Anime Archetypes: The Dojikko (Bakadere, Undere, and More)
Hopeless at first impressions, the Dojikko are commonly known as the ditzy and most klutzy characters in anime history. They trip over air and have a hard time understanding why, but aside from their lack of coordination, they can be some of the sweetest and useful people that, unfortunately, get taken for granted. It’s often they’re seen as comic relief or an excuse for fanservice, but no matter their role, what they bring to the table is a new perspective. The Dojikko see themselves and the world around them in a different light and that is what makes them so adorkable.
The meaning of a “Dojikko” is clumsy girl/child; however, the “doji”(clumsy) trait can apply to any character regardless of gender. Although they seem like airheads, Dojikko can be optimistic, supportive, and kind. Their true insecurities are hidden in the rays of sunshine they emit when they’re doing their best to support friends and family. Sometimes their own desires get neglected by others, causing them to repress their feelings. Similar to the Dandere, the Dojikko can be pushed to stand up for themselves and command respect, but it takes time and it's hard to take them seriously.
Most Common Alignment: Neutral Good
Strengths: Compassionate, Loyal, Tender-hearted, Ambitious, Knowledgable,
Weaknesses: Naive, Narrowed Interests, Loud mouthed, Low Self-Esteem, Over Zealous
A Dojikko’s history can be a spectrum. It doesn’t have to be tragic nor does have to be all fun and games. There are many types of Dojikko, which means their demeanor should link to their persona. Keep in mind: The key to having an intriguing Dojikko is a past that matches their present. As long as they’re believable, they’ll be valued by your audience.
Types of Dojikko
So if you're going to make this character believable and relatable, it's important to have an understanding of the types of Dojikko that already exist. When you find one that fits your character, you'll be able to construct a backstory that reinforces who they are. Dojikko are mostly genuine, so having an understanding of what character traits they will have will make their backstory easier to understand. Here are the five main types of Dojikko:
Italy - Hetalia - Bakadere
The Bakadere are very common characters; they are the airhead dreamers that aren’t very aware of their surroundings. “Baka” means silly or stupid, which means their most admirable trait isn’t their intelligence, but instead their genuine nature and loyalty. Usually, they are horrible at hiding secrets since they don’t think while they speak, but they would put as much energy as they could to make up for the damage they caused. Bakaderes are simple, loving, and loyal.
Colette Brunel - Tales of Symphonia - The Optimist
The Optimist is the character that is rarely sad or depressed. They can be considered the cheerleaders of the group that try to convince others not to give up even in the most horrible situations. Some characters may perceive the Optimist as obnoxious from the get go and unfortunately, that links to an Optimist’s shaky self-esteem. However, the Optimist has a resiliency about that helps them hold to the friends they made and keep themselves held together for the sake of the group.
Sheska - Fullmetal Alchemist - The Genius
The Genius has high academic intelligence and usually poor social intelligence, but has enough self-awareness to realize their awkwardness in a group is not wanted. These characters are often an essential source of knowledge when other characters are in a pickle. However, they can be taken for granted and be extremely self-critical of themselves solely due to the fact that they are the odd one out and the clumsiness doesn’t help. The Genius can find a friend or two to keep them genuine company when they need it.
Meyrin - Black Butler - The Servant
The Servant (The Maid)
Often found in a maid outfit, The Servant can be one of the kindest characters that sincerely wants to help those around them whether they’re wanted or not. Although they’re taken advantage of, the Servant is the type of character that grants the benefit of the doubt to those who don’t deserve it. Other characters may perceive them as naive, but the Servant can develop a discernment in time and find true friends to keep close. Servants also have the tendency to give help when it’s not needed and are very prone to guilt.
Keitaro Urashima - Love Hina - The Undere
The Submissive One (Undere)
The Undere has the most in common with the Dandere type, but take an extremely long time to find strength within themselves. The “Un” means “yes”, which refers to how they are constantly agreeing and complying to what others request of them. This also means they have a difficult time standing up for what they believe in and saying "no" when it's necessary. Anyone with a more dominating nature would easily manipulate these types to do their bidding until someone who cares gives them guidance. The Undere has the hardest time rewarding themselves and understanding what they do and don’t deserve due to their codependent nature.
The Dojikko's Function
A Dojikko character can be labeled as useless, annoying, silly, or pitiful because they are often overshadowed by other characters that have more impressive traits and skills. An underdeveloped Dojikko could confirm those stereotypes, but one that is more developed always brings something to the table that the other characters and the audience don’t expect.
- Comedic Function: Although comedy is a joyous thing, it can come from a dark place. A Dojikko that is meant to bring laughs can be likeable or obnoxious at first glance. It’s important to bring some depth to the character by highlighting why being laughed at, whether it’s intended or not, is a part of who they are AND how they feel about it.
- Fanservice Function: It is far too often that a Dojikko is wearing a skimpy outfit that provides even more fanservice when their clumsy nature takes its course. If a writer intends to utilize this function, it can be considered as an opportunity to show a sliver of vanity (perhaps there’s a little Himedere in the Dojikko) that ends up failing thanks to their clumsy way. The function for fanservice is obvious, but creatively, it can develop a bit more complexity in a character.
- Eccentric Function: A Dojikko with an obsession can be hard for other characters to understand. Unfortunately, this causes the Dojikko to creep others out. However, a character with narrowed interests and shaky self-esteem doesn’t truly want to scare anyone, but would rather be in the company of others that would take the time to understand them. The Dojikko can be outcasts because the way they think they are may be perceived as socially unacceptable, causing them to be reclusive and gradually decreasing their social skills. This function can help highlight how a Dojikko’s sensitivity to the outside world can overrule their internal struggles.
Time to think outside the box...
What if the Dojikko was evil?
We’ve seen goofy villains before that inevitable fail at their poor attempts to take over the world, but what if we had one that knew what they were doing. Tobi from Naruto was suspected by a few to be the one leading the Akatsuki and those who didn’t believe it were shocked to find out the truth.
What if the Dojikko's life was taken seriously?
Would you watch "A Day in the Life of a Dojikko"? It’s a shojou trope for a dojikko to be the protagonist of a slice of life story and is seen as someone that isn’t taken seriously, but why is that? Do you think there’s a chance where a dojikko can be seen in a place of authority?