When it comes to Japanese media tropes, there are a few that get tossed around the anime community pretty often. From the beloved tsundere to the generic shounen protagonist, but one is probably more infamous than all the rest. That trope is commonly known as the yandere and even if you don’t really know what it means or what a yandere character is, you have almost definitely heard of the term before.
Whether you’ve heard a friend call a character it, or if you’ve heard about it from an infamous indie game, this trope is one of the most well-known in the genre but just what is it exactly and what does it entail? We’ll don’t worry because if you want to know what a yandere is, we want to help you get informed!
So let’s dive into the world of yanderes, what the term means, the use of the trope and some of the most famous examples of this archetype in anime.
First things first, what does the term actually mean? Yandere is a term that describes a character who is initially very loving and affectionate towards someone, usually a romantic interest, but becomes violent, possessive, and even murderous if they perceive that their love interest is being threatened or taken away from them.
The term “yandere” is a combination of the Japanese words “yanderu,” meaning “mentally ill,” and “dere,” meaning “lovestruck” or “lovestruck behavior.”
A yandere character is often depicted as having a split personality or suffering from some form of mental illness that causes them to become obsessive and violent towards their love interest. They can be very sweet and caring one moment, and then suddenly become jealous and aggressive when they feel their love is being threatened. They may resort to stalking, manipulation, and even violence to keep their love interest close to them.
They are also known for being even more violent and dangerous to those that they view as competition to the person they are infatuated with. Often times this results in them plotting to “eliminate” their competition, either by getting them to fall out of love with the person, getting their target to not like them, or through more insidious means like kidnapping or even murder.
Yanderes are more often than not female characters but it’s not exclusive as there are examples of males in this archetype that we will get into in a bit.
Use of Yandere as a Trope in Japanese Anime
Yandere characters are often used to create a sense of tension and drama in a story. Yandere characters can be seen as both cute and scary at the same time, which makes them interesting to watch.
One of the reasons yandere characters are so popular is because they represent a type of love that is all-consuming and extreme. They are willing to do anything to protect and possess their love interest, which can make for a very dramatic plot.
In anime, yandere characters are often portrayed as being sweet and caring, but with an underlying darkness that slowly reveals itself over time. They may start off as innocent and naive, but as they become more obsessed with their love interest, their behaviour becomes more erratic and dangerous.
Yandere characters tend to use violence to get what they want, combined with their mental illness makes them unpredictable, which can have them make very irrational decisions which add even more drama to a story. This can include stalking, threatening, or even killing anyone who they perceive as a threat to their relationship with their love interest.
Examples of famous yandere anime characters
Kotonoha Katsura (School Days)
Kotonoha Katsura from School Days is often cited as a classic example of this character trope in anime and manga.
Kotonoha’s behavior is typical of the yandere trope in that she is willing to do anything to possess and control her love interest, including manipulating and stalking him. She becomes increasingly unstable and dangerous as the series progresses, and her obsession with her love interest ultimately leads to her downfall.
Yuno Gasai (Future Dairy)
Another Character that’s a famous and near textbook example of the trope is Yuno Gasai from Future Dairy.
At the beginning of the series, Yuno is portrayed as a sweet and caring girl who is in love with the protagonist, Yukiteru Amano. However, as the series progresses, Yuno’s behavior becomes increasingly possessive and obsessive towards Yukiteru.
Her obsession with him becomes all-consuming, and she is willing to sacrifice anyone who gets in the way of their relationship and she is very willing to resort to violence.
Himiko Toga (My Hero Academia)
Himiko Toga from My Hero Academia is another example of the Yandere trope but somehow in a more gross way.
Himiko is a member of the League of Villains, and she is depicted as a cheerful and bubbly girl who is obsessed with blood and violence. Her obsession with blood is linked to her Quirk, which allows her to transform into anyone whose blood she has consumed. Himiko’s behavior becomes increasingly obsessive and possessive towards the protagonist, Izuku Midoriya, and she becomes fixated on him.
Throughout the series Toga exhibits classic yandere traits like being violent, manipulative and stalking her targets. Toga is notable for showing these obsessive traits in relation to two separate characters, the aforementioned Izuku Midoriya, as well as Ochako Uraraka later in the series.
Makoto Itou (School Days)
Makoto Itou from School Days is an example of a male Yandere. At the beginning of the series, Makoto is portrayed as a typical high school student who has a crush on the previously mentioned Kotonoha Katsura. However, as the series progresses, Makoto’s behavior becomes increasingly obsessive and possessive towards Kotonoha, and he begins to manipulate and cheat on her with other girls, including his classmate Sekai Saionji.
As Makoto becomes more and more obsessed with Kotonoha, he begins to display increasingly violent and disturbing behavior, culminating in a bloody and tragic ending.
Now that you know about Yandere’s why not look at some more wholesome content and read about the best anime couples?