It’s Okay to Be a Tomoyo

I recently posted a wonderful illustration of Link in casual Breath of the Wild clothing on our Instagram account, along with this question: “If you were dropped into an epic story, The Legend of __________, would you be the hero, the villain, a supporting character, or a NPC?” While a good number selected the villain, just as many or more picked the “supporting character.” I’m not at all surprised—that would be my selection, too.

I realize these days that I’m very attracted to that supporting character role (most of my favorite anime characters fit that description) and especially to those that are best friends to the protagonists, like Tomoyo from Cardcaptor Sakura. Again, especially on a superficial level, I see a lot of myself in characters like her. As with Tomoyo, who is left completely breathless while trailing behind Syaoran and Sakura when chasing after a card, I don’t have heroic characteristics. I’m not especially tall, strong, handsome, wise, or charismatic. And for all the basketball I play and running I try to do, I’m no athlete.

She may not be able to keep up while running with Sakura and Syaoran, but Tomoyo has other admirable attributes

Because they’re relegated to second-place, because they’re not as important to the story’s plot, these characters don’t get to have the good stuff come their way. They don’t get the boy or the girl, for instance—something I was thinking when seeing Tomoyo interact with Syaoran in a recent episode of the Clear Card Arc (though that’s why we have fan fiction, right?). They also don’t get the glory, usually sitting on the sidelines during the most important conflicts (Tomoyo often misses even the minor ones!).

As a real life supporting character, I sometimes feel envious of those protagonist types. But I’m also reminded that the “hero” doesn’t always have it good, either. They get tossed around and beaten up and usually defeated more than once before they succeed. And on this side of the screen, they face challenges, too, some that are different from those I encounter and some that are the same. My co-administrator on our Instagram account, for instance, is someone I’ve mentored for years in real life—she’s pretty, kind, smart, talented, energetic, athletic, musical, artsy, even a good gamer, but she has just as many obstacles in the way of her personal growth as I do. Life is just as hard.

And the more I think about what a best friend type of character is, the more I’m eager to be that, to be someone who supports and challenges and loves, who is humble enough to step into the background, yet strong enough to be there when it’s needed.

This isn’t to say that I wouldn’t rather be a Sakura—but I’m finding myself more and more satisfied in being a Tomoyo. After all, there are fewer things better in life than having a best friend—and in being one.

featured illustration by IMJAYU | reprinted w/permission

16 thoughts on “It’s Okay to Be a Tomoyo

  1. In the movie the Imitation Game, a movie about how the British invented a proto computer to crack the German code created by Enigma. The main character is played by Benedict Cumberbatch is an autistic codebreaker that eventually able to invent a way to read German messages which shortens the war by 3years.He becomes part of a think tank to crack the german code Enigma. His fellow translators consider him intractable and difficult to work with and his computer scheme is looked at as both dubious and expensive by the government. However it’s a flashback scene to his childhood friend who got him started on making and translating codes for fun that was the pivotal moment in his life. He was teased and treated badly by kids until he was befriended by a kid who offered him a book on codes. His childhood friend died within a couple of years, leaving him mostly alone to navigate life. I always wanted to be that character that sees in others and who by my friendship I might be pivotal to the story even if I’m not the main character and I enter upon the stage for only a brief moment.

      1. What a great scene! I remember this movie making the Oscar rounds, but never got around to seeing it. Thanks for sharing. 🙂

      1. I’m not sure that has much to do with being a pivotal supporting character…….

        Alan Turings friend Christopher wasn’t indicated as gay so I don’t see the parallel.

  2. I know exactly hat you mean (I also prefer supporting characters). However, I feel like there’s also a certain freedom that comes with not being the lead. They don’t have to be quite as relatable and can afford to show some eccentricities – take some risks with their personalities. Fan favorites are very rarely main characters.
    I, myself am an extra. Like a nameless background cashier you see for a few seconds in a single episode. I’ve made my peace with it.

    1. Haha, well that’s another possibility! The background character or NPC, or the antagonist, or some other character, and there’s goodness there, too. Thank you for sharing. 🙂

  3. I wonder why there was no option to be Zelda/the love interest in that poll. Love interests are supporting characters, true, but they tend to play pivotal and unique roles in the plot regardless that slightly differ from that of Tomoyo. See: Syaoran. Also, Zelda is easily the most complex character in all of Breath of the Wild. I could be seen as taking that position in most of the relationships I am in, as I often act as a completely unintentional (and very much alive) “manic pixie dream girl.” Last time I checked, I don’t expect to come down with Generic Hot Lady Disease. 😛 And I’m not even saying this out of having an ego or anything. At least two separate people have straight up said “You give my life meaning” to me in moments of duress, and one implied it. I’ve got….something, but I’d be damned if I know what it is. I also know at least one person of extraordinary skill and merit, but this person is most likely either the villain of the story….or its Arsene Lupin, but as a supporting character. XD If you’re wondering how the heck you can be both, welllll it’s a long story. I also know a “hero” as an acquaintance, but not as a love interest.

    On the other hand, I’m probably more like Tomoyo in your average anime, rather than in an epic. A perpetual, helpful, supportive presence that keeps the other characters from falling apart. I’m not brilliant on a whole lot (besides being phenomenal at writing), but I keep the gears greased. :]

    1. I’m not at all surprised that you affect people in such a way—you’re very thoughtful and, at least through writing, come across as one who seriously considers what other people are thinking and feeling, and spends time and effort to involve yourself in others’ lives. That’s a rare quality, and one that we all would like to see in our intimate friends.

      As for your question, the answer is simple: the questions was more generic and less Zelda-focused. Unfortunately, if I mention the princess role, it still comes across mostly as a damsel in distress, and I didn’t want that to be a focus of the answers on the post. I was looking for specific feedback regarding whether people felt they were the “stars” of their own lives, or side characters.

  4. I definitely don’t feel like the star of my life, or at least…not its hero. My best friend is definitely “the hero,” though, of her own life. And often mine. :} <3

    Yet….that feels….deliberate, on my part, so I'm not sure I'm in much of a position to judge my actual status. I'm not phenomenally proactive. Energetic….but not proactive. I don't necessarily possess the practical and level-headed qualities of a leader. I feel like I'm having the most *fun* when I'm taking somebody else on a wild ride into joyous creative activity and excitement (i.e. writing and Roleplaying). In a crisis, like a legend, I'd instantly gravitate to a supporting role, trying to nudge the obvious leaders towards a good solution. Become cautious. Nervous.

    I feel the most peace in my soul, when I'm looking up at someone in particular with adoration. When I'm worshipping not by bowing on the ground but because my every breath, every movement, betrays how badly I want to be close to him. How pulled I am toward him and wherever he is, like an opposing magnet. When you're spiritual, when you have that love for someone, you always kind of feel like a supporting character next to that intensity and singularity of intent and purpose. The hero and the villain are too absurdly intense for you to look like anything other than a tiny awkward child next to them, or even an ant.

    I imagine you've got a lot of that too, for the Messiah. Although we all kind of wish we were glorious, too.

Leave a Reply