Yes, I have coined terms straight from one of my favourite websites, tvtropes.org; I hope that’s not an issue? Any usage of their terminology is merely to help illustrate my points!
Archetypes, for those who may not know, are universally acknowledged sets of characteristics, representing particular types of personality; they occur across mediums and are especially rampant in anime. Some examples of well-known archetypes include: damsel in distress, prince charming and villain-turned-good-guy.
We all have our favourite character archetypes, those that lighten up our screens and put smiles on our faces. I just thought I’d share with you some of my own personal favourites in preparation for my upcoming list of favourite characters. In much the same way my What makes a 10/10 anime? post helped justify the presence of some of the shows on my Top 30, this should help justify why I cherish those characters so dearly. Let me know what you think and what some of your favourite character archetypes are but, I should warn you, the first to say ‘tsundere’ is getting salmoned…
Simply, a character that dresses up as a member of the opposite sex. Whilst I enjoy the occasional reverse trap, (an acquired taste) this paragraph mainly refers to the regular trap, a guy dressed as a girl. Now to explain why I enjoy this archetype without sounding like a shallow twat/pervert! Reason no.1: successful traps, i.e. those without stubble, do not seem to exist outside of anime, so they hold a certain novelty factor. Reason no.2: I believe that, generally, there are two explanations as to why you’d dress up as a member of the opposite sex, both being explanations that are interesting to see explored: for the thrill of it, something which can easily be portrayed in a comedic sense, or because they feel as though they’ve been born in the wrong body, something which can, (and has) been explored in a more sensitive manner. Anyway, my point is, traps are more versatile than people have been led to believe. Reason no.3: I’m horribly typical of a large proportion of female anime fans in that, I just prefer the more effeminate guy- they’re just so pretty!
In the words of tvtropes.org, a yandere is someone who’s crazy for someone else, literally! Whilst they look as though butter wouldn’t melt in their mouths, in actuality, they’re likely to take an axe to the face of whoever interferes with their love. I believe the average yandere to be a thousand times more interesting than the more prevalent ‘tsundere’- it’s wonderful to deliberate over what it is that drives their obsession, it is very rarely their love, but instead some deep-rooted desire to be wanted, brought about by something that has happened in their past. Another reason I adore this archetype is that it is surprisingly versatile in that they can be used for both comedy, (their extreme actions are often out of place) and horror, (you just don’t know when they’re gonna snap!) I’m excited to see yanderes gain in popularity as of late with the rise of yandere queen, Yuno Gasai.
This refers to a character who works outside of the rules, deviating from society’s norms, values and expectations and doing so with relish. Whilst on the exterior, they seem friendly enough; in reality they often use their superior intelligence to be incredibly manipulative. I not only find this particular archetype extremely fascinating for the command they have over other characters but, because you can often spend the entire duration of a show trying to deduce what may be causing them to act with such disregard for their fellow man, usually with little success! Izaya Orihara fits into this category perfectly, he just acts so callously towards those around him (despite claiming to love humans), and I never was able to work out with his beef was… These characters are often so eccentric they warp entire scenes around them. Even when Liam and Sharon were having a serious conversation, I couldn’t help but look at Break lying across the table, kicking his legs, yelling “Air~! Air~!” So, for having such a command over both characters within the show and its viewers by being so darn intriguing, this archetype is a must-have on this list!
The sex goddess
As a woman with Feminist leanings, I love the female characters that could, quite easily, eat men for breakfast! These women ooze a seductive combination of intelligence, power and sexuality, e.g. Bleach’s Yoruichi Shihouin, XXXHOLiC’s Yuuko Ichihara and Umineko’s Beatrice. These are women that don’t take shit from anyone, especially men who, for the most part, they treat in a way that can easily be described as being condescending. They embrace their sexuality and often use it to manipulate, titillate or tease the men around them- I’m thinking of the times Yoruichi let Ichigo see her naked, merely to provoke a reaction and subsequently tease him here! These women laugh in the face of moe-blob girls who’re all “I made you a boxed lunch today sempai!” and “Please except my feelings!” and are, essentially, my role models, the kind of women that I, someday, would like to be like.
The prince charming
This generally refers to charismatic male characters who always manage to overcome the odds to save the damsel in distress. The phrase ‘chivalry is dead’ never seems more true than when I have a football thrown full-pelt at my head by a group of raucous hooligans in my college study room, (for the umpteenth time!), so when presented with a guy in anime that places women on a pedestal, I turn to mush! The more charming, the better! As much as I love this archetype for creating some of my favourite anime couples, (Takizawa and Saki, anyone? No? What about Dominic and Anemone?) the main reason I love it is pretty shameful! I just find the more charming, charismatic male extremely attractive! Yeah, pretty shallow, huh?