Academic Research / Computer Culture

Attractive and Compelling Fictional Characters

Happy Valentine’s Day!  For the EIS blog, I have literally had my posting privileges revoked for making this post.  I suppose the post itself is a deep character analysis disguised as a parody of “Top Ten Hottest Guys/Girls,” and most people, self-admittedly, didn’t get the joke.  In retrospect, a joke that no one gets should probably be rethought out, or at least, it’s presentation.  So, get ready for some controversy!!… (joking).

I’ve been compiling this list for a while, and this post had just been sitting around as a draft until now.  In no particular order, I took my list and researched the significant points of each character’s presentation.  It’s partly in jest, but there are some interesting conclusions to be made in regards to captivating characters.  Since this post is written to a secular audience, I don’t explicitly name the significance of love as I believe God intends it to be, but if you look at each case, I try to talk about love in less of a “teenage crush” point of view, rather than from a deeper connection among all human beings.  This is the ultimate post about love in fiction from a female perspective.  Often, the sort of posts that I am parodying make less analytical statements and is generally driven by appearance.  I, personally, find that appearance is not enough to make any character compelling and decided to look at the things which matter to me most.

After making this list, I can see my tendencies towards villains seeking redemption, heroes that die, and misunderstood jerks.  Interestingly enough, those that made up most of my honorable mentions are of the depressed, conflicted, insane, and out-of-touch variety.  The characters that need a little help do seem attractive (to my co-dependent parts), but they don’t sweep me off my feet like those who make a firm and thoughtful stand for something.  Being boldly flirtatious is similarly compelling, but not a stand-alone quality.  Those that didn’t make my list were primarily characters that I didn’t get to know much about, such as, Crono from Chrono Trigger, characters that whined/complained a lot, like Pheonix Wright, characters that were for comic relief, like Waka in FF10 or Seifer in FF8, or characters that were good or bad for no convincing reason, such as Kefka from FF6 or Cecil from FF4.

Main characters seem to be less preferred, especially in video games (I suppose because of the user agency interfering with the character development).   Notably, it seems that characters could be really minor to the main story, and if done correctly, make a greater impression.  Also, the majority of these characters don’t actually end up in a relationship (because half of them die), but their female counterparts (if there is one) are usually very strong, independent, and stubborn.  Warning: Major Spoilers Ahead!

Star Trek

Spock  (Dr. Manhattan) – misunderstood jerk

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For the first pick, I decided to go with Spock, from the fairly recent movie.  Later, you’ll find that Sylar is also a top pick, but these picks are independent of the actor as they are differently captivating.  Being so similar, it was a tough choice between Dr. Manhattan (from Watchmen) and Spock, but I decided to keep each of my picks in distinct story spaces (and I feel that Rorschach may be more interesting than Dr. Manhattan).  Also, I find the main love scene between Spock and Uhura to be one of the most succinct and powerful love scenes I’d ever watched.

Both Spock and Dr. Manhattan are misunderstood for being extremely intelligent.  In Dr Manhattan’s case, he’s misunderstood to the point of being feared.   They both are so analytical that it takes critical circumstances for them to set a side their reasoning to understand the feelings that exist outside of thought.  For obvious reasons, being intelligent is attractive, but there’s something unique about the struggled emergence of deep emotions that sets them a part.  There’s a meaningful authenticity that comes from watching such an individual’s self-discovery.  Their pursuit of understanding is an admirable struggle, as is their ability to stay strong in their beliefs (which was more of struggle for Dr. Manhattan than Spock).

Conclusively, I believe it is his struggle to find meaning in all things that makes Spock a captivating character, and that on his journey, he’s able to surrender his tendencies to show another dimension to what is undoubtably authentic.  In the end, Spock trumps Dr. Manhattan for making more of a transformation into being someone relate-ably “human.”

Below was taken from IMDB and describes the elegance of one of my favorite love scenes.  That challenge and discovery to find something real to hold onto in another human-being is what makes Spock so attractive.

