“Simp” is an internet slang that can vary in meaning, but is most often used to refer to someone who tries to impress or satisfy someone at the expense of themself. Usually the other party doesn’t like them back or isn’t aware of their existence, but a simp can even idolize or worship someone that doesn’t exist! With the rise of Japanese animation, people simp over waifus and husbandos, create waifu tiers, rate and debate best girls, and obsess over characters such as Gojo Satoru, Levi Ackerman, Rem. To show their loyalty and express their love, fans often invest in merchandise such as posters, t-shirts, figurines, of their favorite characters, and some have even gone to the extent of marrying the hologram version of Hatsune Miku.
There are a few reasons for our attachment to fictional characters, one theory is the concept of parasocial relationships. This term refers to one-sided relationships that have real emotions and gratification,but the other party either doesn’t exist (characters from media) or doesn’t know you exist (e.g. celebrities).
We feel a strong connection because there we see parts of the character in ourselves. When they go through similar events as us, romantic feelings can happen and we can develop crushes. We feel understood and validated when they make us laugh or cry.
When following a series, knowing the character’s past and their values in depth is much easier than that of someone in real life. We can become so invested and passionate in our waifus and husbandos and their stories that we want to know more and more about them. Real relationships however, take much more time and investment. We live in a world where we are connected through technology more than ever, and attractive characters are more accessible (and easier to deal with) than real companions.
Seeing images and videos of the character while scrolling through social media can create connections and facilitate the illusion of a two-way relationship. Repeated exposure to the character can strengthen these feelings further.
Many anime characters are undoubtedly beautiful. Characters with attractive personality traits such as nurturing and kind, and physical traits such as large eyes, broad shoulders, are enough to create a simp. To us, they may seem to be the perfect and ideal example of what we desire in real partners.
Characters can fulfill our needs for human connection , and can become a safe method of being in a “relationship” rather than a real one. There is no risk of rejection, and there are only positive feelings and “interactions”.
Words Mei Liu
Illustration Mei Liu
Armour Magazine Editorial Season 27 — F/S 2021