Relating to an Anime Character


They’re just silly cartoon characters. For God’s sake, they probably don’t even talk your language. And yet somehow, you feel a quasi-spiritual kinship with a fictional character. DOESN’T ANYONE UNDERSTAND THESE FEELS???

I don’t often talk about my personal feelings on my blog, which I’ve lately come to think is a bit of a mistake. I relate to anime characters as much as anyone and sometimes the effect is so strong on my mind that I feel incapable of describing it. It’s like telling a stranger about your sex life. I’m sure some people are perfectly okay with verbally dissecting the nitty gritty details, but for me, discussing what’s so close and intimate to me cheapens the emotions that I feel.

But distancing ourselves from stories defeats the purpose, doesn’t it? Attempting to express what you have always felt cannot be expressed is the whole point of art in general.

So today, I’ll tell you about some of the anime characters I’ve strongly identified with lately, for better or worse. Some of this stuff is embarrassing, for lack of a better word. Please don’t tell anyone you read this eeeeeek.

Oh wait why am I posting this on my blog then.

1) Kousaka Kirino (OreImo)


I told you this would be embarrassing.

I don’t have many traits in common with Kirino. For starters, I’m not a bitch. But I’m also not a model, a grade A athlete or the smartest kid in school.

And yet for all that, I’ve never been able to get Kirino out of my mind. To me, she’s a spectre who forever looms in my subconsciousness. And it was only when OreImo ended in the most abysmal way possible that I realised with vague horror why I was so fascinated with her:

She’s a mirror of what I might have been or who I might one day become.

Like Kirino, I was very close to my older brother when I was younger. We did everything together. I have vivid memories of following him around and worshipping the ground upon which he stood – just like, well, an imouto character. But when my brother became a teenager, he drifted from me. And not just from me – he became distant from the entire family, virtually shunning us all.

It took me many years to realise that I desperately missed who my brother once was and that, deep down, I was jealous of his girlfriend for taking him away from me. In retrospect, almost every major life decision I’ve made – including the university I picked – was because I wanted to chase in my brother’s footsteps.

Eventually, I discovered imouto anime and eroge as an outlet – just like Kirino. But unlike Kirino, I don’t think my feelings are incestuous. Rather, I was attached to the impossible daydream that was my nostalgia. This probably explains why I’m more fascinated with older brothers and younger sisters, rather than two brothers – there’s nothing that emblemises youthful innocence more than a little sister.

That’s what a lot of anime is about, reliving the innocence even as you’re perverting it. And that’s what OreImo succeeded in doing, for the most part. This kind of otaku light novel stuff both fascinates and repels me, because I see a lot of my own values in it and at the same time, I wonder if they’ll corrupt who I am in the end.

Kirino gets to me, probably because I’m more like her than I’m willing to admit.

(inb4 all my readers ragequit and unsubscribe from my blog)

2) Kanda Sorata (Sakurasou)

cry everytiem
I personally laugh every time I look at this picture

I’ve mentioned before that Sakurasou really resonated with me, but I don’t think I’ve ever really talked about why it got to me so deeply and why I still think about it so much. In my darkest moments, you see, I deeply relate to Sorata. (Again, I’m kind of ambivalent about this because he’s such a widely hated character!)

I’m constantly jealous of the people I love. Sometimes, it gets to the point where I can’t even tell the difference between my jealousy and my love.

When I was in high school, for instance, I knew this girl who had a lot of the same talents I did, except she was better than me at all of them. She changed my life. She worked her ass off every day and watching her, I was inspired to do better myself. I don’t regret meeting her for a second.

But deep down, I resented her. And one day, when I was caught up in a fit of depression, I told her how I felt.

I immediately regretted it. I tried to make it up to her. But she was so nice to me about it that I just felt like an even lesser being. I honestly thought at that time that she was Jesus with tits. She was that holy and righteous in my eyes. I put her so high on a pedestal that I never really got to know her or about her own insecurities – and it was only much later, when I had the experience of others being jealous of my own achievements, that I realised profoundly what a terrible, damaging thing envy is for everyone involved.