Lt. Nyota Uhura: [to Spock, after the destruction of Vulcan]
I’m sorry… I’m sorry… I’m so sorry.
[She kisses him along his face and hugs him;
after a short hesitation, he hugs her back and leans into her]
Lt. Nyota Uhura: What do you need? [Uhura takes his face into her hands]
Lt. Nyota Uhura: Tell me. Tell me.
Spock: [fighting for control]
I need everyone to continue performing admirably. [pushes the elevator button to continue]
Lt. Nyota Uhura: [tears in her eyes, nods] Okay.
[She kisses him and he kisses her back and when the elevator doors open and leaves her behind without a backward glance]

Chrono Trigger

Magus – misunderstood jerk/villain seeking redemption

“Gone is the magical kingdom of Zeal, and all the dreams and ambitions of its people.  I once lived there… But I was another person then.”

Magus is, misleadingly, a prominent villain for half of the game which qualifies him to be an ultimate misunderstood jerk.  As the story unfolds, you traverse back in time to where Magus, as a young child, loses his big sister to the truer villains of the story.

Magus seeks redemption, not in the typical having-wronged-the-world sort of way.  He wrestles with the guilt of not being able to protect his older sister and seeks to relieve that painful loss.  His motivations for much of the game are misunderstood as lusting for power, while he was nobly trying to avenge and even rescue his sister.

Often, being misunderstood comes from a result of taking great measures for a cause that a typical person would not understand.  I find that sort of nobility, if done for the right reasons, to be captivating. Also, I really appreciate relationships where family members (more-so siblings) demonstrate care and protection for one another, which Chrono Trigger captures well between Magus and his sister, Scala. I don’t mind his nihilistic discontent for life, because as much as he may feel sorry for himself, he puts even more effort into doing something about it. In the end, he proves himself to be a protector of no bounds.

Magus walks alone in the Ocean Palace.
Magus: If history is to change, let it change!  If they world is to be destroyed, so be it!  If my fate is to be destroyed… I must simply laugh!!

Shojuo Kakumie Utena

Ruka Tsuchiya – misunderstood jerk/hero that dies

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“I want to give the Power of Miracles to the one I love. I want to free her.”

Let me first mention that Utena is something around 40 episodes long.  Utena, although a bit convoluted, is my favorite anime series, because all the main characters are absolutely amazing.    Ruka is in one maybe two episodes as a pretty minor character, but I was taken back by how his story told was told and concluded. He’s introduced (beyond halfway through the series) as a mysterious returner to a respected position at the academy.

He comes in, arrogant and pretentious, having his way with one of the main characters’ dear friends.  Throughout the whole two episodes he seems power-hungry and manipulative, putting his desires above all else.  Of course, he fails to succeed and, soon after, vanishes from the story.  Shortly, the “shadow,” mimicking a rumor-mill, gossips about Ruka’s outcome.  Pretending to be strong, he failed to use the last of his strength to give the person he cares about most what he thought she wanted most.  It was quite beautifully portrayed.

Interesting, how a few lines at the end of the story can totally transform my opinion about what seemed to be an uninteresting character.  The misunderstanding is obvious.  I mean, the ending was entirely unexpected, and I believe the sacrifice he made, in light of his reasons, qualify him to be a hero, even if he was fighting a losing battle to begin with.  He knew he was dying and didn’t even try to share his true feelings in his last moments.  It’s a sort of sacrifice that, being so difficult to understand, demonstrates a love that had no bounds. Ruka, introduced to seem utterly selfish and inconsiderate, proved to perform a most selfless act of love (despite his choices of approach).

Juri: Do you enjoy hurting her that much?
Ruka: If we raise your latent abilities to their maximum, nobody could beat you.
Ruka: I’m the one who brings out your abilities.
Ruka: Our combination can beat Tenjou Utena…and obtain the Power of Miracles.
Juri: Did you corner Shiori and I this much just for that?
Ruka: A sacrifice must be made for a miracle to occur.
Juri: That’s not fair! Do you want the Power of Miracles that badly?!
Ruka: You’re the one who wants the Power of Miracles!
Juri: Shiori isn’t some fucking tool of yours!
Ruka: “Believe in miracles, that your wishes come true”…aren’t those your words?
Juri: You’re misunderstanding something. I don’t care if my wishes don’t come true.
Juri: And even if I obtained the Power of Miracles, the only thing I’d wish for…
Juri: …is freeing her from you. That’s all.
Juri: I’m not letting you get your way any more.

