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What makes a good villain by Lia | DALnet #anime editorials



What makes a good villain

vilĀ·lain
n.

  1. A wicked or evil person; a scoundrel.
  2. A dramatic or fictional character who is typically at odds with the hero.
Villains. Anyway you slice and dice 'em, an Anime has got to have them. Your evil, diabolic genius whom you admire even as they send a shiver up your spine. Or mabye your merciless, straight from hell, pure evil villian who angers you and satisfies some primal urge when they are struck down. Or perhaps a pathetically humorous, never-gives-up but never succeeds villain for those light-hearted shows.

Whatever villain you like depends a lot on the type of show you're watching and the mood you're in, of course. When I want to watch a dramatic anime, I typically prefer a cut and dried villain who is clearly evil and there's no moral ambiguity surrounding their defeat. That's the old stand-by for most shows.

Nowadays however, you might tend to see a show where the person typecast in the role of the villain seems to have as much of a justification of his actions as the person playing the hero. Typically this kind of show focuses on the hero trying to come to terms with a world existing in shades of grey, and what place they have there. The villain is only a symbol of that indecision, which I feel makes for a less powerful role for said "evil-doer." If I want philosophy, I'll go check out Socrates from the local library. That's just me though.

This background that the villain must adhere to, is a large factor in how they develop as the show goes on. However, a villain's popularity is also tied to the success of the protagonist as well. Logically, a powerful and immensely likable protagonist like Kenshin needs an equally powerful sort of 'anti-Kenshin' to do battle with. ShiShiO Makoto is cool villain simply for the fact that he embodies everything Kenshin is not. Were Kenshin not such a vivid character, one couldn't even begin to appreciate the depth of interaction between the two. In that case, you end up with more of a monster. What I mean by that, just someone who is evil for the sake of being evil and you don't really understand motives, and mindset which has to come out through interaction with the hero.

Lastly, I'll just make the point that a really good show knows how to give their villain the spotlight from the outset, but at the same time provides suitable explanations as to why the hero and the protagonist don't really battle until the end. Weak is the villain whom you know nothing about until the last episode when the hero shows up to defeat them. Equally weak is the villain who has a conflict with the hero from the beginning of the show, but waits and waits and waits to take action until it's too late.

Oh, and one more thing. To be truly evil, the villain has to scream out at the moment of their destruction... "No, this cannot be! I'm invincible!!!"

Lia
Sunday, January 20, 2002





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