In The Defense of Diabolik Lovers

I’ve talked about the mistreatment of otome-ge heroines by the community, and about how it’s perfectly fine to like sadistic characters, and how dark games are a valid choice of entertainment, but time and time again, the same criticisms are used without any logic behind the immediate negative response, and no other series has been such an object of hatred and controversy as the Diabolik Lovers series. I stand by my previous arguments, and at the risk of being repetitive, this is a defense for the series which I personally adore, which I firmly believe the otome-ge market needs more of.

Diabolik Lovers is considered to be demeaning towards women, the glorification of abuse, and the promotion of domestic violence. This assumes that this series is so persuasive that, by its mere exposure, men will learn violent behavior, and become abusers. Women will seek out harmful partners, develop a desire to be physically hurt, and engage in self-destructive behavior. According to these claims, this game series is capable of reducing human rationality and morality. This is both ridiculous and false.

One’s preferences in fiction have no impact on reality. Women who have rape fantasies do not desire to be raped in real life, just as women who enjoy sadistic characters do not want their partners to be abusive. To use a similar example, people who enjoy violent media do not want to become murderers. Fans of the series simply enjoy it for what it is: a harmless, indulgent fantasy.

For example, my favorite character is Sakamaki Kanato. He is the most emotionally vulnerable of the cast, and appears to be physically weak. Still, he harms the heroine in various ways: stabbing, strangulation, dehumanization, blood-letting, and other instances of physical, verbal, and emotional abuse. But however much I like him, and sympathize with him within the context of fiction, I do not think any of his actions would be acceptable in reality.

Those who declare Diabolik Lovers to be harmful to women’s rights are the most hypocritical of all: women’s rights are about promoting equality and individuality, accepting their choices and preferences, including their fantasies. As long as no one is harmed in reality, women will always have the right to like anything they want.

The series is rated 17+ because of the lack of sexually explicit content, and anyone below that age is not the intended audience. The readers, as long as they are of the appropriate intended age group, may enjoy any fictional fantasy they choose. Even for adults who wish to recreate the power dynamics of the game during physical intimacy, it is their responsibility to take the proper steps of discussing consent, agreeing upon the details of a scene, and deciding safewords.

Other critics state that the series, even if harmless, is disturbing and distasteful, and should not exist. If that is one’s private opinion, that still never gives one the right to try to control another’s fictional tastes. Even in modern day, pure love is the only genre of otome-ge which is considered acceptable by much of the population. To expect an entire population to enjoy but a single genre is unnecessarily restrictive, for every individual has different preferences, no matter if they are the same gender.

The Diabolik Lovers series is not condoning abuse, nor are its fans. It is an open-minded series which caters to the unusual. It not only acknowledges, but celebrates its masochistic readers, giving them variety and creativity, with complex characters, tragic backstories, and an intricate plot.

Anyone who attempts to shame, demean, or judge another person for their fantasies—provided it does not involve the legitimate harm of others—is not concerned with women’s rights, or human morality, but only with their own comfort, and is the very opposite of any “progressive” agenda they may be intending to put forward.

One response to “In The Defense of Diabolik Lovers

  1. commenting again whoops

    You articulate this really well, and I’m glad to see a post like this! (and that someone else favors Kanato…I love that lil shit)

    A lot of English-speaking otome reviewers are really needlessly caustic and downright mean, it’s actually very unsettling to me– especially considering their fans seem to take their words as gospel and spread this mean-spirited bullshit throughout the community.

    When I first started getting into otome, I kind of hated myself. I liked a lot of the “worst” games according to these people– especially r18 otoge. That shamey atmosphere being thrown around for no reason made me feel so bad about liking what is essentially just a romance novel in game form, and I quickly realized how silly that was and played what I liked without worrying. But for people who aren’t as strong-willed, it can be really depressing and kind of scary to see this extreme attitude placed towards something ultimately harmless.

    I’m sorry to ramble on, but the otome fandom needs more positivity, and more posts like this. Thank you very much for doing things like this, and being able to articulate it so wonderfully.

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