Ruka: Hidden wishes…
Ruka: How painful they must be.
Ruka: What’re you waiting for, Juri?!
Ruka: Juri, she’s a fool.
Ruka: Because she doesn’t realize that her miracle is standing atop someone else’s sacrifice.
Ruka: But that’s the sort of person who receives miracles!
Ruka: Unfair, isn’t it! Juri!!
Ruka: Juri!
Utena: Why, senpai?
Ruka: Juri, don’t worry.
Ruka: Don’t worry, Juri.
Juri: “Don’t worry”….huh?
Nanami: Oh, so Juri’s back to being Captain?
Miki: Yeah. Tsuchiya-senpai [Ruka] hasn’t been coming to school these days.
Nanami: Oh really? What a shame, and after he recovered and everything.

shadow: Hey, do you know?
shadow: Hmm?
shadow: That patient died yesterday.
shadow: He was such a babe too! What a shame.
shadow: And after he kept saying he wanted to fence again after leaving the hospital.
shadow: It seems he knew how sick he was. But he forced his way out of the hospital anyway and went back to school.
shadow: I bet there’s somebody he loved in the Fencing Club.
shadow: Come to think of it, he was always saying:
shadow: “I want to give the Power of Miracles to the one I love. I want to free her.”
shadow: What’s that supposed to mean, I wonder?
shadow: Who knows…

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Spike – villain seeking redemption

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” I know you’ll never love me. I know that I’m a monster. But you treat me like a man. And that’s…Get your stuff. I’ll be here “

This one brings me back to sometime between high school and middle school.  If I remember correctly, Spike was a cheeky vampire out to unleash great evil into the world.  Despite his rough exterior, he apparently had a side softer than most other vampires.

“Now, you listen to me. I’ve been alive a bit longer than you. And dead a lot longer than that. I’ve seen things you couldn’t imagine – done things I’d prefer you didn’t. I don’t exactly have a reputation for being a thinker. I follow my blood. Which doesn’t exactly rush in the direction of my brain. I’ve made a lot of mistakes. A lot of wrong bloody calls. A hundred plus years and there’s only one thing I’ve ever been sure of. You.”

He falls in love with the heroine, Buffy, despite representing the evil that she tries to protect the world against.  Maybe the cross from evil to good is expansive enough to demonstrate the extremes of what love can conquer.  Maybe it’s uplifting to see how much a character is willing to suffer and overcome for love and intimacy (even if for just a moment).  So, maybe I like Spike, because I want to believe that love is valuable enough to be worth what he endured.

Spike’s inner turmoil shows that the greatest obstacle that stood between him and true intimacy was himself.  Often, this came off as comic relief where he and Buffy would bicker again and again, always avoiding the revealing of what they wanted most (I suppose, what we all want most).  He fought so hard for something he didn’t feel he deserved, something that he didn’t know he could even possibly have.  That’s, perhaps, the greatest complement that you could give another person: that they deserve far better than you, but you’d do whatever it takes to be worth it.

Even in their bickering, the story draws the audience to perceive a strong connection that transcended the contrasting harmonious friendships on the show. It was a sort of challenge from one to the other, proving that they can handle the deepest and darkest areas of each other’s lives. After reading through the Spike article on Wikipedia, I’m inclined to watch the series again– forget Twilight.

Buffy: [impersonating the Buffybot] Why did you let that Glory hurt you?
Spike: She wanted to know who the Key was.
Buffy: Well, I can tell her, and then you…
Spike: No! You can’t ever. Glory never finds out.
Buffy: Why?
Spike: Cause Buffy, the other, not-so-pleasant Buffy… Anything happened to Dawn, it’d destroy her. I couldn’t live, her bein’ in that much pain. I’d let Glory kill me first. Nearly bloody did.
‘[Buffy kisses Spike]’
Spike: And my robot?
Buffy: The robot is gone. The robot was gross and obscene.
Spike: It wasn’t supposed to…
Buffy: Don’t. That thing, it wasn’t even real. What you did for me and Dawn… that was real. I won’t forget it.

