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Why we relate to anime characters by Gara | DALnet #anime editorials

Why we relate to anime characters

My first editorial in a year, and I wrote most of it two years ago.

Once, I tried to rationalize why I so strongly identify with Ninja Master Gara from the anime Bastard!!. To that end I wrote out a fairly long analysis of what I found most attractive and interesting. Unfortunately that analysis contains a fair number of spoilers and scene descriptions, so I wont' share it here. I continued this with several other characters, and I think I made some small self discovery in the process. It was an interesting excercise, one I think all anime fans should consider. Here's mine, trimmed down somewhat.

Dark Schneider

The lead in Bastard!! and the title character, Dark Schneider is perhaps more an exaggeration of what I wish I could be than what I am. Consummately confident to the point of complete arrogance, someone who attracts people to himself with power and some strange form of charisma, and able to back up his brashness with action. He frequently leaves folks in awe of him, or completely despising him, but either way, he's the center of attention, no one can ignore him. Maybe it's just that he strips naked all the time. Apart from all that, he's just hilarious.

Himura Kenshin

The ex-hitokiri battousai is a role model. Not his ideals per se, but his adherence to what he believes. He's not perfect and he knows it, but maintains a quiet strength in his convictions which are built on his experiences. While enough of a realist to not be a total pacifist, he does his best to avoid conflict in most cases. I like that trait, and strive for it. He's committed to defending those who cannot defend themselves, something else that weighs heavily with me idealogically.

Hajime Saitoh

A bit more complicated to put my finger on what I find attractive here. A more recent addition to my list of favourites, the Wolf of Mibu I think captures the darker side of the light. He's not evil. Quite the contrary, Aku Soku Zan. Destroy evil immediately. That's all that matters, all methods and moral considerations are secondary and for the most part irrelevant. Saitoh will deceive, arrange and use people as necessary to complete his objective, which is ironically pure and simple as stated above. Saitoh does not seem overly concerned with protecting people so much as eliminating the cause of strife. It's a pure narrow vision. Naive on it's surface, but Saitoh is anything but. Perhaps I envy Saitoh's uncluttered view of the world and his position in it.

The common thread on all of these characters is strength. Both of character and technique; they are all masters of their individual domains.

When I look at the villains I listed as my favorites, Largo and Shishio stand out in the brutal harshness, intelligence and execution of their plans. Folken Fanel however perhaps deserves a further look.

Folken Fanel

The brother of Van Fanel, Folken turned from his path after failing his passage into princedom, shame turning him away. He is an inherently sympathetic character, not truly evil. Folken tries to get his brother to understand what happened and to teach him. He claims his soul is lost but will not see his brother destroyed. He proves differently at the end of the series with self sacrifice. Someone who says their soul is lost but can see clearly to save another cannot be truly evil. Misguided perhaps. I'm not sure what of myself I see in Folken, but there's something there I relate to. It may simply be the loss of innocence after passing from childhood to full adulthood, and realising it's not all fun and freedom. I understand the world around me a lot better now, and sometimes I wish I didn't. It's hard to leave childhood behind.

Monday, January 09, 2006

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