Snap Discussion is the weekly round table discussion on a topic relating to Japanese pop culture as selected by the almighty Snapodile. Each week the SnapThirty team will weigh in with their thoughts on that week’s topic all with the hopes of providing some interesting and perhaps even conflicting view points on the matter at hand. This week’s topic is The Mikono Effect – When One Character Ruins It All.
For this topic we each looked back on series that were ruined by one problematic character. Maybe they were annoying or had no redeeming qualities. Perhaps they were.a frustration point that the series focused way too much on. Whatever it may be here are some of our own personal picks for character that ruined their respective show.
For many in the anime community it has become almost a running gag that Shinji from Neon Genesis Evangelion is a terrible character. So at the risk of sounding cliche my pick for character who ruins it all is Shinji, a self absorbed depressive who only serves to cause frustration and slow plot momentum in the original series.
Shinji’s utter lack of desire to get into his mech has become a meme at this point but it goes deeper than that. He is just a killjoy of a character whose inability to accept the gravity of his situation and the responsibility being thrust upon him more often than not serves to fill time with melodramatic back and forth that really only bogs down the series many far more interesting elements.
Not only does he take time away from more intriguing facets of the series, he is a genuinely unlikable charactet in just about every way. Not only is he a constant bother to everyone around him but he is a self absorbed sexual deviant who puts his own teenage sexual desires prioritized over the very fate of mankind but he wallows in self pity and never truly does anything to grow as a character beyond piloting his mecha under great duress. Lets not forget that this guy flat out wanked off and came over the comatose body of his severely injured friend and fellow pilot to please his own twisted sexual desires. Oh and when the world pretty much ends leaving the two of them seemingly the only survivors he attempts to strangle her to death.
Whether he was intendex to be an unlikable protagonist or not it is hard to dispute that Shinji has a rather negative impact over the original Evangelion series bringing down what would otherwise be fascinating content. Disagree with me? I’ll see you in the comments section!
Boy oh boy did I have a tough time with this one. Not because there aren’t a plethora of annoying anime characters out there, but simply because it is tough to lay my dislike of a particular series on the shoulders of one. However, after a little soul searching and some browsing through my watched catalogue, I think I’ve finally settled on that one perfect (or imperfect) character who really altered my perception of a series for the worse; Slaine Troyard.
For those unaware, this dashing young chap resides in the fiction of Aldnoah Zero, a series that pits mechs against weirder space mechs due to a destabilisation in relations between Earth and Mars. On a visit of peace, the princess of the fourth rock from the sun was assassinated, causing the monarchy of said planet to declare war on Earth and then proceed to incinerate a whole bunch of cities that had nothing to do with anything. You know, because war. However, the princess isn’t dead, blah blah blah, saved by protagonist, blah blah, mission to end the war begins. Neat. But we’re not here to talk about that, no, our quest lies with a misguided third wheel known as Slaine. Son of an astronaut, refugee/prisoner/citizen of Mars and all around example of a tumultuous upbringing. That being said, Slaine’s life took a positive turn long ago when he became enamoured with the princess, leading him to be the man he is today…the one I hate.
Long story short; Slaine messes up constantly. Now, whilst some find this endearing and a display of how he is flawed much like a real person, it only saw to drive me off his side entirely. Acting solely out of his love for the princess, this guy just keeps making the wrong decisions. He betrays one guy, kills another, attacks the protagonist and has such a lack of defining allegiance that you’d almost think he was playing whoever he could to better his standing in the eyes of Mars…except that he hates them. In fact, he kinda hates humans as well, despite, you know, being one. For all his impassioned scrambling, if he had just sat down for ten seconds and talked things out with the princess, who he did in fact see at one point, so much trouble could have been avoided. But instead, he keeps making mistake after mistake without really ever hesitating to do so. Seriously man, just stop. Take a vacation and leave Mars behind. Don’t save one of the leaders that you hate, which he totally does by the way. Idiot.
Also (*Spoiler Alert*) Slaine wraps up his magnificent performance in Season 1 by shooting the protagonist in the head. Why? Because he was getting too close with the princess…’s body which was lying lifeless on the ground, gunned down by the guy who Slaine spared earlier. You see why I don’t like this guy? Yes, he has led a complicated life and yes he is directionless in the surging tides of war, but I just don’t care. In every attempt to express him as a lost, confused soul, I only saw an annoying brat who caused more trouble than he was worth. Maybe if he wasn’t directly responsible for so much of the main cast’s misfortune, I could appreciate him more, but he was, so I can’t. He’s just so much of an unendearing screw up that I was infuriated when he took up screentime. Now, that isn’t to say that this series was perfect, because it wasn’t, nor that the other characters are anywhere near my all time favourites, because they weren’t. In fact, I didn’t even bother with Season 2. Heck, Slaine could’ve done a complete 180 and become a paragon of awesome in that season, but I can only speak to what I know. And what I know is that Slaine Troyard is an irksome bother who would’ve aided this series immensely by simply not being in it.
