What Makes an Interesting Character?Posted: June 7, 2011
I’m currently watching E3, which isn’t exactly the best conditions for writing a post, but I haven’t written one in a while, so I feel like I kind of owe you guys.
Anyways, this shouldn’t be too long of a post, because Assassin’s Creed: Revelations is about to be covered, and I want to give it my undivided attention.
The idea for this post came a few days ago, when I was discussing Chobits with a friend. She was complaining that she didn’t like the show because Chi was an idiot, but I was arguing that there’s a pretty valid reason that she’s dumb (at least at the beginning). One thing lead to another, and she was saying that she didn’t find Chi interesting because she was an idiot. This confused me, because, as I said, there was a reason Chi was like that. It’s not like the creator(s) just decided “WHELP TIME TO MAKE A DUMB CHARACTER.” The background for it was what made her interesting.
She countered by mentioning Teen Titans (not really anime, but that’s besides the point) had a similar kind of deal with an “Origin” episode. When Starfire first arrived on Earth, she didn’t know anything, but instead of doing nothing or being confused, she went around killing people, which made her interesting. I argued that it wasn’t a perfect comparison, since Starfire wasn’t dumb, she was just ignorant about things related to Earth. But besides that, I argued that her actions actually made her less interesting, because killing is something that’s universally shunned. Just because her action was “shocking” doesn’t mean that she’s a good character, nor interesting.
What I’m getting at, is that people seem to consider characters who are “evil” or just act in an unexpected way to be more interesting. But how can this be the case when there’s no basis? You could argue that Chi and Starfire are about equally interesting, but most people would probably say that Starfire is more interesting because of her actions.
I feel like this is partially because of the mindset that some people have nowadays, which is wanting the bad guys to win every once in a while. Breaking it down further, it seems like people just want something different to the norm, regardless if it has a solid basis or not. This is almost like my point back in my Light and Dark: The Stereotyping of Anime Genres post, which was that people seem to want something new rather than something that is executed well.
I’m sure there are other reasons too, but I just can’t agree with this mindset. For as long as I enjoy any type of media entertainment, I will continue to fight the case for the good characters whenever I can.