The Perfect Man (and Other Questions Relating to Hot Guys)

In which a few bloggers discuss bishonen, BL and the extreme lack of older men starring in anime.

Some of these questions seem spontaneous, but they do have a basis in the post I used as inspiration.

Key:

  • Bold = prompt (written by Aria prior to opening the discussion up)
  • Blue = Aria
  • Purple = Moya
  • Amber = Rand
  • Pink = an editing Aria from the future

First of all, introduce yourselves and your blogs briefly.

Hiya everyone! Aria from the Animanga Spellbook here. I’ve been eyeing this particular idea in this Anime News Network post and its related forum thread for a while and I figured, since several bloggers had husbando opinions due to Scott, we’d all have interesting opinions on the Perfect Man.

Hi, Moya from The Moyatorium here! My taste in anime guys these days is tired, obscure, and middle-aged side characters, so I’m not sure I’ll be able to contribute very much to the discussion. I’ll try my best though!

Hey. The name’s Rand from ThatRandomEditor’s Anime Blog. I’m here to join this interesting opportunity as the only guy so far. My preference are men who have a rugged appearance especially with facial hair but know how to groom themselves well. Who doesn’t love that?

What is “the perfect man”? Can the Perfect Man be split into certain stereotypes? (Is he a stereotype?)

The perfect man, to me, is a guy you can rely on in a pinch. It sounds ridiculously broad when I put it that way, but considering we’re talking about men from all walks of life (including yanderes and villains), it kind of has to be broad. Personally, I’d want someone who also respects boundaries and their partner’s/people around them’s wishes as well.

To hew closer to what the words mean, the perfect man is able to do everything flawlessly while juggling time commitments, proper sleep and a social life…which is, again, a lot of anime characters, but with varying levels of execution (due to some of them being outright Gary Stus).

Reliability is a fine trait. Since we’re talking about stereotypes, may I propose the kuudere? The ANN post you linked gives a good overview of the popularity of the “stoic hero.” Perhaps the kuudere image is inherently tied to traits like reliability and loyalty, in addition to being a cool and challenging romantic target. 

Speaking of stoic, I remember in my own husbando post my preferences are the ones who don’t show any emotion but know what they’re doing. Being a romantic target is another topic since some men can be who they are even without a partner. As long as the guy commits to his job well, he’ll be a loyal partner. 

I don’t think “the perfect man” is a stereotype. Our own views change every time when we meet new people whenever online or in real life. It’s just a figment of a perceived idea. This can be seen as a stereotype if a person never thinks of the “why” over the “how”.

Has the Perfect Man changed since the Edward Cullen days, when this Anime News Network discussion (linked in Aria’s intro) was held?

I would think so. In a post-Free world which is more accepting of the LGBTIQ+ community, fujoshi/fudanshi and female geeks in general, women have been catered to more than they used to be, which leads to more reverse harems and similar works…which, of course, leads to more Perfect Men. Then again…Amnesia was turned into an anime in 2013 and that was responsible for the “uguu cage of love” meme, which is…exactly as pre-2009 as it sounds. 

I think audiences are getting better at calling out toxic dudes, but I wouldn’t say this brand of Perfect Men is gone altogether. You know that meme about how girls’ attraction to toxic men started from the moment they chose Sasuke over Naruto or Sesshoumaru over Inuyasha? Yeah, that describes me. I think the appeal is very much still there!

Okay, I didn’t grow up following Twilight even though it was everywhere. While things did change, a divide still exists depending on where you are. 

Is there a difference between “the kinds of males that are popular amongst female viewers, and those that are popular within their respective anime”?

Yes. To give an example, the recent anime The Millionaire Detective. The overall cast are masculine in their own way or should I say traditional adults except the main duo whose designs are aimed for the female audience. If Daisuke and Haru’s design were changed to fit the gritty setting and premise of the show, it wouldn’t make waves as much. 

