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Old 2013-05-27, 14:06   Link #1
Eragon
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Liking 'broken' characters.

Yeah, I know, the title's too vague. Couldn't come up something more appropriate for what I wanted to say.

Okay. So, this thought has been nagging me for a while. For those of us who like broken(or tragic) - i.e. emotionally and/or psychologically scarred - characters... Is this human nature OR is it only characteristic to some of us OR is it because those characters are romanticized ?

The reason I'm asking this is because, I sometimes feel like a jerk that I like a character because of the shit they have gone through and what they have become as a result. It's like I want them to have shitty life so that they become what? Intriguing?

I get that such characters make for interesting stories. But, why?

I know this is post probably won't be making too much sense but, I would like to hear you thoughts about this.


*Disclaimer - All characters mentioned in this post are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
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Old 2013-05-27, 14:14   Link #2
Random32
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Three things I can think of

To have character development, it's best to start with a flawed character. If a character is perfect, you don't have any room for development except backwards. Broken characters have a lot of flaws to work with.

Also it is about sympathy. You feel bad for broken characters and want to seem them get better, or at least succeed, so it's easier to form an emotional link with them.

And it's a form of escapism. Ennui ridden middle class kids want to "experience" through the characters things that won't happen to them. It's not something they would want to be, but it's sorta like zombie apocalypse or other "bad" settings. It's something some people are interested in trying.
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Old 2013-05-27, 14:22   Link #3
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Also "broken characters" can get away with things normal wouldn't.
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Old 2013-05-27, 15:04   Link #4
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there is also this factor, if you see a character going through the same shit one might have experienced in his/her life, not the same but somewhat similar,one might find a character similar to themselves so one is attracted to that character to see how the character deals with it or overcomes it's flaws or how the character's path turns out to be,
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Old 2013-05-27, 15:12   Link #5
Kirayuki
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Mostly enjoying this type of character for character study, which may help me keep glued to the work even when the story itself is not interesting. And probably because it's a fiction to begin with that enable such a stretch of imagination for things you can't find in real life.
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Old 2013-05-27, 16:25   Link #6
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I am a total sadist when it comes to the anime characters I like the most.
'nuff said.

Quote:
I get that such characters make for interesting stories. But, why?
Human beings love drama. And they love conflict.
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Old 2013-05-27, 18:06   Link #7
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The Batman effect. Welcome to 80% of my favorite characters list.

Because a story typically involves the experience of its characters, and thus its ideal to see character progression and growth. Slapping on a disability/tragic past on someone means that they have to work harder to achieve their goals and thus when they do make it's far more rewarding. On the other hand, seeing a character get everything handed to them on a plate is far less interesting.

The characters that do have to work, often have to overcome their personal inadequacies and external factors, and thus have to fight threats from outside and inside.

In addition, these kinds of characters tend to be anti-heroes, meaning that had they collapsed under normal circumstances that they weren't fated to be heroes. But fact is, they're usually alive and kicking ass despite everyone and everything else saying otherwise. But well, as they say, destiny is just an excuse. The desire to overcome all else despite what was against you, is just a basic desire that people have had through their existences.

Also, it establishes a point that some things happen to you that are completely out of your control. But how you handle it will define who you are.
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Last edited by Archon_Wing; 2013-05-27 at 18:23.
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Old 2013-05-27, 18:09   Link #8
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It's hard to get compelling drama and conflict out of lighthearted material and consistently happy-go-lucky characters. It's not impossible, but it's hard.

"Broken" characters tend to lend themselves well to compelling drama and conflict.
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Old 2013-05-27, 22:43   Link #9
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I think one point is that pretty much everyone is "broken" in some ways, so as was said you generally want/need your characters to be a bit flawed in order for there to be some challenge they need to overcome in the narrative. While external challenges are often featured in a lot of stories, it's overcoming those sorts of internal challenges that people can most relate to. (And this is why, as was alluded to, even superheroes have weaknesses, or there'd be little joy in seeing them finally win.)

