489. Trump Predictions

This is not a Serious Post. I wrote a Serious Post last time. Nah, today’s post is silly. These days of strife and political uncertainty call for a little comic relief, and TMTF is ready to answer that clarion call. Silliness is my beat.

Today I’ll share nine predictions of what Donald Trump will do as President of the United States. Please note that my jabs at Mr. Trump are all in good fun, and not meant to be taken as serious political commentary. I believe it’s important to respect our leaders whether or not we agree with them. That said, I also believe in the importance of humor, especially in difficult times. I found some cheer in writing this post, and I hope you find some cheer in reading it.


Here are my predictions for Donald Trump’s first actions as President of the United States.

(If you’re reading this, Mr. President, please don’t deport me.)

  • In addition to building a wall along the Mexican border, Trump will build a wall between the US and Canada, “just to be safe.”
  • Trump will make Official Donald Trump Wigs™ not only available to the American public, but mandatory. Now you can sport Trump’s iconic hairdo! What a privilege!
  • Trump will ban anime: “I love Japan—nobody loves Japan more than me—but anime is taking away jobs from our American animators. We make the best animation in the world. We don’t need anime. Anime is watering down America. We need to make animation great again. And anime is just weird, just really weird. Those Pokémonsters and giant robots—unhinged, really unhinged. No more anime. Let’s keep America safe.”

Unlike President Obama, Trump is probably not an anime fan. (For the record, President Obama isn’t actually an anime fan, which is a shame.)

  • As compensation for C.S. Lewis’s blatant plagiarism of the Trump name for one of his own characters, Trumpkin the dwarf, Trump will demand royalties for all copies sold of The Chronicles of Narnia.
  • Trump’s likeness will replace the current pictures of famous Americans on all existing denominations of US currency.
  • By decree of Trump, all American manuscripts of historical significance will be subjected to a barrage of painstaking examinations and scientific tests: “There’s a map hidden on the back of the Declaration of Independence. I know there is; I saw it in a documentary this one time. There’s a treasure map, and that treasure belongs to the American people. It’s a travesty, a total travesty, that nobody’s found it yet.”

National Treasure is a great, um, documentary?

  • Trump will decree that all seasonal autumn flavors must be renamed Trumpkin Spice. (I must give due credit to Lauren Faust on Twitter for this one.)
  • Trump will deport everyone except himself, his family, and his personal staff, reducing the US population to dozens. Overpopulation solved, baby.
  • Trump will commission the construction of a national monument for himself. It will be orange.

God bless America. We’re going to need it.

The Story of Japan (in Nine Minutes)

The video above tells the story of Japan in nine minutes, and it is glorious.

The video is glorious, I mean, though Japan’s history is also impressive. (That said, sensitive readers should be advised that the video has a few swearwords.) This nine-minute history of Japan combines tongue-in-cheek narration and humorous oversimplifications with manic, colorful editing. The end result is not only hilarious, but quite informative. Huh. Maybe this, not the history of Nintendo, is history’s greatest history lesson.

I have a strong interest in Japan, which is rivaled only by my lifelong interest in Great Britain. These island nations have a lot in common. Each was once the seat of an empire, and both have made incredible contributions to the arts.

Many of my favorite storytellers and creative people are Japanese: Hayao Miyazaki, the legendary filmmaker; Shigeru Miyamoto, who worked on many of the greatest video games ever made; Shūsaku Endō, the writer of such heartbreaking novels as Silence and The Samurai; and many more. For such a small country, Japan has made a vast cultural impact, giving us everything from anime to beckoning cat figurines.

Oh Japan, where would we be without you?

I would love to visit Japan someday. I would also love to see Great Britain. Of course, I want to return to Ecuador for a visit, and to visit Canada, and to take an epic road trip around the United States of America.

Man, I wish I were free to travel more. At least I have books and the Internet!

479. TMTF’s Top Ten Detectives in Fiction

Who are the greatest detectives in fiction? I’m no sleuth, but this is one mystery I might be able to solve.

