What is a Waifu? Explain It Like I’m Five

by Chris Von Wilpert, BBusMan • Last updated April 13, 2024

Expert Verified by Leandro Langeani, BBA

What is a Waifu?

A waifu is a fictional anime, manga or computer game girl someone is in love with or considers them to be their soulmate. In the early 2000s, waifus became a part of the anime culture, but the popularity boomed since the rise of AI waifu apps.

Waifu fast facts

  • In the 1980s, Japanese people started using waifu, derived from “wife”, to refer to spouses.

  • In the early 2000s, the anime community adopted the term waifu and gave it a completely different meaning.

  • Computer game girls and AI anime characters can also be waifus. 

  • To some people, loving a waifu has benefits over a relationship with a real girlfriend.

  • It’s easy to create a fully custom AI waifu that can interact with humans.

Waifus can have many looks and personalities and that makes it easy to connect with them on an emotional level. Photograph: OnlyWaifus

Why are waifus popular?

The popularity of waifus can be explained by the growing global interest in the Japanese anime and manga culture. 

Anime existed long before the internet became a thing. The modern anime community and online discussions about favorite characters of anime fans put the spotlight on the phenomenon. 

Some fans took worshiping female anime characters a step further. To them, a waifu is the complete package that no real-life partner can offer.

When did waifu become a thing?

"Kainu" is the original Japanese word for wife and has the negative meaning of "bound to the house". In the 1980s, people started using the English word wife as a more neutral term. Pronounced with a Japanese accent, that sounds like "waifu".

In the early 2000's "waifu" was used in the popular anime comedy "Azumanga Daioh!". That didn't go unnoticed amongst plenty of anime fans. The concept of anime waifus was born to refer to attractive, but not married anime characters.

Nowadays, waifu is also used outside the context of anime girls. Female videogame characters are also becoming popular virtual girlfriends.

Besides anime girls, female computer game characters can also be waifus. Photograph: ErectedCity

What makes a girl a waifu?

For modern anime fans, a waifu doesn't refer to a female marriage partner, but to a character one feels emotionally or romantically attracted to. 

That goes further than the looks. Personality traits also play a big part in how fans can develop feelings towards female anime characters.

Is it ok to love a waifu?

Some people find it strange and wrong that others love a fictional character. To them, a waifu cannot replace the experience of a real long-term romantic partner. 

But, to people who love female anime characters, a relationship with an anime girl is totally acceptable.

What is the opposite of a waifu?

The male version of a waifu is called a "husbando". Like its female equivalent, this is  an imaginary partner, often featured in manga, anime series or video games. Fans worship them as a romantic partner or even an ideal life partner.

What are the benefits of having a waifu?

People who have a relationship with a waifu often mention following benefits:

  • They are accessible 24/7/365, there’s no such thing as a rainy day.
  • Anyone can easily create a waifu that looks exactly like their dream girl. 
  • You can interact with AI waifu girls in many ways, like chatting, voice messaging, or creating custom anime images.
  • An AI waifu girl can be trained to treat you in your preferred way.

Anyone can easily create a fully customized AI waifu online. Photograph: PornJourney

What are the best traits for a waifu?

The best traits for a waifu are her looks and her personality, but that depends on personal preferences. Not everyone likes a bossy or submissive waifu.

AI tools make it easier than ever for anyone to create their perfect waifu and quickly train her to become the perfect soulmate, or girlfriend.

What is the meaning of waifu and senpai?

"Waifu" and "senpai" are related to fandom of fictional female anime and manga characters, but they have a different meaning.

A waifu evokes affection, like romantic or erotic feelings. A senpai is an older, more experienced person and is adored like a mentor.

Who is the number one waifu?

There is no consensus about which waifu is the best, but some of the most popular waifus are Asuna Yuuki (Sword Art Online), Zero Two (Darling in the Franxx) and Rem (Re:Zero). 

Of course, anyone can have their own favorite waifu, or even create one that is not featured in anime series.

Yuuki Azura is one of the most popular waifus in the anime community. Photograph: SwordArtOnlineWiki

Are best girl and waifu the same?

No. A “best girl” can be someone's waifu, but they have different meanings. "Best girl" refers to someone's favorite girl from an anime series. Waifus are characters someone has strong emotional feelings for, like romance or love.


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