It’s Halloween season and almost is nothing is scarier than someone obsessed with you to the point of mayhem for everyone involved. Yup, we’re talking about yandere.
It’s a pretty popular trope in anime and manga, but have you ever wanted to know more about them? Well, you’re in luck because this installment of #AnimeEncyclopedia is a brief history of these obsessive characters!
So, What Is A Yandere?
“Yandere” comes from the Japanese words yanderu (病んでる), meaning insane or sick, and deredere (デレデレ), which can mean lovestruck or infatuated. It roughly translates to “being lovestruck while sick.” To break it down to the basics, a yandere is a person that is so in love with someone that they are driven to extreme obsession. More often than not, it leads to violence and other volatile behaviors. They’d sabotage, manipulate, and kill others all in the name of love. Scary, I know.
Surprisingly, many yandere characters don’t always start off as seeming dangerous. They’ll usually present themselves as harmless if not a little strange before they’re set off. People consider yanderes to be only girls but guys can definitely take up the mantle too. The love exhibited is also usually romantic, but that doesn’t necessarily have to be the case either.
Yandere is the polar opposite of the popular “tsundere” trope. A tsundere is someone who seems cold at first but ends up genuinely caring for others. This is especially true for their romantic interests. When that interest is taken way too far, you end up with a yandere. Their existence subverts the usual “shoujo type” of characters we often see in series.
Where Did Yanderes Come From?
It’s actually pretty hard to pin down what exactly inspired the yandere type in media. Yuno Gasai from Future Diary is often seen as the ideal yandere, but the qualifications for one can be seen before the word was even thought to exist. We can see yandere-like characters pop up in everything from Ishtar in The Epic Of Gilgamesh to some renderings of Harley Quinn. However, it’s Yukako Yamagishi from JoJo’s Bizzare Adventure: Diamond is Unbreakable that’s considered to be the first character to exemplify these traits in manga. Her debut in 1992 is given credit to what jumpstarted the modern yandere.
When introduced to Yukako she almost immediately admits to having an obsessive streak. She falls for the unsuspecting Koichi Hirose and her love takes an unfortunate turn when she kidnaps him. She tries to brainwash him into returning her feelings while training him to be her ideal type. When that doesn’t work out, she snaps. Yukako is perfectly willing to bring even more harm to Koichi if it means she’ll have him to herself.
We’ve mentioned Yuno Gasai’s craziness being the current face of yandere. However, before that, it was good ol’ girls from School Days. This series started out as a visual novel with multiple endings. The anime, on the other hand, is a mix of those endings. Without spoiling too much, multiple girls get involved with the protagonist. His actions (and really bad choices) lead to the main girls throwing away all sense of caution and doing anything it takes to be the only one left for him. The whole thing is very “if I can’t have him, no one can.” They exhibit the classic traits of possessiveness and overall violence.
We can also see yandere types in series like Higurashi When They Cry. Similarly, this series started out as a visual novel with a multitude of endings. Each arc shows a new story and eventually new perspectives while giving possible explanations for the curse. In many of these arcs, we have characters like Rena Ryugu and the Sonozaki twins going berserk to protect those important to them. Almost everyone in the main cast got a yandere moment at least once, to be honest.
Some characters that many consider as yandere are Death Note’s Misa Amane, Berserk’s Griffith, Tsukiyama from Tokyo Ghoul, Rolo from Code Geass and so much more. Trust me when I say, there’s a long list. These people have all had moments where their possessiveness towards another character has lead to dire consequences for either those around them or themselves.
Nah, Get Them Away From Me
There’s no doubt about it – if a yandere type came up to you, you’d run for the hills. However, they’ve only been making more appearances in anime and manga and that trend will probably continue to grow. The history of destructive obsession in characters has a long but interesting history. The same will probably go for the future.