We Remember Love Editorial Folio Vol. 5: The Appreciation of Character

A Measure of Character

At par with, if not beyond any other thing that makes a story memorable to are the characters in it. Co-existent with annual best-of lists are fan-driven tournaments of characters based on their popularity. While such events are also informed by the database animalization of the consumer, I cannot rule out how characters in themselves have distinct fandoms from their shows.

In this issue we’ll look at some of the ways fans evaluate characters, and even shows through the dynamics and presentation of its characters. Finally we’ll get to see a concise reading of a character that to me exemplifies the utility and value of anime blogging for us anime and manga fans.

[As usual, click on the image to read the linked post.]

What is a well-developed character

SDS questions:

Many times when a character is seen as “artificially deep,” the accusation leveled at them is that they are simply there to fulfill a checklist. This isn’t necessarily wrong or unwarranted, and even I’ve used the “checklist” criticism before and have no real regrets doing so, but the question then becomes, how did these checklists form and who is responsible for them? To what extent are those negative checklists generated by one’s own standards of realism and authenticity?

I think this checklist phenomenon is related to the Database Animal theory of Otaku, as Azuma proposes it. The concern in this post is how some characters are interpreted as “database filler” when they are actually the opposite.

The comments section of the post is rich, though perhaps inconclusive relative to the concerns raised.

On what it means to choose a favorite character

SDS’s post should eventually inform how people choose their favorite characters. Pontifus and I collaborated in this post to explore how exactly fans pick their favorite characters and what they mean. The response was incredible, allowing us to identify the following considerations:

  • Interesting/complexity
  • Aspiration (being admirable)
  • Being relatable
  • Entertainment value

I think further thought can be devoted in exploring how and why fans pick their favorites, and I do welcome other writers to go ahead and run with this.

Female Characters and Subverted Expectations in Katanagatari

Raph of Borderline Hikkikomori blog takes note of how Katanagatari plays with common expectations on female characters. It’s quite interesting in that the anime (and NisiOisiN’s light novel) is in the tradition of chanbara or samurai stories that distinctly feature men being manly.

Katanagatari takes great pleasure in subverting our expectations with regard to the roles women play in stories such as these. In a genre where men have traditionally held the spotlight, it’s fantastic to see a series set olden day Japan driven so much by its female characters. The 50 minute per episode format really allows for character development, and all the people we’ve met so far have been fascinating.

This isn’t to say that there isn’t a strong male storyline in Katanagatari, but it is doubly interesting in how such a characterization and story is more commonly given to female characters.

towards a more realistic representation of the hero

In my own experience of Diebuster! I am wholly preoccupied with identifying Nono as the hero and primary lead and identifying L’alc as a side character (though not a sidekick). Coburn does a great job of showing us not only how L’alc has a more interesting story, but also how she is a rarer kind of character – in that her ‘hero’ status in the narrative as constructed, is more plausible.

Now then, we aren’t so insecure that our inspiration has to start of a complete clutz, are we?

L’alc may be a more realistic idea of the heroic figure than the anime standard issue – she’s the gifted, lofty, focussed expert. When the old chap says that heroes are always isolated, we know what he means in regard to L’alc, but that isolation is categorically not the territory of anime’s routine child hero archetype.

I don’t think I can make the same leap for the character pair in Gunbuster! but I admit that it’s been very tempting to do so after reading this.

the beauty of senjougahara

I have written extensively not only on Senjougahara but on Bakemonogatari itself, and I think lolikitsune just nails this. He just gets it right.

An editorial may primarily appeal to the cerebral activity of the anime and manga fan, but sometimes a post like this comes along and grabs hold of my figurative gut and I just know I’ve gotten something right through the experience of the post.

Yes, this too is why I love anime blogs.

[Vol. 4]

Further Reading

I devote a lot of writing on characters [->]
Holland Novak is one of my favorites and there is a lot going on with him [->]
I too, find Senjougahara beautiful – but my relationship with her is different in a big way [->]

About ghostlightning

I entered the anime blogging sphere as a lurker around Spring 2008. We Remember Love is my first anime blog. Click here if this is your first time to visit WRL.
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16 Responses to We Remember Love Editorial Folio Vol. 5: The Appreciation of Character

  1. Baka-Raptor says:

    You people are making it really hard for me to keep putting off my plot post.

    • Plot is cool. I’m not hung up on it, but a solid but intricate plot will delight me (20th Century Boys, GitS: SAC). I don’t think characters are more important than plot or setting or any other element of a narrative. It just so happens that people find characters interesting, compelling, and memorable.

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  3. kluxorious says:

    There are so much to digest…

  4. vucubcaquix says:

    I love these folio posts.

  5. coburn says:

    Fame! You even copypasted my typo! I’d not seen that That post though, it’s cool.

    I think the idea of ‘development’ as a virtue is kind of interesting, although I suspect any post talking about it would get horribly overlong. [/gauntlet laying]

    • I think it is very interesting indeed:

      1. There’s a lot to it.
      2. It is also overvalued, IMO. (some works are condemned for having characters who do not develop; but I think this is not necessarily a lack of virtue of the story).

      I think such a post can be broken in parts. One can write about characters in particular, and those posts contain each an important aspect on the issue of development. That’s how I think the idea can be interestingly explored.

  6. Jack says:

    Thank you once again for doing this. I have been rather preoccupied of late, and I haven’t got around to reading through my usual selection of anime blogs.

    • You’re welcome. Editorials don’t have the benefit of immediate relevance as they may not be concerning themselves with current shows. However, they don’t age as fast and remain relevant for longer than a show’s broadcast run.

      They are often best read while serendipitously browsing. I also think that the post authors are more than willing to engage readers even if the initial discussion is long past. At least I know I enjoy responding to comments on posts almost two years old.

  7. lolikitsune says:

    Wow, a folio post the posts of which I’ve already read. YOU MAKE ME FEEL LIKE A GOOD MEMBER OF THE SPHERE. THANK YOU.

    • Many editorials slip through the “cracks” even when you have aggregators like Nano, and feed readers and sharing by everyone through the various social networks.

      I thought I’d compile them in this series because I’m almost certain some people haven’t read some of these posts I compile.

  8. Jack says:

    On choosing your favourite characters :

    I don’t often find myself compiling lists of my favourite characters (unless I’m responding to a blog or forum post) so I’ve never developed any criteria to govern my picks.

    Instead, I’m generally a rather passive observer until some character stands out from all the others as someone who is “fascinating”. I found myself watching ‘Oniisama…e’ recently (I’m fairly late to that particular show) and it only took me a couple of scenes to realise that the character of ‘Miya’ was going to become one of my favourite characters of all time, even though she’d done practically nothing.

    I’m really not sure why it’s this one particular figure, and not others (who perhaps slowly reveal their complexities over time), but I decided to trust my instinct in these matters.

  9. Pingback: We Remember Love Editorial Folio Vol. 6: Best of the Year “Recency Bias” Edition | We Remember Love

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