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Stepford Smiler / Visual Novels

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Female Examples

  • Both Yubiseiharukana Tanaka and Sara Matsunaga from Ever17 - the former has a terminal disease and works at the LeMU theme park to support her cloned daughter, while the latter has been subject to bullying and illegal scientific testing for years, to the point where being trapped in a sinking theme park, away from Leiblich's clutches, is actually why she's happy.
  • In Tsukihime, the maid Kohaku is this for some very very dark reasons.. This trope is lampshaded by the main character when, while comparing a Not So Stoic character whose emotions were palpable behid the unflapable exterior with the perpetual smile the spoilered character showed, said something in a vein of "showing only one emotion may be the same as having no real emotions inside".
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  • In Little Busters!, Haruka is Depressed, using her cheerful energetic personality to cover up her depression and crippling insecurity. Komari also becomes very creepily Depressed whenever she encounters something that triggers her memories of her dead brother, causing her to Heroic BSoD. At first she's just depressed, but when she starts repressing her memories by pretending another person nearby is her brother, she starts acting just like everything's normal again - except for her dead, cold eyes...
  • In Umineko: When They Cry, it turns out this is the case with Shannon of all people. The cute and clumsy Meido is simply a made-up persona/Imaginary Friend of a person known as Sayo Yasuda, who is the one who orchestrates the murders with his/her other personas Kanon and Beatrice because s/he couldn't find a solution to being in love with three different people (George, Jessica and Battler) and is also afraid of any of them finding out about injuries that have damaged his/her sexual organs. Battler's sudden return after six years only adds to his/her madness. However, it also turns out the horrible, cold blooded murders she commits on the gameboard aren't quite what really happened on Rokkenjima. The murderer in the real world is heavily implied (though never outright stated) to be another Stepford Smiler, Kyrie.
  • Katawa Shoujo:
    • Emi Ibarazaki. She is cheery, energetic and happy-go-lucky as they come, but it's really a facade to cover up the trauma of losing her father in a car accident in which she also lost her legs, as well as the fear of losing the people close to her, just like she lost her father.
    • Shiina "Misha" Mikado is also a cheery and playful girl, but it's becoming clear late in her route that it's a an act to cover up the Gayngst and pain of Unrequited Love after Shizune rejects her confession. In the beta version of Shizune's route this quality was emphasised. In Act 3 it became so noticeable Misha was acting melancholy that Shizune's father Jigoro even noticed it. It came to the point where Misha would be Driven to Suicide. Lampshaded, in the final product, by Shizune in which she said this when see things differently from Hisao's way of seeing things regarding Misha:
    Shizune: The Misha you know is different from the one I think of, when I think of the time we first met. Even though I think she looks better cheerful and smiling, that isn't how she typically is.
  • Danganronpa:
    • Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc:
      • Sayaka Maizono. Even though she seems to be a cheerful Idol Singer at first, she soon falls under the pressure of the game's rules, which led her to attempt to kill Leon and frame Naegi for the murder. And she also has a crippling fear of being forgotten and abandoned which stems from her workaholic father and always being alone, which is why she became an idol singer so she get the love and attention she desperately wanted.
      • The Unstable Celestia Ludenberg/Taeko Yasuhiro. She seems to be smiling and even accepts that she is locked up in the school forever so easily, but she is actually lying and she tries to implicate a student for the murders she caused so she can escape from the school, collect the bribe money, and angering her brings out her psychotic side. Naegi implies that nearing her execution, she becomes Depressed, meaning that she fakes her smile to show that she's scared of dying.
    • From New Danganronpa V3, prior to Himiko's Character Development, she was this as she constantly bottles up her emotions and didn't act extremely sad for the deaths of Angie and Tenko during their trial. It wasn't until Kokichi gives a What the Hell, Hero? moment, and Himiko remembers Tenko's advice that it's not shameful to express them where she finally shows Tears of Remorse.
  • Ace Attorney has quite a few:
  • Rika from Mystic Messenger is the Depressed type. She was so bright, cheerful, and loving when she was alive that it came as a great shock to all of her friends when she committed suicide. She's revealed later on to be actually alive and better fit the Unstable type, suffering from crippling depression and paranoia that she tried to keep at bay by helping others in any way she could until her mental instability grew so profound that she came to believe that the only way to make everyone truly happy was to brainwash them to follow her as a "savior" and make anyone who opposed her suffer. Additionally, she hits all three types of this trope when she becomes the Empty type after her former lover V dies, smiling all the time but almost completely unable to speak and lost in delusions about V still being with her.
  • The Maid, a.k.a. Giselle from The House in Fata Morgana is the Depressed type. Her cultured and refined personality is all an act to protect her from the despair of her situation: after watching Michel, the love of her life, die, she was approached by a witch who offered to “reconstruct” him in exchange for Giselle’s servitude. She agreed, becoming an undead thing, and spent centuries waiting for Michel to return… only to watch him (seemingly) reincarnate as a woman, fail to remember her, and fall in love with various men. Over and over again. Between that and the horrible things she was forced to see and do as Morgana’s servant, the Maid has forgotten who she originally was, has forgotten many of the finer details of who Michel was, and is dangerously close to becoming an Empty Shell by the start of the game. Even before all of this, Giselle’s bubbly and cheerful personality was a façade to cope with the fact that she was raped by her employer, Michel’s father; she hoped that if she pretended to be happy hard enough, she would become happy in fact. This personality became a lot more genuine as she got to know Michel and fell in love with him, but then he died saving her life, leading to all of the above.
  • Grisaia no Kajitsu: In the Grisaia universe almost all smile hides a painfull past and/or a huge load of psychological issues, but two fits the bill particularly well:
    • Sachi: Despite her rather odd fixation on maids and doing chores, she is generally bright and rarely without a smile. However that persona is a farce, she almost comletely cut herself off from her original, genuinely cheerful self. She did that while developing a severe case of OCD in order to cope with her equally severe PTSD, caused by witnessing her parents death as a child.
    • Michiru: The class clown, the but of all jokes, the lovable goofball. Except that personality is an agressivly enforced one, meant to enable her to function within society. It is supposed to hide and repress her more problematic traits: Her social awkwardness, depression and cripplingly low self-esteem.
  • Sayori from Doki Doki Literature Club! is the Depressed type. At first, she comes off as a stereotypical Genki Girl - she is cheerful, bright, bubbly, social, energetic and really happy about you joining the club. However, later in the game, you'll find out that she's been suffering from severe depression her entire life and never told anyone because she feels unworthy of anyone's love and attention. At the end of Act 1, her depression gets so bad that she actually commits suicide. However, it's implied that at least some of it was affected by Monika.
  • While Kaoru from Spirit Hunter: NG is a genuinely peppy girl who enjoys being an idol, she also confesses that she always has to force a smile as part of her persona, and it can put a strain on her sometimes.

