Welcome back my fellow degens, we’re getting close to the end of our list here. This one will cover entries #4-2, and after that we’ll devote our last post to our #1! (and maybe some honorable mentions) I’d rather not take up any more time or space with preamble, so let’s jump into the spicy #4 spot.
#4 Bernadetta from Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Fire Emblem isn’t a franchise I’m deeply engrossed in. I know some bits and pieces of games from the past, but the only one I’ve played through in the series is Three Houses. I know that will likely cause hardcore FE fans to shake their heads but being the youngest in a family that didn’t make a lot of money, growing up I didn’t have much say in what video games were available to me. As far as I’m concerned FE3H is full of great choices that I’m sure many could put on their own top 10 lists, but none of them were even as remotely magnetic for me as Bernie was. My first playthrough was a Blue Lion’s route but the second I saw Bernie in the opening cutscene I knew I had to recruit her.
However before I delve too deep into why I love Bernadetta so much I’d like to address some of the common points of criticism people throw her way. “Bernadetta is a one note character that runs their ‘schtick’ into the ground” and “her actions are unrealistic and over the top”. I agree partially with the sentiment in that many of her spoken lines are quite over the top and not lines you’d likely hear a traumatized introvert say, however I think they are precisely the kind of things they would think. Unfortunately this game doesn’t afford a perspective that lets us read or hear other characters thoughts so many times things that would be said to oneself like, “Ugh! Idiot! Hopeless! Waste of time! Just burn the whole thing, Bernie! Break your stupid brushes and never paint again!”, sound strange when spoken aloud, but would be completely normal if it was read as internal thoughts instead. For me personally I find it hard to put this against her because it was more a limitation of the game that negatively affected this one character rather than being a flaw in the character itself. I could go on, but this is already a long enough segment and I’m here to share love not debate it.
A while back I wrote an article discussing what I find makes a romance feel compelling. One of the things I discussed was ‘The Hook’, or put simply something that draws you in. For me I was hooked from the first frame she shows up on screen. I’m not exaggerating in the slightest, and I’ve included this moment here for you to understand.
For me it really boils down to a few things. Firstly and least interestingly, purple is my favorite color and I also love shorter hair on women. The second major factor for me was the more obvious factor; it was her general demeanor. Whilst it’s brought on by genuine trauma, I couldn’t help but find my initial reaction to be that of infatuation by her timid personality/posture. Thirdly, that timid nature made me curious to learn more about her. Why was she so scared? How deeply does this affect her character? Can I help her? All of these questions get answered as you get to know her and see her support scenes as the story progresses, and it makes every step of the journey feel like you’re getting closer to arriving at the perfect conclusion.
Speaking of her support scenes, her interactions with the other characters are something I’m really fond of. Pre-timeskip she’s extremely difficult for the others to approach but shows small signs of progress being made. She’ll run away screaming when people approach her to talk and when they corner her for some extremely mundane interaction she’s expecting them to kill her and praying they make it painless, and that she’s had it coming or that she probably deserves it. It’s a mixture of comedic and tragic, it’s so extreme our first instincts might be to laugh because we simply aren’t used to that type of situation. However realizing it’s not an act and that those thoughts take up her entire life makes you realize how serious the situations are. However in these interactions we seen slivers of hope. After they do something like return a lost item to Bernie or give her a message from a teacher, there will (usually) be a moment of her realizing it wasn’t quite so bad after they leave. She gradually gets more confident over the story, and in the time skip she’s even capable of holding shaky conversations with other people. Seeing her progress into a more functionable individual capable of creating bonds with others is really rewarding to see, especially because she credits a lot of why she was able to do it as being because of the support we give her. Maybe it’s weird, but I like seeing characters overcome their struggles and becoming independent. I also enjoy that they show here that it’s not a simple fix, it’s something they’ll continue to work on for likely the rest of their lives. It makes it feel more realistic, because there is no magic switch we can flip on to overcome our fears and anxieties, but with hard work and determination we can learn to handle them better.
