My Dad is an Otaku, My Mom is a Fujoshi, and I Wish I Was Dead
Name: Haruto Kouga (高河陽人)
The beleaguered protagonist.
Born: May 14, 2006
Height: 173 cm (5'8")
Blood type: A
Likes: Fitness, getting good grades, gyudon
Dislikes: Otaku, Pretty Lyrical Miracle Curry
Fun fact: He actually enjoys making bentos and secretly wishes Kaede would ask him to make hers.
About: A lot of main characters in light novels are pretty average, but the difference with Haruto is that he's deliberately trying to force himself to be "normal" because he's ashamed of his family, so he's average completely by design- however, his interpretation of what "normal" is might differ from yours, and from some of the other characters'. Because of that, I gave him a name that's absolutely average for what a Japanese boy his age might have. There is a hidden meaning contained within his name when you look at it with the rest of the names- most of the girls are named after some sort of plant or flower and Haru's contains the character 陽 (sun/yang). You might pay attention to the beautiful flowers, but without the sun they can't grow- and he's the glue that ties everyone together whether he likes it or not. The 高 (high) character in his and Kaede's last names is a nod to anime's most (in)famous siblings.
Author’s Notes: I deliberately tried to make him the example of a typical LN protagonist- the twist being that he’s not the only one and the universe also loves to humiliate him. I can’t help it. If he wasn’t such a stick-in-the-mud it wouldn’t be so funny to watch him get dumped on.
Name: Kaede Kouga (高河紅葉)
The laid-back little sister.
Born: May 1, 2008
Height: 157 cm (5'2")
Blood type: A
Likes: TV variety shows, cute outfits, helping other people out
Dislikes: Arrogant people, rude people, the Shinchoushi Middle School Student Council
Fun fact: Kaede’s latest diet includes drinking a gallon of milk a week. It’s helped her get taller, but that’s not where she wanted to grow.
About: Little sisters in light novels either fall into one of 2 categories- a) brat or b) small child. Kaede is neither, and is more of a wise beyond her years type. She goes with the flow and doesn't try to rock the boat, but has a strong enough sense of justice to help those in need no matter how disinterested she might look. It's no surprise why she's so popular among her female classmates when boys her age are barely removed from picking their noses and telling girls they have cooties. She's probably more responsible than her brother is- he deliberately tries to be the man of the family, which leads to his facade breaking, but she never has that problem because she never forces herself. Her name is usually written as 楓 (maple), but I chose the more poetic 紅葉 (red leaves), which creates a stronger image of autumn leaves falling into a river. I think this serene image fits her laid-back personality well. No, she is not named after Kirino Kousaka.
Author’s Notes: Every LN hero needs a little sister, but most of them aren’t that active in the story. Originally, when I envisioned Kaede, she was a straight-up gyaru, but she morphed into somewhere halfway between a typical, fashion-obsessed teenage girl and a shonen hero who has to help everyone no matter what. I thought it was a nice way to play with the common trope of “bratty little sister” to instead have them not be on speaking terms because of something different. It’s interesting how in terms of personality, she takes more after her dad, while Haru takes more after their mom. I've never read or watched a second of Seishun Buta Yarou- the name is just a coincidence.
Name: Ayame Shiritori (後酉彩愛)
The super-energetic childhood friend.
Born: April 18, 2006
Height: 165 cm (5'5")
Blood type: B
Likes: Anime, manga, drawing manga, gaming, visual novels, light novels, Garigari-kun (watermelon flavor), Miko Mikono-sensei
Dislikes: People who don't appreciate Mikono-sensei's greatness
Fun fact: She is the only woman in the world to run a 7:15 mile while watching an episode of The Strongest Demon King Just Wants To Make Friends the entire time. She only ran into one flower pot. (Don’t look for that one in the Guinness Book.)
About: I'm not ashamed to say that Ayame is 100% what I would consider "my type"- a super peppy, energetic, athletic tomboy who could talk my ear off about anime and beat me at Smash and Touhou (easy to do, since I don’t play either). However, when I was coming up with storylines involving her, I started to wonder how people would react to someone who acts like her in real life, and I hope my description of her reflected that- while she is largely an endearing dork, there might be more unhealthiness about her attitude than you think.
No, her last name is not a typo- it's deliberate. It’s a Nisio Isin kind of name. Shiritori is a Japanese word game, and I think it fits her because her parents are both involved in writing. The way I chose to write it is a way I'm pretty sure doesn't actually exist in Japanese, but I tried. 後酉 is roughly "at the end of the Rooster period of the zodiac" using the earthly branch kanji, so it could indicate someone born at the end of a Rooster year or the end of the evening (assigned to the Rooster in the traditional Chinese calendar). If you want to know what her first name means, go back and reread the last chapter.