That anime was being talked about all over Twitter as it aired except it barely discussed the story since majority of the viewers are thirsting over Daisuke and Haru even though it’s a heavy implication. Here’s a more obvious example: this magazine cover from Animage. Everything screams it yet it doesn’t represent the anime’s overall tone. 

(Hmm…I remember seeing the Daisuke thirst. There wasn’t much Haru thirst in comparison, in my opinion/experience.) I remember when Takamatsu (director of Boueibu) said, regarding that anime, “one of the most important things I found in our research was, you have to leave [fujoshi] room for their imagination to swell out and imagine [BL] without depicting it,” which is what’s going on there (in my opinion, your mileage may vary).

I guess I’ve grown used to seeing subtext since I lap it up quite readily – although I’m not a shipper to the extent that others are – but since what you’re looking for (a solid mystery storyline) is different to what I’m looking for (well, I would prefer a solid storyline with my hot guys, but sometimes you can’t win ‘em all…), I can see why you can spot it.  

Are “some…bishounen…an expression of girls’ latent homosexuality”?

I would think bishonen are an encapsulation of the desire to be both powerful (in whatever way that means, including – generally – being dominant in society) but also look appealing, while not sacrificing enough masculinity to make the bishonen a crossdresser. In a sense, it’s having the cake of androgyny and eating it too.

What a question! I do love my anime soft-boys, Howl from Howl’s Moving Castle probably being the most representative. I haven’t had to question my sexuality yet, haha.

Maybe. I don’t really prefer bishounens even if their backstories are compelling for me to invest in. Most girls I’ve talked to in real life who’s favorite anime characters always have some bishounen traits in appearance and actions. I guess some don’t even expect to try yuri which is aimed for homosexual girls but the dominant audience are guys in my experience.

The dominant audience for yuri is guys? (just to clarify)

Most of the time. I’ve met a lesbian woman who’s into yuri or the more general term Girl’s Love (GL). If you go on other parts on the internet however the person who’s thinking it may be yuri is more often a guy than a girl since there’s the existence of BL. It’s really rare to see a homosexual person giving praise to a story aimed at their own sexuality even if there are people out there discovering who they really are. If one outright says it right off the bat the person may be shamed upon. Take a look into Bara, and that genre has no actual anime.

I guess this “gay/lesbian not looking at works portraying them” is, in a sense, escapism. People don’t like what they see out their window, so to speak, and that’s why they go travelling for different genres (including, in this case, different romantic/sexual relationships).

As for bara, it’s always been seen as a niche within the niche of anime/manga (and similar content) fandom…but it’s true that it doesn’t have any proper anime. The only anime I can think of that involve sex and buff dudes together are either counted as yaoi (Kyojinzoku no Hanayome) or hentai (the firefighter anime), with only one guy – the only in heterosexual romance, obviously – being the buff one, and it’s not made by gay people for gay people to my knowledge.

Do women lap up “emotional porn”, in your experience, alongside their handsome men?

All of the women-aimed series I can think of do trade in “emotional porn” in some form or other, whether that be tragic backstories (hence “tragic gays”) or wrecking the characters in the present by killing off their mentors, girlfriends, sisters…(yeah, a lot of women die to sail men/men ships, it seems).

Is the jerk generally the most popular?

When I wrote this question to set up this collab, I had Doppo from Hypnosis Mic in mind – a guy infamous in the fandom for being popular, but one of the furthest from being a jerk. In fact, he’s the guy who gets pushed around by the jerk.

…However, since the release of the anime, a lot of the English-speaking Hypnosis Mic community I’ve interacted with – even 1st-episode-only reviewers – has taken a shine to Samatoki, who is the closest to being described as an outright jerk, so maybe it’s a fandom-by-fandom case and a matter of who you speak to.

Perhaps, but that’s one popular archetype I don’t get. When you say “jerk,” I think of loud anime guys with brightly-coloured hair who act childish and are probably tsunderes. Being a kuudere fan, the only type of jerk I approve of is the…erm, dark and Byronic type. 