Final Fantasy 6

General Leo – hero that dies/villain seeking redemption

“You’re just young,… but I understand what you mean. I understand only too well…”

Interestingly, I’ve played a lot of Final Fantasy, and General Leo (being such a minor character) is the most attractive one.  From the beginning, he’s clearly regarded as a truly good person caught on the wrong side of the battle.  His character is apparent in the regret he carries for what he has done.  Come to think of it, it’s rare to find genuinely good people on a side that is so unambiguously bad.  I’d say he’s a far more interesting FF6 version of Cecil (from FF4).

There’s something to be said about people who, in the midst of so much evil, still remain good.  They stand strong and don’t ever give in, despite the circumstances they find themselves in. If General Leo were to live long enough to find love, it would be true, everlasting, and independent of circumstances.

The scene that won me over was when General Leo is with the girl, Terra, on a ship.  Terra is a half-breed human and magical being, used to achieve great power for the empire that Leo served.  Throughout the game, she’s treated as a weapon or a prize to be protected, and all we, the audience, could do was hope that she could have the things she wants most.  Having lost so much, she deserves, more than anyone, what we’d believe all people are entitled to.

In one of his last scenes, she courageously shares her heart and, for once, someone hears her. He cares and always has.

Leo: You all right?
Leo: Looks like you’re feeling better…
Terra: Funny, isn’t it… I was used by the Empire… even had my thoughts ripped from me… But here I am co-operating with the “enemy”…
Leo: People are people. Not all of us are like Kefka.
Terra: What… What’s with you?
Leo: I knew you were being used as kind of a biological weapon… And because I didn’t do anything about it, I’m no different than Kefka…
Terra: I’m the product of a human and an Esper… Will I ever be able to love someone?
Leo: Of course!
Terra: But… I haven’t felt that way yet…
Leo: You’re just young,… but I understand what you mean. I understand only too well…

After he dies…

Terra: General Leo…
Terra: People only seem to want power. Do they really want to be like me?
Terra: I… I wanted to learn so much more from you…
Celes: He was so gentle..

Watchmen

Rorschach – misunderstood jerk/hero that dies

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“Never compromise. Not even in the face of Armageddon. That’s always been the difference between us, Daniel. 

There are so many reasons to like Rorschach better than Dr. Manhattan.  First, Rorschach has overcome some pretty terrible odds to still fight for a world that does not deserve him.  Dr. Manhattan just simply exists to become whatever makes the most sense for him at the time.  Not to mention, Dr. Manhattan cheats on his wife, while Rorschach (at least, in the movie) does not seem to have ever been loved, which makes his coarse exterior excusable and even understandable.

He’s quite negative about the world, which makes his actions all the more admirable.  It’s as if, I want to believe that he has hope among circumstances so hopeless that he couldn’t even fathom the reasons why he’d care.  His actions, on the other hand, speaks to me from a person who clearly cares.  And although I want to see beyond his words, through the walls that he’s build around himself, I value his observations about the world, as not cynical, but as real and true.

Rorschach sees a world falling apart before his eyes, and everyone, even his former comrades, seems to have thrown in the towel.  There are many who see the problems and do nothing.  There are many who seem ok with how things are, who don’t see a problem at all.  What I love about Rorschach is that he can’t pretend that things are ok when they aren’t, and he can’t not do anything while knowing he’s able.  And the very evidence that he still tries says to me that he is capable of love and being loved back.  Believing that the more unlovable a person is, the more they must be loved.  That possibility amidst the challenge is attractive– that love exists for even the most unlovable.

In his last moments, he dies knowing that he was one step ahead of everyone the whole time.  I love that he fooled everyone (especially me).  It meant that he had an understanding of people beyond what anyone had expected.

Rorschach: [reading from journal] Rorschach’s Journal. October 12th, 1985: Dog carcass in alley this morning, tire tread on burst stomach. This city is afraid of me. I have seen its true face. The streets are extended gutters and the gutters are full of blood and when the drains finally scab over, all the vermin will drown. The accumulated filth of all their sex and murder will foam up about their waists and all the whores and politicians will look up and shout “Save us!”… and I’ll whisper “no.”

