Welcome to Anime Rants. Today, two yandere girls from anime will be discussed. First, I’ll make sure you know what a yandere is and some other background information. After that, example cases are provided. Finally, we’ll address the question of whether these crazy characters can truly feel love or not. Ready, set, Rant!
Note: Spoiler Warnings for Mirai Nikki and Happy Sugar Life.
What’s a Yandere? Generally, they are characters who seem sweet and gentle, but also have a frightening amount of obsessive love for someone. Sometimes, this is shown through violence. Other times, the yandere may not do what’s best for his/her lover, going against their wishes. The term yandere is a pun. Yanderu is a Japanese word for insane, as in mentally twisted. Deredere is a Japanese word for love-struck. So the yan-dere is loving but unhinged.
Some people are very strict and analytical about who qualifies as a yandere type. I use the term more loosely. If I continue on to write more posts about yandere love, there may be characters that not everyone considers yandere. However, for this post, I’ve chosen examples that are undeniably this character type. The real question in this post is whether a yandere can feel love. If so, what sort of love is it? Regardless of whether it’s really love, the characters’ relationships with their crushes will be discussed. So let’s look at two yandere girls, and then revisit the question of love and its nature.
Case 1: Yuno Gasai
Yuno from Mirai Nikki is madly in love with a boy named Yukiteru (or Yuki as she calls him). The two of them are participants in a deadly survival game to determine the next God after Deus dies. Yuno stalks Yuki and is extremely possessive of him. At one point, she keeps him tied up to a chair for almost a week so he will stay with her and she can take care of him. Yuno can also be controlling and manipulative. She lies to Yuki about his friends betraying him late in the game. This pushes the game in the direction the girl wants it to go.
The last few episodes reveal that Yuno already played the survival game and was the only survivor. She planned to raise Yuki from the dead, but her powers were not extensive enough to bring back his “soul.” So Yuno jumped back in time to repeat everything, hoping that this time, Yuki will live, and decide to kill her. If he doesn’t, then she will kill him, and once again leap back in time to spend her days with Yuki.
The trauma of the first survival game, having Yuki die in the first world, and inheriting the pressure of godhood all contribute to Yuno’s insanity. But it all started long before that. Yuno was badly abused and neglected by her adoptive parents, and we know nothing about her life before adoption. Yuno’s torment mostly at the hands of her unstable mother twisted her mind. It’s possible that it made her into a sociopath, because throughout the survival game, Yuno kills many enemies without any apparent remorse or hesitation. She seems to enjoy fighting.
There’s no question that Yuno is mentally ill in several ways, and we know that her behavior toward Yuki evidences a corrupt form of love. Whether or not Yuno loves Yuki has been a subject of debate among fans for years. My conclusions are given in the last section, but one other factor needs to be stated first. In the final few episodes of Mirai Nikki, Yuno has great difficulty willing herself to kill Yuki. In the end, she can’t do it. She kills herself so he is the last survivor.
Case 2: Satou Matsuzaka
Satou from Happy Sugar Life struggles with feeling empty. No matter what kind of guy she’s with, it’s not right, and feels “bitter.” When Satou finds an abandoned little girl named Shio, she “falls in love” almost immediately. Taking the girl home, Satou lives with her in a life that feels happy and sweet. The age gap and the fact that Shio is someone’s family member doesn’t bother Satou. She never makes a police report, either. But Shio is delighted to live with Satou rather than go back to her real family.
There are a lot of moral issues here, but nevertheless, it’s a possibility that there’s love here. Various problems arise with keeping Shio at her home. Satou goes to great lengths to “protect” her. This is the first time she has ever felt passionate about something. Unfortunately, she really will do anything for this cause, even kill people. This yandere wasn’t mentally or emotionally normal to begin with, but when she kills her friend for trying to call the police about Shio, it’s clear that Satou has become a psychopath.
Satou cherishes Shio and treats her well– when they are together. But Shio must spend hours alone, taking care of herself while Satou is at work. She can’t get out of the apartment, either, with a extra outside lock on the door. Despite the neglect, Shio insists to the very end that she loves Satou, and will run away with her even as a criminal. The ending of the story is similar to Mirai Nikki, in a way. The two “lovers” are trapped on the roof of a burning building. They decide to die together, and jump off the building holding each other. But Satou quickly moved her body in such a way as to protect Shio from the fall.
The yandere dies saving the little girl. So is this real love or not? What is the nature of said “love?” My conclusions are below.
Can A Yandere Feel Real Love?
To start with, I have been a bit misleading about something. That is, my references to “real love.” In my opinion, all love is real. There are many types, and some are unhealthy and immoral. In this post, I am not trying to determine if these yanderes feel some kind of idealized “true love.” Rather, I want to argue that they do feel love and discuss what kinds we are looking at.
Yuno feels a complex mix of possessive love, lust, depersonalized love, and altruistic love. Let me explain what I mean by each. The first one is pretty obvious. Everything in Yuno’s behavior throughout the series shows that he thinks Yuki is or should be “hers.” She is easily jealous, and she will take away his basic basic freedoms to keep him with her. This is possessive love. Yuno also has a strong physical attachment to Yuki and frequently tries to get physical with him.
As for depersonalized love, I mean that Yuno loves the idea of Yuki more than his own person. This is evidenced by the fact that she is willing to keep jumping back in time and repeating things. When her time with one Yuki is up, she’ll dispose of him and move on. Yuno says it herself, “I need a Yuki.” These three kinds of love are present all through the story. When it comes to the last one, it only surfaces on occasion, and can be overridden by selfishness. Until the ending, that is. Here Yuno shows her altruistic (selfless) love. Yuki is more important to her than her desires, her interests, and even her very life.
Satou’s love is more like idolization mixed with personal attachment. The love she feels is mostly for her own satisfaction, but she also wants the best for Shio. Satou keeps Shio because in her warped mind, this is the best place for the child. Unlike with Yuno and Yuki, there doesn’t seem to be a sexual component (thank goodness). It’s attachment and a case of idealizing. Shio is the perfect being, like god or an angel, in Satou’s mind. With such a view, it’s no wonder she goes to such lengths to her protect their life together.
Completely altruistic love only surfaces at the very end in this instance. Unlike Yuno, who struggled for several episodes with her newly found selfless love, Satou makes up her mind at once. She dies to save Shio. It’s possible that a lot of reasons were at play, but I think this action was simply instinct. Attachment and idolization can help in the formation of altruism.
That’s it for today, but let me leave a few notes. This post was originally going to include Lucy from Elfen Lied as a third yandere case. That’s why she’s in the featured image. But the discussion around that is too long to be included. So I will do another post next week about two more yanderes: Lucy from Elfen Lied and Shiro from Deadman Wonderland. There will probably be several posts in this series to come. Thank you for reading and I hope that my post got you thinking a little.