One of the first things I thought of when I was making this shrine was how to go beyond just a simple telling of a character and their actions. Each Fairy Tail character is known to have their eccentric personality quirks, Juvia got one that you could see in everyday life: being a borderline stalker with erotomania. HOWEVER, as the series progresses, I feel Juvia evolves and outgrows the majority of what would make her seem like an unhealthy person in need of professional help. In the end she is just a teenage girl in love. I will discuss stalking and erotomania, and its relation to Juvia's personality and actions.
According to the Stalking Resource Center, 6.6 million a year are stalked in some form in the United States, the majority of them women. While 1 in 4 women are stalked, only 1 out of 13 men are. Stalking is something we hear about often in society and it can be done in many forms by all kinds of people: mentally stable or unstable. Stalking can be defined as such:
Unwanted or obsessive attention by an individual or group toward another person. Stalking behaviors are related to harassment and intimidation and may include following the victim in person or monitoring them. - Wikipedia
Right off the bat we can easily say that yes, in the beginning Juvia follows her victim (Gray) and monitors him. There is more to stalking then just constant observation though. Within stalking there are two major categories: psychotic and non-psychotic. Most stalkers have a psychotic or personality disorder ranging from schizophrenia to paranoia and narcissism. Within these two categories there are five types of stalkers: rejected stalkers, resentful stalkers, intimacy seekers, incompetent suitors and predatory stalkers.
For a brief period of time one could argue Juvia fell under the resentful stalker category, which is under psychotic. This is where someone pursues their victim because they feel they have been wronged. While one might think she would be under the rejected stalker type, i feel resentful fits better. Juvia wants Gray to belong to her. When Gray states that hit would hand Lucy ("love rival") over his dead body, she snaps. She feels wronged but she dosen't exactly go about trying to correct it or have him take it back. Her battle with Gray is just a full on confrontation. In this phase, there is no following or harassment on her part.
However Gray manages to defeat/save her from her never-ending rain. It's like a reset button and the resentment of being "rejected" and Gray "loving" Lucy is buried. Not gone...but buried. No human heart is completely pure and this emotion is brought back in the Tower of Heaven arc when Juvia is under Taka's control, much to her regret. Before being brainwashed and after said events though, Juvia goes into a different category: intimacy seeker, which is considered non-psychotic. This is where they seek an intimate, loving relationship with their victim. Intimacy seeker stalkers often suffer from delusions and as such, often have erotomantic delusions. Speaking of Erotomania, it is defined as such:
A type of delusion in which the affected person believes that another person, usually a stranger is in love with him or her. During an erotomanic episode, the patient believes that a secret admirer is declaring his or her affection to the patient, often by special glances or signals. Usually the patient then returns the perceived affection by means of letters, gifts, and visits to the recipient. Even though these advances are unexpected and often unwanted, any denial of affection by the object of this delusional love is dismissed by the patient.
This is a tough one for me because while I believe Juvia is being a shy teenager with an overactive imagination, there are some signs of her being an erotomaniac. To start with, she seems him in person and instantly feels like it is destiny. This is a classic sign of Erotomania: to believe it is fate or that they are "meant to be". She has vivid fantasies and would often spy on him and give him unwanted gifts such as bentos, pillows or even water from her armpit (lol see layout pic).
However there are other signs that its not quite spot on. Gray is not a stranger to her for long and Erotomanic has long been see as something a fan will do to a celebrity. There is no distance issue here. Another big factor is this: Juvia does not believe Gray loves her. She may fantasize, etc. however once of her personal journeys in Fairy Tail is to have her love reciprocated. If someone said to her that Gray didn't love her, she might be upset but wouldn't deny it. Maybe if this was Phantom Lord Juvia, but not Fairy Tail Juvia. She just wants love to love her back
(yes i threw in a mandy moore reference)
One of the amazing things about Juvia is that she evolves over the course of the series unlike other Fairy Tail characters. While yes Juvia still on occasion observes Gray, she is no longer hiding on the sidelines behind some bush. She doesn't just observe, she participates too. While still a bit shy, she approaches him now and talks to him. I would say she has gotten more bold with her actions such as hugging or clinging to him. She might have a bit more confidence now and maybe became a little more self-ware of her actions. In 413 days she realizes Gray is mad and gives him space...and at the end of the Tartarus arc, she even apologizes to Gray for following him to his hometown. Her fantasies aren't quite the same either; they don't solely involve Gray anymore. She has crazy scenarios in her head involving her guildmates (Gajeel and Levy!?) and even some BL ones about Gray & Lyon!
More then anything, i feel her dandere personality is a character type seen often in Japan, and therefore not taken that seriously. It's probably why Mashima had no qualms about adding her to the series. Mashima has even noted she was added to the series to inject more emotion and comedy into it. I would also just like to say no matter how much a character is bad in terms of personality or psychology...Mashima always finds a way to make us empathetic towards the ones we love to hate (just look at Minerva or Jellal...or even Flare). However i still find her quirks interesting and like to draw parallels in terms of psychology. If she had stayed a stagnant 2D character that this page would read very differently.
A lot of people just see the surface or her introduction into the series as what she is and it makes me a little sad. Juvia really has had quite the journey through the series. Juvia was intended to be comedic and I find her evolution and journey endearing. Her fangirling and overactive imagination remind me of myself in so many ways. lol. I feel Juvia embodies love, both the good and bad side. Her love is her strongest trait and is her source of power. I realize this turned into a big tldr; version of a personality page so i apologize but i'll just leave you with these words...
"Juvia lives for the ones that she love! You've got to as well. If you have love in your life, then you must keep on living!" -- Juvia