Cowboy Bebop

Gren Eckner – hero that dies

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“You just got scared of losing them. So you distanced yourself from them.”

Cowboy bebop is a poetic masterpiece guised as a tongue-and-cheek western drama.  It, in short stanzas, captures an essence of the sadness and irreverence of relationships.  Again, Gren is an extremely minor character that only appears in two episodes and never mentioned in any other, but I can’t deny that I am utterly captivated by his portrayal.

First off, he debuts in the series playing JAZZ tenor sax (and I play jazz tenor sax, which evoked an instant interest from me).  He’s witty, clever, cool, and chivalrous, which makes a great first impression.  This, to me, says that Gren, even up on the band stand, pays attention and is aware and thinking about the people around him.

After his set, he meets the main character, Faye Valentine.  Faye is a woman who’d lost her identity through time, as she, one day, awoke in a hospital long after those she knew had passed away.  In the story, it appears Faye was once a girl like any other, but hardened by those who’d taken advantage of her and who’s circumstances prevent her from ever truly being understood.  That is, until she met Gren.

The uncaring world has forced Faye to be fiercely independent, closed, and untrusting, but in moment that appeared she was a damsel in distress, Faye is rescued by Gren in an alleyway.  He’s a stranger she refuses to trust, and they, in a battle of wits, test each other’s sturdiness, each unrelenting on the other.

There’s something so captivating about a person who instantly understands the parts of you which no one ever gets. It’s as if they were similar in the ways of which they are unlike all other people.  That connection is real, beautiful, and it only takes one encounter to mean more than what a whole series could tell you about relationships.

As he throws his life away, you can feel Faye’s heart breaking beneath her rough exterior, begging him to spend even a little more time with her, even knowing that he didn’t have long to live anyhow.  For her, every moment counted, because she may never be able to feel that sort of intimacy ever again.

FAYE: Why did you bring me here?
GREN: Because you said you’re a fairy. Why did you come with me?
FAYE: ‘Coz I got no place to stay.
GREN: You can trust me that easily?
FAYE: You said you weren’t interested in women.
GREN: I might take your money and kill you…
FAYE: That’s fine. I’ve lived longer than I seem.

Faye picks up a small music box and winds it. Gren grabs it out of her hand.

GREN: It’s broken. You came to such a slummy neighborhood all by yourself?
FAYE: I’m alone. I don’t want comrades and it’s not worth having any… I end up worrying about things I don’t have to… You know, ‘coz I’m such a good woman… All the guys end up fighting for me. They often say that humans can’t live alone… But you can live pretty long by yourself. Instead of feeling alone in a group it’s better to be alone in your solitude. When I’m dealing with them, it’s nothing but  trouble and I don’t get squat out of it… So it doesn’t matter if I’m there or not…
GREN: You just got scared of losing them. So you distanced yourself from them.
FAYE: You’re weird.

Heroes

Sylar – villain seeking redemption

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“You do exactly what I do, you use this gift/curse… to build walls and make it impossible to connect with another person.”  “Maybe i deserve this aloneness, this nothing. maybe i earned it.”I

I find Sylar, from Heroes, a villain that was well developed from the start of the series.  His circumstances introduce him as feeble and out-of-place.  It’s a feeling well captured by a man who struggles with reconciling what he feels he’s capable of and what he is.  I’m no psychologist, but I find that to be maybe the major reason why people become depressed, suicidal, or crazy.  He loses control when he realizes he’s capable of understanding and subsuming the strengths of anyone he wants.  Sylar kills so many from wanting to understand everything, and as a result of his understandings, he finds no sanctity in life or other human beings.

Peter Petrelli: I’m not leaving without your abilities, Sylar.
Future Sylar: My name’s Gabriel. And you don’t realize, my ability is not just understanding how things work; there’s a hunger… that comes with it, to know more, to have more. I couldn’t control it; it turned me into a killer… a monster. And every day is a struggle, every hour.
[looks at his son]
Future Sylar: But I fight it… for him. And I am not going to willingly condemn you to hell.

