GS: The Deconstruction of Moe Subculture 05 – Yandere

"What do you want for dinner, honey?"

"What do you want for dinner, honey?"

The concept of yandere is eerily similar to that of the yamato nadeshiko discussed in article one. She is, of course, beautiful – nothing particularly special about that, as this is, after all, a discussion of moe. She’s amazingly devout and attentive, caring for your every whim as if they were her own. She’s always by your side, always eager to please, always immaculately perfect.

She’s also just a touch insane.

It’s easy enough to understand how- and why. The yandere archetype is itself a deconstruction of the idea of a perfect woman. Unconditional love and adherence to every one of your whims can, with but a turn of the mirror, look very much like slavish, disturbing obsession – or maybe it’s not the latter that resembles the former, but the other way around entirely. A yandere can be understood simply as nothing more than the full end-result of what happens when you attempt to apply a fictional ideal upon a very real psyche – that the strain between her own self-interests and desires as a human being, when forced through artificial channels, will quite naturally cause cracks to appear in the system – if not outright exploding under the impossible pressures of living in total subservience to another.

The yandere archetype is the final, begrudging admission: expecting moe in the real world isn’t just impossible – it’s ultimately… undesirable.

(articles one, two, three and four.)

"Yandere Miku - Do I want?"

"Yandere Miku - Do I want?"

Well, that may be slightly overgeneralized. There is a significant minority that treats yandere as a fetish like any other. Mind you, given humanity’s tendency to fetishize anything, this says less about moe fans and more about human beings in general. We’re… intensely sexual creatures sometimes, and the channels in which we express it can be outright bizarre at times.

There’s a direct link there to yandere as well – the realization that human beings are very capable of channeling their repressed instincts in what can only be described as creative manners is core to how a yandere character behaves. She is very much a trojan horse figure, her initial impressions always being vaguely disturbing not in the sense of dread and fright, but in the flawlessness of her immaculate behavior. Until the pressures of her paradoxical nature truly asserts itself, she is often mistaken for a yamato nadeshiko. Or, at the very least, as anything but a threat.

But, on closer analysis, which is actually more believable – the perfect girl, or the girl that cracks under the pressure of trying to be perfect? The fantasy of the yamato nadeshiko is fully that of what the girl should be to the guy – but not one moment of its conception deals with the personal goals and intents of its subject. Or rather, the motivations it does give such a woman is extremely monomaniacal. It should come as no surprise to anybody, then, that when forced to adopt a monomaniacal behavioral trait, there will be something akin to pressure buildup in a pipe. A yandere is a ticking time bomb built upon the realization that there’s simply no way anybody can continuously operate under not only the impossibly rigorous ideals of perfection, but even worse, the ideals of emotional slavery.

"I'll... always... be watching you..."

"I'll... always... be watching you..."

Even servants get paid off. It should come off as no surprise that, to a yandere, the reward for her slavish obedience is reciprocity – and that the most commonly used trigger for her cracking is the threat of that being taken away from her. After all, she’s devoted her entire being to the guy – wouldn’t it only be right for that commitment to be returned? And wouldn’t it seem perverse, wouldn’t it seem despicably unjust, if for all of her hard work, some other pair of tits takes him away from her with not even a tenth of the effort she gave?

All human relationships are a matter of compromise – of a constant, dynamic give and take. But there has to be some give. There has to be some level of reciprocity. Nobody likes feeling unrewarded for their efforts. Nobody likes feeling disposable. And given the inherent monomania in a yandere, having her outlet taken away from her is nothing short of depriving her entire reason for being.

She is understandably upset, to put it extremely mildly.

Yet, as mentioned, there is still an attraction to such a character. If written well, you can’t help but sympathize with her even through her breakdown. It’s perfectly understandable why she acts the way she does – you would too if the cost-benefit ratio of your relationships was so perversely skewed against you. Again, the general responses to moe kick in – but cast in a different hue. The attraction to her is very much at a human level now – of sympathy, not possession. There is the instinctual awareness that she might’ve been a vastly different, vastly happier character if she wasn’t stuck with such a dick of a protagonist/had a less crappy upbringing/had you to help her through/etc.

It’s been noted that yandere is almost wholly a modern concept – a backlash against the standard doctrines of moe, perhaps. And they’re increasing in popularity. While an ax-murdering girlfriend will never be a mainstream ideal, they do serve as indicator of a memetic shift – one towards not one-dimensional abstractions of an ideal, but a fully realized, fully human personality.

Nice Boat!

Nice Boat!

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~ by Gonzo Mehum on March 5, 2009.

13 Responses to “GS: The Deconstruction of Moe Subculture 05 – Yandere”

  1. Rena is actually yangire. For those not in the know, the only difference is that a yandere’s insanity is based around her love for the main character, while a yangire is a pretty, cheerful girl that get’s violently insane for other reasons :)
    Pedantic, I know.

    Also, Nice Boat.

  2. Which sort of begs the question as to how the yandere got so obsessed with one person in the first place, and then managed to get herself positioned in such a way that the full insanity could blossom unhindered.

  3. As I understand it, Silver, the most common cause of a yandere relationship is… Plot Convenience. >_> Well, no, more seriously, they tend to originate from the more general childhood friend or girl next door archetypes. Or, in a few cases, an extremely dark background, and the protagonist’s the only one that’s ever shown kindness.

  4. That explains the moeness of the yandere, sure, but one would think that such an obsession would be redirected, heeled, or otherwise discovered and made into something more socially acceptable.

    Cursed logic.

    So, yandere is moe growing up and realizing that it can’t be perfectly itself and having a psychotic break as a result?

  5. Nah. Moe growing up would be less knife-happy. The fact that yandere /exists/ suggests that the culture is shifting towards something less overtly chauvinistic, but yandere itself is mostly the deconstruction of one of the more predominant tropes.

  6. Mmm. So more reaction than pro-action. Got it.

  7. […] (parts one, two, three, four, and five) […]

  8. […] to help set up the server – but, for now, the rest of the series: parts one, two, three, four, five and […]

  9. a very nice article. reading it through and through definitely helped me reorganize my thoughts, and changed a few of my viewpoints. keep up the good work!

  10. That was a great read, and the nice boat picture at the end was funny.

  11. […] bien parmi ce que l’on peut appeler les archétypes du “moe”, ce sont les yandere. Oui, ces jeunes filles d’apparence très gentille qui peuvent se révéler être de […]

  12. Yandere’s are cute! ^.^ They work hard for you so you need to also devote yourself to her…
    Just… don’t make any mistakes :P

    Yandere’s are badass with a knife, while still remaining cute. The only thing I don’t like is that when she does snap, she isn’t cute anymore. D:
    Why can’t she still be moe even then? :'(

  13. Dude, this was an excellent article, bro~
    Kaede in Shuffle makes me sob like a baby when she’s upset ;c poor, poor Kaede.

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