Character Spotlight: Yaehara Daria

Gekka Ryouran Romance will forever be a favorite of mine. It was my introduction to otome-ge, and with taboo relationships as the theme of the title, there are several options of forbidden lovers to pursue, from teachers to siblings. My favorite, however, will always be the yuri option: Yaehara Daria. I wrote my first impressions of her route a few years ago, and she still makes me swoon. I intend to write at least a full review of the game one day, but until then, this is a tribute to my favorite prince.

Daria is well versed in stealing the hearts of her numerous admirers, treating each one with lavish consideration and care. Rather than her clients feeling like a mere toy to be dazzled with empty flattery, there is always an atmosphere of romance which feels very believable, if not completely genuine and heartfelt. Her impeccable manners and sophistication truly makes any girl feel like a princess straight from a fairy tale, with her grand gestures of affection and charming compliments perfected down to the last word.

But although Daria’s princely persona is indeed seductive, it is a product of her severely neglectful childhood, and the subsequent feelings of abandonment and worthlessness. In her efforts to avoid suffering from the same isolation she grew up in, Daria is compelled to please others, even at the cost of her own emotions and individuality. Since so many young ladies view her as a prince, a figure of wish-fulfillment without any of her own motives or desires, that has become her default state. As an adolescent, it has progressed from an unhealthy defense mechanism, to a behavioral pattern that has all but consumed her original personality, and there are many instances where she has memory loss during these times. Even her words are not her own, merely excerpts from romance novels she echoes in order to attain praise and companionship.

Only when someone is willing to accept her true self does Daria begin to realize the depths of her loneliness, but rather than a quick recovery, she instead develops an extreme anxiety of regressing back into her repressive mindset. There even is a significant period when she displays a child-like dependency on others for validation, fostering a parasitic relationship with her lover, insisting on sharing absolutely everything with her in order to be as similar as possible.

She is many contradictions at once: both mature and immature, strong and supportive, yet vulnerable and possessive. Ultimately, it varies whether she finds independence or slips further into madness. In certain endings, she may find the sense of fulfillment she has always wanted, recognized by her mother while her career as an actress flourishes. Or, in a cruel twist, she could turn to arson and murder in order to remain in her self-constructed fantasy, reduced to delusion and insanity, trapped by her own crippling fear of being left alone once again.

As for her detractors, the only complaint that I have seen is that she is a woman who chooses to pursue another romantic relationship with a woman, which is not only a ridiculous argument, it’s incredibly homophobic. Theoretically, her appeasing demeanor could be used to consider her as a weak character, but it is by no means her will which is fragile. On the contrary, she is set on having her way, even if it means pleading in desperation, or resorting to bloodshed when she is at her most unstable.

There’s also the issue of Daria going to great lengths to romance Nazuna, expressing herself with very grandiose gestures, yet all of her behavior merely echoing the actions she believes suitors are supposed to do. Yet, Daria often isn’t conscious of her words being copied from books, and to her, her actions are genuinely from the heart. She believes it is wholly genuine, and that’s touching in and of itself.

Even when she is mocked by the girls at school, she remains charming and sweet, hiding her hurt feelings to be the very best prince she can be. While she may have been cynical in the beginning, considering love to be merely a game, as Daria experiences her first true romance, one which is not an imitation or an act, she becomes willing to do quite literally anything for love, even if it means going to destructive depths.

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