This Is Why Androgynous Anime Characters Are So Common
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This Is Why Androgynous Anime Characters Are So Common

Androgynous anime characters are those who are:

  • Hard to figure out their gender.
  • Can be passed off as female.
  • Can be seen as male.
  • Or they can be seen as both male and female depending on attire, look, etc.

And the most common place you find them is anime.

There’s a good set of reasons for that. As well as why they are popular, not just common.

Let’s talk about it.



1. Associations with TRAPS

its a trap meme anime astolfo

The meme, “IT’S A TRAP” started long before the term was being used in the anime community. But it’s a common meme that’s been adapted many times for anime in particular.

Androgynous characters are essentially TRAPS if they’re used in this context. Rider of Black from Fate Apocrypha is an example of both these character types wrapped into one.

There are other examples as well like the blonde character in The Grimoire Of Zero, who looks like a girl but is shockingly a boy.

Then there’s the anime character in the Shoujo Maid Sama who has a shocking reveal (along with actions) that surprises the audience.

The “trap” joke is the most obvious way to identify a character of this type, and that leads to the next point.


2. Playful comedy

rimuru tempest androgynous

Whenever there is a character of this sort, the comedy always plays on it. We see this with RIDER OF BLACK in the Fate Apocrypha series. And it only gets “worse” towards the last half of the series when Jeanne sees something she didn’t wanna see.

In the anime Tensei Slime there is also some playful comedy because Rimuru is androgynous.

There is also another element of this in the anime Oregairu, where Hachiman Hikigaya fancies one of the characters not knowing they’re male, but feels confused as to why he feels attraction when logically it’s a boy but physically he looks like a girl.

This is a deliberate play on comedy and it happens across so many different anime series, regardless of whether people see it as “gay”, weird, or otherwise.


3. Japan has a different mindset towards femininity and masculinity

anime character thinking kuroko railgun

Masculinity and feminity can look different depending on the country. Russia is different to the UK, Africa is different to Japan, and Japan is different to the USA (mostly because of Japan’s recent past but anyway).

In some circles or cultures, a man wouldn’t be caught dead looking like a woman in any way, shape or form. No crossdressing, no eyelashes, no “androgynous” looks, nothing.

In Japan, they don’t seem to care much about any of that in a serious sense. Nobody is getting a baseball bat to the head for looking “less” masculine in real life, and no one is being excluded from a bar for having androgynous features.

Anime is fictional, but they always have fun with the idea of characters being androgynous, and playing with the idea that they could be male, female, and everything else they use to make light of the character and their situation.

Relevant: 18+ Feminist Anime Characters Who Don’t Have A Gender Bias


4. Artistic choices

felix re zero

Artists can do things deliberately, accidentally, on purpose, for meaningful reasons, or just for the fun of it. You can’t know unless they reveal it as some do in interviews and so on.

It’s like how DBZ has a unique artistic style to it, even with the new set of DB seasons after DB Super compared to the original. It still feels like DBZ, but with brighter colors.

In the same way, androgynous characters will look a certain way based on the choices that a specific artist chooses to make, intentionally or not.

Frieza from DBZ can be classed as an Androgynous anime character.

Related: The Best Anime TRAP Characters


5. Can help anime characters stand out

kirito s2 female design

There are loads of ways to help an anime character stand out, and a good artist and author won’t stop at just making the characters’ hair colour different. Or the way their hair is styled differently.

Or other elements that are minor in isolation.

With Androgynous characters, the very fact that it’s hard to determine WHAT they are, or at least at first glance it can be, helps them stand out from a design point of view.

Not that Rimuru Tempest is one of the most unique-looking anime characters there is, but the fact Rimuru is one of these characters who can look like a girl or a boy depending on his “fashion” choice plays into a sort of uniqueness.

That being said, Rimuru is canonically a boy given he was a man before he died and was reborn into the new world.


 6. They can be interpreted in so many ways

Androgynous anime characters sailor moon

Androgynous anime characters are up for interpretation. This is why depending on the anime fan, they can be seen and judged differently.

For example, some people might think these characters are secretly cross-dressers, depending on who the character might be.

Others might think these androgynous characters are gay, straight with feminine qualities, feminine with masculine qualities, and so on.

It being up for interpretation is what makes these styles of characters so-called “Interesting” and different.

In the end, the reasons are long, but these 6 reasons help the androgynous anime characters maintain popularity and have made them more common over the years since the 2000s.

That’s an undeniable truth.



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