Don’t know how big of a jerk the character is being referred to. Jerks can make or break a person’s enjoyment of the character and may be the entire reason to drop the show even if it’s too early in a season. This might be me, since in harems aimed for men the MC has the capacity to be a jerk to the female partner and would still stay submissive to her until she confesses her love to him. It’s the kind of relationship I won’t ever support at all even though it pops out every now and then.

What I meant by “jerk” is the kind like Bakugo of Boku no Hero Academia – the loud, shouty guy who you only really get along (?) with because he’s good at what he does and he possibly pushes people around for his own benefit (note this archetype is almost always a “he”) – so Moya’s not too far off the mark. The level of being a jerk depends on the guy and possibly even the medium/portrayal in question, which is why I only wrote “the jerk”.

Are shoujo Perfect Men different to their shonen/seinen/josei counterparts?

I would say yes. Shoujo Perfect Men tend to be the flattest because they’re the closest to an ideal – seinen and josei audiences immediately come for characters with more nuance than shoujo and shounen, while shounen’s multidemographic appeal means the men have to be more solid to please more readers. 

Shounen Perfect Men get girls, and shoujo Perfect Men exist to get one specific girl, and that probably makes all the difference in the world.

I agree too. The Perfect Man has a different idea across demographics. Except I can’t pinpoint the specifics of what makes them different in each story they’re in.

Any other thoughts?

Elegant ojisan characters like the Count of Monte Cristo are underrated and need to be brought back. Preferably voiced by Jouji Nakata too.

(…How old do you like your ojisan? I may or may not have some character recs based on your answer, even though they’re not my type.)

[Omitted: Aria, trying to brainstorm for several days ojisan characters that fit the bill. Turns out Aria’s definition for “ojisan” was actually broader than it should have been (it counted 30-somethings as well as the accepted age bracket), hence the question above.]

Oh yeah, there isn’t that many ojisans as main characters in anime. (Except for Ichiro Inuyashiki from the 2017 MAPPA show.) Alongside ojisans, there should be more obaasans as main characters too! Better yet, an anime led by an old lady.

(Doesn’t Howl’s Moving Castle count?)

Whoops, I forgot.  

(Also, Rand, I don’t know if you know the difference, but “ojiisan” and “ojisan” are two different things in Japanese. The former is an old man, a la Ichiro Inuyashiki (in terms of his appearance), and the latter is younger than that…normally someone middle-aged. The difference is one letter, but it does mean something.)

Thanks for correcting me. I didn’t know one letter can make such a difference. I should be more careful from then on.

Well, ojisan, ojiisan, obasan, obaasan, we need more of each type!

Thanks for participating.

Thanks for inviting us!


[Final note from editing Aria: If you want to know what elegant ojisan characters there are…if you remove the age bracket of 40 – 65 imposed by Moya and work solely by the vibe the character gives off, possible “elegant” ojisans were Yakumo Yurakutei the 8th from Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinjuu (although depending on which point in the series you’re talking, he may not be within the age bracket), Kongo from Houseki no Kuni and possibly Nyanta from Log Horizon.

Ojisans that did not fit the “elegant” description were Rei from Hypnosis Mic (46) and Cho-san from Fugou Keiji/Millionaire Detective (64). Characters which surprisingly missed the provided age bracket but could be considered “elegant” were Hijikata from Golden Kamuy (72) and Jakurai Jinguji + Hitoya Amaguni, both from Hypnosis Mic, and Kotetsu Kaburagi from Tiger and Bunny (all 3 are 35).]

This was fun to write up, but I haven’t found the discussion about fansubs (alluded to at the start of the post that inspired this) yet in the Anime News Network archives…so maybe that’s a post for another time…

Also, please go check out Moya and Rand’s blogs, if you haven’t already. They write some insightful content.

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