This time of year turns our thoughts to romance, and soothing away the hardships and misery of the dark winter days. What better way could there be to warm our hearts to springtime than hanging out with our favourite anime princes? The most wonderful thing about them is that, contrary to their western fairytale counterparts, they don’t have to conform to a strict code of beauty, heroism or even gender. There’s a prince for everyone to adore and aspire to, bringing hope and optimism to the season of new life.
Utena – Revolutionary Girl Utena
Utena was so enamoured of a prince who comforted her at her parents’ funeral that she decided to become a prince herself. Wearing the boys’ uniform at school, asked to join the boys’ sports teams and generally singled out for her masculine behaviour, she makes clear that she doesn’t want to be seen as a man; she’s only making herself into the saviour she wants to be. She refuses to be tied down to a gender ideal that would otherwise restrict her self-expression, and shows us we don’t have to be either. In this attitude alone, she’s already a hero. She just doesn’t realise it yet.
Soma Asman Kadar – Black Butler
Spoiled as he is, this prince out of place is inspiring in his natural compassion. He seems to have an instinct for when someone needs to be cared for, and provides for them without a trace of the conceit you would expect. Even when met with nothing but disdain from Ciel, he’s wise enough to look beyond it for the suffering at its source. They are both men of stature, Ciel much younger than he should have been, and Soma knows of the isolation that comes with such power. The difference is that Soma channels his loneliness into kindness, taking the hardest path for the greater good.
Prince Endymion – Sailor Moon
Missing off Mamoru Chiba a.k.a Tuxedo Mask a.k.a. Prince Endymion would be a shameless oversight of his classic charm. But as dashing and heroic as he is, it’s his willingness to sacrifice anything for our beloved princess Sailor Moon that puts him a cut above the fairytale standard. He sees her in all her clumsy, tearful potential, and shows her that he can be counted on for help without being intrusive in her destiny. Somehow, he knows what they have and will mean to one another; willing to stand guard over her, he’ll wait in respect for the love that lies dormant.
Lelouch Lamperouge – Code Geass
The cold of his stare and the selfish cruelty in his crusade is little but armour for the life Lelouch has survived. Without a mother, and exiled to Japan by his father the Emperor of Britannia, he’s wounded by the injustice of the war that made him a bargaining chip. The rebel movement he raises to bring down Britannia is the only way he can see to fill the void, for himself and his sister Nunally. It’s tragic that only through extreme violence can he rediscover the good in himself. Rather than destroy his family with the truth of his rebellion, he sacrifices Lelouch until all that’s left is Zero.
Vegeta – Dragon Ball Z
Ah, this one is princely arrogance personified. And honestly, we wouldn’t want him any other way. This was the first anti-hero that made me feel there should be more to a story than good guys and bad guys, watching him carry an anguish I barely knew was there. He’s been alone in his power all his life until Goku comes into the frame, and without being the most powerful warrior in the galaxy, he has no identity beyond his rage. Such pain makes his turn to the light even more potent, and now, as a fully-fledged anime fan who knows the source of his fury, I view him with new admiration.
Honourable mention: Natsuki Usami – tsuritama
Even though he hates his nickname “Fishing Prince”, we think he earned it in spades. He appears uptight and aloof, like his talent makes him too good for everyone else, but it’s only to protect a generous heart from harm. We want him to be our fishing teacher too!
Do any of our choices sweep you off your feet, or are you partial to a different prince entirely? Let us know in the comments – we want to hear about your favourites!