Sorata tended to regress every time he made any progress as a character, and while that’s just poor writing in narrative terms, that really got to me, because I’ve always felt that every time I take one step forward, I take two steps back. No matter how thoroughly you learn your lesson, the emotions fade over time, and all that’s left is the person you were since the beginning. You learn to live with it, though, and there comes a point when your own skin becomes more or less tolerable. It’s taken me a while to reach that point, but I think Sakurasou has helped me reach it.

3) Fukube Satoshi (Hyouka)


If there’s any fictional character who best encompasses how I act in person, it’s Satoshi.

If you’ve watched Hyouka and you’re familiar with Satoshi’s character, then you might agree that the similarity shows in how I write. I’m interested in anything and everything. I have a mind that just can’t sit still, and I consciously try to sound different in every post. If there’s anything I pride myself on as a writer, it’s my versatility. Of course, that has its own downfalls, so I’m very much a jack of all trades, master of none!

I’m also quirky and very much a “sidekick” kind of character. I’ve never cared much for gender stereotypes. In anime terms, I see no problem in liking shojo and BL alongside ecchi and shonen, and outside of anime my hobbies are an equal mix of “girly” and “masculine”.

[Minor spoilers for Hyouka below:]

Like Satoshi, I was much more competitive when I was younger, and I was also much more prone to the jealousy attacks I described above. That’s changed a lot. I’m much calmer and more laid-back now, but I think I do still have that side of me that takes things more seriously than I know is healthy for me.

Episode 21 – the Valentine’s Day episode – honestly changed my life. I still remember how I felt when I first watched the episode; it was a cold slap in the face. Even I had not realised the depths of my own faults until that moment, when I remembered similar cruelties I’d inflicted on the Mayakas in my life. I spent a good deal of my first year of university trying to work out where I was headed in life – and Hyouka came at the perfect time in my life.

And then, after I’d been brooding over the episode for the entire day, I read Guardian Enzo’s post:

Satoshi needs to stop selling himself short and realize that he’s actually considerably smarter than Houtarou when it comes to many things, including people, and has a personality that does indeed shine bright.

I felt as if those words were directed at me, too. I’ve since taken them to heart.

Final Thoughts

I think it’s pretty typical to empathise with deeply flawed characters. I remember being strongly impacted a while back by illegenes’s post on Aku no Hana about overcoming trauma. I think it takes a lot of guts to admit when you truly connect with a character – because often it means acknowledging one’s deepest flaws.

I mean, sure, a lot of the time we see superficial similarities between ourselves and a character, but I can’t say I’ve ever truly related to a loser perverted geek character, even if I call myself one. Perhaps it’s because, when it comes down to it, we don’t look for traits we identify with but rather imperfections. The human mind is designed to look for faults.

I suspect that this is a more-or-less universal experience. Anime has the power to move others and to inspire obsession, and what better way to explain that than with the FEELS? Surely I can’t be the only one who relates to cartoon characters on a routine basis!



  1. I can say that I relate to most looser that gave up on life characters because giving up is always on my mind while going trough college ahah.

    I guess I relate more to reactions from characters then the characters themselves, Because I cant think of any name at the top of my head that truly resonated with me.

    • I don’t think everyone gets attached to specific characters and goes all “OH MAN THAT’S JUST LIKE ME” but there are certain things that characters do sometimes that make you think “Urk, yeah, would’ve done the same.”

      For my part, I picked out specific characters who I felt were representative of the kinds of thoughts I’ve had watching anime, but I don’t think I’ve ever thought of myself as exactly like an anime character, either. I mean they ARE just fictional characters. So I get your position.

