In Defence of Mineta - Anime's "Worst" Character
By Yung Namahage • 5 months ago • 30 comments

Fans of My Hero Academia often discuss their favorite characters. Whether it's the hotblooded Bakugo, stoic Todoroki or strong-willed Midoriya, everyone stands up to proclaim just why they believe a certain character is the best. But there's one character that undoubtedly gets way more hate than love from fans of the show.

When I first started watching it, I thought the character of Minoru Mineta was kinda cool. His hair reminded me of mine (although I can't pull it off and stick it to things, or at least I haven't tried), plus his diminutive stature and silly costume appealed to me. From the offset it was clear he wasn't one of the show's driving forces, but a comic relief that spends most of his time in the sidelines. To sum him up in a nutshell, his number one goal in life is a noble one: to become a pro hero, just like any of his classmates. But after that, all he wants to do is see some tiddy. I mean, which straight male high schooler can't say they can relate to him in that respect? But it's the execution of his character and comic relief that's earned him scorn from across the fanbase.

A lot of the hate I've seen directed toward him comes from Tumblr, which includes blogs dedicated to photoshopping him out of the show/manga/promotional material or even art depicting him getting brutally murdered. Indeed, the MHA fandom is strong on Tumblr. Maybe they can relate to a show where the leading character has a past of being relentlessly bullied? Whatever the reason, Tumblr is also known for its brand of self-righteous "social justice" which also includes having violent murder fantasies over a fictional teenager. 

These beliefs aren't just limited to Tumblr. Dorkly, a sister site of CollegeHumor, recently published a takedown of Mineta on YouTube, condemning him with the heavy title of "anime's worst character," for reasons including having a useless quirk and being a general sex pest that ruins the entire show.

Now, sexual harassment is a truly horrible thing, but for whatever reason is tolerated a lot more in Japanese media, including anime, than it is in the west. It's not uncommon to see good guys display perverted tendencies similar to Mineta, such as voyeurism and even groping, that are played entirely for laughs and fanservice, such as Dragonball's Master Roshi, Joseph Joestar from JoJo's Bizarre Adventure, and Vash the Stampede from Trigun. Hell, it's not even rare for rape jokes to come up in anime, but at the same time there is a clear distinction between when "good" characters take part in sexual gags and when "bad" characters commit an act of sexual harassment that's depicted dramatically, e.g. Wyald from Berserk and the goblins from Goblin Slayer.  Reiji, The protagonist of the manga Mogura no Uta, also makes this distinction, in the live action movie at least. While he spends his spare time peeking up skirts, he takes great offence to a store manager that blackmails female shoplifters into stripping. In his words, "Don't get me wrong, I'm a pervert too. But I'm not a twisted pervert!"

Another character I'd like to compare Mineta to is Onsokumaru from Ninin ga Shinobuden. Sure, the school of faceless ninjas that make up the majority of the show's male cast are single-minded pervs, but but their yellow blob of a leader is one of the horniest characters I've ever seen and spares no expense when it comes to trying to grope or peek at one of the show's female characters. However, these plans usually end in him getting his ass kicked, getting eaten by an alligator or suffering some other embarrasing fate so it's not like he gets away scot-free with harassing girls. Guess what? More often than not, Mineta is also punished for his crimes, e.g. by getting punched or Jiro jamming her headphone jack into his eyeball. While that doesn't absolve him from his sins it is fitting that a character's shitty actions earn him an equally shitty reward.

One way I interpret him is that he's a metaphor for male teenage fans of the show, and probably anime as a whole. Why do you think fanservice is so common? For the horny males in real life. Therefore it's not entirely unrealistic for a horny teenage male character to exist within the show and instigate a lot of the fanservice scenes. To be offended at crude sexual humor is one thing, but to judge foreign media using a western perspective and ignoring the separate set of norms and values followed by the creators of said show reeks of imperialism. 

As for Mineta having a useless quirk, it still got him into one of the most prestigious hero schools in Japan. And while his motivation to become a hero is simply to impress girls, he's still diligent in his studies, and doesn't hesitate to help his classmates in times of need such as a practical exam or when they're under attack by villains. His "useless" powers and quick thinking also helped him beat Midnight, one of the top heroes in the country. Speaking of Midnight, I wonder why nobody complains about her being just as much of a pervert as Mineta, if not more?

What do you think of this controversial character? Does he deserve all the hate is it just an overreaction? Let us know in the comments.