This post is in reply to avathenerd, so all credit for the original idea goes to her :). Falling in love with fictional characters is my whole, hopeless MO, and crushing on anime guys just seems like a natural graduation of that. Or a warning sign that I should seek professional help. In both respects, I love the chance to share a character’s story, to watch their emotional journey and plough deep into their motivations for why exactly they do what they do. I like a guy with a tortured past, with a little bit of the villain in him, or someone who has to struggle to make the right decision; more often than not it is a combination of these elements that invites my ‘crush’ rather than strictly appearance itself, though appearance doesn’t hurt. Unlike in literature, where the onus is on language alone to create and develop a character, anime provides an alluring visual element that I still haven’t fully acclimatised myself to yet. I can see how the characters move, I can see their expressions, and, as I become sucked into the story, they become temporarily real, even if I know they’re not. Anime crushes set us up with impossibly high standards for love, but frankly I’m okay with that; there’s more anime in the world than I could probably watch in a single lifetime, so need for fictional fix sustained.
I’m still relatively new to anime and my range of crushes isn’t broad. Let me know what you think, however, and send forward any recommendations.
Prince Zuko (Avatar: The Last Airbender)
This was the first ever anime I watched, and the first character whose story I fell in love with. Zuko is a prince of the Fire Nation who was exiled for showing ‘disrespect’ to his father in the war room. The distinctive scar on the left side of his face was also given to him by his father following this incident, when he challenged Zuko to a public Agni Kai, literally, a fire-fight. Zuko refused to duel his father and begged forgiveness for his actions, but his father viewed this refusal as cowardice and another mark of disrespect; for this he vowed that Zuko would learn his lesson, and that his teacher would be suffering. He burned his son, stripped him of his birth right, and banished him from his homeland. Zuko is now on a quest to regain his honour by capturing the Avatar. He is the main antagonist for the first series, but this role is subsequently reprised by his sister, and finally his father.
Zuko is a character who begins life inherently moral and noble but subsequently loses his way, and the main focus of his journey, beautifully and powerfully developed over three seasons, is in learning to relinquish his bitterness and aggression and reconnecting with who he integrally is. Zuko is driven, committed and brave, though he has many contradictory beliefs and behaviours (a result of his harsh upbringing) he is essentially merciful, empathetic and humanitarian, and these traits come to dominate his character. Desperate for approval and a sense of belonging, this weakness is often used to manipulate him; in the end, however, he learns to obey his own principals and make his own decisions, even joining the ‘enemy’ to take down his father.
‘I used to think this scar marked me – the mark of the banished prince, cursed to chase the Avatar forever. But lately, I’ve realized I’m free to determine my own destiny, even if I’ll never be free of my mark.’
Roy Mustang (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)
Roy Mustang is a State Alchemist, specialising in Flame Alchemy, and a Colonel in the Amestrian military. He has a dark past, with blood on his hands, much like the other State Alchemists, termed the ‘dogs of the military.’ Known as The Hero of Ishval, he was single-handedly responsible for the immolation of hundreds of armed and unarmed citizens in a political massacre that left its mark on everyone involved. Standing in the middle of hell and looking up a Fuhrer King Bradley, the man who had ordered the strike, he promised that one day it would be himself standing at the top, where he could use his power to protect those below him, and those in turn could use theirs to protect the people below them. He described it as the least mere human beings could do.
On the surface, Roy comes across as arrogant, narcissistic, womanizing and idle: the perfect façade that leads people naturally into underestimating him. On a more integral level he is a highly intelligent tactician and a devoted commander; his team is hand picked by himself and he will go to amazing levels to secure their safety and well-being, even at the risk of his own life. He suffers a lot of guilt over the Isbalan war and as a result keeps himself on a strict moral path. If he strays from it, he expects to be shot, he has extracted exactly this promise from his Lieutenant. Roy fights for what he believes in, and he intends to make his country a better place in every respect.