  2. *slow claps
    I don’t watch nearly as much anime as I should but I totally get the idea of emotionally connecting with the characters. Sometimes anime characters tell us more about ourselves than even our closest friends. We all have our favorites and while our emotional attachments can prevent us from looking at things objectively. For instance, I really like Homura from Madoka. She is such a controlling, obsessive friend but I can relate what it’s like to love/care for someone so fiercely, you’d do anything to protect them, even if it means doing something they won’t like.
    Another character I’ve come to empathize a lot with recently is Natsume from Natsume Yuujinchou. He’s suffered a lot, but still insists on seeing the good in people and spirits and giving them the benefit of the doubt.

    • I didn’t personally relate to any of the characters of Madoka, but I can see that Homura’s a really well-written character and was super touched by her desire to save Madoka.

      Agreed on Natsume. I think it’s always a little humbling to see people retain their belief in others even in their suffering, because that’s when idealism transcends naivete and becomes wisdom. I think our discussion on Suzaku yesterday kind of touches on that too, eh?

  3. While I try not to get that attached while watching anime, I can’t help but identify with spirited heroic characters. Perhaps that’s because I used to be like that a long time ago and I want to be able to return to that state. Hopefully I can grow out from this.

    • Yeah, that feeling of getting attached is uncomfortable in and of itself, huh? I mean, some people might revel in it but for me I always cringe a little bit when it happens. And you mention something interesting about your own case. Relating to an ideal or something that resembles what you once were shakes you up just as much. Perhaps the solution is not to relate less but to acknowledge that these faults of ours is what makes us able to empathise with other people. It does make anime more memorable for me, so that’s definitely a plus!

  4. This is a wonderful post and I am now very much contemplating writing about the characters I’ve really related to in the past.

    As always, thanks for the insight.

  5. Funny, I actually sympathized with Kyousuke, especially situation wise, because I’m the eldest sibling and my younger siblings sometimes annoy the fuck out of me, and I find my younger sister detestable (no, really).

    To me the character that had resonated the strongest with me is Sato from Welcome to the NHK, which actually made watching the show harder >.>

    • I think Kyousuke was easy to empathise with in the first season, not so much the second season. I actually admired him in the early days, wishing I had a brother who would reach out to me like he did.

      I imagine Sato would resonate with a number of people. It’s probably because shows become so painful and real that they just don’t get made that often. We see a few “critiques” of otaku culture in anime, but none that honest and devastating.

      • The reason it’s so hard-hitting, and such a good show is that it isn’t at all about otaku culture and anime. It’s a true slice of life show, not the idealized version you get in K-On! and such. It’s about “Future-fright”, and how scary it is to become an adult, and the hikikomori aspect is shown to what it truly is, and which many of us desire – just avoid stress and confrontations, and it slowly builds up, and is easy to give in to.

  6. I think I got to know you better through this post Froggy-kun. I’ve finally discovered why you like imouto stories! I have my theories you see, hehe. Thanks for sharing!

    Anyway, I had almost the same experience regarding what you’ve posted in the Sorata section so I can somehow relate… But with Sakurasou, I see myself more in Rita and since you already know fully well what happened to her, I won’t discuss it here anymore.

    For me, the character whom I empathized the most is Natsume Takashi which made him my favorite anime character to date… and that’s all I have to say ;)

    • Hahaha! Did the reality behind why I like imouto stories match your theory in any way? It creeped me out so much when I discovered that my motivation was essentially the same as Kirino’s, so this post was kind of therapeutic to write in a way.

      You do seem a lot like Natsume! Now I’m coming up with theories myself about it, heh heh. Perhaps one day the world will finally know the story, or is it too personal?

      • Close enough. But I would prefer my other theory ;) Oh well…

        I’m somewhat shocked though that you see some Natsume in me. I just know that feeling of “loneliness” he felt as a child that’s why I really connected to him as a character…

        Anyway, I’m more curious with the theories that you’re starting to formulate about me hehe.

