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This Week in Anime - The Anatomy of an Anime Waifu


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Fluwm



Joined: 28 Jul 2009
Posts: 894
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2024 9:32 am Reply with quote
Maybe someone can correct me if I'm wrong here, but it's my understanding that the term "waifu" originates from Azumanga Daioh. Particularly a scene where, if memory serves, the very odd (arguably lecherous) teacher, Kimura, drops a photo of a woman prompting his students to ask who she his, causing him to shout (in English) "MAI WAIFU!"

So I guess this would have been one of the early memes of anime fandom from 2004/2005, right around the time the online anime communities were really exploding in size, from what I've heard (I only entered the space a couple of years later, though, so this is all just stuff I've absorbed second-and-third-hand).

That may be why "Husbando" never really took off -- it's doesn't have that cultural resonance that a meme from a really good joke would give it.

Quote:
Also, if robots can be waifus, Aerial from MSG: Witch from Mercury is giving Bravern a run for their money!


I'd say the whole Gundam fandom is largely predicated on the idea that yes, robots can be waifus. I mean, have you seen how we talk about the Turn A, or the Tallgeese? Or that sexiest of beasts, the inimitable Zaku II?
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Greed1914



Joined: 28 Oct 2007
Posts: 4446
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2024 10:01 am Reply with quote
Fluwm wrote:
Maybe someone can correct me if I'm wrong here, but it's my understanding that the term "waifu" originates from Azumanga Daioh. Particularly a scene where, if memory serves, the very odd (arguably lecherous) teacher, Kimura, drops a photo of a woman prompting his students to ask who she his, causing him to shout (in English) "MAI WAIFU!"

So I guess this would have been one of the early memes of anime fandom from 2004/2005, right around the time the online anime communities were really exploding in size, from what I've heard (I only entered the space a couple of years later, though, so this is all just stuff I've absorbed second-and-third-hand).

That may be why "Husbando" never really took off -- it's doesn't have that cultural resonance that a meme from a really good joke would give it.


I can't say for sure where it came from, other than it starting out as a meme that morphed into regular terminology. I do think you're right about "Husbando." It's a bit too try-hard to work, but "waifu" sounds like something that would believably be said.


I think the waifu of the season situation is a byproduct of how fast everything in anime moves on to the next thing. Yor may have more staying power than Marin, but SpyxFamily had a lot more episodes, a movie, and the general power of Shonen Jump behind it. You see a similar thing happen with general cosplay at conventions. Something like Genshin will seem to dominate because it's ongoing content releases mean it doesn't entirely leave people's minds. As happy as I was to see lots of Persona 4 cosplay in the year-ish after P4 Golden came out, it was entirely absent the next year because it was in the past.
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Juno016



Joined: 09 Jan 2012
Posts: 2394
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2024 10:34 am Reply with quote
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No, I'm going to call people out if their waifus are mid and a product of the anime industry relying more than ever on merchandise sales to stay solvent. Case in point, any of the girls from 100 Girlfriends are better waifus than Rem from Re:Zero, who I've seen countless pieces of fan art of but never once heard a convincing explanation for why people like her so much.


For one, I think a lot of it in personal flavor and what one considers "waifu" material.

I'm more in the Emilia camp myself because I find her choices and values throughout the story carry a line of emotional maturity and healthy self-appraisal to them that Rem's don't. Nonetheless, while I'm not nearly as much a fan of Rem, I do see her as multi-layered and interesting as a character. The episode 18 pep-talk she gave Subaru hits to the core of a lot of insecurities that people with a lack of self-esteem carry, and I know at least one person going through therapy who was so moved in that moment that Rem became his favorite character, hands down. He once told me that his therapist had been trying to drill some self-worth into his head, but that it never registered until Rem essentially echoed everything his therapist had said to Subaru. Struggling with self-worth myself for years, I can understand that. Hard not to fall in love with that kind of validation.

But "waifu"-ness can also come down to simple, tingly feelings, thoughts, and desires. For that matter, 100kano intentionally injects its various one-dimensional heroines with the most wholesome, feel-good personal qualities to a near scientific precision. You could have the most toxic yandere character trope girl show up, and the author will still find a way to twist her yandere-ness into something positive, genuine, and reassuring. It's witchcraft, I tell you. Either way, unless that intentional simplicity is disillusioning enough to overpower the feel-good nature of the entire cast, I think most normal, multi-dimensional characters from most other shows are going to have a hard time competing. Quite an unfair comparison. Lol

Again, it just depends on what you're looking for. I treat the "waifu" thing as a nonsensical joke with friends and make it a game to designate one character per show as "mai waifu", but being a lesbian who watches way too many otaku-centered anime, it really is hard to find characters for me to latch onto with genuine interest. Most of the time, I end up finding a girl/woman in the supporting cast of a shoujo/josei manga to fawn over. Something even the protagonist! Otherwise, it's no more complex than "Ah, yeah, I like this character best/a lot". I'm sorry, Asuka, but Kaworu is the best waifu and canonically married to Shinji in my head.
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njprogfan
Collector Extraordinaire



Joined: 08 Feb 2007
Posts: 1165
Location: A River Named Toms
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2024 11:37 am Reply with quote
Ah, the last picture had my choice if I had to choose, Nayuta Kani from A Sisters' All You Need. The anime doesn't do her justice, the light novels are the way to go. She's a legend Wink
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Dr. Wily



Joined: 09 Nov 2007
Posts: 284
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2024 11:43 am Reply with quote
Lucas wrote:
Rem from Re:Zero, who I've seen countless pieces of fan art of but never once heard a convincing explanation for why people like her so much.


