He woke up ambiguously. “Hmm,” he seemed to say as he looked warily around him. Time for another day of swords or drugs or making business, whatever his job was.
-Mallory Ortberg, “A Day in the Live of a Troubled Male Antihero“
The troubled male antihero is aloof and bitter. He hurts people but that just makes him complicated. He’s angry, he’s the idol of his male friends, and as much as he hurts women, they can’t help but love him for how dark and idiosyncratic he is. The troubled male antihero is supposed to be “cool,” the epitome of man in grungy form. However, Hikari is anything but cool. He carries much of these traits – constantly bitter and angry, regularly taking it out on his friends, male and female. He puts on a show of toughness, the alpha male of the kids of Shioshishio. Yet, he’s not all that complex, and he’s not particularly admired. Hikari is so transparently weak, the women in his life to want to protect him, instead of fawn over him. Rather than a perceptive control over his circumstances, Hikari faces constant futility. As his friends change, as his way of life intersects with another, his weakness is revealed and subsequently poorly masked by internalized patriarchal norms of what it means to be a man. Hikari’s macho disposition in Nagi no Asukara is not the qualities of a hero, but just a masculine veil for his adolescent anxieties.