(Disclaimer: I realize that episode 15 fixed some of the problems that happened, but episode 14 still happened. The Linger effects of that episode are still around. You can’t send hate mail toward people and think that the effects change instantaneously. People’s lives are not computer programs that you can fix instantaneously. Who knows how the lives of the people that were harassed changed from this experience. I’m betting not in a positive way.)
I know that I am a little behind here. The fourteenth episode of Darling in the FranXX happened over a week and some change ago. It was an episode of anime that shook the very foundations of our anime community again. Despite 02’s toxic nature which would lead to Hiro changing in ways we don’t fully understand yet, there was an entire wave of hatred that came from what Ichigo’s toxic behavior. The waifu wars are strong in this show. Seeing tons of fans wrongly sending their toxic behavior waves toward Ichigo’s voice actor and the people writing the show has got me thinking (You know, besides disliking being apart of the Darling in the FranXX fandom by being one of the people watching the show) Is Ichigo really that bad of a character? The answer that comes to my mind is no. No, I don’t think she is.
Let’s talk about what makes a character good. In my eyes, a good character has two qualities that they must have.
The first one is that they need a distinctive personality. This doesn’t just revolve around giving them a backstory or just giving them hobbies and things that they like to do. Oh no, there is much more to it than that. Those attributes help quite a bit though. A character needs a personality, because they need to do more then interact with other people and different situations. They need to interact with a situations and character in a way that is distinct to them. Hopefully something more interesting than the shonen hero humble idiot personality who is just there to drive the story forward. After this, add the backstory and some hobbies. There it is, a complete character. They live and breath in a way that feels completely realistic.
In the context of the Darling in the FranXX, I think that Ichigo has a distinct personality. She was a bit of a blank canvas in the beginning, because she has that test tube kid thing going on, but let’s talk about her in more detail, shall we? Other then being in love with Hiro since forever, she also is trying her best to be a leader at the same time. She’s not the best at it, but she does her best to keep everyone together and that’s something I can get behind. She also likes cute things like bunnies as well. Compared to almost every other character in the show, besides 02, Goro, and Hiro even, she is more than a cardboard cutout.
Consistency of Character
Yet another trait that is important, but it’s very easy to explain. Once a character’s personality and relationship with other characters is established, they need to be consistent. Not that whole “everything they do is stagnant” thing, How these characters interact with each other have their own particular arcs that move in their own distinct way. All of these things have to make sense though. You can’t have one-character act one way in one episode and then act a completely different way the next episode. Once a character is established, they are established. Even in shows that are more plot focused then character focused, characterization is always consistent. In that regard, I think Ichigo follows this route too. (So does 02, while we are on this topic.)
Episode 14: Disliking, but respecting
Following the end of episode 14, I definitely think that Ichigo is a great character. Everything she did made sense to her. She wasn’t there when Ichigo and 02 had their moment of realization. All she had was knowledge she gathered from wandering around certain areas around and hearing different levels of exposition from random unimportant characters. Ichigo is also a teenager that is coming to terms with how she feels about life in general as well. Knowing all of this, there is no way that I can even argue with Ichigo’s actions in episode 14. Her being bull headed toward the person that she loves and ignoring all the other consequences of them at this moment. I’m sure that there is a fall out of all these consequences from episode 14 that is going to affect the series as its whole for the rest of its run. (Or it can be mostly resolved in episode 15 in a mostly well done way.) By saying this, I don’t think that Ichigo is a bad character on any level. This isn’t just a “versus other characters” sort of thing, Ichigo would stand out in a lot of shows on her own. That being said, I don’t like her.
Yes, there is a huge different between calling someone a bad character and completely disliking a character. Just because I understand a character’s motives, doesn’t mean that I must like them. The most interesting sorts of villains are those in which you can completely understand on a character level because they are incredibly relatable. Ichigo is like that for me. Technically Ichigo isn’t a villain, but my point still stands. She still has done a negative action in terms of the story and it doesn’t matter how relatable those situations are when it comes to it all. That’s why I can’t like her (them), but I can respect her (them). I don’t agree with Ichigo’s actions from my view point as the omni present anime watcher, but once again they all make sense for her.
(Since we are walking this path, O2 isn’t perfect either. She was consuming the lives of people to possibly become human one day. She was always a lab rat that knew nothing else besides what she was told and was forced into the situation that she is in. Even if she has killed lots of people, she was toxic from being in her environment. Hiro was the only good thing that happened in her life. Dang it, this blog post is a trip. How did I go from not liking either of them to shipping Hiro and 02? I’m not even a person that ships characters most of the time. Ok, none of this was the point of this post at all.)
In the end, I think the part that explains why people are taking to this more strongly than they should on this show, and a lot of different other series, because they can’t find out how to separate this visual medium from real life. In some ways, you can say that’s a good thing. That means that this series has got its viewers strongly at an emotional level. At the same time, there is a sense of reality that needs to be a barrier for every single viewer. The production studio between Darling in the FranXX and Ichigo’s voice actor don’t deserve the hate that they have received. The same for any other creator behind every other show ever made. Whether or not you strongly dislike Ichigo or any other character and/or show in the universe, this is still the truth. While the media that we use to escape are lives with can affect us on a lot of emotional levels, don’t let it affect you to the point where you start assaulting other people in any way. That’s just wrong.