Author’s Notes: Just like the other two, Ayame’s a common character type- in this case, the devoted childhood friend who’s also, just coincidentally, a knockout beauty. That is, if she wasn’t an extremely obsessive nerd. I designed her to intentionally contrast Haruto (what if the childhood friend character had the mind of Tomoko Kuroki?), and ended up with a situation where he’s basically her caretaker- a pseudo-Akkun and Yoshiko situation, although at least he doesn’t punch her. Originally, she had two older sisters, but these two characters became the Suzurans, and I swapped them out for a younger brother- another parallel to the Kouga siblings. It’s funny that she gets called on the tall side a lot when by American standards she’s pretty average, but I understand that she is in the 75th percentile or so for girls her age in her country- and being taller makes her stride longer so she’s better at running.
Name: Tomoyuki Kouga (高河智幸)
The stereotypical otaku father.
Born: September 23, 1978
Height: 170 cm (5'7")
Blood type: A
Likes: Idol Paradise, curry, beer, maids, his wife
Dislikes: His weight, people who prefer Asumi to Reo (Ev*ngelion)
Fun fact: The total worth of his DVD/BD/manga/novel/game/figure collection is a solid ￥7M ($50k USD). Who said nerds couldn’t invest?
About: If you’ve ever watched enough anime, you will eventually run across the stereotypical otaku- fat, unkempt, wearing ratty clothes, middle-aged, and usually a pervert with no social skills to think of. Usually, these guys are nothing but gag characters- even in the most recent 5 or so years, where creators have started to realize that otaku come in all shapes and sizes, the idea of this guy has never completely gone away- mainly because people like him do exist in real life, as much as we want to deny it. So what if this joke character ended up becoming the head of a family? Despite all his quirks, it’s clear that Tomoyuki at least cares about his family and has it together enough to support them, so while he may be the most stereotypical representation of an otaku ever, he’s not truly a bad guy, and may in fact be one of the sanest members of the household.
When I named him, I tried to imagine the most stereotypical dorky middle-aged Japanese man name I could think of. For comparison, it’s like your dad being named Brian. I apologize if your dad’s name is Brian. Despite the other name connotations, the kanji 智幸 reflect his life. They mean “wisdom” and “happiness”. Despite the fact that he’s a computer genius who probably would have ended up as the next Bill Gates had he gone that route, he chose to pursue his own happiness and was fine with even being poor so long as he was doing what he loved. It helps now that he’s so in-demand that even with just contract jobs, he makes a nice amount of money.
Author’s Notes: The theme of a hopeless otaku somehow ending up as the male protagonist in a romance has been done before- it’s been done more times than you can count. However, my idea for this story was what happened once the protagonist and his chosen girl got together and lived happily ever after…and so, that’s how Tomoyuki morphed from the peppy, dogged shonen hero in his youth to the stereotypical otaku he is today. The happily-ever-after ending where the hero and heroine hold their newborn child on the last page doesn’t always translate to a perfect life afterwards, but Tomoyuki is trying his best. When he was in high school the last name that he was using was Nishinomiya (西宮).
Name: Chisato Kouga (高河ちさと)
The fujoshi mother who looks more like a little sister.
Born: August 8, 1977
Height: 132 cm (4’4")
Blood type: O
Likes: Cosplay, ProKore (especially Kore Pink), BL doujins, Sparkle, her kids
Dislikes: People who bully her kids
Fun fact: Since she grew up in California, her English is nearly perfect, but she’s lived in Japan for so long that her accent is way too thick for foreign visitors to understand her.
About: My Middle-Aged Mother Can’t Be This Cute (heh)! When I imagined her, I thought of what kind of counterpart a stereotypical otaku would have- and I settled on a loli. Despite the fact that she’s way cuter than her husband, I made sure to give them a good reason why they would be together- she’s a crazier otaku than him. Compared to Tomoyuki, she’s the more fiery, passionate one of the two. He’s very calm other than when it comes to his favorite hobbies, but she’s pretty much off the wall- she’s emotional and wears her heart on her sleeve a lot of the time and considering she acts very childish it’s easy to see how someone might mistake her for Haru’s little sister instead of his mom.
Her name is written in hiragana to reflect her childishness. Despite what you might think, I did not name her after LycoReco- I had already settled on this name a year before it even came out. She was also not originally born in America, but I settled on this explanation as being a reason why she’s very outgoing and friendly and does things that Japanese might draw a line at. I think it also helps explain her social isolation as a young woman, because she didn’t fit in, and it’s also heartwarming that she loves her husband so much that she stayed in a country she didn’t feel comfortable in so she could be with him.
Author’s Notes: My idea of her came from the mom in Masamune-kun no Revenge. However, in that series, the character was a one-note gag and nothing more, so I started wondering what challenges someone like that might face (such as what she did to make money in college- I left it vague, but let me just say it wasn’t pretty). I decided that it would be funny if she was paired with fat, middle-aged Tomoyuki (because stereotypical otaku who look like that are almost always lolicons in fiction). Just from looking at them at first, you might assume he married her because she scratched his itch, but their relationship is actually lot deeper than anyone could have imagined. I believe that even if she looked different, they'd still be happy together.