This post is about anime, but it will have some non anime influences regarding current super hero films and other comic book influences. My nerd is on all the time, so this is just a hazard from staying with my blog posts.
Heroes are a concept that long been established of human history. From many different aspects of ancient mythology, human kind has always loved heroes. From those heroes who saved lives in ancient Greece to those knights in shining armor who saved damsels from unsightly dragons, or something like that, they come in many forms. We look up to them, we celebrate them, but sometimes they get boring. We as people don’t always relate to those pure lawful good characters who do nothing wrong and always live by their own code. Some might think that we need more characters with a little bit of an edge to them.
Starting off, what is the appeal of an anti-hero? They are, most of the time, much more complex of a character then the main hero of any series. The anti-hero either has a much more complex or tragic backstory that drives them to who they or maybe they had the same backstory as the hero and they chose an alternate route. As an easy example, let’s consider the difference between Goku and Vegeta. Both of these characters are the last of the Saiyajin race, but so different from each other. When Goku landed on and bumped his head, he was raised by a loving individual that helped him to become the hero he is in in Dragon Ball and beyond. Vegeta never had that kind of support system. After his planet was blown up when he was off world, Vegeta, the prince of all saiyajins, was enslaved by a galactic over lord. He lived only to survive from being crushed from under a gigantic boot heal. Vegeta was extremely lucky meeting Goku on Earth which lead to discovering his own happiness.
A second part of the anti-hero’s charm is that they are relatable. I’m going to start this off with a simple question. Are you a kind of person that can just wake up instantly in the morning or do you all groggy and have to take or drink some pick me up caffeine to get you going. If you can wake up without anything helping you, then I am thoroughly convinced that you are some kind of super hero. The point of that simple question is for relatibility. An antihero needs some boosters to get a head in life and walks a complex morality game of what is right or wrong. Any good hero will always take the completely legal route to achieve anything and work the system the best they can. As a society, much of what we do is run through some paper work and bureaucracy to get anything done. As an antihero, you can walk the line of the law and go out and achieve something. That’s something most of us wish we could do and that’s why we make a quick connection with them. They could do bad, but they could also do good. It depends on what they want to do.
Heroes are not outdated by any stretch of the imagination. They have their strong and never ending place in fiction and I like it that way. I feel like this is the classic Superman versus Batman (not the movie, BLEH) kind of argument or clash of ideals. Batman is more the antihero that everybody just seems to love, but Superman spends all the time in the light helping people. He stops planes from crashing, he saves people from buildings on fire, talking people off of buildings who want to commit suicide. How would you not want to be like that guy? This is the biggest sort of inspiration that you can think of. Sure, this guy also fights super villains and space aliens from distant galaxies, but he always looks out for the people of Metropolis to the best of his abilities. I like both of the two heroes mentioned in this post, but I definitely prefer Superman because I always try to align myself with him.
Does this mean that Super Heroes can’t be relatable? Well, no, they definitely can be. I know I keep using examples, but All Might is another one here. He does play the classic super hero role like superman, except he has a time limit due to a wound and the fact that he’s giving his power to Midoriya. He’s oddly geeky and just a hilarious character to boot. He might look like the standard hero on the outside, but he is definitely has a very interesting and unique personality about him. I honestly feel like All Might is becoming one of my favorite characters. He’s just so interesting.
So between anti-heroes and heroes, why not take both? We all need characters to relate to and to look up to in the things we read/watch/act/play/whatever. This post was inspired from watching My Hero Academia which seems to be a straight forward heroes vs vilains sort of thing. Nothing wrong with that because of the interesting hero characters and the straight up shonen series that it is, but it feels likes its missing some necessary layers. Nah, it’s probably too early to say anything yet.