Critics, professional or not, identified a trend in many of the…lesser regarded manga and anime series.
It's the “everyman hero”.
This school of thought is that to make a lead character who is identifiable to everyone in the readership or audience. So the lead will be unremarkable, and as blank as possible as a personality, with no real interests beyond the most broad.
The character becomes an empty canvas that anyone can imprint themselves onto and put themselves into his place. Or that's the theory at least.
What also goes along with this is shaving off any dangerous edges from the character, so they can avoid offending or alienating anyone. They don't get into morally ambiguous situations beyond the most simple; they don't make dark or risque jokes; they don't make big mistakes; they don't get themselves into situations that are a result of their particular eccentricities or flaws…
…and the Protagonist becomes the least interesting character in the story, and the writer watches helplessly as the fanbase embraces the side characters, love interest, mentor and villains, and lose all interest in the Protagonist.
This happened to Mickey Mouse. Walt Disney famously banned many sorts of conflicts, mistakes, and “edgy” situations and character flaws from infecting his beloved Mickey. As a result, other characters got much more interesting stories and became more popular.
Of course, there is a way to make a Protagonist relatable without killing everything interesting about them -
Give them a want and need…a heart's greatest desire and a wound to heal from or growing up to do in some way.
Give them strengths that others see in themselves or WANT to see in themselves.
And a flaw or wound…an itch to scratch that we can understand and that we can be interested in watching
develop and challenge the character.
Even if we don't share the specific recipe of wants and needs, and strengths and flaws, we will be able to relate if these elements are primal/universal…in GENERAL. The specifics may not be, and they don't need to be.
Do you have a particular character that annoyed you for being this bland ‘everyperson’ archetype?
Who are your favorite “everyperson” Protagonists?
ciao for niao,
Banes at 12:00AM, Jan. 13, 2022
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