definition of being most commonly attributed to “waifs” (neglected children/women) and it fits a lot of the alliterative theme that I choose for my posts. Which is essentially the end of the history lesson and to the point of why I wanted to write this: Waifu’s are barely a serious thing anymore.

Otaku do take them very serious, like the story of the man who married his waifu, Nene Anagasaki from a game called LovePlus, or the rising number of maid/comfort cafes in Japan. It’s always really been a meme in the west, and if they could actually map divorce rates for characters, it’d probably look apocalyptic.

In the grim future of the 21st century, there is only... Waifus.

In the grim future of the 21st century, there is only… Waifus.

That would be silly to even try to keep track of, or even enforce some sort of responsibility on people to not dump last season’s best girl, for next season’s probably best girl.

In my opinion, it’s just shallow consumerism, or sometimes not if you don’t buy the merchandise, and being pointlessly manipulated. I’m pretty worn out over the increasing amounts of fanservice, and the heavy emphasis on character design for the female characters taking precedent over plot or cinematography.

It’s gotten so bad lately that you can tell what new characters (especially the females) role/character type are going to be, just by looking at them once and the colors.

IMG_0294

It’s not even that “anime was so much better back in 19xx” can even be used as a rebuttal to this trend without seeming like an idiot (rightfully so), but more of a market trend.

A lot of these things correlate and end up surmising the entire reason why someone even purchases/watches/plays stuff any more, and it’s got a lot to do with the girls. Doesn’t matter if you’re making a game like Life is Strange (a game with a progressive theme to it and is lauded by many of the leftist progressives), a lot of the girls in that game are very attractive, and are designed to appeal, which subtracts from the story as a whole. When you boil it down, it’s just a half-baked story about a young girl abusing time manipulation powers to her own ends, all the while never actually doing something interesting with it.

Let me tell you, I can only make room for two pieces of media about time travel in this post, and I’ve hit the cap.

IN CLOSING

As for my closing thoughts, waifus are a very important discussion piece on the topic of anime fan culture, and should be documented by insiders, rather than outsiders.

What may look to be shallow consumerism, obsession, mania, or despairing, is actually an expression of raw passion for the arts.

Rather than be viewed as a joke, it should be noted in a way that will define this period of time in the history of Japanese animation.

The swan song of the anime fan, really is his waifu’s last episode. God speed Hikari-chan.

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3 responses to “Waifish Waifus – A Commentary

  1. Who’s your waifu prinny-san?!?

    On your paramount and dare I say presumptuous statement that the anime industry is turning into $**t thanks to the waifu trend: I in part do agree. But emphatically turning the attention to an attractive character is a ubiquitous marketing and sales ploy, and it’d be a bit overboard to assert that waifu-ism sparked a whole ‘nother trend rather than simply capitalizing on the said ploy. It’s a mere psychological phenomenon for us to subconsciously gift favoritism to more attractive individuals. That, and the escapism aspect of not having to deal with your waifu, wife, girlfriend, and girls in general having personalities and burdens that may take up personal investments, makes for quite a toxic cycle.

    To be frankllio (frank + Stellio), I’ve always used waifu pretty flippantly as a term and I’m sure most people in the west do too – because no matter how indulged one may be, they’ll only be a weeaboo without the native modern Japanese culture that acquiesces the influx of otakus and otaku culture. It’s an entirely different issue to visualize and understand actual otakus in japan who faithfully pray to their waifu shrine: the latter statement in no sense being humorous or hyperbolic.

    • I’m afraid of commitment.

      My biggest worry and the source of my rather harsh complaint about modern anime, is that different groups are trying to “distill” waifus, to the point where they can remove the social stigma and sell the product with lean cuts of moe. (cough cough Fire Emblem Fates)

      What this worryingly does is make things very shit. I’m not talking about shit from a technical perspective, it’s the kind of abstract shit where you’re sitting there for a half hour and you already picked out your favorite girl, and ignore everything else. Casualization, in a sense.

      You think this is a joke? Look around people, society is crumbling! Do you know why? Waifu overload man! As a society we’re drowning in a quagmire of doujins, OVAs, and blurays. We can’t absorb it all! There is only one sane solution… BLOW IT ALL UP!

      • Well how I see it is that waifu-ism is merely a niche for otaku-ism. So perhaps anime (and even television) was doomed to head towards this direction, when hardcore fans and otakus were accepted into scoiety. I cannot deny the fact that the shows you described do exist, but those are the very forte of visual novels (i.e. romance series) and a lot of manga influences that include, and often pedestalize, heroines. The failure of the current anime industry, then, cannot be attributed to waifu-ism, but rather everything that entails waifu-ism.

        I have no research substantiating this, but I did always think that otaku consumerism became a striving force as modern animation began to capture reality, well, more realistically. Things like moe, though greatly exaggerative, accentuated the attractiveness and cuteness of humans to cater to consumers. And by humans I really mean Asians, but that’s again using the least reliable source of evidence, personal experiences.