Thursday, November 3, 2011

10 Things I Hate About Anime: Emo Protagonists

 A person characterized as being “emo” is often constantly depressed, has an inferiority complex, is anti-social and is constantly “hurting inside”. Now there are people in this world who are allowed to feel this way. For example, if your Dog has died, if you lost your job and your wife or husband left you, if you have survived a traumatizing experience, if you went off to successfully siege a castle and came back only to find that someone has set your lovely farming community on fire and skewered all your family members. However, we don’t usually use “emo” to describe someone with these problems. “Emo” people, are usually people who aren’t all that bad off, or just SERIOUSLY over reacting to some shitty situations in their lives. They’re the kind of people who, stereotypically ware dark clothes and say things like “NO ONE UNDERSTANDS ME!” and shun the world. You know, the kind of person you want to slap in the face and say “NUT UP OR SHUT UP!”. Does this sound like the kind of person you want to have at your party? That, my friends, leads me to the second thing I “hate” about anime… EMO PROTAGONISTS!

"I saved the world twice, but I still don't give a shit about it." ("Cloud Strife" From Final Fantasy VII:Advent Children)

Anyone who watches anime knows that emo protagonists populate a lot of anime. The thing is its actually not too bad to have a few of these guys around, especially in contrast to more lively and laid back characters. I would even say that having emo supporting protagonists is not too bad. But oh boy, the worst is when their centre stage. When emos are the main characters they are often whiney, shunned by others, wimpy or, in the worse case, unconditionally loved by all! This is often dependent on which genre the anime is a part of. Emo main characters in action animes are pretty annoying. Basically the emo action convention works like this: some dude or dudette (usually a dude) who is probably in high school and not popular (usually because they SUCK at everything) are thrust into some sort of situation in which they are forced to save the world or something along those lines, against their will. The characters “normal lives” (i.e. before they became a reluctant hero) are often pitiful. They have zero self-esteem, are physically weak, constantly get picked on and lack any semblance of social skills (and lack any semblance of any skill really). So yes… they just suck. The story often has them in control of some newfound power, or giant robot, or some sort of thing that gives them some sort of ability of which they previously lacked (pretty easy when you HAVE NO ABILITIES!).This power is usually the only thing that can face some sort of horrible threat to the livelihood of the world and its inhabitants. The character uses his or her newfound powers to fight bad guys often channelling their pent up frustration or sadness or insecurity to release DESTRUCTIVE EMO BLASTS OF POWER, decimating their foes!  

"I am the only one who can save the world...  I'm just so useless!" ("Shinji" from Evangelion)

 So you might be saying “But Alex! This is a convention that exists in all underdog stories! Why are you only ragging on anime?” This is a fair question my friends! The thing with most underdog stories is that the experience of wielding power and saving lives often changes the protagonist for the better. It gives them the confidence to join in with the world and become something truly great and admired. Well in anime, more often than not, the character just remains a frickin wimp forever! It’s like having powers just made him more acceptable somehow. He’s still an imbecile with an inferiority complex who is by and large useless and everyone just puts up with it cause they need him to “save the world”. Looking for an example? Evan-fricken-gelion! Yeah that’s right! I’m calling it out! This series is actually pretty good I have to say. But the main character is so FRIGGIN PATHETIC and emo, it pissed me off watching it. The worst thing? HE JUST STAYS THAT WAY! What sort of message is this sending? “Hey people! It’s okay if you suck at life; just remember, you’ll be the one with powers when SHIT GOES DOWN!” The worst thing for me though is, if the character is male, which is often the case, he has these women inexplicably falling in love with him. This happens in quite a few action animes in which, if you know anything about women, DOSEN’T MAKE ANY FRIGGIN SENSE! In these shows that meet the conditions I just stated, there is often a female character that is for some reason smitten by the main characters, brooding or anti-social or useless nature and seeks to “heal” his wounded heart or ego or whatever. Suffice it to say it often doesn’t work but they fall in love anyway. See, this is annoying to me cause in real life, if you are constantly, brooding, or anti-social or useless, people, especially members of the opposite sex, tend to either not notice you, or just AVOID YOU OUTRIGHT cause they think you weird or something. This brings us to the most implausible emo protagonist, the one that exists in the romance genre.

"All these girls love me cause I'm socially stunted!" (The cast from Love Hina)

 In the romance genre of anime this happens WAY more often and its implausible in romance animes that feature protagonists of either gender. First let’s look at dudes. Romance animes with dudes usually belong to the “harem” genre. “OH GEE! WHAT A FUNNY NAME? I WONDER WHAT THAT MEANS?!” These animes feature a male protagonist that often has a personality containing any combination of the following: insecurity, self consciousness, ugliness, stupidity, laziness, social ineptitude, blandness etc. Yeah seems like a real hunk eh? So its obviously no surprise when EVERY FEMALE CHARACTER (of all ages and “hotnesses”) IN THE FRICKIN SHOW FALLS IN LOVE WITH HIM (like a personal harem)! Yeah… cause, ya know… most women like their men unable to function in society! Only, by and large, they don’t… they really, really don’t. This convention makes equally little sense in the female context as well. In romance animes where females are the main characters its the same sort of idea, minus the harem. The girl is usually emo, unconfident, stupid, clumsy, ugly, useless, socially inept, all that other stuff, etc., etc. and yet, the most handsome, proactive, talented, perfect, yadda, yadda, dude in school, or work, or whatever happens to spy her one day and think to himself “Gee! I’ve always wanted a girlfriend who is incapable of performing even the most rudimentary tasks! (such as walking on level ground while carrying something)” and asks her out. During the relationship of course the girl, being a self-conscious wreck, ends up being extremely clingy to her new handsome boyfriend and suspects him of infidelity at every turn (while continuing to be absolutely useless). But the boyfriend, being this benevolent guy, forgives her every time and just puts up with it. Ya know! Cause he’s nice and stuff! BULLSHIT!

Gatsu here was teleported to hell where all his friends were killed and/or raped in front of him, so he is certainly allowed to be emo. BUT HE'S NOT! (Gatsu, from Bersek) 

 So basically, my point is that emo protagonists in anime are annoying because their often portrayed as being desirable as mysterious hunks or romantic/intimate partners, or heroes much to the contrary of real life. By and large, people are generally attracted to proactive, positive, skilled and/or charismatic people, because (surprise, surprise) they’re good at stuff and people admire them and feel good around them! Nobody likes a whiner! In real life, most of these emo people are ignored or at worst shunned. Hey! I'm not saying I like it, I'm just stating the facts! It certainly sucks, but if you wanna be a cool hero who inspires others, or suave gentleman, deemed attractive by all the ladies ya gotta actually have some confidence be capable of actually DOING something! And emo characters are straight up annoying. They're always going on about how horrible their lives are when most of their problems are results of their own USELESSNESS! GO GET SOME SKILLS ALREADY! Now I understand that you can't make such simple assumptions about real people, I'm just speaking in the context of anime here.                

1 comment:

  1. I know a few emo guys in real life that are pretty useless at everything. They tend to make up anime type stories where an emo that is pretty much them wins at everything. I think it's because instead of actually trying to solve the problems in their lives they would rather just create a world where they don't have to change yet have all the power/girls/money/whatever.