When I set myself the challenge of picking one anime boy for ten days based on loosely defined descriptors, I didn’t anticipate the sheer difficulty of narrowing down the thousands of possibilities to a single character. Less easy was it to really decide what criteria I would use and whether or not it mattered.
Ultimately though, I stopped procrastinating… mostly, and decided that I would go with my gut instinct when making my choice. So here we go.
Favourite Male Romantic Lead
Now if you’ve followed my blog for any length of time you are probably already aware that I think Shirayuki and Zen from Snow White With The Red Hair are one of the best anime couples of ever. I even gave them their own top 5 list for my favourite moments with the pair. However, as much as I love Shirayuki and this couple together, this is actually Zen’s post and the reason why I love him as a male romantic lead.
Reason One: Zen is his own character outside of his relationship with Shirayuki.
So many romantic leads, particularly male ones, seem only to exist within the context of their relationship. Their only interactions are with their potential partner, their only dramas to do with developing that relationship. It feels as though outside of the romance, they simply cease to exist.
Zen on the other hand, has a very rich and busy life which he has to work to fit his potential romantic relationship into. He’s a prince and he has duties and obligations as well as his own interests and other people he wants to protect. Certainly he wants to make Shirayuki a part of his life, but she isn’t his entire life.
Reason Two: He’s thoughtful and protective but not overbearing.
Fiction seems to have a fine line between a guy who rescues and helps a girl and a guy who flat out acts in a controlling manner that is borderline abusive. In the post-Twilight era more and more of these dysfunctional relationships seem to be highlighted as somehow something romantic and worth aspiring to. Zen is looking out for Shirayuki and is mad at himself when he overlooks her exhaustion. He also knows when to take a step back and to actually let her handle things on her own. While he might continue to check in on how she’s coping, he doesn’t swoop in and take over.
Zen manages to be the kind of romantic lead that I actually find romantic. I could definitely do with more male leads like him in romance.
Reason Three: Zen’s just fun to be around.
Whether he is taking himself too seriously, trying to escape his work, or accepting the manipulation of his guards to actually do his work (something they term the Shirayuki effect), Zen is a fun character to spend time with. His reactions are varied depending on the situation and the characters he’s dealing with and there’s the playful boy trying to escape from underneath the serious prince facade and the balance of these two roles has been beautifully crafted.
Hands down, Zen is my favourite male romantic lead. But I’d love to know who you would have picked.
Sakuta from Rascal Does Not Dream! pic.twitter.com/c8Bk3WdmJu— Chris George Joynson (@ChrisGJoynson) January 31, 2020