There is something about a fictional bad boy that makes girls swoon. The mileage will vary on how dark a fan will go in their adoration of a bad boy — some bad boys are easier to sympathize towards, while others make people scratch their heads wondering “what’s so great about them?”. As a fan of “bad boys” I thought I’d try to explain a little of what girls may think about when crushing on the afore-mentioned bishies.
For this article I’ve split the bad boys into descending categories that get more extreme as you go: just kind of a jerk, very iffy, and the “how could you?” category. Deciding on whether the character is a “bad boy” is based on personality and actions. For my definition, a bad boy can be a jerk, an actual villain, or someone who does questionable things. What they all have in common is that they are all attractive. This relates to anime only.
Also as a forewarning to those die-hard fans, this post will be tongue-in-cheek, so don’t get too serious on me now.
Just kind of a jerk
I can’t explain it, but there’s something about a stoic guy with a sharp tongue. Take Kyouya Sata from Wolf Girl and Black Prince, an anime I mentioned in the best anime boyfriends post. He’s not bad so much as not interested in other’s drama or BS. He’s a good guy — but not crapping sparkles and sunshine like Yuta Hoshitani of STARMYU.
Perhaps that is why Levi from Attack on Titans is popular, too. He’s a serious character, an excellent fighter, and no-nonsense. His obsession with cleanliness is very cute and unexpected. But, like Kyouya, he cares for others. This dichotomy is what I find attractive. A guy who seems like he cares for nothing, but you know when he does. It’s very matter-of-fact. No guessing. Although, honestly, these guys aren’t quite the literal bad boy. They are just surface meanies with lots of depth. Some of them are just tsunderes once you get to know them. These guys get a pass. There’s nothing too awful about them so I won’t dig deep here. However, the next two groups are more than just bad boy jerks.
Although characters here have done questionable acts (like kill), the reason for doing so isn’t because they are flat out evil. Characters in this category can be summarized as usually having a redeeming quality (caring for a person), a tragic story that garners sympathy, or are bad but are actually nice in their own way.
I put Sasuke from Naruto in this category because you love him or hate him based on his actions. He’s one of the most attractive characters in the series, yet his hatred and goal of revenge caused him to slip past the point of no return for some fans. However, he wasn’t “evil” for the sake of it or even for some selfish goal (to rule the world, for example). I’m not condoning his actions, even as a fan, but dude’s had a tragic life. That makes him, like others who fall into this category, a more sympathetic character.
There are also characters who aren’t sympathetic, and it’s just their looks and personalities that make fangirls swoon. Sebastian from Black Butler and Grimmjow from Bleach come to mind. With the former, Sebastion is naturally evil. He eats souls. Yes, he’s handsome and charming – and just waiting patiently to eat Ciel Phantomhive’s soul. I give him a moral pass, however, as he isn’t a true jerk like his demon rival, Claude Faustus. But, in real life, I’d stay far away from Sebastian.
Then there’s Grimmjow. He’s not calm and collected, but he’s cool. His interactions with Orihime during the Hueco Mundo arc show he’s not evil. I think he represents the bad boy well. He’s really aggressive and likes a good fight. He causes trouble, and it’s best to stay out of the way. Although Grimmjow is originally on Aizen’s side, he has a sense of honor like when he saves Orihime from getting beat up by Loly and Menoly. If you want a thrill ride and are a risk-taker, Grimmjow is one bad boy to choose. Try not to do anything too mushy though.
I thought about what category someone like Sesshoumaru would fall. Didn’t he try to kill his brother, Inuyasha? Compared to the ultimate villain in the series, however, and Sesshoumaru’s later character development (thanks to a little girl named Rin) – he’s more of a morally gray character. Physically, he meets the requirements of a bishounen, plus he has that cool, calm, and confident demeanor I dig. Sesshoumaru’s got the looks and personality, but that dichotomy of his stoicism and his care for Rin sealed the deal. By the end of the series, he was no longer a baddy but I still wouldn’t mess with him.
How could you?
This is the category I think of when J.K. Rowling questioned fans taste in Draco Malfoy. Some bad boys are just too bad, even if you sympathize with why they turned into an ultra-baddy (hello Lord Darcia from Wolf’s Rain). Aizen from Bleach is a perfect example of the super bad. When we first meet Aizen in the anime, he’s every megane bishounen lover’s ideal person. He’s appears affable until we see his true dark side which puts him in the “absolutely evil” category. It’s funny, however, how much more attractive he got once he lost the glasses and slicked back the hair. * fans self * He’s perfectly evil, and very attractive.
Most of the guys from Diabolik Lovers also fall here. While they aren’t ultimate baddies like Aizen, their treatment of Yui is pretty darn bad. Some people complain about how abusive the brothers are toward Yui and they don’t like it at all. I’m a huge fan of the series, though, and my favorite characters are some of the most aggressive of the brothers. While I don’t certainly don’t condone such behavior in real life, in an anime it’s fiction, so it’s a different story.
I’ve seen comments regarding the Diabolik Lovers brothers as being too dark. But it really is a YMMV thing, as these types of characters are pleasing to some fans, like myself. This, of course, doesn’t mean I want to find myself, or anyone, in Yui’s situation in real life. Fiction provides an escape that makes some things that are a definite no-no in real life okay in the not real world. No one real is harmed. But how dark would I go? I typically enjoy sympathetic villains, but as I said, will overlook character flaws. No character is perfect. I was very angry when Aizen killed another bad boy character (who had something he wanted to protect). Of all the anime I’ve seen, Aizen is one super baddy whose actions just can’t be justified. Despite that, I might still hang a photo of Aizen on my walls or as my desktop background. However, I’ve not come across a bad boy — yet — who is so appalling his good looks can’t save him. The human imagination can come up with many things, of course. But tell me in the comments where you draw the line.
Just remember these are fictional characters who did fictional bad things. They aren’t real even if you wanted them to be, and they never did these horrible things in real life. Leave us bad boy-loving fangirls to adore our favorite bad boys and villains.