This paper uses survey methods (N=385) to examine the underlying processes through which U.S. fans create meaningful relationships with Japanese media characters. Specifically, this study tests an integrated model linking character perceptions, wishful identification, and parasocial relationships in the context of fans of shōjo, a heroine-centric genre of Japanese anime. Results suggest that liking a heroine's pro-social traits leads to greater wishful identification and more intense parasocial relationships with the heroine. Theoretical implications for reception studies and intercultural entertainment, and practical implications for role-modeling effects of positive female characters on young audiences are discussed. © 2012 Copyright National Communication Association.