Rachael has PTSD from being bullied. She likes certain anime because they offer some emotional solace and show great friendships.
A yandere is defined by two things:
- She has an intense, obsessive, often unnoticed or unrequited crush.
- She will be driven to violent acts because of this obsessive infatuation.
It speaks to the way teenagers sometimes have trouble expressing, understanding, and dealing with their feelings. It takes the way we've all felt about a crush at one time or another when we were young, and pushes that feeling to exaggerated extremes, for the sake of drama and dark comedy.
Yandere may have emerged as a deconstruction of the Yamato Nadeshiko archetype: an eternally serene woman who always puts the needs of her family and husband before her own.
A yandere is all of this driven to the logical extreme and then examined realistically: a sentient individual put in such a position would invariably experience enormous strain.
Sooner or later she would snap at the slightest provocation.
— TV Tropes: Yandere/ Analysis Page
Sub-types & Related Types
A yangire is a character who has the violent tendencies of a yandere, without the crush on the protagonist. A good example is Shion from Higurashi, whose main reasons for her bloodlust have nothing to do with the protagonist. A yangire often has a "Jeckyll and Hyde" personality, swinging back and forth between the innocent moe type and a deranged murderer.
A "stalker with a crush" is just a stalker, not necessarily a violent person, just creepy. Sometimes can overlap with a yandere, but not all stalkers are yandere.
A "violently protective girlfriend" character is similar. But her crush is requited, she's in a stable relationship. The yandere is often, in contrast, pining for someone who barely knows they exist or whom they are just friends with. She is also more rational and in control mentally. Usually...
The "femme fatale" is an equivalent trope more common in Western media. The main difference is this woman is older, dresses in a mature, sexually provocative way. In contrast, the yandere is usually younger, a teenager, and they are usually associated with "moe points" that make them appear cute and harmless, at first.
A femme fatale may not directly kill a person, but instead do things like seduce a man to discover his weakness - like in the 'Samson and Delilah' story in the Bible. An evil seductress has psychological control. They're deliberate and calculating. A yandere is insane, unable to control her actions, driven purely by their obsession for someone.
Most Well-Known Examples
- Yuno Gasai from Mirai Nikki (aka Future Diary). Probably the most well-known example.
- Almost all characters in Doki Doki Literature Club, but particularly Monika.
- Shion in Higurashi is sometimes called a yandere, but she's more of a yangire.
- The main character in Yandere Simulator, naturally.
- Misa Amane from Death Note acts this way over Light.
- In Perfect Blue, Mima has a creepy stalker who is a male version of a yandere.
- In the Puella Magi Madoka Magika film Rebellion, Homura becomes this for Madoka.
Why is the Yandere Appealing?
Well, it's flattering to think that someone might fall so hard for us that they lose their sanity completely. Nobody wants to spend their life with someone this crazy in real life, but as part of the escapism element of entertainment, it can be fun. A lot of people say they'd do anything for love, but a yandere proves it. Even if that proof is in the form of unsavory actions, it still comes across as genuine and heartfelt.
The yandere is also likely something, as the above TV Tropes analysis quote says, a reaction to the ideals of traditional Japanese femininity. Why stop at making sushi for him when you can just murder everyone he picks up a pencil for? It can be seen as a criticism of the way Japanese girls are socialized to give up their own identities for the pursuit of love.
Most of us have had extreme, powerful, "I must have you or I will die" crushes. Usually they fade. But having this powerful emotional experience makes us relate to yandere characters, even if we're not willing to go to the same extremes they do to deal with these powerful feelings.
Yanderes Outside of Anime:
In a lot of western movies, women who kill are eroticized. Male violence is for a variety of reasons. They were indoctrinated by a cult. They were in the military. They were a surgeon and got into cutting people open. They hear the voice of their mother telling them to kill. Etc. But women who kill in movies kill for primarily one reason: love and/or lust. Examples of yandere in western media:
- Zira from The Lion King 2: Simba's Pride seems a bit like a yandere for Scar.
- Misery features a woman obsessed with her favorite writer. It does not end well.
- Fatal Attraction is about a woman who becomes an obsessive stalker after a one-night stand, culminating in her attempt to murder his family.
- Helga in Hey Arnold! is like a creepy tsundere and yandere combo, for Arnold.
- Obsessed is about a woman who has an affair with her boss and tries to murder his wife.
The yandere then, is a character defined by intense extremes of both love and violence. They show a kind of twisted, unhealthy love, the feelings a stalker has for a stalkee. They think love is about possessing someone, to the point that they will murder people who are real or perceived threats to being with the object of their desire. They never seem to think that their love interest will be repulsed by all the murder, and probably choose being forever-single (and maybe neutering himself) over being with a murderous psychopath, even if she does get away with it. Has any guy ever said "wow, you killed my sister, my female classmates, and my only other female friend, now I shall love you forever"? But I guess the point of the yandere trope is to show how they're not logical at all. Love is not logical. And sometimes it makes you do crazy things.