I, myself, am loyal to Heroes series, because I love stories about super human powers, being out of place, and saving the world.  I’m not going to pretend, though, that the progression from one season to the next has been a fluid one.  There are some pretty left-field plot twists that I wish never happened.  Still, I pick and choose those consistencies that I like.  For instance, Sylar, once in a while, finds himself seeking redemption, always falling slightly short of turning from his destructive ways.  For a brief moment, you see him as a victim of the world.  In those moments, it’s apparent that forgiveness is the only way to save an individual and reclaim the world damaged by his actions; instead, reactions of fear propagate the lesions of a wound that never heals. The response to injustices caused by Sylar is to either control him or to love him.  Not to spoil too much, but, uh, controlling him, doesn’t seem to really work.

The times when I appreciate Sylar the most are the times he seeks redemption, because then, he’s no longer a victim of circumstance; rather, he fights.  Again, believing that love exists for the most unlovable evidences a love that I want to believe in.  On the other hand, villains such as Joker or Kefka seem almost cowards in comparison.  I mean, perhaps Joker and Kefka are more attractive than feeble-minded products of society, but they are not much less a product of their circumstances.  Within Heroes, there’s no greater example of a person demonstrating freedom as when Sylar seeks redemption. That example of freedom is attractive.

Finally, Sylar’s “power” makes him very compelling.  His understanding of people and situations really shine in dialog with the other main characters, and his understanding of situations and people seem to make it difficult for some to truly despise him.  It’s like, how can you fully hate someone who understands you better than most other people.  There’s just so much to learn about him and yourself (from him), I can’t help but be intrigued.

Sylar: You saved my life once, Elle – gave me the will to live. Don’t you see I owe you?
Elle Bishop: [slowly] I only saved you so we could use you, like a lab rat.
Sylar: You were just following orders… But I forgive you. Now you need to forgive yourself.

Phoenix Wright

Miles Edgeworth – misunderstood jerk/villain seeking redemption

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“The only thing we can do is fight with the knowledge we hold”

If I recall correctly, Edgeworth is introduced as a main villain with a hyped reputation as a prosecutor counter the protagonist, Phoenix Wright, the defense attorney.  He’d never lost a trail before, that is, until he messed with the clumsily competent Phoenix Wright.  He comes off quite pretentious, smug, and evil, holding his victories above all else.  Then, one day, he becomes a defendant, himself, and Phoenix Wright saves his day.

It makes you wonder, “what must have happened to make a person this way?”  Well, you find out about the loss of his father and his evil adoptive father in the case where Phoenix defends Edgeworth.  Misunderstood?… definitely.  Seeking redemption?… again and again.  In the stories that follow that trial, you slowly see Edgeworth turn around, and eventually you realize that Edgeworth, despite being an opponent has become an ally.

I believe there is a lot of strength in weakness, or at least to able to exhibit weakness often takes a lot of strength. Ok, so, Edgeworth does come off a bit sexless in the series– which can be attractive, but I find that his not doing things unless he really means it as the more admirable quality.  Sometimes he does run away, so you know that he doesn’t just hang around to respond to the cues that life gives him.  He asks the tough questions, because without answers, there’s just no point in doing anything.  He not a hopeless person, as negative people tend to be, rather, he uses these answers that he finds with great compassion towards other people, in a distantly loving sort of way.

Miles Edgeworth does things to help you, without letting you know he’s helping you.  It’s as if he puts himself a side and focuses on what truly matters.   He doesn’t need the credit, and it becomes clear that despite his, often, bad attitude, he has the most reverent understanding of truth.  Having such a great understanding of people and relationships, he still remains disconnected from everyone.  Maybe those of us who like these qualities like them as a result of feeling misunderstood in our own lives.

