In this month’s anime collaboration article, the Geeks Under Grace anime team explores the in’s and out’s of their favorite fictional heartthrobs. “Husbando’s” and “waifu’s” (each obviously being the phonetic, Japanese equivalents of “husbands” and “wives”) are a strange, but not uncommon topic for novice and veteran anime viewers alike, and one we plan on indulging right here.
Never thought about something like this before? Well, sit back and get ready to reap the opinions of those who have gone before you, because, as I’m sure you’ll notice, this is something we like to talk about. (Then, be sure to share your own husbando or waifu in the comments section below.)
Cooper D Barham
I go back and forth on how I feel about the word “waifu.” For as long as the Naruto series has been around, I’ve always had a particular fondness for soft-spoken heroine, Hinata Hyuga. In a sea of fantastic female anime characters, she has always stood out. Perhaps it is her kindness which drew me to her, maybe her sensitivity.
More likely, it is how her personality and emotions matured in a realistic manner as she got older. Even more than that, maybe it’s because I’ve always held a personal kinship with Naruto himself, and thought the two of them would form a cute, complimentary relationship. The longer I reflect on the reasons, the harder I’m pressed by alexithymia. I just can’t put my finger on it.
Hinata is not short on displays of fierce bravery. Most notable are her battles against Neji, a young prodigy who, at the time, harbored a thinly-veiled hatred for Hinata and her entire family; and Pain, one of the mightiest shinobi to ever exist. Hinata, a natural pacifist, faced both of these threats with an understanding that she might not make it out alive–and both times she believed what she was fighting for was worth such a risk.
Not to mention she’s a member of the Hyuga clan, which by default gives her an interesting physicality. Inhumanly pure-white eyes, which can see x-ray in all directions, with the ability to zoom-in? A specialized martial art which can shut people down internally with one or two precise blows? A martial art which she’d wield in my defense?
Sign me up.
(Honorable mentions go to Winry from Fullmetal Alchemist (because duh), and Kari from Digimon–particularly the older version from Season 2. Kari was my first crush, and set an unhealthy standard which has been matched by remarkably few real people. Funny how that works, eh?)
“I need a doctor! Is anyone here a doctor?” The shrieks of a panicked woman fill the air. “Help, somebody! My son is hurt!”
The blank-faced people offer no respite to the hysterical lady, but from the back of the room, a dark figure rises, and a hush falls over the crowd as he approaches the scene of the accident. Whipping out his trusty stethoscope (because what doctor travels without one?), the stranger looks at the boy. “What seems to be the problem?” he asks, his voice sultry and low.
“Little Timmy isn’t breathing! Do you know CPR?”
Naturally, the brooding yet undeniably attractive stranger does, indeed. He takes the unconscious boy in his arms and examines him before administering the lifesaving treatment. When Timmy’s eyes fly open and his gasping, wheezing breaths return, the room starts to cheer. But for whom they cheer is unclear; the handsome man has vanished.
We all know the movie moment: the mysterious, handsome stranger will never be seen again, and the grateful family will never be able to properly thank him for the gift of Little Timmy’s life. Not all heroes wear capes–some wear lab coats and hospital scrubs.
Of course, the handsome, brooding doctor is no new concept, but Osamu Tezuka weaves a clever tale as striking and evocative as any I’ve ever read. Kurō Hazama, otherwise known as ブラック・ジャック (Burakku Jakku) or simply Dr. Black Jack, is my husbando of many years. Tezuka’s masterful manga was one of the first I ever read beginning to end, and Black Jack was the first anime man I ever daydreamed about, wishing he were real and at my doorstep, come to whisk me away.
The appeal of Black Jack lies deeper than his crepuscular, yet strangely appealing pieced-together face, or charming black and white hair. His true virtue is in his deep heart; the Christ-like selflessness he displays transcends anything I’ve seen outside the Bible itself. Black Jack again and again refuses to take or abandon human life, no matter the cost. He assembles a body for a young woman who otherwise would not have seen the light of day. He serves justice to a wrongly-convicted man, and finds a way to give him a new lease on life. Every chapter is a new story of Black Jack’s rescue of yet another otherwise hopeless victim of medical horrors, and each patient reveals a deeper and deeper sense of love which Hazama pours out for each and every soul he saves.