#3- Futaba Sakura from Persona 5/Royal
Those of you familiar with my #4 and #3 picks will notice some similarities between them, and they’re there for good reason. However there are several factors that put Futaba above Bernie for me. First and foremost, Futaba is a gamer girl. Sure that may be cliche/boring, but as deeply involved in the gaming culture as I am, I find the idea of a woman who would be able to match my passion and share in it with me to be highly appealing. It’s no different than being someone who loves nature finding that quality attractive in someone else. There is also a bit of an easy window into understanding how they’d fit into my life than some of the other characters I’ve discussed (including Bernie) in that she’d fit perfectly into our world. The world of P5, when you leave out the Personas, is essentially just the real world. It makes it quite easy to imagine what life with her would be like for me because we get to see what she likes and dislikes and how she spends her free time. With Bernie as an example, I’d have no idea whether or not they’d like things technology oriented because there’s no precedent for it in Fire Emblem, so I instead have to imagine myself in the situation of being in a fantasy world.
Even within the large cast of Persona 5, Futaba is a rather unique entity. Her personality stands apart from every other confidant, and she brings unique and potent options to the table that others can’t really replicate. She’s an expert hacker that uses her mastery over technology to gather intel and spread messages in order to get the message of the ‘Phantom Thieves’ out on a scale not possible through other methods. However much like Bernie she is deathly afraid of interactions with other people, using her hacking skills to circumvent most situations where she’d have to talk to others. Futaba is a shut-in that doesn’t go to school and is terrified of going anywhere with other people. She also has an extremely unique and interesting story involving how she joins the team. Every other character that becomes part of the main crew joins because we ‘steal the heart’ of some vile and wretched individual that is ruining their lives, and they end up getting involved and unlocking their persona through it. Futaba instead approaches the group after a few successes of the party and asks them to steal her heart.
Expounding on that, the story behind her palace is quite tragic too. To put it extremely loosely, in Persona 5 people with distorted desires manifest ‘Palaces’, which are essentially places that house their deepest desires. There are lots of monsters inside the palace and it is run by a shadowy manifestation of the individual. Each Palace also holds a ‘treasure’ that the party must steal in order to make the individual have a change of heart. Everyone else we’ve seen has a palace formed due to their vile personalities being on blast, but Futaba’s formed because of her deep trauma. She was alone for most of her life, and because her mom worked so much she believed that her mom loved her work more than her. When her mother was killed, she was read a fake suicide note that only solidified her beliefs. She manifested a Palace where her mother hates her and wants her dead. Her palace is also unique and that hers is the only one where you don’t battle the owner of the Palace, with her instead helping Futaba face her trauma. There is even more depth to Futaba’s story, but I’d be here for much too long if I went over all of it.
Whilst she’s nervous around strangers, she is capable of truly opening up around the main cast as they befriend her. When she’s comfortable Futaba has a really fun personality. She’s full of jokes, gamer-references/vernacular, and alot of passion. She’s also cracks jokes at the other members and capable of firing back when they take shots at her. One of her preferred activities when you choose to spend time with her is gaming, and as I’ve made clear I’m a big fan of that. To be blunt she’s the exact could of girlfriend I was looking for when I was growing up, and many of the traits she has are ones I’m hoping to find in my future SO.
#2- Himiko Toga from My Hero Academia/Boku No Hero Academia
Most of you that know me personally will be completely floored that this isn’t my #1 pick. I mean I have a Himiko Toga hoodie, figurine and even wallet. I’ve also been vocal about my love for this character for a long time. To be honest My Hero Academia is chock full of amazing waifus, almost all of which are capable of making it this high on this list. Toga is my favorite, but you could easily insert most of the female cast from MHA here and I’d be able to make good cases for their deserving a spot this how. If I had made this list a year ago Toga would be my #1 spot, but a newer character (at least for me) ended up usurping how long-held reign. I’m getting ahead of myself though, we’re here to discuss Toga after all.
