This isn’t your sister’s figurine,
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.
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.
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?
Dreaded are the days where anime fans will have to contend with the mass media using their terms to describe fan favorite female actors.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.