        • You tell me your theory if I tell you mine, mhmm??

          I thought you might have experienced some isolation, possibly because of your hobbies, but from then on decided you were content in your own company anyway – is that close enough?

          • MMmm… Isolation… close enough. But not because of my hobbies ;)

            I think it’s more easier for me to get to know a bit of you than you getting to know some part of me. It’s probably because you write more posts that show your personality compared to me.

            As for my theories:

            You like imouto stories because… (We know you have an older brother so…)

            – You like your brother (as a sibling) so much
            – You want the attention of your brother
            – You are overshadowed by your brother in your family and you are jealous
            – You hate your brother

            – OR you love your brother (in a romantic way) *hides in a corner begging for your forgiveness*

            And somehow, I got a bit close. Right? Maybe not with my individual guesses but a combination of 2? I’ve been meaning to ask you that actually.

            Anyway, guess which one I prefer HA. HA. HA. HA. *dies*

            • You’re right – I only know you through your hobbies so it’s hard for me to get a complete picture of your life. I also thought the reason for your isolation could have something to do with your family or perhaps not being seen as “manly” enough in other people’s eyes.

              As for YOUR theory… lol you did get a bit close. Btw, my friends have always joked that I’m in love with my brother, so I’m not even surprised to hear that one anymore. Pretty sure my brother would puke, though.

  7. Excellent post and I appreciate you sharing something like this on a personal level =) I always think about why I like certain anime characters but I’ve never really thought about relating to them the way you describe here. Maybe there just hasn’t been many who have gone through personality growth or life events that I have, or maybe, in order to find ones that I can personally relate to the way you have, I simply have to think about them in a way that’s different from thinking about whether I like them or not, and I’ve just never tried that before. But I do like the idea so maybe I’ll come up with my own list someday.

    Also, I found Satoshi’s actions in that Hyouka episode selfish and upsetting (no offense to you XD)

    • I watch anime a lot for the personal and intellectual growth – which sounds super cheesy, I know – which is probably why not everyone does it. But yeah, in all honesty, not a lot of fiction you consume is ever going to touch you. (Have you ever identified strongly with a book or movie, by any chance?)

      As for Satoshi’s actions in that episode, I agree that they were selfish and upsetting. A friend told me that I wouldn’t have done what Satoshi did, which I agree with, but the sentiments behind his actions were something I understood very well.

      • I watch anime a lot for the personal and intellectual growth – which sounds super cheesy, I know

        This sounds just like my MAL description lol.

  8. I can’t tell so much about me right here, but I totally related with Satoshi too. It got me a bit depressed at the moment… but then it is like freeing you a little.
    Sorry for not saying nothing. Besides, I liked to read more about you, even if it was trought anime characters.

  9. I think this actually made me like Kirino a bit more. (I kinda hate her most of the time.) Other’n that, the Satoshi and Sorata ones both make total sense (and they go really well together).

    Sorata tended to regress every time he made any progress as a character, and while that’s just poor writing in narrative terms, that really got to me, because I’ve always felt that every time I take one step forward, I take two steps back. No matter how thoroughly you learn your lesson, the emotions fade over time, and all that’s left is the person you were since the beginning.

    So, about Ikari Shinji…

    In all seriousness, though, you’ve now got me seriously wondering what characters I might actually be like. I tend to sympathize/empathize with characters’ thoughts and motivations a lot, but I rarely (if ever) look at a character and think that I would act the way they do.

  10. Wow – this was…I don’t really know what to say, actually. Any compliment I give seems to somehow cheapen this personal post.