Of course, there are also characters where they sort of overload a bit on the tragedy (particularly "tragic past") to the point that they can become a bit hard to believe for some unless it's really carefully written. I wouldn't necessarily say there's anything wrong with liking stories with these sorts of super-tragic characters, but some people may feel a bit manipulated by it. Personally, I'm generally okay with realizing the manipulation (because, honestly, if you look hard enough, you can see it almost everywhere) so long as the end-result is satisfying on the whole (and if I like the way it's developed along the way).
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Old 2013-05-28, 12:58   Link #10
Eragon
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So, its got a little bit of everything to it.

How about someone like Emiya Kiritsugu ? His life is shit from start to finish - well, the finish part is up for debate. He doesn't overcome his internal demons - if anything he just digs a deeper hole for himself albeit unknowingly. What is it that makes you like that kind of character. He obviously gets no redemption for what he's done, no unicorn-shitting rainbow finale for his efforts (yes, I'm ignoring that little red-head. Just bear with me). Is it because Kotomine is a bigger dick than him or is it because he is, from our - or rather the story's - point of view on the "good" side.

Maybe, I'm just thinking too much. Having nothing to do in summer can do that you

Anyway, I can see that this question - and the thread - might be pretty intuitional. As I said, I might just be overthinking this.
Thanks for the replies - I should have betted on Archon replying though. Would have bagged some money at least
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Old 2013-05-28, 13:53   Link #11
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Kiritsugu's actions weren't going to shit out sunshine and rainbows because he didn't live in a situation where it could. Nor did he help of a writer that says "You can do any kind of amoral bullshit and have no consequences, because you are the main character". Sometimes good intentions can lead to bad things, and the failure of someone to not be able to see beyond black and white had that effect.

But I don't think it's right to pass any moralistic judgement in a war like that. He just did what he felt was best and he did pretty good given what he was got. Sometimes it's about the path taken, and not everyone can succeed. Such is life.
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Old 2013-05-28, 14:12   Link #12
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Kiritsugu's problem wasn't just his amoral means to achieve his ends, but also that his end-goal was deeply flawed as well.

Frankly, Kotomine was right about Kiritsugu - Kiritsugu's end goal was like the naive aspiration of a young child that doesn't know any better. It was truly an impossible dream.
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Old 2013-05-28, 14:22   Link #13
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Shioon from "The Breaker"/"The Breaker: New Waves".

At first the boy that gets bullied could probably just be described as a loser. He even pays his bullies to not "hurt him even more", but even then he was still beat to a bloody pulp by the bullies every time and did nothing but blocking his face in fear of being hurt. He also never had the courage to tell someone about this situation.

But then he slowly but steady threw himself (with the help of his temporary English teacher) into a world that for him was completly corrupted and despicable. But he sees more and more things of that world in a more neutral or even good light, learns what "responsibility" really means and what his role in that dark side of society is.

And now after about 160 chapters passed, he (finally) "kicks ass". That was truly rewarding... It's a shame that 2 chapters before he finally became "badass", a lot of people dropped this manhwa.
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Old 2013-05-28, 14:36   Link #14
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I get it that a flawed character is the best way to go in terms of character development, but how long is too long? How long do you think they should be able to overcome their flaws?
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Old 2013-05-28, 14:50   Link #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
Kiritsugu's problem wasn't just his amoral means to achieve his ends, but also that his end-goal was deeply flawed as well.

Frankly, Kotomine was right about Kiritsugu - Kiritsugu's end goal was like the naive aspiration of a young child that doesn't know any better. It was truly an impossible dream.
And thus, tragedy. His view of the world never grew complex enough to realize that there's many shades of grey. I just feel that it would have been very different under other circumstances. Still, I suppose it is wrong to sacrifice people who have no say.

Although this does bring up a character from another Gen work. Homura without trying to spoil much is pretty much the exact opposite of Emiya's, though it also has its destructive qualities to it, due to that focus.

Quote:
Originally Posted by judasmartel View Post
I get it that a flawed character is the best way to go in terms of character development, but how long is too long? How long do you think they should be able to overcome their flaws?
It depends if said conflict has any meaningful theme to the story. If it just serves to protect the status quo, then we just have a static character. On the other hand, it isn't a linear journey up either.
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Old 2013-05-28, 15:45   Link #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Triple_R View Post
Kiritsugu's problem wasn't just his amoral means to achieve his ends, but also that his end-goal was deeply flawed as well.