‘The power of one man doesn’t amount to much. But, however little strength I’m capable of, I’ll do everything humanly possible to protect the people I love, and in turn they’ll protect the ones they love. It seems like the least we tiny humans can do for each other.’
Lingreed (Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood)
The only thing better than one anime crush is two inhabiting the same body, and it is both the Ling and Greed side that I love for different reasons. Ling is a Xingese prince and the twelfth son of the Emperor, liege of the Yao clan. When the Emperor’s life begins to fail, Ling travels from Xing to Amestris seeking to secure his own ascent to the throne amongst intense inter-clan rivalries by securing the secret to immortality. Greed is a Homuculus (a created being) who embodies his namesake sin, and is somewhat of the wild-child among a whole black-sheep family. He looks out for number one and had no respect for authority. When Ling is given the chance to possess a Philosopher’s stone by taking Greed’s life-force into his body, he accepts, though unlike weaker human beings, he refuses to be subdued entirely. Ling and Greed initially exist in an antagonistic relationship that is damaging to both their purposes; later, however, they learn to work together, utilizing each of their individual skills by swapping out who is in control of their body. In the end, Ling becomes so attached to Greed that he is devastated when the Homuculus lays down his life to save him, Greed, in turn, finally satisfying the one thing he has always wanted: friendship.
Despite being two distinct people, Ling and Greed share many common characteristics: both are driven by the desire for power, which they will do almost anything to achieve; both are stubborn, wayward and cocky; and both sacrifice themselves to save the people around them, even when it is not always clear which side they are actually on. Ling and Greed also help to balance each other out through opposition, however, and both sides are ultimately ameliorated through contact with the other. Neither Ling nor Greed begin as particularly likable characters, in fact they irritate me in their introductory episodes, but it is the growth of what they become that makes me love them. Lingreed is the anime crush that hits you out of nowhere, and the one that you definitely didn’t see coming.
‘Greed: They aren’t mine, father purified me and purged the old Greed’s memories. Those memories aren’t a part of me anymore.
Ling: No, you’re wrong, Greed. It’s not that easy, they’ll always be a part of you. You can’t just erase them from your soul. They were the only part of you that you chose.
Byakuya Kuchiki (Bleach)
Byakuya is a Soul Reaper and Captain of the 6th Division in the Gotei 13, he is also the 28th head of the Kuchiki Clan, one of the four great noble clans in the Soul Society. He appears to reclaim his adopted sister, Rukia from the human world after she committed the crime of passing her powers onto a human. Returned to the Soul Society, he coldly delivers her sentence of execution and refuses any further contact with her, he also persistently prevents anyone from rescuing her and perverting the course of justice. His apparent desire to see his sister crucified continues until the last fractionate moment when he steps in and saves her from a moral sword-strike by receiving the blow himself. Wounded on the battlefield, he asks Rukia’s forgiveness, explaining to her the conflict he suffered between the promise he made to his late wife (Rukia’s biological sister, who abandoned her when she was a baby) to be like a sister to Rukia, and the promise he made to his parents that he would never again break the law, which he did in marrying Hisana and adopting Rukia. He admits he initially made the wrong choice, and reaches out to Rukia in the first and only instance he asks for or demonstrates affection.
Byakuya comes across as reserved and emotionless, he is a man of few words and few reactions, everything he feels is strictly locked away where no-one can see it. He is powerful and prideful and dignified on all occasions, so much so that he sometimes even appears bored in the active heat of battle. He is, however, merciful, always giving his enemies the opportunity to back down and live, and he can occasionally be reached by an appeal to his feelings, though this is not always guaranteed. Byakuya is a man in deep daily pain and mourning, which is responsible for his cold distance, but the fact that he cares for Rukia is observable in his actions, even if he can’t say it in words.
‘I don’t remember saying that I would kill you because I’m a Soul Reaper. The reason I am killing you is simple. It’s because you aimed your sword at my only pride. [Rukia]’
Okay, I didn’t realize until I did this how much I had a visual ‘type.’ :’)
Let me know what you think!