Kaneki, when life was okay.
Picking just *one* top anime husbando is NOT an easy task. There are many solid options out there. However, I’ll answer with the default to which I always return–Ken Kaneki, from Tokyo Ghoul. Yes, he’s half-ghoul, but ignore that for a second. This guy is just fantastic in so many ways. For one, he’s quiet and bookish. Immediate thumbs up right there. He’s introverted (one close friend, Hide, over a group). He desires genuine connections with others because of who they are as individuals and not because of shallow appearances (hence, his approaching Rize for a date because she’s reading the obscure author he also enjoys).
Kaneki, when life was…*not* okay.
Going beyond that, Kaneki has superb character development across both Tokyo Ghoul and Tokyo Ghoul √A. Through no fault of his own, he’s thrust into terrible circumstances he wants no part of, and yet, while hitting some shaky points, he remains true to himself.
From teaching Hinami how to read, to attempting to sacrifice himself for his (few) friends and seek a greater peace, Kaneki remains loyal, honest, and kind in the face of evil. I mean, honestly, how can you top that?
Kaoru Nishimi – Kids on the Slope – Introverted, brilliant, pianist, and more concerned with making others happy than himself.
Kyoya Ootori – Ouran High School Host Club – Smart, tsundere, glasses, and looks out for everyone in his own awkward way.
Takumi Usui – Kaichou wa Maid-Sama – Kind underneath a sassy exterior, tough, surprise glasses, and likes cats.
Tobio Kageyama – Haikyuu!!! – Smart, tsundere, and super nice beneath a slightly prickly exterior.
Tokiya Ichinose or Masato Hijirikawa – Uta no Prince-Sama – Both are cute, musically talented, and super romantic in their own awkward ways.
Toshizou Hijikata – Hakuouki – He will literally lay down his life for his “brother” and protect those who need protecting.
Yamato Kurosawa – Say “I Love You” – A whole new level of patient and understanding when it comes to working out insecurities, and loyal to a fault.
Zero Kiryuu – Vampire Knight – Always strives to improve himself.
Writing this as a married man feels odd. I haven’t done the whole “waifu” thing in a long time, so I’ll be going back a few years for mine. At first, I thought about going with Kagome (InuYasha), as she was the first real “waifu” I remembered having, though I think that was before the concept of a “waifu” became common in anime fandom. In truth though, my OG waifu is Ami Mizuno/Sailor Mercury (Sailor Moon). So is that who I would choose? No, I decided to go with someone else. While these two are definitely honorable mentions, my choice for this article is a little more practical:
Mio Akiyama (K-On!)
Why Mio? Well, let’s start with the more shallow end of the spectrum. In general, I have two “types” of women that appeal to me: women with shorter haircuts (typically to the shoulder) and women with long, dark hair. Now, based on that alone, most of the K-On! cast would seem to be a possible choice, with the exception of Mugi (I’ve never really had a thing for blondes). Thankfully, there is more to my reasoning!
Mio is a musician—a bassist, to be exact. As an occasional guitarist myself, this obviously appeals to me because it gives us something in common. But wait! The whole cast is composed of musicians! Why not Yui, who also plays the guitar and has short hair, or why not Azusa, who plays the guitar and has long, dark hair? Well, now we can get into personalities…
Mio is a bit more humble than most of her friends. None of them are particularly proud people, but Mio tends to prefer the background, out of the spotlight. Yet, more often than not, she finds herself thrust into the spotlight anyway—and she’s good! This humility appeals to me because I consider humble talent the best talent. People who recognize their skills but don’t take an overblown sense of pride in them are generally easier to get along with, because they don’t have “big heads.” Also, while I don’t mind a burst of energy here and there (which Mio definitely has throughout the show), I am typically a more laid back person, so Mio’s more reserved personality fits with my lifestyle. Comparing her to the two other possibilities I mentioned earlier, Yui is far too hyperactive, and Azusa can be a bit too bossy, even seemingly elitist at times, which is why I didn’t choose either of them. Besides, Mio’s shyness is part of her charm. It’s cute without being annoying.
