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Old 2010-04-12, 15:28   Link #1
Darklord_bg
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Indecisive main character - good or bad?

Often times I read comments about a show which features a love triangle (or any sort of polyhedron) involving one guy and two or more girls, I find that the guy is labeled as indecisive. As far as I understand the reason for that label is that the guy does not clearly choose one girl to be his love interest until late into the show or sometimes not even at all. This label is almost always used with a negative connotation and is a frequent reason for the audience to hate the character.

The question, though, is whether being "indecisive" is really a bad thing about the show and about the character. Let's face it, not choosing a clear favorite from the very beginning keeps the tension in the show and makes it interesting to watch. For some romance shows where the primary plot point is who the protagonist will end up with, the tension will be completely ruined if he chooses one girl in the beginning and sticks to her in the end. I know that there are exceptions where the choice is clear from the very beginning and yet, the show is still tense and interesting, but that does not apply to every romance show.

Another point I wanted to make is that often the main character has a reason to be indecisive and I don't see why he should be forced to choose. I'm not saying he should date several girls at the same time, but he can certainly interact with all of them without committing to one. Why should he be blamed for that? Also, in action shows, where the romance is not the primary driving force of the plot, I don't see at all why the protagonist should be hated for not making a choice.

In any case, it just bothers me when an otherwise cool and/or nice character who is obviously made to be a good guy (i.e. not a villain) is hated by most of the fans for this reason.

So, what are your thoughts on the issue. Can you think of examples where having an "indecisive" main character (indecisive only in terms of choosing a girl, not indecisive in general) is well-done and the character is still likable? Can you think of examples where being indecisive is totally a negative character trait of the protagonist?
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Old 2010-04-12, 16:05   Link #2
Archon_Wing
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Being indecisive in itself does not make a character bad-- a trait alone doesn't do that. It can be used to bring about character development. It's also unreasonable to expect the guy to make a decision so fast for no real reason. It also allows people to understand the character; I mean with all the trauma that tends to happen in shows with world shattering events, it may even be stupid to be considering romance.

The main problem I can see with it, is when a show insists on Status Quo is God Meaning, any kind of progress is useless because nothing will ever come out of it. Any realizations made from it simply don't matter, as it would get reset. This is often found in many a harem show.

At worst, it can make the guy seem like a huge jackass and inconsiderate. Makoto from School Days is the king here though that is indeed a exaggeration.

For an example of a character that handles it much better is probaly Yuji from Shakugan no Shana who is a good display of everything that is good and bad about indecisive characters. He gets a lot of flak for whatever reason, but all that is a part of his soul searching, given his situation is mostly reasonable and helps establish his character. However, because Status Quo is God it eventually can get redundant and causes pointless melodrama regarding issues that seemed to have been resolved. On the other hand, like I said before, there are significantly more pressing issues...it is for that reason I can like him still despite his thickheadedness in that area. It's not always about romance, after all.
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Old 2010-04-12, 23:28   Link #3
FateAnomaly
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I hated indecisiveness characters irregardless of whether its a main or side character. Thats why i hated Kouichi but like Kazuki in Kimikiss for example.

Unfortunately i myself is indecisive. I have always hated that aspect of mine even though it is not always bad.
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Old 2010-04-13, 01:44   Link #4
Angelic
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Bad.
Everytime the character doesn't know which girl he likes and this goes on for like 20 episodes I want to friggin' punch him in his FACE.
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Old 2010-04-13, 02:29   Link #5
Darklord_bg
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Originally Posted by Archon_Wing View Post
It's also unreasonable to expect the guy to make a decision so fast for no real reason.

On the other hand, like I said before, there are significantly more pressing issues...it is for that reason I can like him still despite his thickheadedness in that area. It's not always about romance, after all.
That's one of the main points I want to make with this post. A character can only be indecisive if he absolutely has to make a decision and often times it is not the case or it is not urgent in relation to other more pressing plot issues (like I don't know... STAYING ALIVE).

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Originally Posted by FateAnomaly View Post
I hated indecisiveness characters irregardless of whether its a main or side character. Thats why i hated Kouichi but like Kazuki in Kimikiss for example.

Unfortunately i myself is indecisive. I have always hated that aspect of mine even though it is not always bad.
Well then, maybe being a little indecisive is just natural. I'm pretty sure you're not the only one who feels that way at times. You can't always decide on the right thing to do from the get-go especially when it comes to important matters such as who you're going to end up with. Maybe if people were less "decisive" we wouldn't have a divorce rate of 50%.