From a young age, I’ve enjoyed detective fiction. I watched Scooby-Doo cartoons as a young child. Almost immediately after learning to read, I devoured stacks of Hardy Boys books. I read the entire Sherlock Holmes canon in my early teens, and picked up a number of classic mysteries in college. Yes, I love a good detective story.

Of course, such a story is only as good as its detective. Here are ten of my favorite mystery-solvers, because top ten lists are my beat.

The game is afoot, ladies and gentlemen, as TMTF presents…

The TMTF List of Top Ten Detectives in Fiction!

10. C. Auguste Dupin


Although C. Auguste Dupin appeared in only three short stories, he makes history as one of the earliest fictional detectives. When Edgar Allan Poe created Dupin, the word detective had not even been coined. Heck, the character is even mentioned in the very first Sherlock Holmes story: Watson compares Holmes to Dupin. Sherlock Holmes may be the father of detective fiction, but C. August Dupin is its grandfather. The character’s sharp intellect and analytical methods helped create an archetype for fictional detectives.

9. Batman


I was going to put Hercule Poirot on this list, but then remembered that I’ve read only two of his mysteries, and disliked one of them. Who could possibly replace the legendary Poirot, created by the legendary Agatha Christie, in a list of great detectives? The correct answer is Batman. (The correct answer is always Batman.) When he isn’t busy punching bad guys or brooding over his tragic past, Batman earns his nickname of World’s Greatest Detective by dabbling in forensics, solving crimes, and catching bad guys… whom he generally punches before brooding some more. Batman’s gotta Batman.

8. Lord Peter Wimsey


Lord Peter Wimsey has the intelligence of a detective like Holmes or Poirot, along with his own gift: an easygoing sense of humor. In a series of novels and short stories by Dorothy Sayers, this British nobleman makes a hobby of solving crimes. Wimsey’s relationship with his valet, the solemn and hyper-competent Bunter, echoes the partnership of Jeeves and Wooster in the stories by P.G. Wodehouse—and believe me, any comparison to Wodehouse is a good thing. Wimsey has all the skill of other famous detectives, and a heck of a lot more charm.

7. Professor Hershel Layton


Hershel Layton, the star of the Professor Layton games, wears many hats… figuratively speaking. (The only literal hat he would ever deign to wear is his beloved topper.) Layton is not only a professor of archaeology, but also a puzzle enthusiast, true gentleman, and amateur detective. Even inspectors from Scotland Yard have sought Layton’s help with tough cases. The strangeness of these mysteries is matched only by his ingenuity in solving them. The good Professor is clever and kind, and have I mentioned his magnificent hat?

6. Shawn Spencer


Shawn Spencer, the star of television’s Psych, is a “psychic detective” who handles cases too small, sensitive, or just plain weird for the police. Shawn’s alleged psychic powers are actually a front for rigorous training and a photographic memory. Since he’s an immature goofball, his clients find it easier to believe that Shawn has supernatural gifts than to accept that he’s just, y’know, really smart. He runs his detective agency with the help of his friend Gus; their chemistry is easily the best thing about the show, though Shawn’s quips and pop culture references are also a lot of fun.

5. Dick Gumshoe


Dick Gumshoe, the hapless police detective from the Ace Attorney games, is easily the least competent sleuth on this list, but he gets the job done. (His musical leitmotif, which I wish were my own theme music, is aptly titled “I Can Do It When It Counts, Pal!”) What Gumshoe lacks in smarts, he makes up in dedication, tenacity, and fierce loyalty to his friends. There’s a heart of gold under that shabby coat, and a determination behind those bewildered eyes to see justice done. It’s just a shame he can’t afford any meal more expensive than ramen noodles!

4. Edogawa Conan


Kudo Shinichi is still in high school, but has already built a reputation as a crime-solving prodigy who has worked with the Tokyo police. However, when he interferes with a criminal syndicate known as the Black Organization, its attempt to murder him with an experimental drug causes an unexpected side effect: Shinichi awakens in the body of a child. Now calling himself Edogawa Conan, he moves into a local detective agency, and solves its cases from behind the scenes as he searches for a lead on the Black Organization. The manga and anime series Detective Conan (known as Case Closed in the West) boasts some of the cleverest mysteries I’ve ever seen, all solved by this adorable little guy. Edogawa Conan is cooler than an action hero and cuter than a kitten—often at the same time!