Male Examples

  • CLANNAD: Tomoya Okazaki is Depressed. The casual behavior might fool the watcher/reader for awhile, but it becomes clear over time that he's basically starting the story in despair.
  • Ace Attorney also has a few male stepford smilers:
    • An oddly non-creepy example that doesn't fit into any of the categories is Ambassador Colias Palaneo in Ace Attorney Investigations, who mainly keeps a constant smile as part of his ur-politeness. The fact that he drops it pretty easily helps out.
    • Kristoph Gavin is villainous and Unstable, a Machiavellian madman who hides beneath a mask of contentment and composure.
    • Matt Engarde, also Unstable. His mask is that of a doofy Extreme Doormat who's completely clueless about anything. His real personality is exactly the opposite. He even pulls back his hair to reveal his scars of villainy.
    • There's also Diego Armando, who tells Mia that "a lawyer is someone who smiles no matter how bad it gets." He only stops after coming very close to death and losing his girlfriend, Mia, who was murdered while he was in a coma.
    • Add Souta Sarushiro to the list of Unstable villains, with a touch of Depression as well. After all, living most of your life assuming your best friend's deceased father was really your own father and your father was actually your best friend's father and the murderer of the man you though was your father will really mess you up.
    • Acro in 2-3. After accidentally murdering Mr. Berry, he had to hide his pain to evade justice. Only after Phoenix exposed all of his lies, did he broke into tears.
    • Yanni Yogi in 1-4. After losing his wife and job because of the DL-6 incident, he hid his pain under a goofy and aloof persona.
    • Klavier could possibly be Depressed, seeing as he seems fine during the credits, but during the last part of the final trial was anything but.
    • Both downplayed and played straight by Apollo Justice. His "I'M FINE!!" catchphrase is not only used by him to hide his fears, but also to hide his pain and suffering, as shown in Phoenix Wright: Ace Attorney – Dual Destinies.
    • Phoenix Wright himself. In Apollo Justice, after losing his job for a crime he didn't commit, he had to hide his sadness for Trucy's sake; something Vera Misham was able to notice. And then, in Professor Layton vs. Ace Attorney, after Maya's supposed death, he was instructed to swallow his pain by Rouge in order to keep Espella and Luke's morale up.
  • Nagito Komaeda is pretty solidly Unstable in Super Danganronpa 2, at least until he starts losing what sanity he has left. His free time events in the game proper and the Dangan Island bonus game hint that this is a combination of an incurable brain disease and an incredible cycle of good and terrible luck that has left him so burnt out on everything that he just wants to die.
    • Kokichi Oma from New Danganronpa V3 is a rare reverse unstable Stepford Smiler. Throughout the game, he ended up stating that he loves the killing game. However, based upon his motive video which shows his organization have a Thou Shall Not Kill policy and his Famous Last Words to Kaito, it is pretty much safe to assume that he hated the killing game to the point where he planned his own death just to end it.
  • In Hatoful Boyfriend there is an Depressive mixed with Obfuscating Stupidity in Yuuya Sakazaki. It's part of a mask of general good cheer and unflappability which he wears just about all the time; even he doesn't know just how much is a bluff. Even when dying he says he's fine.
    • Holiday Star reveals that Hitori Uzune as Nanaki Kazuaki is full-fledged Unstable.
  • Nameless
    • It's hinted throughout various routes, and then made blatantly obvious in Tei's route, that he is Unstable. Tei presents himself as kind, caring, polite and helpful to everyone, because he wants to please every person. In reality, he's snarky, manipulative and hides a creepy desire to 'break' the heroine. This mostly comes from his Dark and Troubled Past, having been worshipped and then hated by his previous owner. His route involves Eri helping him get through his problems from that time.
    • Yeonho turns out to be Depressed. He's overall very cheerful and adorable, barely ever letting his smile slip. Underneath, he's hiding huge amounts of insecurity, after having been abused and abandoned by his previous owner, forcing him to acclimate himself to his owner and making sure to like what she likes, all in the attempt to please them and being a 'good boy'.
  • 707/Luciel from Mystic Messenger is the Depressed type. His status as the goofy Troll of the RFA messenger who takes nothing seriously conceals how he's become wary of getting truly close to others because of how he could be made to "disappear" by the secret intelligence agency he works for if he makes a single misstep. Even outside of his own route where the hidden, bitter side of him comes out in full force, his smile breaks on every other route when other people get hurt/endangered as a direct result of his actions and/or he learns that the brother he worked so hard to save is not nearly as safe or happy as he believed he was.
  • Shall We Date? franchise:

