I had a completely different post planned this weekend, but then I decided to do something to commemorate Asexual Awareness Week. Unfortunately, even if the language to talk about asexuality is present, there isn’t much representation in anime and manga, as is the case with other forms of media everywhere. I decided to start with what TVTropes has listed and weed out preexisting conditions that would affect sexuality (alien species, robot, sociopath) , traumatized individuals, and instances where aromanticism is confused for asexuality (sexual attraction does not equal romantic attraction). What’s left is small, but it’s a starting point.
Mitsuya (“Sweet Prisoner”, Migite ni Juu, Hidarite ni Ai) – He’s the closest we get to an explicit canonical asexual character. He says he’s neither gay nor straight and doesn’t respond to sex. It’s really cool to see a story about characters with different sexualities, but I do take issue with how Mitsuya’s asexuality is treated as a problem to be solved.
Ayuki Mari (Kashimashi: Girl Meets Girl) – She describes experiencing aesthetic attraction. In being content with just loving from afar, Ayuki parallels those asexuals who experience of finding someone good-looking but not wanting to pursue anything physical.
Monkey D. Luffy (One Piece) – He has zero interested in women or men beyond a platonic sense, and mangaka Eiichiro Oda has indicated that Luffy only cares about adventure and food.
Tien Shinhan (Dragon Ball Z) – Akira Toriyama stated that Tien is not interested in romance. The fact that he rebuffed Launch despite having saved her in the past and even living with her points suggests that he may be asexual.
There are a more couple of characters whose asexuality are up for debate. The assistant of Lloyd Asplund (Code Geass) says he’s not interested in the opposite sex, which doesn’t rule out homosexuality but he doesn’t show any attraction to the plentiful males in the series. Sawada (Tekkon Kinkreet) refers to himself as “frigid” which is NOT a synonym for asexual, and his inability to orgasm can result from either disinterest in sex or impotence. Haruhi Fujioka (Ouran High School Host Club) is sometimes brought up, but it’s hard to tell whether she’s oblivious and inexperienced or actually asexual due to the lack of sex in the manga.
I want to suggest two others: Heero Yuy (Gundam Wing) and L (Death Note). Heero could either be asexual or repressed depending on if you view him as having the inherent qualities of a “perfect soldier” or whether he learned to repress all his feelings. I see a lot of the BBC Sherlock in L, and the former is often speculated to be asexual. He’s so unusual that it’s hard to tell though.
That uncertainty makes even this list a stretch. Mitsuya is the only one who flat-out says he’s neither gay nor straight (and we presume that he’s not bi or pan). The only time I’ve seen the word “asexuality” used is in Medaka Box, but the character who mentions it incorrectly confuses it with aromanticism. Because sexual attraction is often linked to a desire for a relationship or romantic attraction, it’s hard to draw conclusions about disinterested characters. However, as Lady Saika points out in a recent post at Lady Geek Girl and Friends, “until we start getting real, canonical representation in popular media, we are stuck with lists like these, making do with characters whose orientations we don’t and can’t know, and finding solace in the fact that they act a little bit like us.”
Listening to: “Ballerina Brain System” by MAA