3. Adrian Monk


Adrian Monk is afraid of dentists, snakes, nudity, elevators, death, milk, and mushrooms, not necessarily in that order. These are just a few of his phobias, which, along with his obsessive-compulsive disorder, make it hard for the star of television’s Monk even to leave his home, let alone solve crimes… yet he solves them. Monk’s phobias make for terrific comedy, but also create a character whose strength lies in overcoming his worst fears every single day. Adrian Monk is the rare character who can make you laugh in one scene, only to turn on a dime and make you cry in the next.

2. Father Brown


He may not have claimed the top spot on this list, but Father Brown is probably my all-time favorite character in fiction. This gentle Roman Catholic priest stars in a number of short stories by G.K. Chesterton. I’ve already written about Father Brown: “He’s a perfect foil to Sherlock Holmes . . . Everyone expects Holmes to be brilliant. In a charming subversion, everyone dismisses Father Brown as a superstitious simpleton, which makes it all the more satisfying when he apologetically solves the mystery right under their noses.” Father Brown’s quiet brilliance, boundless compassion, and no-nonsense worldview make him not only a great detective, but something rarer and more admirable: a good man.

1. Sherlock Holmes


Throughout this blog post, I’ve repeatedly mentioned Sherlock Holmes. How could I not? Sherlock Holmes is the world’s most famous detective, and the standard by which all others are measured. His ruthless logic, unshakable calm, numerous connections, and eclectic talents make him capable of solving practically any crime. In addition to his gifts, Holmes possesses, or is possessed by, a strong determination to use them. (He doesn’t handle boredom well.) This combination of passion and ability make Holmes an unstoppable detective. In addition to the original character in the novels and stories by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, television’s Sherlock offers an updated take on Holmes that’s perfectly delightful.

Who is your favorite fictional detective? Give us a clue in the comments!

Stupid, Stupid Rat Creatures

Stupid, Stupid Rat Creatures

The panels above mark the exact moment at which I fell in love with Bone, the epic comic book series by Jeff Smith. I could provide story context, but really, none is needed. Stupid, stupid rat creatures.

As an artistic medium, comics face unique challenges, such as depicting action and movement in a limited number of small, silent, static panels. I’m sometimes amazed by the ingenious ways artists bring their comic panels to life, and have noticed a number of visual tricks and techniques used to tell stories in comics.

Absurd sound effects are one way, of course. Others include filter effects, blurred backgrounds, and squashing or stretching to represent movement. In Japanese comics (and animation), symbolic shorthand is common: for example, an oversized bead of sweat to represent anxiety or a throbbing vein to represent anger.

Manga iconography

Manga iconography is a visual shorthand for character emotion.

A thing that delights me in the Bone panels above is how economically the artist tells the story. Several actions must occur between the first and second panels, yet the artist doesn’t bore the reader with them. He sets up the joke and then immediately provides the punchline, assuming the reader is clever enough to infer what occurred between panels without having to be shown. It’s quick, efficient storytelling, and I really dig it.

Bone is an incredible comic series. There’s nothing else quite like it: an unlikely blend of The Lord of the Rings with the Pogo comic strip. It’s at once dark and lighthearted, serious and cartoony, and above all, quirky. There are bloodthirsty rat-monsters in one scene, and jokes about Moby-Dick in the next. Heck, one scene even pits the rat creatures against Melville’s novel. (The rat creatures lose.)

Moby Dick Vs. the Rat Creatures

I adore the rat creatures’ expressions in the third panel.

Jeff Smith self-published the first issues of Bone in the early nineties, helping kick start the indie comics movement, and eventually winning boatloads of awards. I was introduced to the series by the same kindly relative who occasionally sends me random books and comics. (I aspire to be that kind of person.)