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Bad.
Everytime the character doesn't know which girl he likes and this goes on for like 20 episodes I want to friggin' punch him in his FACE.
Can you elaborate a little bit - like give some examples of such characters? Are they always characters who play around with girls' feelings without committing to one? Or are they just (un)fortunate to have many girls interested in them but just not interested in starting a relationship at this point.
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Old 2010-04-13, 05:03   Link #6
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Indecisive gets to ridiculous levels and that is why most hate the archetype. For example, when in harems a boy gets in really naughty situations and all he does is standing frozen or faints. Why is he being so indecisive? Because he is inexperienced is a good reason. But how many times is he excused to be like that before it gets ridiculous? That is when the Status Quo is God comes to show its ugly face. I can accept it up to 5 or 6 times, which in harem time is like 3 episodes. After that it is just lame. I understand why it can never get too bold because it will lose the age advisory. That still does not make it better. A true character would mature turning a kodomo series to hentai level in 15 in-series years. It is normal this way.

Then again it is fiction and it is supposed to be like that. Well, I don't like this sort of fiction as it fails to help me identify with the problems of the characters.

Romances for once are a bit more excused to slow down the progress. Emotions take more time that hormones to kick in properly.
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Old 2010-04-13, 07:40   Link #7
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Originally Posted by roriconfan View Post
Indecisive gets to ridiculous levels and that is why most hate the archetype. For example, when in harems a boy gets in really naughty situations and all he does is standing frozen or faints. Why is he being so indecisive? Because he is inexperienced is a good reason. But how many times is he excused to be like that before it gets ridiculous? That is when the Status Quo is God comes to show its ugly face. I can accept it up to 5 or 6 times, which in harem time is like 3 episodes. After that it is just lame. I understand why it can never get too bold because it will lose the age advisory. That still does not make it better. A true character would mature turning a kodomo series to hentai level in 15 in-series years. It is normal this way.

Then again it is fiction and it is supposed to be like that. Well, I don't like this sort of fiction as it fails to help me identify with the problems of the characters.

Romances for once are a bit more excused to slow down the progress. Emotions take more time that hormones to kick in properly.
I think you are mistaking being immature in compromising situations with being seriously indecisive. Those ridiculous situations are used mostly for comedy effect and should not be taken seriously. Such gags are not meant to be the driving force of the story. By the way, I hate those situations too. Once or twice is OK for some comedy - but a lot of shows feature them in every episode (Love Hina anyone?).

In any case - I think that being "innocent" and immature in those situations is what saves the show from turning into a hentai or into a blood and gore fest. Makoto from School days is the perfect example - you know how that turned out.
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Old 2010-04-13, 10:18   Link #8
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I am still saying that an average person would chose a choice from the ones offered and switch to another option if the present one no longer is of liking (if possible). He/she wouldn't stare idle at the options, waiting for an epiphany.
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Old 2010-04-13, 13:10   Link #9
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It all depends - does the main character get over that cumbersome trait of indecisiveness?

Them not being able to choose is annoying, in my opinion. They always fret over the choices presented to them and they feel conflicted even the most logical and satisfactory skill is RIGHT in front of them.

What I'm saying is it depends on what the person wants. Don't be dissuaded or persuaded by my opinions. It is entirely possible for a main character to harden themselves eventually and not be so wimpy or indecisive.

Ironically, wimpy main characters are usually emotional and indecisive due to their archetype. It's pointless in my opinion, you go for the choice that will satisfy you, or you will go for the one that is most logical. MC's hardly go for the choice that harms themselves or others.

Them sitting on their hands waiting for an epiphany is ignorant, they can most certainly stay there and remain indecisive, the show must go on.... To be a tad metaphorical.

I hate chaarcters with indecisiveness as a trait. Torn between their wants, their ideals, and the reality of it all. Go for wants and reality first and foremost. Ideal holds little ground when faced with gain or happiness.

That is all.
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Old 2010-04-13, 13:14   Link #10
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Depends on if he stays indecisive or has a reason to stay indecisive.


Or his name is "Kyon".
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Old 2010-04-13, 14:25   Link #11
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I probably say "Yes" 24 hours ago.

But now he/she 's not so bad if comparing to decisive male characters, who decide and hold into ridiculous believes

Sorry to rant a bit out of topic. But i really hate those who decisively but hold ridiculous justice/believes, that made every heroic actions in the whole damn world looks like ordianry acts.
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Old 2010-04-13, 14:43   Link #12
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Originally Posted by Ithekro View Post
Depends on if he stays indecisive or has a reason to stay indecisive.


