A million years ago, I wrote a post about my favorite fraternal twins in anime and manga because I could. Well, because I’m a fraternal twin myself and representation is always fun, when it’s done right. During my duration of writing that blog post, I got bogged down with a lot of… well, for lack of a better word, shitty twin troupes.
The majority of these troupes were for identical twins, rather then fraternal twins. Considering a grand majority of people I’ve met in my life don’t know the difference, or care to learn, it’s safe to say these are applied to twins liberally all variations included. These troupes, mostly for worse, have leaked into popular media, especially in anime and manga back in the day.
I felt a chunk of my soul die when reading plot synopses and twin story-lines and even watching certain series made me roll my eyes because…
It shouldn’t be that hard to write a decent set of twins. Yet, I am continually shocked in the worst sort of ways about how badly twins are written in anime and manga. That’s not to say Western media (TV shows, comics, etc) are off scott-free, but it’s easier to do a critique when you’re more familiar with examples.
So I’m here to say; we as a society, have progressed past the need for the following twin troupes. Or as I’m going to refer to them now, twin sins, because it’s catchy and fun. Come join me as I break down the ugly, with references to the guilty parties and my feelings on the subject. Ranty? Potentially. Fun? For me at least!
Twin Sin #1; Identical Twins acting, feeling, and designed exactly the same. Sin is committed in Ouran High School Host Club, Tsurune, and many more.
I don’t know how often I need to reiterate this but here it goes; just because they are identical does not mean they are the same person. Identical twins, share the same genetic code meaning they look the same. That does not mean they have the same habits, hobbies, beliefs, etc. They are two different people who happen to share the same DNA.
If you’ve ever met identical twins more then once, at some point one or the other has done, said, acted in a manner different from their twin and makes them a distinct human being. Reducing it to ‘lol special bond, they must act exactly the same!!’ is dehumanizing. Stop that shit. If you want the exact same character twice, just make them clones. Literally. That’s more accurate and would be more interesting then poorly written identical twins.
Twin Sin #2: Fraternal twins swapping places for whatever god forsaken reason. Sin committed Kenka Banchou Otome: Girl Beats Boys, and Maria Holic.
This is just… not going to happen people. I can not think, as a female twin, why on earth I would ever change places with my brother for one. That just sounds like a losing battle and most girls are smarter then that. Because let me tell you; I look nothing like him. Fraternal twins literally are two separate eggs that got fertilized at the same time. They don’t share genetic DNA the way identical twins do.
For example, my brother and I look nothing alike. Natural fraternal twins never do. I have blue eyes, his are green. I am 163cm (5’4ft) he is 182cm (6’2ft). That was a clear fact from sophomore year of high school forward. So when I see literally the same character, just one with long hair and boobs and the other with short hair and no boobs and they are fraternal twins, allegedly; that’s not only bad and lazy character design, but poor research! On top of it all, the improbability of these events occurring and being pulled off for longer then a few months, is just stupid!
I can concede that fraternal twins can be the same gender, and can look strikingly similar. This does not mean identical. You are either identical twins, i.e. same egg split, fraternal i.e. two different eggs, typically. (There are some other variations that are incredibly rare but I want to keep this relatively simple and brief.) Their similarities have a slim to no chance of being close enough to pass the way anime and manga makes it out to be. They should be two separate people, with two separate personalities and two separate character designs dammit!
Twin Sin #3: Twins competing with each other. Sin committed in Baka to Test to Shoukanjuu.
This one I’m not as mad at as other ones. Sibling rivalry is a common theme in media. Having twins with it could be interesting if the story was written well enough to support it. More often then not it’s written as plain envy, not really showcasing that a variety of factors can cause twins to ‘compete’ with one another. Given the characterization of twins, you can imagine a story with this as a theme rarely gets executed well. I’m open to this if it has good execution, but I haven’t seen it happen yet.
And last, but certainly most prevalent and most likely to make me barf at the mere mention is Twin Sin #4; twins of any variety falling in love with, having sex or otherwise engaging in a sexual/romantic relationship of any level.
Just writing that out made me want to puke…. And dear god, there are so many goddamn series that fall under this but for reference, Yosuga no Sora: In Soliteude, Where Are Least Alone, Onegai Twins (Please Twins), Revolutionary Girl Utena, and Durarara.
No pictures because I would like to attempt to keep my sanity~
Do I really need to explain why this is problematic, wrong and otherwise morally repugnant and I don’t want it in main stream media of any sort? For my regular readers, normal people who know right and wrong, probably not. For the amount of times (twice and then I kept it to myself) I made the mistake of saying I was a twin at an anime convention only to be told “OMG TWINCEST IS WINCEST!!” to my face; I’m gonna lay it out dudes.
It’s just incest. It’s that simple. You’re romanticizing incest. Try as you might to cover it up with the word ‘twincest’ (gag), I’m genuinely surprised that word hasn’t taken off as a top search on porn sites.
That being said, there’s no justification for it. It’s never been used in any series, that it contributed to the story or characters in any meaningful manner. You can write damaged or incredibly toxic characters without incest. All this sin does is feed into incest porn, and idiotic exchanges like I mentioned before. Just say you get off to incest and go. That’s easier then trying to justify your position of ‘well it’s only anime…’, ‘well their character has…’ get off this blog. You’re not welcome here.
That was incredibly long rant for the fourth sin, and I won’t apologize for it. However, rather then just ranting about badly written twin sins I thought it would be fun to introduce ideas I would like to see explored more. Ideas that I’ve seen in previous series that would actually be interesting to explore more in depth as a main point.
This first concept being the twinless twin, a theme explored between Subaru and Hokuto Sumeragi in X/1999 and in latter chapters of Vampire Knight with Zero and Ichiru. There’s a lot of different directions this theme can take. Twinless twin refers to when one twin has died and this can be at any point of life.
While this theme is incredibly saddening, this concept could be used within anime and manga period pieces to make a really riveting story, if it was researched and executed correctly. The practice of infanticide, especially with twins, was incredibly common in Japan since they were considered a bad omen. The direction of psychological changes and developments of a character, especially with a death of someone close to you would be a worthwhile and interesting dynamic to explore. (Some references to infanticide in regards to twins are here, here and here.)
Something that would be less brutal, and something even I don’t know too much about would be conjoined twins. An example of this being buried way far back in my memories is Sakon and Ukon from Naruto. That’s a completely different set of twin dynamics and struggles that are incredibly under-represented that could be something for authors looking for a challenge to explore.
Lastly, would be twins that were intentionally separated from one another. Another would be twins who have completely different personalities despite their shared experiances. For example in Trigun, Vash and Million Knives are two incredibly distinct individuals with their own unique motivations and interests. They went through the same trauma, share the same DNA, and yet have two completely different outcomes. Having them be twins really showcases a commentary on nature verses nurture, but in a much more intense manner then just the older brother/younger brother troupe.
Of course, I do have other ideas to be explored, but those three were ones that already have some history of existing in anime and manga just not to their full potential. If you’ve managed to read this far, and not get utterly bored with my ranting, thank you! I hope you found this at least mildly interesting to read.
If you’re a twin, of any sort, I would love to hear other ‘twin sins’ you’re tired of or your opinions. I just don’t know if any of my readers out there are twins. Even if you aren’t a twin, I’d love to hear your thoughts and opinions about twin characters in a series or any recommendations for stories with twins that you think I should give a shot, any medium (anime, manga, books, movies, etc) I would love to hear them. As always, thank you for reading and I’ll see you next post!