Androgyny is something that comes with the territory of anime’s current style of art. Sometimes it’s just too damn difficult to tell whether a character is male or female. Males who can pass for girls are known as “traps,” and bishounen characters seem to be getting more feminine every year. Unfortunately, “reverse traps” are much rarer and a little harder to categorize. For the most part, reverse traps are girls who have at least two of these characteristics: she can be mistaken for a guy (and possibly pretend to be one), she dresses like a guy for one reason or another, and/or she possesses personality traits stereotypically exhibited by guys.
There’s a lot of gray area when dealing with reverse traps, but they’re still my favorite archetype of girl in anime. In terms of personality, I think they have a lot to offer in terms of complexity, often combining traits from your typical male and female characters. They naturally have a lot of potential for interesting character development because of the duality of characteristics (ranging from boldly independent to helpless damsel). With reverse traps, it’s all the fun of a tomboy, but dressed in dapper men’s apparel. They’re definitely a welcome change from the much more engrained anime archetypes out there, and every anime series could benefit from more reverse traps (completely biased opinion).
I’m mostly rating on how much I like the character, not really so much how well said characters fit the supposed reverse trap archetype. I also decided to include the names of the seiyuu because I think they deserve credit for making the characters as awesome as they are.
#5. Haruhi Fujioka – Ouran Koukou Host Club (CV: Maaya Sakamoto)
“Being a host and getting fussed over by a bunch of girls might not be that bad. I wonder how I can pull it off. I’ve got it! I’ll just call everyone ‘dude’ and ‘bro,’ now.”
Coming in at number 5 is probably the most well-known reverse trap in anime. Haruhi Fujioka was forced to cut her hair after a kid got gum stuck in it, and she doesn’t really care for how she looks. After accidentally breaking an expensive vase in the Ouran Host clubroom, she is employed as one of their male hosts to pay it off. Her sarcasm is as sharp as a tack, and she possesses quite a low tolerance for stupidity (abundant in the host club).
Haruhi’s also one of the few girls at the school who doesn’t immediately get entranced with the male host club members. Due to her humble (poor) background though, she is easily enticed by high-class foods like fancy tuna. Haruhi’s host type is the “Natural”-type, and she easily passes for a pretty boy, quickly developing a fanbase amongst the female students of Ouran High School.
#4. Subaru Konoe – Mayo Chiki! (CV: Yuka Iguchi)
“I’ll finish you off with my final, sure-kill move! I call it ‘End of Earth’!”
Number 4 on this list also has to pass herself off as a guy, but for a slightly different reason. Subaru Konoe’s family has had a tradition of only having male butlers serving the Suzutsuki family, and she greatly wished to be butler to protect her master, Kanade Suzutsuki. Subaru was only allowed to be a butler under the circumstance that she disguised herself as a male and that no one can discover her true gender.
Despite her serious outward personality (and her popularity with the girls at school), Subaru actually has quite the gentle feminine and childish side. She goes crazy over those slightly creepy “Lost Sheep” plush dolls, gets easily embarrassed, and she even names her super butler attacks. I also think Subaru is the only girl on this list that actually has long hair, though she only lets it down when she switches her identity.
#3. Makoto Kikuchi – The iDOLM@STER (CV: Hiromi Hirata)
“Can I go in with a skirt today? I think a prince with a skirt would be pretty original!”
In the number 3 spot, we have a girl that was raised as a son by her father. Understandably, Makoto Kikuchi grew up to be a bit strange. In the hopes of getting to wear cute, frilly dresses and being more girly, Makoto decides she wants to be an idol. Much to her dismay, she ends up being marketed as the “Prince” idol and is often subjected to wearing tuxedos. To this effect, she has a large female fanbase.
Makoto’s guilty pleasure is reading shoujo manga, and she fantasizes about the day when a handsome prince will someday show up to sweep her off her feet. Ironically, it’s Makoto who typically plays the role of the prince throughout the series. She’s able to ward off the Yakuza, and she even comes to the rescue when a couple of girls are being harassed. Despite being the “Ouji-sama” idol, she still manages to be best friends with the androphobic Yukiho.
#2. Kino – Kino no Tabi (CV: Ai Maeda)
“If I was asked, ‘Why do you go on journeys?’ I would answer, ‘I go on journeys because I’m a traveler’.”
Let me start off by saying that number 2 on this list is a complete badass. Kino travels the world with her talking motorrad, Hermes, and she has a self-imposed rule of never staying in one place for more than three days. She wields two handguns, one named “Cannon” and the other “Mori no Hito,” and she definitely is not afraid to use them if she feels threatened. Her morning routine everyday is quick-draw practice, and she is also very proficient with the hunting knives that she conceals in her large trench coat.
Kino’s passion is traveling the world for different experiences. She tries her best not to get involved, physically or emotionally, with those she meets even if it means watching people kill each other. Because of her mentality, she can come off as cold and emotionless.
#1. Naoto Shirogane – Persona 4 The Animation (CV: Romi Paku)
“Are you a pack of imbeciles?”
My number 1 pick is the most obvious thing ever for anyone who knows me. Naoto Shirogane combines all the traits from the other girls on this list. She grew up reading detective novels and building a plethora of secret agent tools, in hopes of becoming a super detective like her predecessors. The reason why she decides to disguise herself as a boy is to get more respect in the law enforcement field. Naoto is good at what she does (even getting the nickname the “Detective Prince”), but being a female hurts her job opportunities in a male-dominated field.
She typically tries to maintain a professional persona (haha), but easily breaks character when flustered. Naoto eventually accepts the reality of her gender after facing her shadow and even decides that she wants to be more feminine, after meeting the protagonist.
In battle, she wields handguns and makes use of unique Hama (light) and Mudo (dark) skills with her Persona, Sukuna-Hikona. Interestingly, Naoto is the only person in the game who has a Persona that is the opposite gender. Needless to say, she’s always in my party in Persona 4, and my main character in Persona 4 Arena. She’s a badass with an awesome character design, a rather complex personality, and her fair share of moé moments as well. I think it’s easy to see why Naoto is my favorite character in any medium of all time, and of course the best reverse trap of all time.
Thanks for listening to me fanboy all over the place, and now I must ask: who are your favorite reverse traps?
Tsugumi Seishirou (Nisekoi) - Okay, so she’s from a manga (EDIT: but soon to be anime!), but I had to add her to the list because she’s just that damn awesome. An ex-mercenary who has devoted herself to protect Chitoge, Tsugumi’s as ruthless as they come. She’s a skilled sharpshooter and even regularly carries guns to school. Of course, her one weakness happens to be Raku. The crush she develops and the frequency in which she gets flustered kind of balances out (yet at the same time amplifies) her initial violent demeanor towards him. Also, gotta love the ribbons she always wears.
Haruka Tenou (Sailor Moon) - I never got far enough in the Sailor Moon series to meet her, but I can tell that I would like her a lot as a character. The idea of a reverse trap magical girl just sounds too cool!