Posted by: AceRailgun | June 29, 2013

Becoming the protagonist

Persona 4 1

I know I’ve talked about this before on some occasion and honestly it’s because I hate the idea and it’s mostly because I’m expected to become some useless brown haired kid who’s only ability i whining.

 

In case you are out of the loop I’m talking about self insertion into the role of a male protagonist in anime, generally any anime with a bland male lead is a self insert anime. This normally applies to harem anime as the male viewer (And maybe female if you’re into that kind of thing) is suppose to consciously (or in some cases subconsciously) project himself into the role of the male lead. By unwritten law these characters lack a major personality so that you can project yourself  into the role without overwriting an existing character like some kind of terrible fan fiction. I’m not going to go too much into the concept since you should already know about it but what I’m hear for is to discuss two of these “Self insert protagonists” which I actually found somewhat relatable and it’s because they are from game adaptions.

 

Now saying that I felt like I was the character in the story is pushing it a bit but I must say these two leads were very well written in my eyes considering they were silent protagonists. Who I’m talking about is Yu Narukami and Kuze Hibiki from Persona 4 and Devil Survivor 2 respectively. In my eyes what made these two relatable in an almost unsettling way for me is they actually mirrored my emotions and thought processes in the anime to what I was thinking while I was playing the game. I’m only talking about the tiniest moments and reactions but those moments hit so close to home for me it gives me an odd feeling.

 

Kuze is the easiest to explain so I’ll talk about him first. In the game he’s essentially empty and nothing but a shell for the player to control and learn about the other characters but when an anime is built around him all the decisions I made as a player and all the emotions I was experiencing are now performed by an actual character with a personality. What hit close to home for me was just how upset Kuze gets when characters die and what gets me more is that no matter how hard he tries or how right he thought he was characters still die. This is the embodiment of me 100%. I knew these characters could be saved but no matter how I played they would die anyway even when I did exactly what I thought the game wanted me to do. I wasn’t breaking down in tears like Kuze was but there was a the smallest sense that yes Kuze was in fact me which truly surprised and impressed me.

 

Yu on the other hand is an odd case as even thought the game is multiple choice in some parts he would copy me and always pick the same dialog options I’d chosen. He’d even deliver them with the same witty sarcasm I imagined the protagonist I was playing in the game would. There is also the fact that he pursued friends in the same manner I did in the game, yes this is what the game wants you to do and I know that but his attitude towards it was scarily similar to mine that it gives me the chills. Even though he was the protagonist in the anime he still felt like a human player controlling the world from behind the screen to me.

 

I’m not crazy I swear, surely you’ve had a similar experience at least once in your anime watching years where you’ve felt an actually connection to a character like they were almost you.


Responses

  1. Having been playing through Persona 3 and it’s empty shell of a main character I immediately understand what you’re talking about. However, i’m not a fan of “Self-Insert Protagonists”. Instead I prefer to identify with characters that have actually personalities, to compare and contrast their though processes to my own and become attached to them like I would all the other characters.
    I can’t remember having an experience as exact as yours, but there have definitely been times where i’ve felt linked with a character.

    • I wonder if anyone would openly admit to liking the idea of a self insert role. I know I don’t and like you I prefer to identify with characters with actual personalities. But there must be a huge market for self insert protagonists in Japanese culture as I’d say about one in three anime has a bland protagonist in some form or another. Western media only ever does it with interactive media such as games where you create yourself as the hero but it doesn’t do it with non-interactive stories.

  2. Self insert protagonists had always been a big thing in the Japanese market for some reason. A majority of Atlus’s games: the Persona series, the Devil Survivor series, the Devil Summoner series, all of them feature silent self insert characters. Outside of Atlus, there’s also the Suikoden series (another one of my fav RPG series) where aside from Suikoden 3, the rest all feature similar silent characters. There’s also a mountain of visual novels and anime with similar bland characters where players can project themselves too (more onto visual novels since you are technically viewing eveeything in the eyes of the protagonist instead of a third person view in anime). I guess the Japanese really do love immersing into their favorite anime/gaming world.

    • Projecting one’s self into these roles isn’t so strange especially if the characters are strong/brave and popular but what I’ll never understand is why some of these silent protagonists or bland protagonists in anime are wimpy losers. Who in their right mind would want to project themselves into these roles? Shu from Guilty crown, Renton from Eureka Seven or the boy from Little Busters are all terrible examples but for some reason they are successful anyway.

      • “the boy from Little Busters”

        Lmao, is that dood so forgettable?

      • Yeah I remember he would pass out whenever he felt like it but his name got lost in the fuzz that is my memory of boring characters.

  3. Reblogged this on Just my guilty pleasure reblog..

  4. Aren’t we are all secretly protagonist within our delusions? Protagonist of non existance Serialized “titles” in our mind!

    • That might be true but isn’t it easier to become the protagonist in a carefully crafted story written by a professional writer or team of creative people?

      • That happens too sometimes but as a kid the delusions within my mind was an endless tale – don’t even remember when all that started! Wwwwww

  5. you sure you aren’t crazy mate?

    but seriously speaking,it was kind of amazing how the choices you made were the same one as in the anime…why couldn’t that had happened to me…

    • I always tended to lean towards the witty or unique responses in the Persona 4 game and it just so happens the anime adaption choose to base Yu’s personality on the unique dialog options.

      Crazy… Maybe, just maybe.

  6. *nods* Of course we are all protagonists within our delusions, even if I honestly prefer to watch anime with a nice cool protagonist compared to the shell ones…

    • Cool protagonists are always so much more interesting. I don’t know why more anime protagonists aren’t cool instead of meek and bland because surely we’d all prefer to pretend we are the cool guy then some weak love and friendship kid.

      Plus it’s more interesting to watch a cool guy.


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