It’s been standard protocol for yuri series for a long time now.
Inevitably, the female protagonist becomes interested in or attracts the interest of another girl, which usually leads to a lot of sexual drama and tension since controversy sells.
Meanwhile, the protagonist’s best friend, who may or may not have feelings for the protagonist, suffers in silence because she only wants her beloved to be happy – even if that means the protagonist ends up with someone else.
The fact that the best friend often ends up acting like some noble heroine by attempting to ignore and dismiss her love for the protagonist always struck me as being very intriguing (and often times the best friends proves to be more interesting than the actual protagonist and/or main love interest to me, at least). These losers in love are whom I call the tragic best friends.
Let’s list some examples, shall we?
Personally, even though I don’t particularly like Citrus, Taniguchi Harumi is the first girl whom comes to mind when I think of the tragic best friend. Setting aside one particular arc in which family issues crop up, Harumi is always supportive of Yuzu even though the two of them do occasionally butt heads.
However, another girl who happens to be good at reading and manipulating people guesses that Harumi might actually like Yuzu romantically yet won’t actually pursue Yuzu since she’s afraid of being hurt. As such, Harumi stays on the sidelines as Yuzu’s close friend as Yuzu chases after a very emotionally stunted girl who happens to be Yuzu’s step-sister. At least Harumi gets some ship tease with aforementioned manipulative girl (in the manga), I suppose.
Now, this requires some reading between the lines plus Sei isn’t the protagonist of Maria-sama ga Miteru, but I always felt like Youko held some one-sided feelings for Sei. Admittedly, all I have to support my claims is just subtext, but for what it’s worth the Marimite wiki also supports this line of thinking. Unfortunately, there’s also no cited sources regarding volumes or episodes to concretely back-up Youko’s unrequited love.
My memory of Strawberry Panic! is a bit shaky since I only watched it once many years ago (thanks go to Umedyn for bringing up this yuri classic), but Tamao happens to be the roommate of Nagisa, the protagonist whom Tamao loves according to a plethora of hints plastered throughout the series. Unfortunately for Tamao, she loses her best friend to the mysterious and melodramatic Shizuma.
But she sure went down like a valiant and tragic best friend by pushing Nagisa towards the older woman with many issues. Tamao deserves a lot of respect for at least that. You’ve gotta give it up for such a selfless best friend.
Beatrice isn’t the best friend of Ange, who more or less is the primary protagonist in Princess Principal, to be fair. But Beatrice truly loves Charlotte and likely considers the princess as her best friend. Possibly even more! Be that as it may, Charlotte and Ange share an even closer bond.
Fear not: Beatrice becomes very very close with Dorothy. I’m actually way more invested in their potential relationship, to be honest!
Shouko from Happy Sugar Life is a bit too clingy towards Satou to be merely platonic best friends, in my opinion. Some manga spoilers also make things even more ambiguous. However, maybe I’m reading too much into this.
It’s not restricted to just yuri series, to be honest. In Cardcaptor Sakura, Tomoyo really really likes Sakura. Don’t forget about Midori who struggles admitting her strong feelings for Tamako in Tamako Market. The list can go on and on…
Being a female best friend to another girl sure seems like a difficult character role. But maybe I’m overthinking things again.
What are your thoughts on the tragic best friend? Is there even such a thing? I’d love to hear your thoughts!