Frankly, Kotomine was right about Kiritsugu - Kiritsugu's end goal was like the naive aspiration of a young child that doesn't know any better. It was truly an impossible dream.
Normally it would be impossible and naive, but isn't the Grail magical and capable of granting any wish? >.> nobody kill me if I'm wrong, it's been a long time since I watched Fate/Zero
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Old 2013-05-28, 15:59   Link #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GreyZone View Post
And now after about 160 chapters passed, he (finally) "kicks ass". That was truly rewarding... It's a shame that 2 chapters before he finally became "badass", a lot of people dropped this manhwa.
“finally kicking ass” after 160 chapters long??! And he’s supposed to be the main character?
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Old 2013-05-28, 16:47   Link #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ruby Princess View Post
Normally it would be impossible and naive, but isn't the Grail magical and capable of granting any wish? >.> nobody kill me if I'm wrong, it's been a long time since I watched Fate/Zero
More or less, but the problem is that Kiritsugu already had this mentality before he knew of the existence of the Holy Grail.
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Old 2013-05-28, 18:13   Link #19
GreyZone
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Obelisk ze Tormentor View Post
“finally kicking ass” after 160 chapters long??! And he’s supposed to be the main character?
Well he was "winning fights" much earlier on of course (sadly some of those were off-screen or the "you fought so damn well that I give you this win"-type) and his character developed gradually but slowly away from his whineyness and worries. But it is important to note that he could impress a lot of people over the course of the story. But only at the recent chapters, thanks to a certain (shocking and traumatic) incident that I do not want to spoil here, he finally REALLY overcame these doubts he had.


To visualize it:

Images
Shioon being bullied in chapter 1 of the first series "The Breaker"
Sorry; dynamic content not loaded. Reload?

Images
No, it is NOT Aizen! It is Shioon in chapter 118 of the sequel "The Breaker: New Waves"
Sorry; dynamic content not loaded. Reload?


The irony here though, is that in a way Shioon has evolved from 1 broken state into another. First he was a complete and utter loser. Now he possibly has become what he most despiced in the first series, though that is yet remain to be seen. Anyway, if you want to see some SLOOOOOOOOW (even worse if you followed it from early on, which i luckily didn't) but rewarding character developement, then you should give it a shot.

It's important to note that shioon is not the only character in The Breaker that can be considered broken. A lot of characters are "broken", but that may be because in this manhwa that is actually one of the main motifs.





Oh, since we were talking about "broken" characters already... how about (almost) the WHOLE CAST of "Mirrai Nikki"?

Yukiteru: A boy that has daydreams about an imaginary friend that is the god of space and time... and that "imaginary friend" actually turns out to be real! Yukiteru is also being followed by a Yandere madly in love with him everywhere he goes, even beyond... whoops almost spoilt it.

Yuno: The aforementioned "Yandere" girl. You could call her the mother of all Yanderes and... if you don't call HER "broken" then I don't know who is. She is simply BATSHIT INSANE. Watch/Read the series if you want to see it. Even the "special power" she is granted is based on her obsession on "Yuki" as she calls him

Minene: An insane woman. Oh and a terrorist, that bombs a school... to kill Yukiteru... but Yuno is there too...

Akise: Well the author had to get some sales for his manga... the best way for that is to give the yaoi fangirls just a small small tease and their fantasy would multiplicate that with 1000 and would... well, become fans of the manga?
Anyway Akise is... no that would be a spoiler...
You just need to know that he for some reason tries to protect Yukiteru, but Yuno is convinced that her "protection" is the only thing "Yuki" needs, so Yuno's and Aki's antagonism towards each other creates several "implications", if you know what I mean...

Takao Hiyama: A SERIAL KILLER! Yay! Another broken character!


I could list even more "broken" and insane characters, but well I guess this wall of text is enough for now
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Old 2013-05-29, 00:21   Link #20
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In terms of broken characters... well, I generally try to avoid them, but I think I'll open this can of worms:

Would Shinji be a case of 'is broken for too long'? Then again, how about we just include the entire main cast of Evangelion? Granted, there were very certain circumstances behind the entire show, but my own personal opinion is that the movie remakes are better than the original show; however, I've heard quite a few users on this forum say the exact opposite.
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