My favorite interactions are between him and the girl from his adoptive family, Franziska. He deals with her with rough exterior with an appropriately coy gentleness.

von Karma: You’ve always… You’ve always  left me alone and walked on  ahead without me.
von Karma:  Miles Edgeworth… I’ve always hated you.
Edgeworth:  …
von Karma:  And then… Finally, my chance to take my revenge on you arrived.
von Karma:  If I could win against that man… If I could make Phoenix Wright bow down in defeat…
von Karma:  Then this “girl” you left behind would have risen higher than you!
von Karma:  That was supposed to be my “revenge”…
Edgeworth:  I see…
von Karma:  … You know, I can’t do it…
von Karma:  I can’t change who I am. I can’t throw away everything I’ve been until today.
Edgeworth:  I believe you can. Just like how Adrian Andrews did.
von Karma:  Adrian Andrews…?
Edgeworth:  You were going to use her during the trial, right?
Edgeworth:  But you…
Edgeworth:  You were “dependant” on  your father by using his tactics. Isn’t that right?
von Karma:  Hmph!
Edgeworth:  Today, you chased after me,  after I had left you behind all these years.
Edgeworth:  And that’s why we’re standing here now, side by side.
von Karma:  …!
Edgeworth:  But I have no intention of stopping.
Edgeworth:  If you say you are going to  quit your walk down the prosecutor’s path…
Edgeworth:… Then, this is where we part ways, Franziska von Karma.
von Karma:  …
von Karma:  I… I… I am Franziska von Karma.
von Karma:  Don’t think I’m going to walk in your shadow forever…
von Karma:  Our battle… begins now… so you had better prepare yourself, Miles Edgeworth!

August Rush

Louis Conely – misunderstood jerk

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“You never quit on your music. No matter what happens. Cuz anytime something bad happens to you, that’s the one place you can escape to and just let it go. I learned it the hard way. And anyway, look at me. Nothing bad’s gonna happen. You gotta have a little faith. “

I have to write about August Rush, because I absolutely LOVED this movie, and I don’t think I know another person really liked it.  In fact, I often get the opposite reaction.  Now, the dialog can be a bit overly sentimental, but it’s a story that speaks more loudly without words.  It’s a movie that speaks through music, images, and facial expressions.

I dont know if I believe in love at first sight, but i do believe in the significance of a moment– that spending one night really getting to know someone can be worth more, and be valued more than a lifetime’s worth of interaction.  In one night, a connection was made that transcends what the world would be able to comprehend, and the possibility that humans connect in amazing, unexplainable, and unobservable ways evidences the existence of something greater than what we could ever understand or engineer.

Being “permanently” separated from the woman he met that night, he finds that he’ll never be able have another moment that compares, gives up trying, and turns into a corporate jerk.  At some point, he gives his high-class life up to turn back and search for the remnants of when life felt real and meaningful.  Really, he doesn’t speak much in the movie, and, personally, words don’t mean a whole lot to me; it’s what I can feel about another person.  Sometimes, you know a person more by what they don’t say, because, often, with what they say, they are establishing the perception of themselves for others. And because he doesn’t say much, you do get a better sense of knowing how he truly is and feels.

Jennifer: [sees Louis on the projector] Oh my god! Is that you?
[Louis doesn’t answer]
Jennifer: When were you going to tell me you were in a band?
Marshall: [Cutting in before Louis could answer] I’m sure there’s a lot of things our Louis hasn’t told you darling, like who’d did you write the song for?
Louis Connelly: [turns away from Marshall] I told you this was a bad idea.
Marshall: That’s it, go on! Walk out on us again!
[Louis turns back to him]
Marshall: Eh, Lou?
Louis Connelly: [Walking towards Marshall] Say what you have to say Marshall!
Marshall: No man, go on!
Louis Connelly: Come on! Say what you have to say! Come on say it!
Marshall: Say what?
Louis Connelly: [Shoves him] Come on! Say it! Say it!
Marshall: [Backing away as Louis continues pushing him] That the best you got? Is that the best you got man?
Louis Connelly: Come on! Hit me then!
Marshall: No man
Louis Connelly: HIT ME!
[Slams Marshall against the projector]
Louis Connelly: I’M SUFFOCATIN’ HERE!
[Marshall punches him in the face and Louis grunts but appears to be okay]
Marshall: You alright man?
[Louis wipes blood from his mouth but nods and smiles greatfully]


Bonus – Howl’s Moving Castle

Howl – misunderstood jerk/hero that dies

“Sorry, I’ve had enough of running away, Sophie. Now I’ve got something I want to protect. It’s you. “

Ok, so he dies, but then he comes back to life.  He still counts as a hero that dies, because he basically gave up his life for the greater cause.  There are just a few themes I find to be worth pointing out in this example, but, basically, Howl is worth mentioning because of his straightforward attempts to provide, protect, and preserve family.

