It's not just shonen, shojo and their variations. The deeper you delve into anime, the more terms you will come across – and potentially learn. Among the niche (though not very academic) terms you might see, is yandere. But what does this mean, and what are some of the best yandere characters in anime?
According to an anime wiki known as "The Dere Types Wiki", the term Yandere describes a character who is lovesick in extreme and often destructive ways. They might appear sweet and caring toward their love interest at first, but their love then turns obsessive. The results are comedic at best, and tragic at worst.
To be frank, don't totally get the lure of Yandere types for anime fans, but I do understand that anime often relies on exaggeration and there's a certain degree of charm in watching a fictional tale about something you wouldn't necessarily condone in reality – with some limits of course. So, here are some of the best yandere characters, though "best" in this case can be a little too intimately associated with "worst" depending on your interpretation:
1) Yuno Gasai from Mirai Nikki
Yuno, with her pink hair and eyes that look as if they could murder you just by looking at you, is the image you are most likely to encounter when looking up the term yandere. No wonder she's the trope codifier of the yandere entry on TV Tropes.
Compared to other characters in Mirai Nikki or Future Diary, Yuno isn't evil – although she does have too large a headcount for some people's comfort – but there's nothing she won't do to keep her love interest, Yukiteru, by her side.
Not only is Yuno one of the most iconic yandere characters, but she's also, oddly, a layered one. Apart from the fact that she mostly murders evil people, she does eventually come to address her obsession with Yukiteru and her backstory provides some insights into her behavior.
2) Megumi Shimizu from Shiki
Megumi Shimizu is a young girl whose supposed death fires a horrifying epidemic that threatens to turn an entire community into a vampire ghost town. At first, her actions are limited to stalking her crush by looking into his house, but Shiki is a horror anime so this is bound to get creepier.
We want to keep things spoiler-free here, so let's just say that anyone too close to Megumi's crush would want to stay out of her way.
3) Lucy from Elfen Lied
Another pink-haired yandere girl (do I see a pattern?) of the very scary type. Lucy is a diclonius, a post-human species with horns on her head and vectors that allow her telekinesis, making her extremely dangerous.
Early in the show/manga, a traumatic event causes Lucy to lose all her memories and turn into "Nyuu," an extremely innocent, childish character, but her real murderous personality often comes up to disastrous effect. Lucy doesn't really have anyone close to her, but when young, she met Kota, and, to put it simply – and as spoiler-free as possible – she grew extremely possessive, even murderous when seeing him with another.
Lucy has mostly grown up in a facility where her relatively new and feared species was experimented upon, so you sort of understand why she was so desperate to cling to her only friend/crush, but this is not to say that she's not incredibly scary.
4) Kagura Sohma from Fruits Basket
To avoid major Fruits Basket spoilers we'll focus on its most comedic and tame yandere example. Early in the show, Kagura Sohma appears as a sweet-mannered young woman to everyone – apart from her childhood crush, Kyo.
Although the teenage Kyo does not reciprocate her feelings at all, she insists on acting as if they're a couple, and she's not beyond breaking things and becoming violent when she expresses her affection.
Admittedly, this type of character who expresses their love in a violent manner hasn't aged very well, so it might have been better if the 2019-21 remake had toned that particular aspect down a bit, but at least we get to see Kagura's inner demons, and, by the end of Fruits Basket, she has done enough work to address her obsessiveness and mostly grow out of it.
5) Misa Amane from Death Note
Love her or hate her, Misa is an iconic example of a yandere character. It's been more than ten years since I watched Death Note and I still can't get over her voice obsessing over Light.
Misa first appears as a second death note user, and it quickly becomes obvious that she's obsessed with Light because he killed her father's murderer. Misa is by no means a good person, but being with Light totally ruined her, as she is willing to do virtually everything for him. And knowing him, what he wants her to do is never particularly nice.
Not that Light's ex is much different, so there's a concerning pattern here to watch out for.
6) Shion Sonozaki from Highurashi no Naku Koro ni
Higurashi is all about murderous children and adolescents (at least on the surface, before certain unsettling revelations) so some obsessiveness is to be expected. Shion is obsessed with her friend's brother, Satoshi, to the point that most of the murders she commits are because of him.
This isn't as horrifying as it would be in any other anime, simply because of the nature of Higurashi, with most of the characters snapping and committing atrocities at one point, but Shion's motivation still classify her as a yandere.
7) Mikasa Ackerman from Attack on Titan
Attack on Titan is by no means a yandere anime, and Mikasa Ackerman is a relatively tame, toned-down example. Still, TV Tropes classifies her as a yandere – which is the point several parodies also make – and it's not too hard to see why. Her love for Eren is sort of obsessive.
This isn't the most destructive example, since her obsessiveness very often amounts to saving Eren rather than harming him, at least at first, but she does get jealous when he's in the company of other girls.
8) Nanami Kiryuu from Revolutionary Girl Utena
A rare non-romantic example (although the sibling relationship is a bit uncomfortable to watch at times), Nanami Kiryuu is narcissistic, obsessive and all in all quite insufferable when it comes to her relationship with her brother, Touga. She's completely idolized him and considers him perfect in every way, but her love is definitely not healthy.
This is demonstrated in funny ways, such as overreacting to his injuries, but also serious ones as she does some sinister things out of her jealousy.
9) Nina Einstein from Code Geass
In Code Geass, Nina is the classmate of main character Lelouch, and she's mostly mild-mannered, even timid for most of Season 1. Early on, however, she becomes attached to (and possibly develops a crush on) a person whose name we won't disclose to avoid giving away major spoilers.
When the said person dies, well, Nina's face will haunt you for a long time. Plus, she becomes a blood-thirsty scientist working for Britannia after that – thankfully, she does get a bit better by the end.
10) Ringo Oginome from Mawaru Penguindrum
If you're like me and prefer deconstructions of yandere or tragic yandere to straightforward ones, this lesser-known example is for you. Ringo Oginome starts as a seemingly straightforward stalker with a crush.
Then her reasons for acting like this are revealed, and they are heartbreaking. Ringo won't let anything stand between her and what she wants, which makes it all scary – and, due to Penguindrum's nature, surreal. Really, her character is an intellectual exploration of being a yandere for something the object of her desire represents, rather than for him as a person and, philosophical anime have always been my weakness.
Do you agree with this list? Let us know in the comments and watch out for our list of male yandere characters in the future.
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