Going back to the music aspect of things: Mio tends to be the primary song writer for the band. While I can play the guitar, I can’t write music to save my life, so we would complement each other by bringing our individual skills to the table. There’s also the fact Mio seems to be somewhat knowledgeable about the guitar (she provides Yui with some instruction when Yui first begins playing), which means I’d also have someone to provide feedback about my skills, abilities, and progression. The fact she can sing is another bonus, as it is a skill I have often been told I’m good at, as well. In the K-On! media, Mio often does dual vocals with Yui, which is something that could carry over in this hypothetical relationship. Of course, Mio doesn’t particularly enjoy being in the spotlight, so I may be on my own in that regard, but that’s okay, too.
So, there you have it. I would choose Mio because her looks, personality, and primary hobby are all things which appeal to me, and while there are obviously many other factors to consider in a relationship, these three things at least make for a good jumping-off point.
Picture a puppy. Not just any puppy, but a black, shaggy-furred puppy with an ear flopping over one of his bright blue eyes. Picture a puppy that cocks his head and blinks whenever he hears you use an unfamiliar word. Picture a puppy that falls for the “fake-out fetch” every single time and ends up chasing shadows into the thicket, only to come bounding out covered in nettles and proudly carrying a dead tree branch. Imagine that puppy growing into a more mature, but no less spirited, army dog, just like he always dreamed ever since he first saw his hero, Rin Tin Tin, on TV. Imagine that puppy-turned-dog heroically sacrificing himself in an open minefield to save his inexperienced and helpless human (and inspiring one of those children’s books that wins a Newberry Award by default).
Now anthropomorphize that puppy—give him a spiky haircut, an out-of-place edgy scar alongside his genuine grin, and a sword the size of a kayak—and you have instant Zack Fair.
Understandably, I’m a bit of a fangirl. I own every figurine Square Enix has ever released of Zack, including the silver Trading Arts variant (yes, that’s my figurine and official entry you see on My Figure Collection). Ask me to commission character artwork at a Con, and you’re safe betting I’ll choose Zack Fair. Selling Zack Fair prints, keychains, buttons, or kitchen sinks? I’m pretty much Pavloved to respond with Gil in hand at this point.
At the heart of all things Zack is an understated development arc and concrete characterization that refuses all things angsty (and pleases my inner writer and critic). Zack matures from an attention-hog into a true hero, sacrifices his everything to save another, has an optimistic attitude about life, and is okay giving things up to make others happy.
Zack Fair in Final Fantasy VII: Last Order
In fact, Zack even lets go of his beloved girlfriend, Aerith–the gal he waited over four years to be reunited with–when he realizes she and Cloud truly love each other, and he does so with a smile—the same smile he dies with.
Zack is a big dorky, goofy, grinning, frisky, perky puppy… who just happens to be a hardcore 1st Class SOLDIER infused with Mako energy magic.
He’s a man whose handsome exterior doesn’t mask an ugly heart, whose words are as powerful as his unblinking, fourth-wall-shattering stare. His grace and intelligence lead humanity to victory as often as his duel parrying blades and personal sacrifices. I could match wits and eyebrows alike with him, and I can definitely dig a guy whose crystal clear vision makes him willing to go out on a limb for his beliefs (see chapter 49). Humanly flawed, intriguingly written, and capable of wielding the storyline’s punchiest moments like a one-man powerhouse, Erwin puts the “win” in… well… you know…
My affiliation with Commander Eyebrows of Freedom is renowned to the point that my Facebook Messenger blows up with various consolations and congratulations whenever he does anything worth mentioning in the manga.
I also got him on a “Which Attack on Titan Character would be your Husbando?” quiz once, so our relationship is pretty much legit at this point.
Klaus Von Reinherz – Kekkai Sensen
His mercy drips with the color of his own blood. His justice is swift, yet seared with sympathy for the sinner. Bearing a striking silhouette, the strength of a beast, the sophistication of a gentleman, and a saintly presence that can only be compared to a humanoid Aslan, Klaus Von Reinherz carries the weight of his Christ-archetypal cross quite literally.