Or his name is "Kyon".
Kyon's actually more apathetic than indecisive. Well, that and none of the choices are very good. Though, if we're talking about where the show's plot is heading... But that's another topic.
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Old 2010-04-13, 14:54   Link #13
Darklord_bg
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I am still saying that an average person would chose a choice from the ones offered and switch to another option if the present one no longer is of liking (if possible). He/she wouldn't stare idle at the options, waiting for an epiphany.
All I'm saying that often times a character who is labeled as "indecisive" is not even aware that he has to make a choice. Just because the audience wants him to choose a girl from the beginning does not mean the character realizes he is a main character in a "pick a girl" anime. It's not like he's been told "you should choose a girlfriend, and do it fast" - and even then - he might still decide not to. You know, staying single is also a decision.

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Depends on if he stays indecisive or has a reason to stay indecisive.

Or his name is "Kyon".
Heh, I'm not sure what you mean by that - is Kyon also accused of being indecisive?

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I probably say "Yes" 24 hours ago.

But now he/she 's not so bad if comparing to decisive male characters, who decide and hold into ridiculous believes

Sorry to rant a bit out of topic. But i really hate those who decisively but hold ridiculous justice/believes, that made every heroic actions in the whole damn world looks like ordianry acts.
You are right, it is off topic, but you do make an interesting point. I also think that deciding on a wrong choice is much worse than being indecisive.

Just to be clear once and for all - I'm not trying to advocate characters being indecisive and causing problems to those around them with their inactivity. I'm just trying to point out that the term "indecisive" is being applied too loosely to situations when being "indecisive" is the natural thing to do - and that a character in such a situation should not be hated because of that. Such an example is Alto Saotome from Macross Frontier, for instance.
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Old 2010-04-13, 15:32   Link #14
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being indecisive isn't a character breaking trait, there are times where it's understandable. It's a culmination of personality traits that are generic in shonen male leads such as fear of tits, lack of a back bone, and so forth and so on that I simply hate with a passion.
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Old 2010-04-13, 15:33   Link #15
Darklord_bg
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being indecisive isn't a character breaking trait, there are times where it's understandable. It's a culmination of personality traits that are generic in shonen male leads such as fear of tits, lack of a back bone, and so forth and so on that I simply hate with a passion.
Do you mean just in romance shows, or in general? Because...many shounen leads do not have those traits - especially lack of a backbone.
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Old 2010-04-13, 15:39   Link #16
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I think he probably means in romance related stories.
Ironic really because Tsukune Aono *points to Hayashi's signature* could very much be said to be an indecisive character, especially the anime version, however unlike a lot of the points that are being made, his motivation seems to be not hurting the rest of his friends and breaking up the group, as its pretty clear who he's chosen (which he also makes rather clear at a few points), rather than apathecism or simply wanting to play the field.

So in a sense, I personally don't hate indecisive characters, its a pretty realistic situation\reaction (if you've ever had two girls you like a bit go for you at once, its not at an easy choice, or a fun situation, especially if you are and want to stay friends with both! Stuff like that CAN take time to work through), what I hate is if the indecision goes on for too long, or ends up in a constant 'will he, wont he' situation, I do like some resolution.
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Old 2010-04-13, 16:07   Link #17
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i hate indecisive MC's for 2 reasons.
1) it is a trope done to death. these characters are basically cloned. i even remember a time period when they all had to have glasses, lol.
2) um, a 13-17 year old is surrounded by several girls who like him and you are telling me that his indecisiveness is stronger than his hormones??? way too unbelievable.
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Old 2010-04-13, 16:20   Link #18
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2) um, a 13-17 year old is surrounded by several girls who like him and you are telling me that his indecisiveness is stronger than his hormones??? way too unbelievable.
Again...I have to bring the example of Itou Makoto. Really, hormones are NOT something you should follow and live your life by!
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Old 2010-04-13, 16:28   Link #19
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Again...I have to bring the example of Itou Makoto. Really, hormones are NOT something you should follow and live your life by!
that is an extreme example. and there are probably not much MC's like him.
there are optimistic alternatives you know...like girls not obsessing over MC to the point of killing the rival girl.
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Old 2010-04-13, 16:29   Link #20
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The average shounen lead has no problem to kick the living shit out of a warrior and level a few mountains around him. Yet he is scared to death at the sight of a half naked girl. Why would he adore hate and destruction and not the pleasures of a naked body? This can only mean one thing. He is a sadistic gay villain, since he loves to torment male men while destroying everything around him, while at the same time running away from a normal relationship with a girl.

Make love; not war, said the French. This also means that these types of males hate the French! Racist bastards!
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