I wanna talk about a touchy subject in the otaku and anime world, waifus. I’m sure anyone who has perused an anime website or is part of an anime group has heard the term “waifu” before. And for the uninitiated, I think Wikitionary defined it best as “A fictional female character from non-live-action visual media (typically an anime, manga or video game) to whom one is attracted and, in some cases, whom one considers a significant other”. Despite the clear cut definition there is still much confusion and debate over what the term actually means.
Starchaser’s (very) rough translation for those who don’t speak Japanese:
Tomo: What the? It’s a picture of a woman.
Ayumu: She’s pretty.
Tomo: Who is she?
Mr. Kimura: My wife.
Everyone: No way!
The consensus (I say this because I have no evidence “waifu” was used before 2002) is “waifu” was first introduced to the world from the 2002 anime Azumanga Daioh. In the scene, the perverted homeroom teacher Mr. Kimura drops a photograph of a woman on the classroom floor. When asked by his students about the woman in the picture, Mr. Kimura replies (in his Engrish) “my wife”. Eventually it caught on in the Western fandom and has since been and continues to be used as a term of endearment to refer to a female character you would want as a girlfriend and also as an ironic term by trolls and internet thugs to belittle weeaboos and otaku alike. For the most part though, the word is used in a more light and playful manner.
Today, waifu has grown to mean anything from “the best girl from an anime” to its original meaning. And since all these different meanings and what to do with a waifu was unclear for some time, a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) addressing the term was created by the sewage of the internet, 4chan. There is even a word for male characters female anime fans love and it’s called husbando. Heck, waifu is not restricted solely to anime or manga characters anymore, as it has been used with images of cartoon characters and even photographs of real life (usually Japanese) celebrities. The whole concept can be somewhat complex since you have people who only see it as something fun, temporary and go about their daily life while having a waifu. Then there are people who take the concept serious and legitimately go on dates with their waifus and even cook them dinners. Sounds nice, at least waifus don’t talk back. I would say I’m somewhere in the middle: I know my waifu is a fictional character, just moving pictures, but I’m strongly attracted to those moving pictures. My figures, pics on my phone and T-shirt attest to that.
Major and defining characteristics of waifuism
While the meaning of waifu might vary depending on whom you ask, there are some common attributes in the community which I list below:
- People who have a waifu know they are fictional
- Their feelings are real (well, as real as they can possibly get)
- Having a waifu does not preclude one from having a 3D romantic and/or sexual relationship
- Sexual relations with a waifu has been a source of contention
- Polyamory and polygamy are two concepts in waifuism that is also individual
I’d like to go more in depth about the last two bullet points because I have seen the community divided over them. Two questions which have been asked time after time is “Is it okay to sexualize and/or masturbate to your waifu?” and “Can you have more than one waifu?”. Regarding the former, some who respond in the affirmative view it as a normal thing to do because it’s what couples do. Couples do have live sex celebrations y’know. For others, the thought of doing such a thing is repulsive. Their waifu must be kept pure and wanking to them would defile them. Those who have underaged waifus usually think this way. Some view sex with anyone but their waifu as infidelity, but thankfully they won’t end up on an episode of Cheaters. And there are others who have no qualms having sex with other people or wanking to other anime characters. Answers seem to be all over the place and ultimately it comes down to the individual.
Now, can someone have more than one waifu? Again, it depends on whom you ask. Here’s one answer. But some will say having more than one waifu will ruin your laifu. Makes sense, if someone asks you what your favorite color is you don’t go and list every single one on the color spectrum. Same thing with waifus. If someone asks you who your waifu is you wouldn’t go and respond with “Kurisu Makise, Boa Hancock, Lucy Heartfilia…” would you? NO! You wouldn’t! On a more serious note, there isn’t any rule saying you can’t have more than one waifu. But if one does, isn’t it technically a harem? If you didn’t know, harem is an anime and manga genre where a single guy is liked and followed by bunch of women who are all madly in love with him. The female characters often fight each other to get the guy’s attention. Hooray for shenanigans! If you were to ask me, I’d say just like in real life, I am perfectly fine with adults and fictional characters choosing whatever consensual relationship arrangements suit them.
Based on the information I got from various waifu communities online and the anime community offline, not everyone who has a waifu is socially awkward/inept/stunted. I have a friend who gets vagina left and right and he has a waifu. Yes like I previously said, there are some who take the concept to the extreme. However, most of the waifu community are fully aware they love a fictional character and aren’t suffering from delusions. The characters are the figment of a Japanese fella’s imagination.
Finding the waifu for you
If you’re reading this and may be interested in investing yourself into a waifu, yet do not know how to start, this part of my blog post is written for you. It might be difficult to know where to start because there is so much anime out there. Add to the fact there are new shows coming out every season, so it’s safe to say there are a lot of 2D women to choose from. The best way is to expose yourself to as much of the medium as you can. If you’re after a waifu, try watching more anime, reading manga, and/or playing visual novels. If you already do that, then consider expanding your horizons. What I mean by this is if you’re more of an action or horror cognoscente, try watching a slice of life or romance anime once in a while. It’s possible you could find a character who makes your heart go ドキドキ in the most unexpected of places.
Keep in mind looking for a waifu works virtually the same way as 3D relationships do, albeit it’s more from a one-sided perspective. Lots of weebs say you don’t get a waifu, your waifu finds you. Once you feel a special bond then maybe you’ve got something special going on.
“But wait, Starchaser. What happens if more than one person has the same waifu as me?” I hear you asking. 仕方が無い. You must duel them, and whoever is the loser will be sent to the Shadow Realm where they won’t be able to mess with the winner or their waifu ever again. Extreme? More work than necessary? Perhaps. But that’s what you signed up for when you decided to be in a relationship with your 2D sweetheart.
“Can I break it off with my waifu?” is another question you might have in your mind right now. The answer is “yes”. Unfortunately, most anime women are physically powerful, experts at hand-to-hand combat, adept marksmen and/or possess supernatural powers. The good news is they are 1 dimension short of causing you any harm.
My personal thoughts
Y’know writing this blog post makes me sort of miss the days I had a girlfriend, waifu and side chick. I had the best of both dimensions, I was the friggin’ mack! Anyway, I honestly don’t care what the next person is doing so whether you’re the type of person who uses the term ironically, buys a lot of merchandise of a character, wanks to a certain character or has a whole shrine dedicated to your special 2D someone in the back of your closet like Helga does Arnold, it doesn’t perturb me in the slightest. I like people being happy and if you get fulfillment from any of the stuff I mentioned then that is perfectly a-okay. While there are always going to be insecure morons who always gotta make sure someone feels bad, you can’t let people who have no bearing on your life directly or indirectly get to you. For me, waifus, waifuism, and being attracted to fictional characters only becomes an issue when it’s affecting you or someone else in a negative way. And if you were wondering if I currently have a waifu, you can bet I do! In fact, I wrote a blog post on her. And not only is she my waifu, but one of my favorite anime characters of all time.
Anyway, finding information on this topic was actually a bit trickier than I initially thought. There really isn’t a lot of solid info and I had to base most of what I wrote from various waifu and anime communities on and offline. As anime becomes more mainstream, I can see the concept and idea of waifuism also becoming more of a thing for better or worse (probably worse, lol). If you’re someone who thinks that having a waifu isn’t your thing, that’s perfectly okay as well. After all, whether or not anime fans, weebs and otaku have a waifu or not doesn’t change the fact we all like anime. And at the end of the day, we can at least find fellowship in that.