I began reading Bone a year or so ago—at this point, I own the entire series—but had to set it aside halfway through due to busyness. At the moment, my reading list is dominated by background reading for my book project, but someday I’ll revisit Bone and read it from start to finish, stupid rat creatures and all.

One Punch Man

The face of a hero

This is truly the face of a mighty hero.

When Joseph Campbell wrote The Hero with a Thousand Faces, I bet he didn’t think the blank face above would be one of them. It doesn’t burn with determination, glow with compassion, or shine with righteous resolve. It just looks bored.

This face belongs to Saitama, the hero of One Punch Man: an anime series that swept across the geekier corners of Internet a few months ago. Its premise is very simple: Saitama is a superhero who can defeat any foe with a single punch—hence the name One Punch Man.

One Punch Man

One would expect a show with such an overpowered hero to be dull, but the storytellers wisely play Saitama’s power for laughs. One Punch Man is delightfully self-aware, at times almost satirical, in how it plays around with anime tropes and superhero clichés. I think the show’s irreverent approach is a secret to its massive popularity.

For example, a common theme in anime is a hero on a journey to become the strongest. Just look at Pokémonthe show’s theme begins with the words, “I wanna be the very best like no one ever was.” I don’t watch a lot of anime, but I get the impression that many of the most popular, from Naruto to One Piece, revolve around a hero’s quest to be stronger.

In One Punch Man, Saitama is already the strongest. (Most of the other characters haven’t realized it yet, but that’s not the point.) As more impressive-looking heroes fail, Saitama destroys his foes with the indifference of a man swatting flies. Saitama doesn’t burn with ambition. He’s bored, good-natured, and a bit clueless. How did he become so powerful? What is the secret that let him surpass hundreds of other superheroes?

In a ridiculous scene, underscored by dramatic music, Saitama finally explains the secret behind his godlike power:

It took me three years to get this strong. One hundred push-ups! One hundred sit-ups! One hundred squats! Then a ten kilometer run. Every single day! And of course, make sure you eat three meals a day. Just a banana in the morning is fine. But the most important thing is to never use the A/C or heat in the summer or winter so that you can strengthen the mind.

There you have it: the secret to absolute physical power.

One Punch Man also has a terrific opening theme. Here’s a fan-made English cover of the original Japanese song:

The intro to the show ends with a picture of Saitama dramatically walking home with a bag full of groceries, which pretty much sums up the tone of One Punch Man.

Saitama with shopping bag

With the media saturated with the same old clichés, it’s nice to see a story that flips so many of them on their heads.

Collectible Card Games

A few days ago, as I chatted with a dear friend from Ecuador, our conversation turned to his brave but ill-fated attempts to teach me to play a collectible card game. Years ago in Quito, my friend and I sat down with colorful packs of Magic: The Gathering cards. He wanted to teach me to play; I wanted to learn to play. It seemed simple enough.

However, there were two things neither of us considered. That first is that I am easily distracted. The second is that I have a deplorable memory: especially in the case of rules and systems. As my friend, whom I’ll call Socrates, explained the rules of the game, I flipped through his cards, looking at the pretty pictures and reading incomprehensible bits and pieces of game instructions.

Magic The Gathering cards

The rules for most collectible card games are only slightly less comprehensible than Finnegans Wake. (I’m sorry; I can’t help making lit jokes occasionally.) The pictures are nice, though!

When Socrates and I tried playing a round of Magic: The Gathering, I asked him an average of thirty-seven questions per turn. We gave up in the end, opting for Mario Kart or Super Smash Bros. or some other game that wasn’t so far beyond my feeble intellect.

For years, I could hardly sit down at a table without having to brush away collectible cards. My friends in middle and high school collected cards from all kinds of games: Magic: The Gathering, which featured fantasy elements in the vein of Dungeons & DragonsPokémon, starring Nintendo’s cutesy Pocket Monsters; World of Warcraft, which had leaped from computers to tabletops; and Yu-Gi-Oh!, which featured the most egregious anime hair I have ever seen.

Yu-Gi-Oh! hair

Yu-Gi-Oh my gosh that hair is horrible.

