It was bound to happen sooner or later. Here I am representing one of my — and no doubt many others’ — original crushes in anime: Kyoya Hibari from Katekyo Hitman Reborn!
The evidence for him being husbando material is everywhere, as he not only ranked as readers’ favourite character in the manga’s character polls on two occasions, but he won the top spot as voters’ pick as their anime character groom in a survey conducted by the music distributor Recochoku for two consecutive years.
Katekyo Hitman Reborn! is an amazing shounen series, and while both the anime and manga ended on a stale note for its main character Tsuna’s character development, the pay-off is witnessing the viewers’ love for its supporting cast grow throughout the adventure. And nowhere is this more applicable than in Hibari.
Looks aren’t everything
I say looks aren’t everything, but it definitely helps in Hibari’s case — because good looks sure are necessary when you’re as much of a deadbeat ass as he is initially. Hibari is the leader of Tsuna’s Disciplinary Committee in their school, Namimori Middle, and throughout the 393 manga chapters (out of the 409 in total) that he appears in, he becomes one of the most endearing characters in the series despite his egotistical, smug face barely ever changing. So why is he so popular?
Hibari is a prime example of an “ikemen” character, where his looks are the main factor of his appeal. This comes down to the fact that Hibari honestly has not been gifted with a very likeable personality, as he is seen as cold, uncaring, and inconsiderate of those around him — even his own comrades.
He even uses violence to show and express his authority over others despite his school status already striking fear into others, and this is often enough to deter those weaker than him to approach him. But give me those delinquents who turn into sweethearts each and every day, because deep down underneath all that bloodlust lies a heart of gold.
Hibari comes across as a classic tsundere type the more we see of him. While he is initially feared for his strength and authoritative personality, his charming quirks are endearing enough to take notice of and appreciate. His capabilities as a fighter make him one of the strongest characters right from his introduction all the way to the end of the series, but he often has to recharge by sleeping no matter the time or place. Even more humorously, he is supposedly the only student who likes his school’s anthem song and even has it set as his ringtone.
Additionally, he’s very keen and affectionate towards baby animals, seen with his non-vocal affection towards his pet Hibird, whom he trained to chirp the school anthem, and can seemingly communicate with. He even indicates a soft spot for children, as shown by his consideration for and care of I-Pin. Not only does he accept her chocolates as a gift, showing a rare and genuine smile on his face, but he turns down a fight against Tsuna and company when he notices I-Pin.
10 years makes a whole lot of difference
I’ve already run through many examples of what makes Hibari more than just a pretty face with a bad attitude, but more importantly than all this is the fact that he is presented as an anti-hero. His inconsideration towards his impressive strength turns the eyes of not only Katekyo Hitman Reborn!’s characters — the mutual respect between Hibari and Reborn is one such example — but his fans too. It’s lucky we don’t feel bad rooting for him!
Hibari had a lot of potential, and was always set up as a character worth looking at and watching. And while he is merely a supporting character, he happens to be one of those that are explored the best in the series.
As an example, his hunger for battling those stronger than him often sends him into a vulnerable position due to him not thinking tactically and running in head first. While he finishes a fight quickly if he has the advantage, such as his victory over Mosca being humorously short lived, his losses against Mukuro and Enma build upon his initial security as a strong and capable fighter. This is just one aspect of him that is shown to be flipped upside down when we see his future self, whose cunning perception in fights makes him all the more dangerous now that he has matured.
Yet he still manages to be a badass even before this alternative future introduces itself, whether it’s by standing and fighting despite his bones being shattered, or resisting poison and even taking down 500 ice clones of Adelheid. It’s no wonder he’s such a chick magnet.
Also worth noting is the point when his mentor Dino appears, whose shipping with Hibari by fujoshi fans only adds to the latter’s popularity. And when you realise Dino introduced the whip as a weapon to Hibari, that’s just adding even more fuel to the fire, but I’m going on a tangent here. (Do you need a moment? – Ed.)
We now get to the cream of the crop in character design and personality with adult Hibari. Despite the hefty and unfortunate missed opportunities in character development across the majority of the cast in Katekyo Hitman Reborn!, the exploration of the future characters in the latter arcs of the show gives us a good idea of their progression after the series ends.
For example, Hibari has always regarded himself to be a loner, but in the case of future Hibari, he wastes no time in training Tsuna, helping him develop his combat abilities and improving his mentality when he hits a wall and has to face his inner demons.
Hibari ultimately accepts his position as a part of his family and protects him against the final villain, Jaeger, which feels like a long time coming from his younger self’s attitude.
Weak at the knees
Future Hibari may be strikingly juxtaposed to the current Hibari in actions and attitude, but throughout the series, Hibari goes from one extreme to the other with slight hints scattered along the way to indicate such growth.
While he hates complimenting anyone, he does learn to show respect towards the other family guardians as he matures. And he’s even an upstanding guy before this change of heart despite what rude or offhand remarks he throws out to others. After all, he hates having to owe others, because in turn his values make him repay them immediately after. For example, he’s seen carrying Gokudera after he saves him just before, but harshly drops him once arriving safely and speaks dismissively of their whole ordeal.
Better yet, we later see him go against his own rules by saving Tsuna’s friends from one of Skull’s missiles — one which would have ended up nowhere near Hibari if he had done nothing.
His standards go as far as to indicate he’s all talk really, with his signature quote of “I’ll bite you to death” feeling like less of a threat as time goes on. Such instances of this include the time when he chooses to spare Chrome when he has the chance to kill her, and when he later regards the future Tsuna as a threat; this latter case showcases Hibari seeing and appreciating Tsuna’s growth. My favourite moment, though, is his intense vulnerability when he contrasts the Sakura-kura disease — it makes him live in fear of cherry blossoms for the rest of his life.
Hibari’s everlasting appeal seems to never dwindle, since he’s recently appeared on two more questionnaires with a 2019 one placing him 29th out of 55 places as one of the most manly sex appeal characters, and a 2020 one placing him as 31st out of 59 as one of the most beautiful male characters. Looks like sharing him is the only way forward.
You can watch the anime on Crunchyroll now, and I highly encourage you to check it out — not just for Hibari, but because it’s the right thing to do.
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