Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Overpowered Anime Characters

I can already see it now from the early prospects of this post's title. In fact I predict a thick and coagulated batch of controversy. So far though, it doesn't seem to be all that bad because it’s starting to smell a bit like liquorice. In order to stem the predicted tide of complaints, I’m going to address this problem right here, right now. I agree that modern electronic mediums like gaming encourages everyone to hold their own subjective (whether ill-considered or not) opinion. So as is the nature of things, what I deem to be an unbalanced or overpowered anime character may very well be seen as entirely the opposite or anywhere in between for everyone else. In order to better illustrate my point, and as common sense would dictate, I’m going to give a brief description into what I believe makes a character overpowered or unbalanced.

In an attempt to look slightly intelligent and for the sake of this post, I have invented the Superman rule. Superman Rule: An anime character is eligible for the term ‘overpowered’ and/or ‘unbalanced’ when they exceed or have equivalencies to/with the relative power of the DC character ‘Superman’. Power does not refer to the specific powers of Superman within or outside of his universe but instead equates to his strength of ability within his own contextual universe. Since Superman’s ability, while entirely strong in his own contextual universe, may not be exceedingly strong in another contextual universe. We must refer to the relative scale at which he can achieve his ends within his own universe. Simply put, a character is overbalanced when in the context of his/her/its own specific fictional (and equally awesome) universe; he/she/it can overcome their goals with the same achievability as Superman. Even more so if the character seems too strong to be suppressed by any naturally occurring elements of the contextual universe.

After reading, considering and attempting to apply my definition of an overpowered anime character; you’d be perfectly justified in questioning the relevancy of my ‘Superman rule’. This is especially the case when we consider how many characters would in fact equal or exceed Superman in strength. While the ‘Superman rule’, I admit, is undoubtedly on shaky grounds. By being able to question anime characters to some extent, it must maintain some iota of usefulness. Another question I must consider is why does this even matter? An important question to be sure, especially when considering that no matter the circumstances that may confront me; I am and always will be an anime fan. My only problem with anime should now be as clear as day, obvious in fact. I really dislike the idea and practice of using overbalanced characters. Yes they have an uncanny ability to fill most plot holes in anime, and I’ll grant that the way in which they present their abilities is usually a sight to behold (a.k.a. epic). But they degrade the story, introduce story warps and worst of all, they have an annoying ability to render many of the other characters irrelevant. Even if one were to assume that power/ ability played no prominent role in a specific sub-plot, arc or story; they represent the lack in other characters, and such is the nature of anime that with this lack, a character starts to subside in our minds.

I think it would be appropriate to briefly explain what a story warp is. To me a story warp can be most simply defined as continuous plot corrections or vacancies causing accumulated unbalance. When a writer introduces an overpowered anime character, for whatever reason, they must then introduce some way in which to suppress this power. Moreover, so to allow for a more acceptable story, more and more extravagant plot devices are introduced so to explain the imbalance of a character. This can become so prevalent that if the plot isn’t reigned in or carefully reworked; it sooner or later becomes too much for fans to accept. Another aspect of an overpowered character is that they can generate a definitive lack of interest in an anime series. If we are to imagine a situation in which an overbalanced character provides the protagonist foundation for most of the power in a series. Other characters must usually then rely upon this character constantly to proceed. So much so that the effectiveness of story and its characters begin to dilute and wane. These are the problems among many others.

I love anime. It's because of this reason that I won't pick on a specific anime series. Some of them even accomodate overpowered (or close to that overpowered) characters; yet maintain the status quo through well written means. Despite my accusations, anime writers do tend to avoid some of the holes I have mentioned. More than anything else, Im using this post to creatively and constructively vent my frustration. I do this so that I may continue to enjoy a favourite pastime of mine. Anime I am grateful for your existence. green_FIEND


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