I never got into collectible card games, except for a brief fascination with Pokémon cards as a kid. I went through what I can only call a Pokémon phase in fifth grade, in which I collected dozens and dozens of cards. I never learned the rules of the game, but that didn’t stop me from playing it with friends. Fortunately, my friends were as clueless as I, and our card games turned into anarchic free-for-alls with rules made up as we needed them. (It was sort of like Calvinball.)

I’m not sure what happened to all of my Pokémon cards. They probably slipped away to whatever inscrutable corner of the world swallowed up Amelia Earhart.

Pokemon cards

To this day, I have not forgotten the value of a holographic Charizard.

Since I finished high school, collectible cards seem to have vanished from my life, though news occasionally reaches me. I hear there’s a new My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic collectible card game making the rounds, and Magic: The Gathering seems to be doing well. World of Warcraft cards have been replaced by an online card game. The anime hair in Yu-Gi-Oh! is probably just as bad as it was eight years ago, but I’m too disinterested to find out.

I enjoy looking at them, but I don’t plan to buy collectible cards any time soon. My money must go to necessities like rent, gas, coffee, and food. Besides, my life is complicated enough without the unintelligible rules and instructions for card games! If I tried to learn all the rules to a new game, I would probably lose whatever sanity I have left, and end up eating grass like old Nebuchadnezzar. No card is worth that!

Well… a Charizard might be; I suppose it depends on whether it’s holographic.

This post was originally published on June 8, 2015. TMTF shall return with new content on February 22, 2016!

415. The Bests of 2015

I no longer review stuff on this blog, but I don’t mind taking a day to look back on the best media I experienced in 2015. I didn’t spend as much time reading, watching movies and television, or playing video games as I would have liked, but I did enjoy some notable works, and here are the best of the best. (For clarification, this list includes only media I experienced for the first time in 2015. I’m featuring neither old favorites I revisited nor new episodes of shows I’ve seen.)

After I’ve shared my favorites, feel free to share yours in the comments! What great films, books, television shows, or video games did you enjoy in 2015?

Here are mine.

Best Live Action Film: Mad Max: Fury Road

Mad Max

This film is a work of art, and also an action movie with spiky cars and fire-spewing electric guitars. Mad Max: Fury Road is an action film in the purest sense, with sparse dialogue and explosive momentum. The movie is basically a two-hour car chase through a dystopian wasteland, yet manages to convey (amid explosions) meaningful themes such as guilt, redemption, the empowerment of women, and the worth of human life. The film also gets bonus points for its oversaturated, brightly-colored scenery: a welcome change from the bleached, washed-out look of most dystopian movies. Fury Road is stupid, campy action elevated to an art form: a film with all the ferocious beauty and power of an erupting volcano.

Best Animated Film: Inside Out

Inside Out

Pixar films nearly always leave an emotional impression, so it’s only to be expected that a Pixar film about emotions makes a terrific impact. Inside Out nearly made me cry in the movie theater, and I’m not a person who cries. Pixar’s best movies have a simple premise, and this one is no exception: What if your emotions were tiny people inside your head? Inside Out tells two intertwining stories: the fantastical journey of a little girl’s emotions inside her mind, and the consequent struggles of that little girl to accept the changes in her life. This film warms the viewer’s heart, but only after it has finishing breaking it. Inside Out is a sad, joyful movie… which seems appropriate, as Sadness and Joy are two of its most important characters.

Best Fiction Book: The Once and Future King

The Once and Future King cover

The Once and Future King is a retelling of King Arthur’s life. Like Inside Out, this story is both happy and sad; unlike that film, this novel leans much more heavily toward sadness than happiness. The epic backdrop of the Arthurian legends is used here as a stage for the intimate stories of Arthur, Lancelot, and Guinevere. Fragments of the old legends—the Round Table, the Grail Quest, Mordred’s betrayal—are woven neatly into two stories: the king who spends his life trying to do the right thing, and the knight whose loyalties are forever divided. Both men are great heroes, and both are doomed from the start. As it reinvents old stories for our cynical age, The Once and Future King is funny, sad, and well worth reading.

