Amano Erika has the makings of a selfish himedere character, but she has the generous heart of a true deredere and Best Girl.
A Couple of Cuckoos is a charming new rom-com title in the Spring 2022 anime season, starring the protagonists Umino Nagi and Amano Erika in an amusing baby-swap scenario. Their parents mixed them up after they were born at the same hospital, so they were thus raised by each other’s parents — and they each grew up quite differently, as Amano Erika can attest.
Erika’s foster parents live in wealth and own a series of hotels, meaning Erika grew up in luxury and comfort, getting everything she ever wanted. She is also rather vain and found much success as a beloved Instagram model, and all this means she could have ended up as a himedere or wannabe princess. But she didn’t, and that makes all the difference.
In broad strokes, Amano Erika really does resemble the himedere archetype, but so far in A Couple of Cuckoos, Erika has distanced herself from this archetype’s worst aspects, and that makes her character far more likable while still being compelling as the local rich girl. Erika’s life has been rather easy so far thanks to her cozy lifestyle, and that only gives her a minor challenge to overcome, which can benefit her character arc greatly. Erika has to learn to stand on her own as a responsible young woman who is expected to marry Nagi and form a stable household with him, and a pure himedere would struggle with that. However, as a likable himedere-lite, Erika can adapt to this challenge over time and grow as a person. She is far from a lost cause, contrasting sharply with true himederes.
The core himedere traits make such a character a poor fit for a TONIKAWA-style scenario with Nagi in that house. True himederes love authority and control, and they enjoy bossing other people around and making all the decisions. While assertive and powerful women can be inspiring or empowering to watch, himederes take this to a juvenile and shallow extreme, and fortunately, Erika falls short of that. She’s used to telling butlers and assistants what to do, but she’s hardly a spoiled princess about it.
Himedere characters also tend to have a painful backstory involving abandonment, control issues or insecurities, such as a beloved parent leaving the family, and this can cause deep mental scars that warp the himedere’s personality. An example is the himedere chef Nakiri Erina in Food Wars!, whose himedere attitude partially stems from her mother Mana fleeing the family one tragic afternoon. Amano Erika has no such tragic backstory, meaning she can focus on the present instead and work toward the future. Himederes might be stuck in the past, but not Erika. She is ready for whatever may come, including meeting that person who she wants to impress on social media.
While Erika does have some himedere traits, such as vanity about her appearance and having an upper-class background, she distanced herself from the archetype’s worst traits and replaced them with wholesome deredere traits instead. If she’s not a pure himedere, then she must be something else, and Erika delivers. Notably, Erika is quite compassionate, generous and cheerful as a himedere-lite — a good-hearted girl who often puts the needs of others first. She’s not a perfect saint like Fruits Basket‘s Honda Tohru, but given her comfortable, sheltered background, Erika comes impressively close. Clearly, her good nature comes from inside rather than being inspired by hardship and personal woes. She didn’t need a personal tragedy to inspire her to add hope to the world.
There are a few examples of Erika’s deredere side at work. One of them includes Erika’s strong desire to reconnect with her estranged biological sister Sachi and make her happy. A true himedere would push Sachi away as a low-class girl, but not Erika. She was nervous about this at first, but Erika soon found the courage to embrace her family and warmly accept Sachi into her life unconditionally. The two sisters even made a commemorative photo gallery to that effect, complete with decorations.
Moreover, despite her engagement to Nagi, Erika works hard to support Nagi’s competitive potential romance with Segawa Hiro, including volunteering as a magical girl to serve as Nagi’s #1 wingman, so to speak. No selfish himedere would ever do that — such a character would laugh at Nagi, but Erika is different. Nagi’s happiness is her happiness, and her generous actions reflect that. Nagi and Sachi both owe her a lot by now.
Louis Kemner has been a fan of Japanese animation since 1997, when he discovered Pokemon and Dragon Ball Z in elementary school. Now he’s a bigger anime/manga fan than ever, and is ready to share what he knows with readers worldwide. He graduated high school in 2009 and received his Bachelor’s in creative writing from UMKC in 2013, then put his skills to work in 2019 with CBR.com. He’s always looking for a wonderful new anime to watch or manga series to read.