Oddly enough, it isn’t otome-ge as a genre which can arguably be considered rather unfair in its treatment of heroines, but rather, the people it caters to who are most unforgiving when it comes to the judgement of a heroine. No matter the target demographic, it will have its share of dynamic protagonists, as well as those who are mere surrogates who lack emotional depth. While there are the supposed ‘blank template’ heroines, there are certainly several others who defy that stereotype. Just like how for every good-natured hero in eroge, there are just as many cruel and remorseless men. Yet the assumption persists that female protagonists are written the worst, with the most flaws and least likeable characteristics.
While it may be understandable to first make that assumption, considering some of the most well-known otome-ge are infamous for their problematic portrayal of abusive relationships, it doesn’t justify the amount of hatred for the starring young ladies, that comes often from women themselves.
To many, a girl who is unable to consistently endure her burdens, no matter how difficult the circumstances, who is torn between romantic options, or who displays naïvety and innocence is called a weakling or useless, despite her own strengths as an individual. There are also instances when a heroine is dominant and unwavering, and these traits are considered offensive and vindictive. It is a contradictory logical knot: a perfect heroine incites boredom, but a heroine with flaws earns her derision.
“Doormats”, “idiots”, and a slew of derogatory names are mostly directed at the more idealistic and sweet-tempered heroines, and while some may indeed fit the description of being powerless and gullible, it is often more undeserved than the frequency of its use suggests. Which begs the question: If such terms are entirely inappropriate, why are they used so often? Why is it that optimism and purity are considered to be signs of low intelligence, a dislikable personality, and unjustifiable reactions? Why are such faulty judgements used as justification for contempt, and why does the heroine receive so much hatred, while the heroes are excused? Simple bias, perhaps, or it may very well be that the accusations reflect more on the audience’s sense of judgement than the one supposedly deserving of it.
While initial impressions may be strong, I find that too many are eager to hate and insult, preferring the cheap satisfaction of schadenfreude that comes with easy blame, instead of distancing themselves and trying to follow a definite reasoning behind such misguided opinions. While it is simpler to mistake ignorance or pacifism for stupidity and the like, in the end, it only gives the hasty detractors an image of egotism and superficiality, instead of serving as any proof of superiority.