That’s not just because he wields a crucifix-shaped brass knuckle and goes mono a mono with the incarnation of Satan. Even the devil himself is quick to notice similarities between the messianic leader of Libra and a certain carpenter’s Son who hung on a cross to bring mankind hope. Klaus offers salvation to the scummiest of traitors (often at the price of his own blood, which literally doubles as a weapon), extends membership into his peace-keeping society to any willing to carry his creed (regardless of their histories, ethnicities, and abnormalities), and acts as the mediator between humanity and the monstrous denizens of the underworld who have invaded New York City.
Just… watch Kekkai Sensen. It all makes sense. Mostly. Eventually.
Klaus personifies many traits that inspire and resonate with me. He’s someone who has experienced all that is evil in the world, yet doesn’t lose sight of the beauty nestled deep within its cavernous black holes. Something as simple as a train ride gets him giddier than a geek on game night—and Klaus is a huge geek. Threatening his family of houseplants is just about the only thing aside from grotesque injustice that will rile him into using his beast-like bulk for violent force (a sentiment I echo about my figurine collection). Klaus is a laidback guy whose down-to-earth nature makes him as comfortable in a 5-star restaurant as he is reaching in a greasy fast-food bag for the last French fry or doughnut. Nothing makes him happier than a hot cup of tea and a challenging video game—Prosfair (god-tier chess) being his game of mastery. “To thine own self be true” might well be his unspoken, Shakespearean mantra.
Klaus can go from teddy bear, to beast mode, to Christ archetype in less time than it took you to read this sentence.
Another thing we have in common is our ability to look perfectly miserable, even while we’re eating our favorite dessert.
L’s many faces, names, and various media alterations make him a walking mass of moral complexes, but his few moments of genuine empathy for others—particularly enemies and estranged allies—reveal a soul as sweet as his sugar cravings (L: Change the World is the first novel to make me tear up in years). His intelligence is tempered with hard-earned (ha?) experience, and his depth as an individual only grows as you’re willing to probe past his slumped physique and bug-eyed, sickly face. L doesn’t give up his secrets easily, and that only makes the investigation into his reclusive identity all the more rewarding. (Believe me: I’ve been at it for the past 4 years.)
Needless to say, nowadays, I’m apt to walk around barefoot and take pride in abbreviating my middle name “Lynn” as “L.”
Vash the Stampede – Trigun
Vash is a culmination of two traits nearly universal to my husbando harem—meekness and Christ archetypal…ness. He’s a better “Christian” than his so-called preacher sidekick, acts and stands on his values, boasts a jarringly robust sense of humor, wears a trench coat, has a literal prosthetic firearm (it’s a pun—think about it), and survives on a steady diet of doughnuts without developing blood sugar problems—everything I could possibly want in an ageless, sort-of-human, natural disaster of a man.
My figurine collection features a shelf entirely dedicated to all things Vash—including a signature by his English voice actor, Johnny Yong Bosch (read: bucket list). I just can’t get enough of Vash and the way he hones his beliefs and values by putting them to the test. He’s a character who cries, bleeds, and breaks along the way to salvation, making more mistakes than amends and intentionally spilling gallons of his own blood, lest he spill the blood of others.
“It’s not a phase, mom…”
Despite being equally blessed and burdened with god-like powers, Vash never abuses his abilities, even when faced with the stinging words of his enemies or the literal incarnations of sin. He’d rather play with children or eat salmon sandwiches than sling his gun. His meekness makes him a visionary with the power to drastically reshape the world through “love and peace,” without brute force. And, frankly, I admire Vash’s “ask-questions-first, shoot-later” approach as much as I envy his metabolism.
If you haven’t already, try putting some thought into who might be your husbando or waifu of choice. It’s not just an otaku right of passage, it’s also a fun thought experiment and discussion starter. Be sure to leave your conclusions in the comments section below!
Our next collaborative article topic is: “Support Characters in Anime Who Deserve Their Own Series.”
God bless and take care!
Cooper D Barham
Aspiring author, marriage and family therapist, and active behavioral health technician, Cooper fills his world with God, music, videogames, anime/manga, drawing, reading, writing, and some physical stuff in between. If you ever want to talk about the big or little things of life, fire him a message. Helping others through tough times is both his passion and way of living. 'Got it memorized?'
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