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Old 2012-05-12, 12:12   Link #2355
Knight Errant
Join Date: Dec 2007
Location: Dublin, Ireland
Age: 29
Originally Posted by Akka View Post
As well as the humorous inversion of gender role, I can get it (we do it rather commonly in the West too), but it's just so UBIQUITOUS that I think there is something else here. I mean, I have a hard time remembering even ONE protagonist that didn't let himself to be abused by some maniacal female friend, so it's not even a trend, it's downright systematic.
I wouldn't go that far, there's plenty of male characters who aren't total complete losers. The whole Love Hina/Tenchi Muyo Archetype of complete loser male is not as ubiquitous as you might think. Here's some recent examples of shows with guys who aren't the "complete loser" archetype:

Natsume Yuujinchou
Hotarubi no Mori e
Usagi Drop
Sakamichi No Appolon
Tiger and Bunny
Danshi Koukosei no Nichijou
Ao no Exorcist
Gundam Unicorn
Gundam Age
Mawaru Penguindrum.

The "complete loser" is really only common in Harems. That said, there are plenty of "weak males" outside of the "complete loser". Generally I'd split it up as follows:

1. Complete losers: These are indeed the complete losers to whom you refer. No redeeming qualities. Might occasionally have a bout of courage. No particular reason for being losers either.

2. Legitimate losers: These are guys who are dysfunctional, but are legitimately so, often feature in more dramatic stuff, think Welcome to the NHK or The Tatami Galaxy. They may end out overcoming their problems.

3. Initially losers: A lot of Shonen, the guy starts off weak, but gains courage, guts and strength as the story continues. Think Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, or most any sports or Shonen show.

Only number 1 gets egregiously abused by the women around him. 1 is more of a comedy agent, it's not funny to see an amazing guy get with loads of women, but it is to see a loser. Again, this character is also super extreme version of many Otaku, he has the hangups many otaku have, but he gets into "hilarious" situations, allowing the viewer to laugh at himself. There's also Schadenfreude going on here. It's a bit like laughing at Mr. Magoo, or Mr. Bean etc. This character never changes as the story continues. He might grow enough of a pair to confess to the girl at the end. Might. They're endemic to Comedies and Harem shows.

Number 2 is intended to explore real life issues otaku viewers might have, this character type is rarely seen being outright abused by anyone, but is still a loser, and misanthropic. This is more about Drama, I rarely see anyone complain about these guys.

Number 3 has the benefit of being both empathetic to the viewer, presenting a good fantasy, and being generally superior to the alternative (utterly amazing hero). In contrast to an utterly amazing hero, it's impossible for the viewer to think "This guy is just like me" and shows that with effort and courage, he can be just like that character. It's also dramatically satisfying to see someone overcome their fears. This wouldn't be possible with a character that's all round amazing. It features a lot more possibilities for introspection and characterisation compared to a lead who kicks ass and chews bubblegum. While the ass-kicking badass is cool, he makes for a poor lead, because there's no real way for him to improve, he's already an ass-kicking badass. Seeing a guy start as an ass-kicking badass and end as an ass-kicking badass isn't satisfying. Seeing someone go from zero to hero is. That's why the protagonist of Star Wars is Luke Skywalker, even if we all prefer Han Solo. And that's why the star of every sports movie ever is some loser team at the bottom of the league, not the team at the top of their game that initially beats them at the start, but that loses against them again in the heroic finale.

In terms of male characterisation, I think Anime actually does a lot better then most other genres of young adult fiction (particularly their closest counterpart, american comics).
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