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Often times, I judge an anime not on how awesome the story of the main character is, but on how much the anime makes me love the characters in the background. The vast majority of the time, I don’t fall in love with the main character. Sometimes, when I do, it turns out he wasn’t even the main character to begin with and was, in fact, my favorite character.

I LOVE YOU KAMINA!

Often times authors don’t go the extra mile in making you fall in love with the mechanic who fixes the main character’s mech… or the owner of the restaurant they are always eating at… and I can forgive that. There are lots of people in daily life you walk right by without even noticing. Even if every last one of them were some amazingly interesting individual, you generally won’t see it… but at LEAST authors should do it for antagonists!

We have two basic forces in a story, protagonists and antagonists. I don’t care how interesting or wonderful your main character is… the forces that work against them had better at least be memorable! At best, I want to CRY when the heroes win over the villain. Why should I be sad about that? Justice prevails and everyone goes home happy? I want to feel sad about the villain losing because he should be a well fleshed out character too!

Hajime no Ippo does a WONDERFUL job of this. I recently went through a rundown of the main character’s opponents and their goals and dreams that ruined a girl’s mascara. These weren’t just random boxers that he was defeating. The author took the time to build most of them up as human beings. He wasn’t just knocking them out, he was shattering their dreams and building a staircase to the top out of the shrapnel. There were even times the MAIN CHARACTER felt bad about having to beat people.

Let us take, for instance, Jason Ozuma

Statistics
Japanese Name ジェイソン・尾妻
Birth date September 11, 1970
Homeland United States
Weight Class Featherweight
Style In Fighter
Rank Retired

Jason was an Air Force guy stationed at Misawa Air Base. He had no one waiting for him back in America. No family. No friends. No one cared that he was in Japan, except for the boxing gym he had joined. The owner and his wife were very nice to Jason and he really cared about them. Alas, he was one of the only people who went to the boxing gym. The lack of members meant a lack of money, the gym made do with old and battered equipment. Jason really wanted to see the gym prosper… so he went pro. He won two bouts, both by KO, and things were looking up. That is when Jason heard about the Rookie King Tournament, a chance to show his skills and get some more patrons and prize money for his gym! The first round he won by KO.

The second round, he fought Ippo.

After the bout, Jason retired. His spine had been damaged, not that he ever told Ippo that. He didn’t want the kid to carry that weight. He left Japan and his surrogate family, unable to bear the pain being powerless to help them on top of having failed them. He went back to America… where no one was waiting to greet him.

Fun! So much better than “Ippo’s second round is against a big black guy! He has a mean right hook.”

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6 Comments

  1. Oh those blackies and their right fists. But yes, I agree completely. I’m currently watching a show where I feel that the background characters are getting a pretty good fleshing out. Blassreiter. It’s a 2008 GONZO anime, just before they crashed.

    • Yo Will, I respect you and I’m gonna let you finish but GONZO was the greatest studio of all time.

        • BJP
        • Posted October 6, 2010 at 10:35 pm
        • Permalink

        He is watching a GONZO anime. . .

  2. For some reason I thought this post should be longer.
    It built up what you were saying, and I agree with it, but after the video it seems there should be some wrap up and conclusion.

    • Sorry. That hook was too painful for a conclusion. But seriously, I hear ya. I just got out what I wanted to say about it before the video and threw in the video because I knew it existed… otherwise I could have just kept going. I’d gotten out what I wanted to say, so I ended it.

  3. I always wanted to know more about Kyōko Hōin, but the lolis took up way too much screen time…

    I liked the fact that Tabitha got some story behind her besides “bookish girl who kicks ass at magic and has glasses.”

    Sometimes the anime isn’t given the chance to really delve into antagonist character development. The anime is restricted to so many episodes and they need to get the story to a certain point by then. They should always give explanations as to why the villain wants to suck out the souls of everyone in town, but going back to his relationship with his parents every time doesn’t lead to story telling that remains fluid.

    History’s Strongest Disciple Kenichi – Truth


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