I've never watched Re:Zero but I've heard enough discourse to know that this just triggered a whole bunch of folks.

Quote:
SO MANY characters who feel like they were designed in a lab to be top-tier waifu material but feel even more two-dimensional than anime women already are because of that.


I'm glad you said the "designed in a lab" thing because I've had that thought a lot of times about girls watching various shows and never heard anyone else really express it aloud (well, in text, but... you know). I think the first time I really thought it was when I saw Ochaco in MHA, who isn't really two-dimensional... at the start, but boy do they start working on flattening her out pretty quick!
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MarshalBanana



Joined: 31 Aug 2014
Posts: 5346
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2024 12:03 pm Reply with quote
Who was the very first Waifu? The original Waifu.
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Asrialys



Joined: 12 Dec 2006
Posts: 1162
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2024 12:52 pm Reply with quote
MarshalBanana wrote:
Who was the very first Waifu? The original Waifu.

Lum?

lol I don't know. I'm not familiar with stuff pre-2000s, but she was the first character to pop in my head.
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kgw



Joined: 22 Jul 2004
Posts: 1073
Location: Spain, EU
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2024 1:10 pm Reply with quote
Cutey Honey, probably.

But then again, I don't understand if a waifu is different from a moe character.

Also, Rem is a waifu is because she dress like a French maid and vice versa.
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Fluwm



Joined: 28 Jul 2009
Posts: 894
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2024 1:22 pm Reply with quote
Asrialys wrote:
MarshalBanana wrote:
Who was the very first Waifu? The original Waifu.

Lum?

lol I don't know. I'm not familiar with stuff pre-2000s, but she was the first character to pop in my head.


Lum would be my vote, too -- especially considering that, apparently, she was never intended to be a main character, but Takahashi changed her mind due to how popular Lum was. She was very much the breakout character of Urusei Yatsura.

And I wouldn't say I'm an expert, by any means, on any era, but I have watched a fair bit of anime from the 70s, 80s and 90s... and there aren't many female characters that seem to have dominated the cultural zeitgeist quite as much as Lum, prior to Lum. Though I suppose one might consider Sayla Mass, from Mobile Suit Gundam, a kind of proto-Waifu. Or perhaps Mine Fujiko, of Lupin the Third fame. Though I've never really gotten the impression that either Sayla or Fujiko were ever... framed in the same light as the women who, today, bear the 'Waifu' sobriquet.
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JustMonika



Joined: 17 Jan 2022
Posts: 992
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2024 1:35 pm Reply with quote
Rika Hoshizaki is the perfect waifu Very Happy
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That Little Rapscallion



Joined: 31 Jul 2023
Posts: 38
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2024 1:39 pm Reply with quote
Fluwm wrote:
Maybe someone can correct me if I'm wrong here, but it's my understanding that the term "waifu" originates from Azumanga Daioh. Particularly a scene where, if memory serves, the very odd (arguably lecherous) teacher, Kimura, drops a photo of a woman prompting his students to ask who she his, causing him to shout (in English) "MAI WAIFU!"


Yes that was the origin of the phrase back in the day. Hubando was just a word people made up for the male version to mimic the Engrish of Kimura saying wife.

The word itself has kind of lost meaning like a lot of internet buzzwords. It used to be "illegal" to have more one waifu and if you moved on you were an adulterous traitor. These days it just means an anime girl you like.
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MarshalBanana



Joined: 31 Aug 2014
Posts: 5346
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2024 2:27 pm Reply with quote
Asrialys wrote:
MarshalBanana wrote:
Who was the very first Waifu? The original Waifu.

Lum?

lol I don't know. I'm not familiar with stuff pre-2000s, but she was the first character to pop in my head.
You've been a member since 06, and back then Anime took longer to come get released overseas, did you not start off watching 90s Anime?
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Vanadise



Joined: 06 Apr 2015
Posts: 500
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2024 2:28 pm Reply with quote
kgw wrote:
But then again, I don't understand if a waifu is different from a moe character.

Any character can be moe, a waifu is one whom you have a personal attachment to.

Rem is definitely moe, but she's not my waifu because I don't find her particularly compelling and have no desire to buy any merchandise of her.

I would say that being moe isn't even necessarily a prerequisite for being a waifu. I would not consider Ran Yakumo to be particularly moe (most interpretations of her, anyway; I'm sure there are some, given the variety of fan media), but she is my waifu.
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fausti



Joined: 14 Feb 2008
Posts: 38
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2024 4:01 pm Reply with quote
Most likely the first Waifu would be a Leiji Matsumoto character, such as Yuki Mori from Space Battleship Yamato or Maetel from Galaxy Express 999.
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Hal14



Joined: 01 Apr 2018
Posts: 674
Location: Heart of africa
PostPosted: Tue May 14, 2024 4:53 pm Reply with quote
I submit, as my personal Waifu, Celty Sturluson from Durarara!! (She is also one of my favourite fictional characters in general)
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