For the sake of context, reader; this week’s topic is one that had me baffled. I looked around my room searching for a series which played host to a character so bad that it was ruined, and yet I could not find even a trickle of inspiration, but that’s because, well…if I found a series to be that bad, it would no longer be on my shelves, right? Right! This lead me to begin pondering what I have long gotten rid of since the days of my youth, and one incredibly popular Manga stood out to me; Tite Kubo’s Shonen Jump series Bleach. This Manga I once collected religiously, and yet it’s presence is no longer crowding my personal space. This is because, after a long time coming, I removed all twenty-eight of the volumes I had compiled and sent them somewhere wherein which they could be appreciated. The local library, a friend, a family member, the garbage; it matters not where these volumes have now gone, so long as they’re not near me.
Reminiscing on this, I was reminded as to why I began to hate Bleach after so long of loving it. It could have been the rediculous nature of it’s more recent arcs, it could have the absence of my favorite characters throughout most of the series’ run, or it simply could have been that my tastes have changed overtime. I then began thinking back on the series’ protagonist Ichigo Kurosaki: Apart from the incredibly epic fight scenes he was apart of, and his transformations of which progressively looked more and more gritty, he was not a character that I ever truly liked nor felt as though I could relate. In fact, I think perhaps Ichigo Kurosaki was one of the defining factors that lead to my disconnection with the Manga, and it’s not just because of his personality.
Ichigo Kurosaki, like most Shonen protagonists, spent a great deal of the series’ beginning not wanting to be a part of anything going on within it. For the most part, I can very much understand a character being that way, but as the series continued on I always got the impression that he found everything to be quite trivial, only ever making the effort once he had gotten too deep in a situation to turn his back on it. Whether or not this point is one that is factual, my perception of him as a character is that he had no depth nor growth as the series went on, that is…if we’re not counting his continuously-growing list of inherited supernatural powers. While I very much understand that Shonen characters, like Goku, must continue to get stronger as to defeat more powerful foes, I feel as though Ichigo had become so devastatingly mighty thanks to retconned story points and thinly veiled “mysteries” that there was no longer a reason to fear for his life in battle. Once again, I understand the layout of a Shonen story and how the hero will always triumph over adversity, but you’ve at least got to make them work for it.
Ichigo Kurosaki’s character become so predominant, even for that of a protagonist, that Bleach became a Manga not about fighting evil spiritual beings but how Ichigo Kurosaki specifically can defeat them. Had Ichigo been a character more interesting, charismatic, relatable, or play host to any other personality features that make a character great, I would have no issue with him being the center of attention constantly, but Ichigo I just could not handle. Unfortunately, simply tacking on brand-new powers does not make a character more “detailed” or “interesting”, it simply makes them messier, and Ichigo Kurosaki is the messiest character I have ever had the displeasure of following. If only we could go back to the days where he was only somewhat unlikable, now…I can’t even stand to look at him. Sorry Bleach, but you got yourself one hell of a terrible protagonist, at least…that’s what I think.
I’m going to cheat here and actually talk about Mikono from Aquarion EVOL. Did you know she was voted as one of the top 10 worst anime characters of all time in Japan back when Aquarion EVOL aired? She even ranked above anime villains that committed mass genocide… that’s notorious she is.
Mikono is the woman that any man who doesn’t know any better wants. She’s the kind of person who is so toxic that she brings everyone around her down with her. If she’s not happy then no one should be happy. She’s the kind of person who will constantly push and reject someone only to get jealous and clingy when that said person even tries to move on from her. The protagonist of Aquarion EVOL, Amata, fell for Mikono on first sight and never gave up until the bitter end and after all the false misunderstood sparks of a real relationship.
Over the course of their on and off relationship you see Mikono knowingly lead Amata on… only to reject his nervous but brave advances. Then when it seems like Amata has a chance with Zessica, who is like the coolest and most chill gal in town, guess who steps in to ruin it? Mikono. She messes around with Amata, constantly pulling and pushing, and ruins any chance he has of having what could have been healthy and ideal relationship with Zessica.
Turns out, Mikono and Amata were destined to be lovers, a fulfilment of a 24,000 year old prophecy of some kind. Which is a shame. Mikono may have ruined it for everyone, but at least she was able to instil a passionate hatred out of everyone, so props to her really.
What character ruined a show for you? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below. Next week’s topic is ‘Feeling Inspired – Characters That Changed Your Life‘.