Now I’m sure this says something about me, but I’m deeply attracted to crazy (at least in fiction). I already adore her aesthetic to begin with, but the crazy factor for me is like the perfect steak sauce to compliment something already great. The extreme emotions and heights of passion shown by ‘Yandere’ is something that, even though I know it’s stupid/unhealthy/dangerous to enjoy, I find myself engrossed and endeared by. I find the crazy facial expressions to be attractive and I can’t fully explain exactly why, I just do. Maybe it’s the idea of someone loving me to such extreme amounts? Maybe it’s how they look happy and passionate to such a degree that it becomes unsettling? I’m sure a psychiatrist could unpack a lot about me from it, but regardless I adore all the crazy expressions Toga makes.
Tragically enough though her story isn’t too different from that of Futaba’s and Bernie’s. As a kid she was misunderstood because of her Quirk and ostracized for it, made to believe she was a freak or that she didn’t belong. Much like with the others she was made to feel like she didn’t belong and was worthless. However unlike with the others she never received care or help for her problems like Futaba and Bernie do from the protagonist, and it caused her to develop a hatred for this world/society that said she didn’t belong in it. At her core she just wants to live a life where she can be happy, do the things she loves, and spend time with people she loves. Those desires get distorted over time as her brain gets twisted and she takes extreme, distorted and psychopathic viewpoints. She finds companionship in the League of Villains that society refused to give her, and it only serves to reinforce her feelings that the world is in the wrong. It’s tragic and helps us get a much clearer picture of the world of MHA. Early on the show presents its world in a way to make us believe it similarly to how Deku does, that it’s picturesque and beautiful. However through stories like Toga’s we get to see how deeply flawed its society is at a similar pace to Deku as he battles with these problems head on. It makes you wonder how differently she’d develop if she was given care from the beginning. To be perfectly clear the present Toga is insane, evil and unapologetic about all the violence she wants to commit and I in no way excuse/ignore that about her. That’s just another factor in making the tragedy so much more effective.
One thing I adore so much about Toga though is the lengths we see her go to for the people she cares about. Her relationship with the League of Villains, and especially Twice, really went did amazing things for her character and made her more than just a crazy psycho girl (which as previously stated I’d still be into). We see the lengths she’ll go to to protect those she cares about. She doesn’t just blindly follow Shigaraki’s commands and even confronts him when she’s doesn’t believe what he’s asking her to do is something she’d want to do. Toga has her own desires that she refuses to compromise on, which is a trait we commonly view as positive when we see it in the heroes of our stories. We end up seeing her tender side too as we see how she protects Twice, completely understanding his mental trauma and how best to help him out when he needs it. When Twice’s mask gets ripped and he starts having a breakdown only for Toga to wrap him up and talk kindly to him it made my heart flutter. Even though to those outside of her circle she’s ruthless, if you’re one of the people in her life she cares about she is a kind and caring person. It made me wish to be someone she cares about and even made me think Twice was lucky because he has her in his life (as crazy as that sounds).
Beyond that there isn’t much rational that can explain what it is I find so appealing about her. I’m completely cognizant of the fact that I probably wouldn’t want a gf like her in the real world. However for me I think that’s a part of it, the fantasy of the character. The knowledge that in my real life I wouldn’t be capable of enjoying this, but in another one I could. It makes it feel like I’m uncovering a forbidden garden that’s not meant for mortals. Sure there are a ton of ‘safe’ picks from MHA, but it’s exactly the fact that this isn’t safe that I can’t help but feel a sense of thrill that surrounds everything around her.
And… that’s a wrap! If you thought this article was getting a little to cringe or personal, wait until the next one where I’ll be dedicating an entire article to a single character. In my entries so far I’ve also stopped myself from diving too deep because I need to cover multiple characters, but who knows just how degenerate it will be when I’m no longer holding back. Curious for my #1? Have thoughts about my list, or wish to share your own? I’d love to hear from you in the comments! Until then, thank you so much for reading, I hope you’ve enjoyed, and until next time stay healthy!