Making a compelling character is harder than it seems especially when it comes to anime heroines. There have been plenty of characters like that of Sakura from the Naruto series or Suguha from Sword Art Online that to some believe had the potential to become captivating heroines, yet their onedimensional persona’s and lack of major engaging traits led to them being cast aside in favor of better-developed heroines.
The core traits that can turn an average heroine into one that captivates an audience consists of having a selfless nature, being relatable, and being honest with their emotions. These few traits are simple to implement but hard to execute correctly but over the years there have been plenty of heroines that have displayed one if not all of these characteristics making for a character that you can’t help but love.
Relationships are complicated and more often than not they require some sacrifices to be made either on a small or large scale thus more often than not you will find that heroines carry with them a selfless nature that sees them making great sacrifices for the sake of the ones they love.
Steins Gate’s Kurisu Makise is a perfect example of a heroine who exhibits a selfless nature that ultimately leads her to make the greatest sacrifice of all for the one she loved. The story of Stiens Gate sees the protagonist Okabe Rinatrou deal with the ramifications of time travel as he is stuck between a reality in which the woman, he fell in love with lives, but his childhood friend dies or vice versa. After hundreds of failed attempts to save his friend Kurisu decides that Okabe has suffered for far too long and makes the ultimate decision for him, she makes him choose his friend over her despite being fully aware of the fate that awaits her.
Whilst Kurisu throughout the series might not have been the most open with her emotions towards Okabe it was the selfless decision she made in order to relieve Okabe’s suffering that truly resonated with the audience and displayed just how much she cared for him and that selfless sacrifice cements her a true heroine.
Another instance that saw the selfless nature of a true heroine on full display was within the Sword Art Online series.
The first arc of the series saw the protagonist Kirito and the heroine Asuna alongside others trying to escape the virtual world that they were trapped in. Ultimately after a while of being trapped in the virtual world, Kirito and Asuna form a relationship so strong that it results in Asuna sacrificing herself in order to save her true love Kirito. What makes her sacrifice, even more, meaning full is the fact that despite she was fully aware that death in the virtual world meant death in real life, not for one second did she hesitate in her decision to save him.
Asuna’s disregard for her own life is the ultimate selfless act, portraying just how deep her love for Kirito runs. Kurisu and Asuana are both extreme examples of the selfless nature that comes along with being a heroine, in reality, the selfless nature of a heroine can come in many forms both big and small and in the end, what really matters is that they did what they did for the sake of love.
Another trait of a heroine that makes them far more appealing to an audience is having the ability, to be honest with herself and actually pursue her love interest.
When it comes to relationships in anime one of the biggest moments is the confession, yet oftentimes two characters who have clear emotions towards each other never end up confessing but when a heroine is honest with emotions it almost always results in a confession and subsequently a relationship forming. In recent history, one heroine who displayed complete honesty with her emotions was Darling in the Franxx’s Zero-Two.
The relationship between Zero-Two and Hiro stemmed from Zero-Two’s feelings for him and pushing him towards reciprocating those same feelings. Her feelings for Hiro were apparent in many forms the getgo as she only referred to him as “Darling” and showed her affection with acts like sitting in the same seat as him feeding him breakfast. Zero-Two’s honesty with her feelings was so obvious to the point that there was no need for a confession instead when she and Hiro did tell each other how they felt the other it served only to reinforce what the audience already knew.
In contrast to Zero Two, there is a multitude of heroines who are not honest with their emotions to such a high degree that they go out of their way to hide their feelings. Heroines like that of Chiyo Sakura from Gekkan Shoujo Nozaki-kun or Aki Adagaki from Masamune-kun no Revenge were shown to be coy about their true feelings often avoiding the subject of love when it ever it came up despite the fact that they could have at any moment confessed their feelings and have them accepted by the ones they love.
Whilst both still are heroines that managed to captivate the audience in many ways, ultimately, they still exhibited a lack of honesty with themselves that limited their full potential as heroines. Honesty is a big part of what makes a heroine and often is the reasoning behind some of anime’s strongest relationships and despite the fact that not all heroines exhibit this quality those that do are sure to captivate an audience.
Relatability is probably the most important trait for a heroine to exhibit as being relatable to an audience creates a strong bond between the characters and viewers.
The most common way a heroine can be relatable is oddly enough being flawed in the sense of exhibiting some sort of weakness or humility that depicts that makes them seem more human thus more relatable. One of the most powerful displays of a flawed natured heroine is that of Mai Sakurajima from Seishun Buta Yarou wa Bunny Girl-senpai no Yume wo Minai.
The series sees Mai’s flaws in full display as her love interest Sakuta Azusagawa is seen trying to help her get over her internal conflicts in relation to whether she should pursue her dream career or not. Mai is seen struggling with the decision of returning to the acting career that she loves yet fears that if she does return it would only alienate her from others even more than it already has.
Having the audience see Mai’s struggle adds to her relatable character as the viewers are made aware of the fact that even a heroine is not perfect. Heroines who are often displayed as “perfect” do not provide any sense of reality and makes them far less relatable to the audience which can make their appeal either hit or miss.
Examples of these “perfect” heroines can be often found within animes where a protagonist has multiple love interests like in To Love-Ru. Lala from To Love-Ru is presented as this airhead who is madly in love with Rito but hardly shows any major flaws and is often presented to be such a perfect heroine that the other heroines within the show feel they do not have chance to compete with her for Rito’s attention.
There is such a thing as being too perfect and Lala is one of many heroines to display that trait that hurts their relatability. To be flawed is to be human thus when even fictional characters are presented in such a way it often makes it them that much appealing to an audience.