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When a Middle School Teacher Bonds with Her Student Over Otome Games

By Weilin Li
Oct. 27, 2022 updated 02:05

Romantic games and comics that target a female audience often draw unnecessary criticism in Asian countries. Young girls chasing romantic fantasies are often judged as having "parental issues", being"air-headed" or just bluntly "lustful", making fans of the genre unable to openly express and discuss their passion over this type of entertainment.

However, as many people born in the 1980s and 1990s became new teachers and parents in China, their participation in and familiarity with Anime culture made society more tolerant of adolescents playing video games.

A middle school girl in Zhejiang in eastern China faced this type of unpleasant experience and embarrassment. She wrote about her feelings and emotions in a homework essay and delivered it to the teacher she trusted.

A game poster about For All Time and its character AynA game poster about For All Time and its character Ayn

"I have a trickle of love for a paper man, am I sick?" The girl wrote.

Then, she mentioned For All Time, a popular Otome game featuring Ayn, developed by NetEase, and her affection for them.

"For All Time said, the world needs women's voices. Ayn said, I need you. This feeling of being needed and affirmed is brilliant. Even if it is NetEase's gimmick to make money, I feel happy."

Then, she continued: "Sometimes it’s unavoidable that I am hurt by some comments: Otome game players are ugly and fat girls, playing Otome games is due to insufficient love... These words were so harsh..."

Faced with the girl’s inner struggle, the teacher introduced her student to the popular fan group called "Female Players Association" on Douban. The teacher herself is a fan of RPGs and Action Games but knows little about Otome games.

A screenshot of the teacher’s post on the Female Players Association on Douban.A screenshot of the teacher’s post on the Female Players Association on Douban.

This is a girl with good grades, some content of the essay made me feel heartbroken”, the teacher wrote. Fans in the community helped her analyze the situation and gave some useful suggestions.

Fans on Douban left suggestions for the teacherFans on Douban left suggestions for the teacher

In the end, the teacher replied to the student after getting some direction from the players. The letter has been edited for length and clarity.

"Your article reminds me of a book by Kundera called "Life is Elsewhere". Of course, the book is basically not related to the Otome game, but in fact, the thought of whether people are living a life that they really want is consistent with your reasons for loving the Otome game.

There's no shame in living elsewhere, like you said, what people are seeking in Anime characters is eternal love. It is human instinct to seek constancy in a changing world, and it is not shameful…

Nevertheless, we'd better be rational. As you said, the character design is kind of a gimmick of game companies to make money while satisfying our psychological needs. Ayn is precious, but behind the characters, many plans, texts, and the capital are intertwined...

In any case, love is not a sin. As long as you don't persistently hurt others in the name of love… I hope that this love for the Otome game and the characters will not affect your study and life. You are a careful student. If you keep it up, you will have a bright future. "