Well, it’s probably a bit obvious why I’m approaching this topic (cough Shu). Basically, the topic for today is what makes a good protagonist. I know that it’s impossible to approach this sort of subject objectively, so I will instead propose my opinions for a good protagonist and my opinions for a bad protagonist, then open the floor for everyone else to chime in.
What do I look for in a protagonist? Honestly, I prefer to watch someone who’s calm, brilliant, and incredibly confident. Lelouch Lamperouge, Light Yagami, and Akagi Shigeru are some examples of this. I’m not looking for a perfect character, as flaws are necessary for a protagonist.
Physical ability doesn’t mean so much to me because I believe that the most intense conflicts can happen in just a battle of the minds. Bluffs, predictions, tactics: all amazing things to watch unfold in a show. This doesn’t mean I can’t enjoy a good sword fight or something, but I just really have a thing for the psychological style of things.
What’s a bad protagonist? Simple in my eye. Someone who’s a complete wimp is just painful to watch. Why would I want to spend all of my time watching someone run from battle or push some naive idealism forward to justify his actions?
Also, I dislike the idea of some random person suddenly being endowed with amazing power. This sort of scenario makes it seem so much like it doesn’t matter who gets the power. I like the idea of power being given to a protagonist that’s perfectly equipped to bring out the best of it. I feel like this creates the sense that the character must be designed correctly to fit the story.
Maybe a protagonist that melds into the background is good in that it draws attention away from himself to focus on other characters. I suppose there are some shows that feel like there are many protagonists that each contribute to create a powerful effect. I think for the purposes of this topic, we should ignore that aspect.
This brings to mind a separate question: What influences what we like in a main character? I’m sure there are those that disagree with me, and I want to approach the reasons for this. Unfortunately, these reasons are far too numerous for me.
Perhaps I like the characters I chose because I enjoy the larger than life persona that they present, as they represent some sort of ideal or model for the type of person I want to be. Perhaps I choose them as a simple reflection of my true personality.
Alternatively, I can understand the need for a protagonist who is down-to-earth and somewhat tangible, so to speak. Basically, someone who gives the feeling of “Hey, that sort of thing could happen to me.” However, I feel like that’s not what I look for in anime, but maybe in other media or games or something.
So what do you think? Why do we choose the characters we choose to be our favorites? A pretty face (*cough* like someone I know)? Reflections of ourselves? Who we wish to be? Do we want to admire the character or pity him? For me, this seems like a tough question to find what about a character I truly like. But maybe it’s simpler for others.