Early on in a couple’s romantic relationship, there’s still a lot the two individuals don’t know about each other. Each date is another step in the gradual process of discovering things about your partner while at the same time revealing a little more of yourself.
Sometimes the surprises are happy ones. Your new boyfriend turns out to be a great cook, or have a wonderful sense of humor. Other times, though, the things you learn are much less pleasant. You notice he’s a heavy drinker. He mentions he blows half his paycheck on pachinko. You learn the bone-chilling reason all the turtles have gone missing from the park behind his apartment.
Or, maybe, that he has a crush on an anime girl.
With the majority of anime enthusiasts being male, Japanese animation has long featured plenty of attractive female characters. While there have always been some fans who become fervently, even romantically, attached to their favorite heroine, the phenomena has become increasingly prevalent as studios pull in more and more of their revenue from character-based merchandising, and in turn dedicate an ever increasing amount of screen time to their comeliest characters.
At the same time, the number of people who identify themselves as anime fans is on the rise, meaning that numerically-speaking, there’s a decent chance the guy a girl just started dating is pretty into animation. This in turn leads to another troublesome possibility: even if he’s not seeing another girl on the side in real life, he might have a preexisting relationship with his favorite two-dimensional gal.
Nobody enjoys playing second fiddle, though. Internet portal Niconico News recently spoke with women who’d found themselves in this sort of situation before, and asked for their advice on how to handle it.
1. Make no effort to hide your disapproval
The first method is to simply voice your displeasure directly. This strategy has an advantage in that it bypasses the need to pick up on subtle cues, something that men, as a gender, don’t exactly have the best batting average for.
“It’s embarrassing, and if my friends found out my boyfriend’s hobby, I don’t think they’d want to hang out with me anymore,” worries one 25-year-old. “But I do like him, so I’ve told him that I think his interest in that kind of stuff is nasty.”
Actions speak louder than words, though, so some women feel it’s necessary to make sure their boyfriend knows they’ll take action to limit his obsession if he lets it get out of hand.
“It bugs me that he even likes anime at all,” gripes one college student, “and when I saw his collection, I thought about just throwing it all in the trash. I didn’t, but he noticed how I felt, and now he’s trying to keep it in check.”
While this definitely shows you mean business, we should point out that unceremoniously tossing out your guy’s painstakingly acquired hoard of anime merch doesn’t have the best track record, as that’s exactly what may have broken up at least one marriage in Japan last year. Besides, even if you’ve got no respect for the personal property of others, why stick it all in the garbage can when you could sell it online, instead?
▼ This has got to be worth something to someone.
2. Step up to dressing up cosplay style
Instead of trying to pull their boyfriend away from his favorite anime character, others recommended trying to move closer to his vision of 2-D perfection by copying her outfit. “My boyfriend asked me to dress up like Hatsune Miku,” says a 25-year-old whose guy is a fan of the virtual idol (and soon-to-be opening act for Lady Gaga). “I’d never had any interest in cosplay before, but it was a lot more fun than I’d expected, so now I do it from time to time,” she says with a laugh.
While we’re sure there’re plenty of hardcore fans who’d love to see their girlfriend slip into (and later out of) one of anime’s distinct costumes, you might want to make sure you’ve got a firm handle on your boyfriend’s favorite character and which of her possibly multiple outfits really floats his boat before you rush out to buy a bunch of fluorescent wigs and miniskirts, though, since those things don’t always come cheap.
3. Find an anime boyfriend of your own
Some felt that turnabout is fair play, and suggested giving an anime girl-obsessed boyfriend a taste of his own medicine. “My boyfriend wouldn’t shut up about how, ‘Kobeni is so cute,’” reveals a 20-year-old junior college student, referring to the heroine of anime Engaged to the Unidentified. “So I thought I’d get back at him by borrowing the series Free! from my friend.”
What’s good for the gander is good for the goose, and Free! which centers around the athletic members of a high school swimming club, is chock full of enough eye candy for female readers to make even most reasonably fit guys feel embarrassedly out of shape by comparison. It turns out the anime’s cast is a bit too handsome. “At first I just wanted my boyfriend to see how it feels dating someone who’s so obsessed with a female character, but I got so into Free!, and now, I actually like the main character, Haru-chan, more than my boyfriend!”
The relationship of another college student who participated in the survey took a similar turn. After being exposed to so many animated series’ through her boyfriend’s passion for them, she finally found her one true 2-D love, Seijuro Akashi of Kuroko’s Basketball.
▼ Because if you’re going to fall in love with a fictional character, it may as well be one with not one, but two eye colors which are impossible in real life.
On one hand, you could say that these anime-based open relationships show a level of trust, understanding, and confidence that speaks to a strong foundation for the relationship. Still, when you’re openly admitting that you feel more strongly about your fictional crush than your actual dating partner, you have to at least consider the possibility that maybe the best thing to do is break up. Incidentally, that brings us to the final suggestion from the survey participants.
4. Break up
There’s a limit to how much you can change a person, though, and some women felt like they had only two options. They could either resign themselves to sharing space in their guy’s heart with a fictional character, or they could just walk out the door and let her have the whole thing, which is what this college student opted to do. “My boyfriend was clean-cut and looked like someone out of a boy band, plus he was really kind and easy-going,” she begins.
It wasn’t long before her opinion of him soured, though. “When I found out he was an anime otaku, I was really shocked. And even worse, he likes video games, and he was always spending time with Nene,” she continues, likely meaning one of the heroines of the popular Nintendo DS dating simulator, Love Plus.
“I just lost interest. There was no way I could deal with that,” she concludes.
This is unfortunate, considering that some couples were able to find a happy middle ground, such as the cosplaying coupe mentioned above. Sometimes, even the gesture of trying to bridge the gap helped create mutual understanding and appreciation. “I wanted to make my boyfriend happy, so I surprised him by dressing up in a cosplay outfit,” recalls one last college-age respondent. “When he saw it, he said, ‘I’m really happy that you thought that much about me, but you don’t have to force yourself to do that kind of thing.’”
Still, should your attempts at compromise, appeasement, or reeducation all fail, sometimes the only thing you can do is elect to see other people, even if you doubt your anime-loving ex-boyfriend will actually take advantage of his newly acquired opportunities for human female companionship.