Mixed Gender Examples

  • In general Ace Attorney is very BIG on this. Mia and Diego's "A lawyer always smiles" and "only cries when it's all over" creeds, Apollo's "I'M FINE!!" motto and many similar instances are nearly omnipresent from the second game on and seem to have a lot to do with the country they come from's mentality. Kinda makes you wonder if all the murders and general weirdness of the world are somehow related to such levels of repression.
  • In A Profile, Masayuki is implied to be one for a time, but it turns out to be untrue and that he really has simply changed, mostly for the better. Miou, on the other hand, is pretty emotionally damaged inside.
  • It's strongly implied that Nagisa Furukawa's parents, Akio and Sanae, at least partially fake their One of the Kids behaviors. They are genuinely loving and sweet persons, but they hide their own worries and sad thoughts to keep their very frail Ill Girl daughter happy, in an attempt to make up for having neglected her a lot as a little girl. It's confirmed in After Story, where Sanae tries to cheer up Tomoya by acting like a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but can't keep up and finally cries and lets herself grieve for the deceased Nagisa.
  • The characters do this in Higurashi: When They Cry in the question arcs, and first two answer arcs, to try and hide things.
    • Rena is also a perfect example of Depressed. It's all a facade, but she does it to escape from her sadness.
    • Rika too. To all the world she's just a Cheerful Child, because she's convinced that if she lets anyone know something's wrong they'll just get hurt, and she's given up anyways. The reality of her situation is pretty bad, and in private she resorts to drinking away her problems.
    • In fact almost everyone in the series can be said to be this. They are first shown a a group of cheerful persons, and indeed the first episode looks like it's gonna be Lucky Star 2. Then we find out that Rika has revived at least a hundred times after being brutally killed, and remembers every single deaths she has been through and have being doing this for at least a 100 years; Keiichi, was a loner who began shooting little girls with a BB gun when he got bored of studying, stopping and admitting his crimes when one of his victims got hurt and have been feeling remorse since then; Satoko killed her parents while under the effect of Hinamizawa Syndrome, and believing that her brother will only return if she is strong, to the point where she refuses help in the arcs where her abusive uncle returns ; Shion who lost her beloved Satoshi by Oyashiro-sama's curse and blames the Three Families of Hinamizawa for his disappearance; Rena suffered from her parents' divorce, and on top of that, seeing her mother with another man lead her to viciously wound some of her classmates during a rampage (who was possibly trying to rape her) and changed her hame from Reina to Rena in order to leave her past behind; Takano is so twisted by her horrifying past in an Orphanage of Fear that she doesn't even care about how many thousands of people will die to help her become as famous as a god. But outside of that, they're pretty happy and smiling...
  • Of the four main girls in Symphonic Rain, Torta, Fal and Phorni are one of these. Lise would count if she actually smiled too.
  • Kali Utsumi from Remember11 is kind, serene and motherly... Or, rather, she's putting up a façade to hide her sorrow from having her own son killed in a brutal spree killing, while plotting to kill one of the people she's currently taking care of - the mentally diseased girl who killed said son - and commit suicide in the process. Jesus.
    • Her husband, Seiji Yomogi, is a laid-back, practical, fatherly man who acts as a soothing voice of reason in times of panic when his fellow survivors are freaking out. He also happens to have a terrible guilt complex and a lot of repressed anger as a result of losing his child. When he stops being Mayuzumi's doormat and snaps, he exiles her to die of hypothermia, strangles Yuni to death, hallucinates that Kokoro is his dead son and apparently tries to rape her. While smiling all the time.

Alternative Title(s): Visual Novel


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