Fandom Thoughts

Fandom Thought #2: On Claudia, “Quirky” Characters, and ADHD

Anime and animation both really love their “quirky” characters. They do random and unexpected things, feel “different” from other characters, and usually get a laugh. Fan theories abound about what causes them to be so random. ADHD is an easy answer, because being distracted explains why someone might go off-topic a lot.

Claudia is an interesting case, because I’ve seen a few fan theories that she has ADHD, so I re-watched the episodes she’d most featured in to see if I missed something. It wasn’t something that occurred to me when I watched the show myself. Claudia is fun and a great character, but I never had a moment of, “Oh, gosh. She’s totally like me!” After doing some research, I came to conclude that Claudia (for me, anyway) is more ADHD-ish in her character descriptions than she is in how she actually plays out. Here’s some quotes to illustrate what I mean…

From Dragon Prince Twitter account: “Meet Claudia, a dark magic prodigy who can never quite remember where she put her spell book… But she knows a spell to find it! Oh wait, that’s in the spell book too.”

From the Dragon Prince wiki: “Claudia is often perceived as absent-minded and distracted, as she is sometimes unaware of her surroundings.”

From Dragon Prince website: “Just because Claudia seems like a weirdo who’s so spaced out she could walk into a stationary object doesn’t mean she’s not paying attention.”

It’s true that Claudia does nearly walks into a tree while reading when we first see her. And when Callum stops her, Soren tells him that he’s “no fun,” kind of implying Claudia’s done this sort of thing before. Claudia, having apparently never noticed the tree before, asks if it’s new. Of course, it isn’t.

This might seem like a strong “argument” for Claudia having ADHD, since it’s her first scene, but her supposed lack of awareness doesn’t affect her often and certainly doesn’t seem to have a large impact on her daily life. In fact, her only other big “quirk” is the nose-pointing gesture she does, once when speaking to her father and once when speaking to Soren. It tends mean she has an idea she’s really excited to share. (As her father says, “Not everyone speaks Claudia, Claudia.”)

Claudia’s ability to focus on a single topic does have its ups and downs. She pays attention during Soren and Callum’s sparring match, even though she has the book with her, but when she’s leaving the library, she goes the wrong way, and Callum has trouble re-directing her. She also notices small details, like fingerprints on a painting revealing a hidden passageway, something more likely to happen when you’re super-focused on every little thing.

Still, if we’re going to couch-diagnose anyone, I’d say there’s just as strong an argument for Callum. He also runs into a solid object when he’s running from Claudia later on, though admittedly it’s dark and he turns his head towards Ezran right before he runs into it. Callum also gets lost in thought to the extent that he’s not aware of what other people are doing.

Actually, the biggest connection I formed with Claudia was her inability to divert plans or shift her way of thinking. When something major happens in her life, she’ll do all sorts of mental gymnastics to rationalize why keeping the course is the right thing to do. But she also deals with some pretty extreme stuff–events that would drive lots of people to do the same things she does. I would say I more connected with Claudia because, dang it, she’s so human. And that what makes her a great character.

As always when I write on this topic, this is just my experience and opinion, and I certainly don’t want to take anything away from other fans with ADHD who see themselves in Claudia or any other character. My only point (such that there is one) is that just because a character is “quirky” doesn’t mean they’re automatically neurodivergent.

Thanks for reading!

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