Originally Posted by Kuroi Hadou
Hoo boy... this is a long one. Both for me to write and you all to read. Still, I have thought about this before, so I do have a few things to say in defense of my opinion.
Touma is character that has things happen to him. When we first meet him, he's being chased by a walking taser disguised as a pre-teen tsundere. Already we're off to a bad start. Kamachi's given us a protagonist for whom his baseline is to react, not to take the initiative, and it's a baseline that follows well into the New Testament novels. Within the same book, a girl falls into Touma's apartment. Well, now we have a pattern that even Touma acknowledges by his catchphrase of "such misfortune." Things happen to him, and he either accepts it, or adapts. Handled well, this wouldn't be a problem. Characters can't be all action all the time. That'd be every cliche perception of every shounen series ever. Reactions are just as important to developing a story as action, perhaps even moreso. Unfortunately, Kamachi doesn't handle it well. Touma reacts, and reacts, and reacts, and that's all we see him do. Every single time.
The first novel? Boy meets girl, girl is in trouble, people attack Touma, Touma defends himself. Deep Blood? Stiyl shows up and enlists Touma's aid. The Sisters incident I'm willing to cut him some slack for, but then Angel Fall comes around and we're back to the default: Kanzaki and Tsukchimikado seek Touma out to let him know about the problem. Four volumes, and three of them all have things happening to Touma like a weirdness magnet. The worst part is Touma lets it happen to him. Over and over, he calmly accepts what gets thrown at him, and reacts. Where's the initiative he showed during the Sisters arc? We know he has it in him, but Kamachi seems to just want things to happen to Touma, rather than Touma actually affecting anything. The whole mess with God's Right Seat makes this even more clear. Volume after volume of Touma being targeted just for being around, and Touma just accepts them as they come, one at a time. Vento, then Terra, then Acqua. One right after another, they're like Terminators being sent after a guy who doesn't know anything, has no drive to know anything unless a situation happens to him that requires him to learn something, and not only wouldn't but couldn't get in their way if they hadn't attacked him. Then Touma goes to England, and wouldn't you know it, a coup happens just in time for him to get involved in it and save the day. After that, it's Fiamma, and... well, I'm just repeating the same point over and over.
Things finally come to their ultimate conclusion in NT3, when Touma gets played like the complete and utter pawn he's been for the past 25!!! volumes, and he acts surprised. Outraged. And I'm supposed to respect him as the main character? Or admire the manipulative skills of the people playing him like a fiddle when it's been consistently happening over and over and again? Touma simply can not, and does not, carry this story; this story carries him. It's carried him along, and held his hand, far too long for me to have any kind of admiration for him. He's there for Kamachi to show off how awesome his character is when all he does is punch someone in the face at the very end, claiming the moral high ground and preaching to them while he does so. I was almost ready to break my computer when I read Touma punching out Gabriel. It's the most blatant example yet of Touma being there just for awesome things to happen to him, because why not punch out an Archangel -- an ARCHANGEL!!! -- because you can.
Speaking of moral high ground and preaching... I have major issues with that, but not in the way you seem to. Yeah, the obvious is obvious, but I'm more concerned about what's not obvious. Whenever Touma punches out someone, it's completely black and white. Touma's right, the one getting punched is wrong. Again, this also wouldn't be a problem if handled well. Except it's not. Most of the antagonists and Big Bads started in a good place, took a wrong turn, and ended up somewhere south of "morally upright." Everyone has flaws, and these characters are no different, but flaws and poor decisions are gray. When Touma enters the equation, that gray turns into black, and Touma's the white. Without exception. They're off the leash, and Touma punching them is the equivalent of putting down a rabid animal. This is even worse when all of those flaws, and decisions, and resulting goals and efforts, are treated as nothing but an "illusion" Touma merely dispels thanks to his magic right hand. Someone's personal beliefs, and outlooks, and all of the thinking and experiences that went into building them, are wiped out by flesh and bone propelled at sufficient velocity to the face. The instant that happens, they're suddenly cured of their "hallucinations", and Touma was right all along, and they're sorry. Now we can welcome them into the good guy club and cheer for them without feeling guilty.
I had a discussion via IM once, and when I mentioned this the point was raised that, if they were truly justified and truly believed in what they were doing, one good punch to the face wouldn't have any effect on them. At first I agreed, and then I thought about it. Beliefs are both fragile and strong, and we don't just change them instantly like a Touma Punch does. The issue here is with Imagine Breaker. Let's look over the official list of what it has been mentioned of doing or being capable of doing at some point. It negates: Luck; divine grace; divine punishment; leylines; red strings of fate... wait, what? Our protagonist, the one who supposedly only gives people a wake up call, can potentially say "Fuck you!" to the very idea of soul mates, as in the two people the universe went out of its way to pair up?! If that's the case, what's stopping that same logic to extend to, oh, beliefs? If the laws of probablity and divine providence don't stand up to his power, then what chance does something as vulnerable as the human psyche have? It might as well be indoctrination, because by the nature of IB's power and the before and after of Touma punching people, that's all I can really call it at this point.
Ultimately, everything always comes down to one thing: Touma punches somone. That's... it. That's how the problem, far more often than not, gets solved. Touma breaks someone's face, and the problem is solved. What a blatant example of might makes right. It degrades everything the antagonists had going for them, everything they've worked for. A stronger character comes along (the MC no less), beats them, and the stronger character is automatically the morally correct one. Even worse, Touma's degrading his own high ground by doing just that. I have nothing wrong with him defending himself, especially given how many times he's actually started a fight (*cough*Sisters arc*cough*), it's following all the way through. Rather than showing the latest antagonist that violence just won't work, systematically dismantling their will to engage in it, he completely indulges them and proves firsthand that violence does work.
Most importantly, there's absolutely nothing there. No backstory. No motivations. No goals. No fears. We know nothing about him. He's a black hole, and no amount of awesomeness or badassery on his part is going to make me relate to him, and if I can't relate to him, I can't like him as a character, let alone appreciate what he's supposed to contribute to the story. We're way too far into the story now for me to be won over to the "Touma's the best character ever!!!" camp. I'll take Accelerator and Shiage over Touma any day.