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It’s a safe assumption that anime has some very pretty men.
Slender, wide-eyed, androgynous creatures, Bishounen boys have been a staple of anime for years. The female gaze is the lifeblood of many a show with even a few men finding themselves unable to look away. Best results come from quiet brooders (Sasuke), villains (Sephiroth) and the Loveable Idiot (Tamaki Suoh).
But the best results come when that lovely, expressive man is given a level up in cool, becoming a kind of awesome that makes you giggle like a maniac. These Bishi-Meets-Badass type characters are the creme-de-la-creme of writing, and the most fun you will ever have in watching an anime. They’re rare, they’re beautiful, and they make all the magic happen.
For starters, these men are efficient as hell. Pretty McCoolGuy won’t spin his wheels for 100+ episodes (I’m looking at you Inuyasha) nor will they fail this task for the sake of comedy. They knuckle down and get it done, making sure the plot continues to run smoothly. McCool guy is not a man to waste time, and we are all so grateful for it.
Prime example is none other than Kyouya Ootori, Vice President of the Ouran High School Host club, and secret manipulator. Planning the Host Club events, financing them through genius merchandising, and covering up almost all of Tamaki’s boo-boos, Kyouya makes sure that the Host Club runs without a hitch, with only minor problems popping up here and there. One could also point to Edward Elric, who’s mind is laser focused on fixing his and his brother’s bodies (with minor distraction to try and kick Mustang’s keister).
But ye be warned: this focus can and will be broken if a loved one is in danger, and heaven help they who cause it. Bishi Badass will not tolerate threats to family and friends, and will extinguish the threat with little to no mercy. Kurama, From Yu Yu Hakusho, killed a demon from the inside out, with a deadly flower, because that demon threatened his human mother. Kenshin Himura, from Rurouni Kenshin, would have killed the assassin Jin’e had not the woman he kidnapped spoken up last minute. It’s a glorious combination of looks and protective instincts, making them looks and hearts all at the same time.
But there’s a sad little cherry on top of this Sunday, and it’s bitter rather than sweet. Despite all the wonderful listed above, Bishounen Bushido is often the most stone-faced, serious pretty boy you will ever meet. It’s frustrating that these characters, twice as effective as the average Bishi, are also the ones who stand in the back and scowl for the majority of the anime. Exceptions abound, of course, with the previously mentioned Kenshin Himura, Edward Elric, and even Allen from D.Gray Man, but the rest (Kanda, Ishida from Bleach, Vincent Valentine, etc…) tend to be the Johnny Rain Cloud of their group.
But, just maybe, we put up with it. We have a character who will gladly stick his foot in the face of anyone who tries to cause trouble, proving he’s more than a pretty face. Maybe we don’t need him to be sunshine and smiles because we know they’ll come through in the end. They may be frowning the entire way, but we know they’ll prove their awesome stripes in the end.
I think most fan girls/guys alike will still find themselves pining over this breed of Bishounen. He’s attractive, effective, and protective if a bit depressing to hang around. You can always count on him, but don’t expect him to lighten the mood.