You have to want them
Something that really bugs me about this fandom: as soon as you mention who your favourite route is, immediately there is someone who says “but he did this” or “she did that, though” or even “ugh, WHY.”
As soon as you say Zen is your fave: “But he’s so self-absorbed! He’s such a flirt!”
For Yoosung: “Ew, he’s like 12. So immature. And he’s clearly into his cousin.”
For Jaehee: “But she’s such a bitch! She’s so cold.”
For Jumin: “He’s evil! He worked Jaehee to death! He always makes fun of Zen! He’s abusive!”
For V: “This is all his fault!”
For Saeran: “He’s abusive!”
Here’s the thing: for every route, you have to really want them. In order to get onto someone’s route, you have to choose them over the others. And once you’re there, the route is written in such a way that you cannot possibly care about anyone else.
Zen is easy: he is the “perfect man.” Except for some darkness in his epilogue (regarding V), he is an great example of a typical “celebrity falls for the girl-next-door” plot. You have to look past his over-the-top drama, and flirtiness, and see what it is he’s masking on the inside. (Zen is my favourite, and when first introduced, I did not want him. His route changes that.) And while you’re there, Jaehee is the unwanted voice of reason, Jumin is insensitive, and the rest are side characters.
Yoosung: not everyone wants a boy. I understand that. So obviously, the youngest member of the RFA does not jive with everyone. But then you (and here’s a crazy idea!) actually play his route! And he grows up to be the manliest of men. Yes, you have to push past how he keeps Rika on a pedestal. Yes, if you read spoilers, you know that that love is not completely deserved. But listen: Rika opened up Yoosung’s world for the first time, was the main conduit to him growing up and becoming less self-absorbed and more of an adult…and then she disappeared. That’s traumatizing. And Yoosung explains all that to you. So, if you have a grain of compassion or empathy in you, you can’t help but feel for him. And, while you are there, Seven is a little bit of a bully to Yoosung, Zen is ridiculously fabulous, and everyone is side characters.
Jaehee: Have any of you haters actually played her route? Seriously. Play her route and give her a chance, not even in a gay way: just be her friend! During her route, she is overworked and disillusioned and so very, very lonely…until MC comes into her life. You give Seven and V a chance, but not another woman? Really? She is another gentle soul that has been trampled by life; how do you find fault in that? This route has so much to offer, and her character is more than just an ice queen. …and of course, during her route, Jumin is the villain.
Jumin: I must confess: I did not want to romance this man. (I played in the canon order, and I had to aim for Jumin right after playing Jaehee’s route.) But listen: Jumin was emotionally repressed his entire life. He was groomed to being a corporate heir from day one. He had one parent to raise him: his flawed father. His mother was not there for him. He had one friend, V, who treated him like a human being, not a robot or child of privilege. And then he had Rika, the one woman that he emotionally connected to…and then he lost her. Do you want trauma? Here, this man is extra-traumatized. But, he doesn’t have the luxury to openly express himself, or to hide in the shadows, or even to pull his sole friend aside and have a good talk about his feelings. He has to bottle it. His mind has to tangle even tighter. …and then MC happens to him. And she is the only one who can see how terrified he is. Don’t choose the options where MC is okay with being locked up; choose the ones where she stays because she’s genuinely worried about Jumin. Those are his true options.
V: …you have to want him. You have to really, really want him. I’ll admit: I don’t love him enough. If I were a bigger V fan, I would find forgiving him easier. Because I need to forgive him. Everything was not his fault.
Largely due to certain sorrows in his childhood, V has the kind of personality that wants to shoulder all the blame and take care of things himself. He did not do enough before, and now he wants to make up for it. Sometimes, that is admirable. Other times, it is foolhardy.
Regrettably, trying to handle Rika’s brokenness on his own falls into the latter category. Because, that’s what V did: he felt he could heal Rika all by himself. With or without the RFA. With or without therapy. With or without Rika’s cooperation.
He messed up. So badly. It was a mistake. A big one, and he still has consequences to face, but it was a mistake.
V fans are willing to forgive him. I, personally, am still working on it. But they know: everything was not his fault. And after his route, V is willing to become happier and healthier. Not a lot of people are willing to even try that.
Saeran: …I did not like Saeran until I thought things through and wrote “A Mad Hatter Expecting.” Because here’s the thing: Saeran is arguably the most broken out of all of the characters.
Jaehee’s mother died by accident. Zen had the power to take his life into his own hands and run away from home. Yoosung happened to have Rika taken away from him during a turning point in his life (a very vulnerable time). Jumin and V’s trauma were passive, but long-lived (they could have been nurtured so much better). But Saeran?
Saeran was abandoned with an actively abusive mother. She attacked his body and his mind. Then he was taken in by Rika, who did more of the same. He was brainwashed and poisoned.
He was not in his right mind when he starved MC.
Does that excuse his behaviour? No. No, you do not hurt people, even if you’re going through a manic or depressive episode. No, he still did a bad thing.
So what did he do? Saeran apologized. He didn’t expect MC’s forgiveness; all he wanted was for her to know he regretted his actions.
And he stopped hurting her. He overcame the elixir’s effects, he snapped out of his manic state, and he stopped. He let her eat, again. He helped her escape.
…so this is me ranting about how everyone has a right to have a favourite character that isn’t yours. Everyone’s personality is different, so it makes sense that everybody may not love every route.
Which is why I don’t understand why we all have to keep defending our choices, within the fandom.
…I left out Seven for a reason.
He is the fandom’s #1 choice. He is “canon”. He is cute. He is depressed and meme-y, and the internet can relate to that. I, for one, can relate to that.
But I’m scared to say anything bad about him.
Because that’s how this fandom can be.
If I say, “People don’t like Seven because he is tsundere” or “Seven can be too meme-Lordy,” I am going to get at least 2 anonymous messages with people taking those quotes out of context.
Seven fans always stand up for Seven, even when he’s not actually being attacked.
Saeyoung Choi is the one favourite in this fandom that does not need to be defended.
Not because he isn’t flawed, but because it’s the majority of the fandom’s attitude that he should be everyone’s favourite.
And that isn’t fair to the other routes.
I reserve the right to want someone other than Saeyoung Choi.