If you happen to love any sports anime such as Major, Prince of Tennis, or something like that, what is the hero like inside you? I mean, what kind of person is he? Arrogant, yes could be. Ambitious, true. If you ask me, I must say there has been a lot of positive and aggressive heroes in this genre. For example, Echizen Ryouma in Prince of Tennis. He is really talented, but he is arrogant and sounds so rude sometimes. Sukuragi Hanamichi in Slam Dunk is a tough guy and passionate. Ohzora Tsubasa in Captain Tsubasa is an active soccer boy. See? Almost all the heroes in sports anime are tough or wild, so how can you believe such a timid hero in this genre?
However, you can find such a hero in this kind of anime. If you have watched Ookiku furikabutte[おおきく振りかぶって], you would see what I mean. The hero, Mihashi Ren was the previous ace pitcher in his middle school’s baseball team, but it seems that he only got the position because his grandfather was the owner of the school. His teammates (especially the team’s catcher) hated him, and they always lost their games. Mihashi is thoroughly convinced that he is a lousy baseball pitcher and he graduates to high school with extremely low self-esteem. He then transfers to Nishiura high school with plans of quitting baseball, because he does not believe he is good enough to succeed at baseball. However, he is dragged into Nishiura’s baseball team by their coach. Assisted by his new teammates (and especially the catcher, Takaya Abe), he grows in stature, confidence and skill, helping his team excel with his own abilities.
Such is a prologue of this anime. At any rate, I must say it is really rare that we have such a timid hero in a baseball anime. だって野球ってもっと汗臭い男らしいスポーツじゃない（笑）Comparing to other sports like tennis or golf, baseball sounds very manly. Is there someone like Mihashi in a baseball anime? There are a lot of baseball anime or manga such as Touch, Dokaben, or Kyojin no hoshi年は聞くなよｗ, but he is the only one I can think of. But why here? So I asked some girls who follow this anime why they love him. One girl said, “Mihashi is cute! And I really enjoy watching how he grows up and becomes strong. I think I tend to like such a 弱気ヒーロー[yowaki hero], you know.”
弱気[yowaki] means timid, negative, or pessimisitic. In other words, it’s such a wimp or a sissy. Before, it seemed like heroes in anime must be stronger than anyone else, but things changed. Nowadays, we can see such a wimp is becoming popular as well. Like the fangirl said, the reason why they are popular is that fans feel like watching over them. As a story goes on, the hero changes himself and becomes stronger than the beginning. That’s the point they love. Upon hearing this, I can think of Ikari Shinji in Neon Genesis Evangelion. He is also a 弱気ヒーロー, isn’t he? Most of my friends say he is a wimp. Yes that’s true. But to protect Ayanami Rei, he decides to be strong. Having said that, people can’t change so fast. It sure takes much time and courage. We are sometimes seen how 弱気ヒーロー suffer from the dilemma or nervous breakdown. Shinji is talking to himself, “I mustn’t escape!” Those things could make fans feel like watching over. Now he is a wimp, but after a few episodes he will grow up. Seeing such an improvement is enjoyable.
Come to think of it, there is another 弱気ヒーロー, he is Sato-kun in Welcome to NHK! He is a good-for-nothing, and can’t do anything himself. But in order to protect Misaki-chan, he becomes strong and tries to get a steady life.
What makes fans love 弱気ヒーロー is that, I guess, empathy. If you come across a character who is like you when you watch anime, don’t you empathize him/her? We are not necessarily strong like heroes in anime, so that’s why we feel like empathizing such a 弱気ヒーロー as though we see ourselves inside the character.
There is a word that is hard to explain, 強くなる[tsuyoku naru]. Above characters I mentioned are going to be stronger in the end than the beginning of the show. 強い[tuyoi] means strong, tough, or wild. But when we say 強くなりたい[tsuyoku naritai] in this context, it does mean not only I want to be strong physically, but mentally. Depending upon the situation, it might mean the latter only.
I like a strong character like Lelouch, but don’t dislike 弱気ヒーロー unless they are cowards forever.