Just because they didn’t land the protagonist’s affections doesn’t mean they aren’t beloved by fans.

It doesn’t matter whether it’s a film, a videogame or a sports match: we love to cheer for an underdog, even if we know they’re doomed to fail. Sometimes their inevitable failure is even what draws us to the characters in question, which is definitely the case with “playground slide heroines” (suberidaikei hiroin). The term comes from an emotive scene in Mashiroiro Symphony, where all the rejected girls congregate around a playground slide to talk about their sadness in not winning the protagonist’s heart.

▼ The spurned cast of Mashiroiro Symphony gather around the slide while the “victor”, Miu, gets the guy

This is a common enough trope for there to be oodles of unrequited love interests, and in a poll run by otaku culture website Akiba Souken we can find out who is truly the monarch of melancholy, the heiress of heartache. The lowest entries are mainly interesting in how many of them are outstripped by number 27, a conglomerate entry for “everyone else”:

  • 34. Mitsuki Sonoda (Sakura Trick), 10 votes
  • 33. Ranko Saioji (Sankarea), 11 votes
  • 32. Kei Shindo (ef: a tale of memories), 12 votes
  • 31. Hikaru Hiyama (Kimagure Orange Road), 13 votes
  • 30. Manami Tamura (My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute), 15 votes
  • 29. Chiwa Harusaki (My Girlfriend and Childhood Friend Fight Too Much), 16 votes
  • 28. Zessica Wong (Aquarion EVOL), 18 votes
  • 27. Someone else, 27 votes
  • 26. Yozora Mikazuki (Boku wa Tomodachi ga Sukunai), 42 votes
  • 25. Mikiya Kokuto (The Garden of Sinners), 43 votes
  • 24. Kanae Sumida ((5 Centimeters per Second), 50 votes
  • 23. Ami Kawashima (Toradora!), 51 votes
  • 21. Sana Inui (Mashiroiro Symphony), 58 votes
  • 21. Mirage Farine Jenius (Macross Δ), 58 votes
  • 20. Aya Tojo (Ichigo 100%), 62 votes
  • 19. Lizbeth/Rika Shinozaki (Sword Art Online), 70 votes
  • 18. Naruko Anjou (Anohana: The Flower We Saw That Day), 75 votes
  • 17. Minori Kushieda (Toradora!), 87 votes
  • 16. Kanna Tanigawa (Waiting in the Summer), 113 votes
  • 15. Leafa/Suguha Kirigaya (Sword Art Online), 115 votes
  • 14. Ichigo (Darling in the Franxx), 121 votes
  • 13. Hazuki Kato (Sound! Euphonium), 127 votes (
  • 12. Ena Komiya (Just Because), 129 votes
  • 11. Hinagiku Katsura (Hayate the Combat Butler), 133 votes

Whew! Interestingly only one of the Mashiroiro Symphony girls made the list at all, despite being the origin of the cliche. As we enter the Top 10, we have the cream of the crush-spurned crop. The following descriptions contain spoilers, so be careful!

10. Akane Hino from Smile Precur (134 votes)

▼ Fiery Akane stays bright and upbeat no matter what

Smile Precure (also known as Glitter Force) is light-hearted children’s fare, with occasional moments of adolescent drama. In the show itself Cure Sunny a.k.a Akane develops a crush on a British exchange student, Brian, and the two share a dramatic farewell at the airport while swearing how much they like each other. Cute, right?

Well, in the follow-up novel set 10 years later Akane and Brian hook up in London for real and return to Japan together, but then she opens his laptop one night… Only to see he’s planning to ditch her, so he can become a lecturer back home in England. She tearfully confesses her love for him, but even she realizes at that point she doesn’t know him as a person at all.

9. Ayase Aragaki from My Little Sister Can’t Be This Cute (144 votes)

▼ Ayase’s moods span from kind and caring to clingy and over-protective

Ayase is the best friend of the titular little sister character Kirino, and dotes upon her endlessly. When she first meets Kirino’s brother Kyosuke she develops a crush on him right away, even defending him to Kirino’s other friends when a mix-up makes him look unsavory. Her feelings are understandably cool when she thinks Kyosuke is a little too close with his sister, but after everything is cleared up she confesses to him… And of course, in keeping with this trope, he turns her down.

Ayase is a little different to other girls in this category though – if you play the PSP game and navigate past the numerous bad endings, she can actually end up marrying Kyosuke and bearing a child with him.

8. Rem from Re: Zero Starting Life in Another World (167 votes)

▼ Rem works diligently as a maid, just like her twin sister Ram

Rem is a particularly complex case, because the person she falls in love with – Natsuki Subaru, the protagonist of the story – knows of her feelings and even reciprocates them. Though Subaru first falls for the pretty half-elf Emilia and becomes her betrothed, as their journey progresses and he becomes aware of Rem’s intense affection for him, he decides that he will ask Emilia if he can wed Rem as his second wife.

Sadly, before this can happen, Rem falls into an unbreakable coma at the hands of series antagonist Ley. Though Subaru continues to quest to save her, she is still in this state at the time of writing.

