Everyone simps once in a while. But anime just loves this version of the relatable male protagonist for whatever reason.
There are quite a few popular anime starring a main protagonist who is down bad for women in the most unhealthy of ways. Obviously this is to cater to the primary demographic these anime are targeted towards, but I think a lot of girls appreciate their boyfriends to desire them as long as they don’t become, well, an actual anime simp. Because like all human characteristics, anime tends to exaggerate being a simp to an unhealthy degree, but due to the power of plot armor, nothing too bad ever comes from that behavior. Sanji from One Piece. Kazuya from Rent-A-Girlfriend. Bell from Danmachi. A good chunk of harem leads in general. How many people would actually put up with these characters in real life?
Not too many, but to be fair you can say that about any anime archetype. Tsunderes in reality are abusive assholes after all. There’s nothing inherently wrong with a male lead (or prominent male character) who’s down bad for some pussy, and the same is true if the genders are reversed. But of course, you have so many people hating on Kazuya from Rent-A-Girlfriend because his simp behavior is exaggerated to the point of comically awful. The dude literally praises his love interest’s mitochondria, which yes some people probably can relate to, but who the fuck actually wants to support someone who thinks like that? Japan also seems to think stalking is cute in their romance stories for some reason, which is something I will never support unless it’s done in a hilarious way (which it almost never is). If a guy literally acts like a stalker to some girl, that should be an instant dealbreaker. It should definitely not be what starts/progresses their relationship because it’s a fucking toxic mentality that persistence pays off no matter how awful you’re being.
However, even anime has nothing compared to the simp-filled land that is Korean pornhwa. In that medium, being a simp gets you laid instantly by big busted women that most definitely do not live in Korea. Having said that, I’ve liked quite a few of said characters who mostly think with their dick, albeit because I find them hilariously awful or because I think the narrative understands that the simp lead isn’t supposed to be a good guy even if you’re ultimately rooting for him to have seggs with someone.
If you read Korean 18+ webtoons, you’ve most likely heard of Secret Class due to its immense online popularity to the point it gets advertised on certain free manga sites. The main character in that, to put it bluntly, is fucking retarded. And every girl in that webtoon sleeps with him because his retardation is contagious. He gets a lot of hate for that, but he also gets a lot of “meme-y” praise because of how he can convince a girl that sex with him is just masturbation with his dick, so it’s not really sex. I’m definitely in the camp that enjoys that kind of hilariously awful character writing. It’s like if Shu Ouma from Guilty Crown became a porn protagonist.
My favorite simp protagonist in those webtoons though has got to be Jinsoo from Excuse Me This Is My Room. For those who don’t know, it’s a story about a dude who’s forced to live with a female who bullied him in high school after he steals her money to spend on insider trading. They initially hate each other, but when the bully accidentally sees the size of his dick, she blackmails/rapes him and ends up falling in love. Meanwhile, the dude tries to get his own college girlfriend, only for the girls in his life to be sluts. And before you start feeling sorry for Jinsoo, I need to stress that he is very unlikeable throughout the story. To put it simply, he goes from a weak-willed main protagonist who wants to get laid to someone who realizes that girls desire his dick and thus takes full advantage of it. A lot of people did not like that about him, but I didn’t mind too much because none of the girls he ended up making his concubines were exactly clean either. Excuse Me This Is My Room is basically about awful people having sex with each other and I loved its take on it.
Scum’s Wish and Guilty Crown are obvious ones if you’re looking for actual anime, but otherwise I don’t know a lot of Japanese cartoons (or manga honestly) where the simp protagonist is endearing to me because he’s supposed to be unlikeable. Some people have argued that Kazuya is supposed to be like that, but the story keeps reinforcing he’s a good guy underneath his issues and they keep trying to set him up with Chizuru, whose character isn’t written in a way that supports his mindset very well. Like I just said, Excuse Me This Is My Room endeared itself to me because both lead characters were terrible people who were terrible to each other, which somehow led to really hot sex between them. And in the Japanese anime where I liked them, the simp leads ended up losing their girls, which is a major factor in why I enjoyed their screentime.
When you want the simp to be endearing while still getting the girl? That’s pretty rough to actually do. It’s not impossible though. All you have to do is have the main character confront their behavior and have them grow from it (please don’t try to ignore the character’s simp behavior by focusing on their other positive traits. It might work for a lot of people, but I personally find it stupid). I’ve noticed that when this happens, it usually involves the lead character falling for another girl who’s not his initial target. After all, most simps in fiction tend to desire someone they can’t have while being blind to what they have in front of them, so when they realize that, they clean up their act to be with that other girl since it’s obvious their simp behavior isn’t going to work on this unexpected party.
You guys remember 5 Centimeters Per Second, Makoto Shinkai’s biggest movie before Your Name propelled him to global stardom? That was a story about a dude who couldn’t move on from his childhood relationship no matter how hard he tried, only for him to finally do so by the end. It was a great movie, but again a lot of people didn’t like it too much because nothing seemed to happen. And given how all of these stories where I think the simp mindset is used to positive effect has gotten noticeable (not necessarily heavy) backlash every time, it’s not hard to draw the conclusion that shipping culture is fucking mad.
I’m not saying anything new when I make the observation that when people love a waifu so much, they want the main protagonist to get them even if he’s written to be a potato because unless the lead is truly repulsive to ugly bastard levels, it makes it feel like they themselves are getting them. So when the male lead doesn’t choose their favorite girl, it can lead to them writing off the story as garbage, even if he’s a simp who wouldn’t deserve her when you think about it. Doesn’t help that a lot of people watch romance to see something heartwarming that they don’t/can’t have in real life, which is definitely not what I look for when I choose to watch a romance. Well okay it is a little, but I have different standards than most people.
Mainly, I want both the male and the female protagonist to be good. It’s fine for one character to be weaker than the other, but I would prefer their be chemistry on both sides. To accept each other’s faults instead of straight out ignoring them. To not remind me of real-life creeps who think pick-up lines on my friends are good ideas. They don’t work in real life unless you’re already hot. Why do a lot of dudes keep using them?