Thinking of JRPG, larger-than-life personalities – whether fearless protagonists or headstrong villains usually take center stage. This does not mean that the genre is without variety. Tropes of all flavors have their chance to shine. This includes the rare-but-certainly-not-forgotten dander trope.
Dandere is defined as a character – usually in a romantic setting – who is chronically shy. Neon Genesis EvangelionShinji often comes to mind. Some characters are just a little shy for lack of self-confidence. Others shiver deeply at the mere thought of talking to another person. By common convention, dandere girls may outnumber boys, but that’s all the more reason to shine the spotlight on dandere guys who would probably prefer to blend in with the shadows.
ten Xenoblade Chronicles: Future Connected – Kino
Those who picked up Xenoblade Chronicles: Definitive Edition for Nintendo Switch received the Future Connected bonus DLC – an epilogue story that continues Shulk’s adventures or simply gives more beasts to fight depending on his interest in the Xenolame history and its many twists.
Although eager to fight alongside his sister Nene, Kino usually hides behind his older brother when chatting with Shulk and Melia – barely able to say more than a whisper in response. Considering that the most optimal way to play the game is to mute the sound while pressing the + button to skip cutscenes, most of these actions may have gone unnoticed.
9 Suikoden – Hix
From new to old, JRPGs may have gone through a lot of convention changes over the years. But the dandare trope, though still rare, is eternal. Since the Stone Age – also known as 1995 – this guy’s beloved series on Reddit who still knows more than you Suikoden paved the way for games like Chrono-Cross where everyone is a party member…as long as they’re not too complicated to unlock.
In the case of Hix, although he comes from the Warrior’s Village, he is not fit to take part in the front. He considers himself weak, but when his future girlfriend Tengaar is in danger, he does what all brave souls do: join an overflowing party of adventurers only to be cast aside after your questline ends. .
8 Rune Factory: Tides of Fate – Bismark
The cross section of “There are not enough fights in harvest moonand “I wish I could own a farm in this JRPG” finds happiness in rune factory. Given that romance options in video games are full of anime tropes, it’s no wonder this series has a few dandere boys – Rune Factory: Tides of Destiny’s Bismarck particularly comes to mind.
Last entry in the series, Rune Factory 5‘s, Ryker also delves into the dandere trope. He may be a little more sleepy than downright shy, but that makes him all the more endearing to those looking to woo a wayward lumberjack. Index: learn how to make a mean kibble.
seven Pokémon Ruby and Sapphire – Wally
Compared to some of the other dandere characters on this list, Wally isn’t completely trapped in his shell. But for a Pokemon rival? He is certainly more understated and polite than expected. Or maybe Blue/Gary Oak just solidified the idea that a rival has to be an arrogant jerk – something downplayed a bit in later games.
Given Wally’s situation, it makes sense that he wouldn’t brag so much about his predecessors. Chronic illness and being something of a magnet for bad guys (even though Team Aqua and Magma aren’t the most capable crew) probably haven’t helped his confidence. And all his hopes of becoming a pokemon master fade once the protagonist steals the title of Pokemon league champion from him.
6 Atelier Ryza – Tao Monarten
Secondary character turned DLC protagonist Tao Monarten may not seem too dander to those who have only been playing Atelier Ryza 2 — the series’ fan favorite. But in the first game, in addition to being younger, he had not yet taken over. Always a smart bookworm but lacking the self-esteem to go along with his knowledge, Tao spent his time until the sequel having his bright bow.
Granted, when you’re looking at a game that’s more about picking mushrooms than slaying dragons, it’s not particularly difficult to muster some extra confidence. This does not, however, dismiss his efforts. With the commercial success of Ryza Workshop series, he better hold out for a few more sequels until he unbands his arm and shows his true potential.
5 .hack//Infection – Elk
Dandere characters often find themselves clinging to a trusted friend as they navigate a spooky world. Elk of .hack // series – a setting where “it’s just a game” isn’t quite right – does it with Amazon cat mom Mia. When she disappears, however, Elk is forced to come out of his shell to save her like a true, loyal sidekick.
Many credit the .hack // series as the creator of the isekai video game genre. Those who are fans of Sword Art Online are probably familiar with the concept, and luckily the .To hack// has a lot of anime series to binge like .hack//Sign which features Tsukasa, a shy protagonist oddly similar to Elk.
4 Tales of Symphonia Chronicles: Dawn of the New World – Emil
Life is tough when the highly respected protagonist of the last game has murdered your parents. Misunderstanding or not, having to stare at your enemy’s memorial statue in the town square is enough to cause anyone to withdraw from society. But for a Tales of the game, it’s just par for the course – a series where the protagonists get more than their fair share of psychological torment. The tradition is deep, at least.
Emil’s bullies certainly won’t be the ones laughing at the end of the game. Admittedly, his benevolent nature makes him far from vindictive, which is perhaps best for avoiding creating more dandere characters.
3 Final Fantasy 9 – Vivi
Final Fantasy 9 sets the tone and atmosphere early with Nobuo Uematsu’s gorgeous score, an eccentric kingdom full of animals, and of course, the introduction of party dark mage Vivi. Who would have thought that the same guy, Meteor, would trip over himself and be accosted by Rat Boys (the Dark Link of Cat Boys) just 20 seconds into his screen time.
The Final Fantasy the series is also no stranger to male dandare characters. Partymates in the past, such as Final Fantasy 6‘s “spoon bard” Edward, and Final Fantasy 13’s shy Hope, all started out shy and scared before unleashing their true potential. With Final Fantasy 16 releasing next year, one can only wonder if characters like Joshua are a shoo-in for the dandere trope.
2 Nier – Emil
Coincidentally, the second Emil to appear on this list is the Deny the series’ own gorgon has become a mechanical being. This Emil may not be the protagonist of the series, but those who have invested heavily in Deny lore will know him as more than “that weird, shy guy with the creepy mask”.
Before operating a supply store, Emil was human – a child with the power to turn those around him to stone. And because he has white hair, there’s a slim chance he’ll even end up as the protagonist of a spin-off game in the future.
1 Mother 3 – Lucas
The Earthbound The series is influential in many ways with its unconventional setting and wacky antics. As for the narrative tropes, Earthbound – also known as Mother 2 in Japan – stripped JRPGs of their sword and sorcery roots and opted for a small-town setting that changes forever after a meteor strike.
Mother 3 is no different. The game’s protagonist, Lucas, lacked the assertiveness and outgoing demeanor of JRPG heroes before him. But it made Lucas far from weak. On the contrary, it made its growth all the more narratively significant and an argument for more protagonists.
More: What You Need To Know About Mother 3