Best Nonfiction Book: All Groan Up

All Groan Up

Its title is a really bad pun, but this is not a bad book. (Seriously, though, that title causes me physical pain.) This memoir of a young man’s post-college panic, crises of faith, search for employment, and painful transition to adulthood is eerily similar to my own experiences. Paul Angone tells his story with openness, honesty, Jon Acuff-like humor, and way too many silly metaphors. In the end, despite its stylistic quirks, his story is well worth reading for all those college-age adults who feel lost, alone, ashamed, and hopeless. I wish I had read this book five years ago.

Best Console Video Game: Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch

Ni No Kuni cover

This is probably the most beautiful game I have ever played. With visuals inspired (and some contributed) by the legendary Studio Ghibli, and music by noted composer Joe Hisaishi, this game looks and sounds amazing—and it plays beautifully. The game’s story of a little boy searching for his mother is touching and bittersweet… except for when it’s cute and hilarious, which it frequently is. The Final Fantasy-meets-Pokémon gameplay may be a bit deep for casual players, and the ending is unsatisfying, but these are nitpicks. Ni No Kuni: Wrath of the White Witch is magical. And it’s getting a sequel!

Best Handheld Video Game: Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask

“A true gentleman leaves no puzzle unsolved,” and Professor Hershel Layton is the truest of gentlemen. Professor Layton and the Miracle Mask is a delightful collection of puzzles, strung together by the most intriguing Professor Layton story I’ve seen yet. The good Professor’s search for the diabolical relic known as the Miracle Mask is packed with interesting characters, charming visuals, good voice acting, and (of course) scores upon scores of puzzles to solve. This is a game for everyone, casual players and veteran gamers alike. In fact, the only people for whom I can’t recommend this game are those with no feeling, soul, or sense of humor.

Best Live Action Television Series: Marvel’s Daredevil

Marvel's Daredevil

I’ve already written two entire blog posts about the excellence of Marvel’s Daredevil, so I won’t add much here. I’ll just point out one more fun detail: a scene set in a Hispanic lady’s home contains a two-liter bottle of Inca Kola. (I grew up drinking Inca Kola in Ecuador.) That is serious attention to detail.

Daredevil (now with 100% more Inca Kola!)

Marvel’s Daredevil has a breakable hero, a fascinating villain, great writing, brilliant action scenes, a gripping (and grounded) story, and an artistically comic-booky visual style. This show is superb.

Best Animated Television Series: Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun

Monthly Girls' Nozaki-kun

This anime isn’t a masterpiece by any means, but there’s something compelling about its unromantic romance writer and his quirky entourage of artists. Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is neither a romantic comedy nor a satire, but something in between. It never feels cynical or mean-spirited as it deconstructs rom-com clichés; the show’s self-aware humor is balanced by a heartwarming charm and innocence. As an added bonus, the show offers fascinating glimpses into the process of making manga (i.e. Japanese comics). It’s fairly short and available only in Japanese with English subtitles, but Monthly Girls’ Nozaki-kun is delightful.

What are some of the best media you experienced in 2015? Let us know in the comments!

The Ability to Pull Stuff from Nowhere

Art by iangoudelock on deviantART.

Art by iangoudelock on deviantART.

I’m sure you’ve seen it. As you watch a movie or play a video game, a character pulls out something from nowhere. Bugs Bunny and Wakko Warner reach behind their backs and bring out anvils or sledgehammers. Solid Snake and Link produce an endless assortment of gear and weapons from thin air. As Link demonstrates in the clever picture above, actually carrying around all that stuff is a physical impossibility.

The ability to pull stuff from nowhere is sometimes called the back pocket, a wry suggestion that the things characters pull from behind their backs were in their pants pockets the whole time. (This concept is particularly amusing in the case of characters that don’t wear pants.) In anime, the concept is called hammerspace. A comedic trope in Japanese animation is for characters to express anger by hitting something (or someone) with a large hammer produced from nowhere, making hammerspace the hypothetical place where all those hammers are kept.