7. Teletha Testarossa from Full Metal Panic! (192 votes)

▼ You don’t need me to tell you she won’t hear any wedding bells, right?

Teletha has been one of Full Metal Panic!‘s definitive cast members since the first episode of the military drama-cum-comedy aired all the way back in 2002. She engages in a lot of physical comedy with her subordinate Sosuke, who she has a significant crush on. Sadly, he has a much deeper and stronger connection with her friend, Chidori. Though Sousuke and Teletha grow closer during the anime series, manga and light novels, to the point Sosuke even uses her preferred nickname of “Tessa”, when she confesses to him he tells her straight that he prefers Chidori.

It’s just as well, considering her father promised to throw Sosuke in a reactor if the two got up to any funny business.

6. Eriri Spencer Sawamura from Saekano: How To Raise A Boring Girlfriend (240 votes)

▼ The many madcap faces of Eriri

In Saekano the story revolves around Tomoya Aki, the producer, director and programmer of a high school dating game project where tsundere Eriri serves as the illustrator. The two were geeky friends back in middle school, and Tomoya was very much in love with her; but Eriri distanced herself from him, due to the bullying he inevitably attracted. In high school she still has difficulty admitting to her otaku nature, which might be why it takes so long for her to realizes her true feelings for Tomoya.

It’s too late, even so: he’s already moved on to the beautiful Megumi, who serves as the inspiration for his game’s heroine.

5. Kosaki Onodera from Nisekoi (257 votes)

▼ How could anyone turn down a girl this cute?

The premise of Nisekoi is great fun: the protagonist Raku has to pretend to be the doting boyfriend of mafia daughter Chitoge, so that their families don’t ignite a destructive gang war. Raku himself promised ten years ago to marry a girl with a specially made key that would open a locket he owns to this day, which complicates the plan.

It turns out that Chitoge did have the key to Raku’s locket as a child, but upon seeing how well Kosaki and Raku got along back then, decided to give it to Kosaki so they would get married. As high school students, Raku comes to the difficult decision that he really does like Chitoge better, and they decide to date for real. Poor Kosaki manages to confess her feelings to Raku eventually, but it still doesn’t come to anything.

4. Miuna Shiodome from Nagi no Asu kara (281 votes)

▼ Miuna looks longingly at Hikari

Shy and reclusive Miuna suffers a lot of heartbreak in the series, losing her mother from an early age as well as coming to terms with her burgeoning feelings for the ocean-dweller protagonist Hikari. Alas, it’s not to be: he prefers another girl their age, Manaka, which Miuna ultimately accepts. As the series wears on she even works hard to ensure the two of them get together.

Hikari is technically Miuna’s step-uncle as he’s her step-mother’s brother, so it’s actually somewhat of a relief it didn’t work out.

3. Ling Ming-mei/Lynn Minmay from Super Dimension Fortress Macross (309 votes)

▼ The girl who ended a war by singing

Ling Ming-mei starts the Macross series as your average teenage girl, with a mutual fondness for protagonist Hikaru. As the series progresses, her singing and idol activities make her more and more important to morale during the war, and due to her increasing celebrity status she can no longer stay close to Hikaru, who cosies up with officer Misa Hayase. When they try to live together as a normal couple Minmay realizes she and Hikaru have become different people, and supports Hikaru’s romance with Misa instead.

2. Tsubasa Hanekawa from Bakemonogatari (381 votes)

▼ Tsubasa has a dramatic breakdown scene that’s famous throughout the net

Bakemonogatari does not bill itself as a romance series, but nonetheless there are tangled webs of desire woven around the protagonist Koyomi. One such character is Tsubasa Hanekawa, a seemingly perfect girl with a cheery disposition, perfect grades and model-standard looks. But Koyomi is one of the few people who know that Tsubasa is much more complicated than her facade lets on, including about her dangerous alter-ego “Black Hanekawa”.

When she finally lets him know how she feels he rejects her swiftly, resulting in one of the most iconic and dramatic scenes of grief animation has to offer.

So who is the number one among defeated heroines?

Fans of Macross will probably be unsurprised to learn that fans voted this chipper girl as top spot.

1. Ranka Lee from Macross Frontier (834 votes)

▼ Ranka strikes her famous pose

Ranka Lee is such an iconic character at this point that she’s even had a Vocaloid made in her image, using her voice actress as the basis. Her story is inspirational; moved by the high-quality performances of famous idol Sheryl Nome, she works hard to transcend her waitress origins and become an idol herself. She ends up in a love triangle with Sheryl over the affections of protagonist Alto, who she even meets en route to their concert! Sadly, Alto rejects her when she confesses.

Still, while Sheryl may have won Alto, Ranka is definitely the most popular character – she’s even become the face of Macross for recent generations. The amount of votes she garnered is especially impressive; more than double the girl who came second place!

Who is your favorite downcast heroine? Let us know in the comments!

Source Akiba Souken via Otakomu
Featured image: Twitter/@chitolon