    While I can’t claim to empathize with Kirino (or much of any of the characters in OreImo), I definitely can say Satoshi and Sorata gave me a lot of mixed feelings (all in a good way). For me, they were the characters who represented the parts of me I felt I could become if I wasn’t careful, the “alternate me”s that seemed all too real, constantly burned out and frustrated by other people with talent, grappling with feelings of jealousy and complicated feelings surrounding desire and attachment. Someone who couldn’t make progress without subsequently invalidating it. I’m not ashamed to admit that both Satoshi and Sorata helped shape who I am today in a very big way in the best way possible – by helping me learn the painful lessons without experiencing the myself. And thus I get around that core refrain about the cold hard truth concerning lessons and sacrifice from Little Busters! ~Refrain~

    When it comes to the character I’ve empathized the most with, I probably would pick Houtarou, to be honest. Since high school, I’ve constantly been put on a pedestal (so I can empathize a little with “Jesus with tits”), and have struggled with how to portray what people call “talent” or “intelligence” (but usually is a lot of hard work). Because it is so damn isolating being shoved apart from people. The small comments here and there, the small self-deprecations you start to use to try to get them to consider you on their level. (Random side note: When Celia from Walkure Romanze talked about being so lonely, I FELT THAT SO HARD.) The cultural festival arc absolutely killed me when I saw what Houtarou’s use of his abilities were doing to Satoshi (my god Satoshi’s startled “BUT HOW IS THAT POSSIBLE?” still makes me want to cry), and the whole movie mystery arc that had to do with talent and that conversation with Irisu felt as raw to me as it did to Houtarou. I needed the pool recovery OVA as badly as he did.

    Well, now I’ve got to find a weekend to do that Hyouka and Sakurasou write up so I can attempt to also put some of my feelings out there as well. They’ll probably come out a horrible mess (like my first one), but I’m all fired up thanks to you!

    • The weirdest thing is, before I entered university I would probably never have related very much to Sorata or Satoshi at all. The single hardest lesson I learned in uni was that I was not as clever as I thought I was. Up until then, my classmates and teachers were convinced I was something special, simply because I’m good at picking things up. When I finished high school, I had the grades to do anything. But in university, I crashed and burned (well, more like Asian failed tbh), and so I willfully isolated myself from everyone who used to know and admire me. My current friendship circle has no idea, really, that I was ever one of the top students in the country. Nowadays, no one ever refers to me as the smart kid, which is super humbling.

      Coming up against a wall was probably the best thing that could’ve happened to me in the long run, because I’m now in the process of becoming a more well-rounded intellectual for it. (Rather than someone whose only talent is, say, rote learning.) I suspect this post would have been very different if I’d written this in high school or even five years or so down the track. Perhaps you might say I’m overcoming a temporary hurdle and that my core personality is not very much like Sorata or Satoshi, but at least now I can say, “I’ve been there. I’ve felt what they’ve felt.”

      Ironically, writing this comment has made me feel super inspired as well! I’d definitely love to hear some of your thoughts on Hyouka and Sakurasou in a post. And thanks for showing me a bit of that insight into your life ;)

  11. I found that I related the most with Miki Sayaka in Majou Shoujo Madoka Magica, wanting to be some sort of hero to save all and then being able to feel the pain she goes through.

    Also Kurosawa from Onani Master Kurosawa,whilst I might not fap in the girls toilet,much of his feelings and changes can be felt quite strongly.

    • Thanks for sharing your experiences! Seems like you’ve swung from a pessimist outlook to an idealistic outlook, which is really interesting to me. The hero complex is something I related to a lot myself, although I didn’t personally identify with any of Madoka’s characters.

  12. I never felt as though a character resonated within me. There are characters that I can strongly relate to such as Yukino Yukinoshita, Kurugaya Yuiko and Oreki houtarou . Although I strongly relate with them I feel as though they resemble my more outward personality rather than my core personality. But I suppose that is relatively normal since everybody is unique within themselves. An autistic mind complicates the core personality enough but couple that with a (depressive) philosophical personality and I think you might have a person who cannot understand themselves.

    Well saying I have yet to find a character that resonated within me is a lie since there is Flandre Scarlet but about 40% of her personality is probably made up by my own fantasies so she doesn’t count.

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