The back pocket concept is usually played for comic effect in animation. Pinkie Pie, an exuberant character from a surprisingly awesome show about ponies, produces a wide assortment of items (including freaking cannons) from nowhere. Other characters know better than to question Pinkie’s defiance of physics.

In fact, when back pockets are used in any show or film, no one ever seems surprised.

In video games, back pockets are utilitarian rather than comedic in nature. The fact of the matter is that Link from the Legend of Zelda games needs his gear—all of it. Limiting his inventory would be a hindrance to the player, who would have to backtrack every time she needed something Link didn’t happen to be carrying at the moment. Constantly retrieving items, or plodding slowly under their weight, would be horribly annoying.

Thus Link carts around enormous shields and heavy explosives and iron-shod boots without any trouble. (Humorously enough, the iron boots only weigh down Link when he’s actually wearing them.) Solid Snake somehow sneaks through enemy territory burdened with cardboard boxes, sensor equipment and an entire arsenal of weapons (including massive rocket launchers). Every Final Fantasy character carries up to ninety-nine of every kind of weapon, armor and potion.

Where is all that stuff kept? Where does it come from?

Some questions, dear reader, are simply beyond answering.

This post was originally published on April 2, 2014. TMTF shall return with new content on November 30, 2015!

388. Fans, Geeks, and Waifus: A Momentary Study

I once had a friend who had a crush on Legolas from The Lord of the Rings. This puzzled me greatly.

Granted, Legolas isn’t ugly. He has two eyes, which is generally the preferred number of eyes. That’s a good start. Legolas also has a nose, all his teeth, and a full head of hair. (At any rate, in the movies, he wears a nice wig.) So far: so good. His skin is healthy—no leprosy there—and he isn’t painfully thin or morbidly obese. Legolas also seems to have “the smolder,” a trait considered desirable by females of the species… I think.

Look, I’m no expert on what ladies find attractive in gentlemen. I’ve simply been told Legolas is a smokin’ hot stud or some such, and I’m not sure I’m qualified to argue.


Exhibit A: Legolas the (apparently) sexy elf.

All of this, however, doesn’t explain the adoration my friend (whom I’ll call Socrates) lavished upon this imaginary elf. She thought Legolas was the sexiest thing since Hugh Jackman’s abs in the X-Men movies, and I thought Socrates was crazy.

Nah, my crush was on Daphne from the old Scooby-Doo cartoon.

Of course, that was back when I was in kindergarten: a faraway time when I was tiny and blond, barely knew the alphabet, and didn’t drink coffee.

Exhibit B: Adam Stück in kindergarten, roughly nine years B.S. (Before Sideburns).

On the right, Exhibit B: Adam Stück in kindergarten, roughly nine years B.S. (Before Sideburns).

By the time I reached high school and met Socrates, my secret crush on Daphne was a thing of the distant past. As the Apostle Paul wrote, doubtless referring to childhood crushes on fictional characters, “When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me.”

By high school, I had put childish ways behind me, and Daphne from Scooby-Doo with them. No, I was enamored of Anne Shirley from Anne of Green Gables.

My point here is that fictional characters can be attractive, and real-life people can be attracted to them. This is a common enough phenomenon. In geek culture, however, it is sometimes embraced wholeheartedly… even to a point that is frankly weird.

Let’s talk about waifus.

No waifu no laifu

Exhibit C: The anime-obsessed President of the United States voices his support for waifus.

A waifu is a fictional character to whom a person is attracted, to the point of considering that character a significant other.

The word waifu comes from an exaggerated Japanese pronunciation of the English word wife. (Thanks to anime and video games, a lot of weird geek culture originates in Japan.) A waifu doesn’t have to be female, by the way; the term can be used for characters of either sex.

By calling a character his waifu, a geek wryly acknowledges his crush on that character. It’s basically a form of shipping in which a real person ships a fictional character with himself.

Is it weird? Yes. Do I support waifus? Nah. Do they worry me? Not really. I’m pretty certain the waifu phenomenon is the sort of harmless, silly nonsense the Internet does best. At any rate, I hope it’s no deeper or darker than that!