So yea, he’s charming, rescues women, pursues them for their beauty, and I cant lie– being pursued does make you feel valuable or worth it.  Being shallow, however, is not attractive, while overcoming shallowness is; similarly, Howl eventually overcomes cowardice and finds true courage with the help of one young girl.  For much of the story, the female protagonist just observes, seeing beyond his exterior.   Surreptitiously, he similarly sees beyond hers.

He’s inaccessible in many ways, but always in control, always steps ahead, giving a great sense of security, while the other aforementioned characters were less providers and, perhaps, more pursuers.  In the end, what I love most about fiction is its depiction of family.  These days, it seems that the lack-of family is the reason for so much sadness in the world, and to be able to see people who find themselves in horrendous circumstances can still find family and love– that gives me hope.

[walks up to the scarecrow]
Howl: Looks like we have another addition to the family. Hmmm, you’ve got quite a nasty spell on you too, huh? Seems everyone in this family’s got problems.

Young Sophie: It’s… you’re scaring me. I have this weird feeling you’re going to leave. Howl, tell me what’s going on! Please. I don’t care if you’re a monster.
Howl: I’m just setting things up so all of you can live a comfortable life, Sophie.
Young Sophie: So you are going away. Please, Howl. I know I can be of help to you, even though I’m not pretty and all I’m good at is cleaning.
Howl: Sophie! Sophie! You’re beautiful!
Old Sophie: Well, the nice thing about being old is you’ve got nothing much to lose.

Conclusion

My research is currently in understanding how roles in characters are perceived.  The truth is, a lot of these observations of “attractive” are simply because I relate better to certain types of personalities, while others may find my preferences uninteresting.  Hopefully, I’ll be able to abstract the meaning of such analysis and create a formal model that captures compelling heroes and villains in ways where they can be portrayed to suit the tastes of their creators.  For me, it is clear that what I adore in fictional male characters are: sacrifice, freedom, authenticity, finding meaning, fighting for purpose, selflessness, wit, individuality, and their capacity to love.  Especially for love, it is far more desirable for a person who evidences love despite what they say, as opposed to one who says they care, while clearly incapable or unconvincingly capable of truly loving.

Here are the distinct qualities:

  • That challenge and discovery to find something real to hold onto in another human-being is what makes Spock so attractive.
  • Being misunderstood comes from a result of taking great measures for a cause that a typical person would not understand.  I find that sort of nobility, if done for the right reasons, to be captivating.
  • I don’t mind his nihilistic discontent for life, because as much as he may feel sorry for himself, he puts even more effort into doing something about it.
  • He knew he was dying and didn’t even try to share his true feelings in his last moments.  It’s a sort of sacrifice that, being so difficult to understand, demonstrates a love that had no bounds.
  • I want to believe that love is valuable enough to be worth what he endured.
  • That’s, perhaps, the greatest complement that you could give another person: that they deserve far better than you, but you’d do whatever it takes to be worth it.
  • It was a sort of challenge from one to the other, proving that they can handle the deepest and darkest areas of each other’s lives.
  • If General Leo were to live long enough to find love, it would be true, everlasting, and independent of circumstances.
  • He cares and always has.
  • Believing that the more unlovable a person is, the more they must be loved.  That possibility amidst the challenge is attractive– that love exists for even the most unlovable.
  • There’s something so captivating about a person who instantly understands the parts of you which no one ever gets.
  • In those moments, it’s apparent that forgiveness is the only way to save an individual and reclaim the world damaged by his actions; instead, reactions of fear propagate the lesions of a wound that never heals.
  • Within Heroes, there’s no greater example of a person demonstrating freedom as when Sylar seeks redemption.
  • He deals with her rough exterior with an appropriately coy gentleness.
  • The possibility that humans connect in amazing, unexplainable, and unobservable ways evidences the existence of something greater than what we could ever understand or engineer.
  • Sometimes, you know a person more by what they don’t say, because, often, with what they say, they are establishing the perception of themselves for others.
  • These days, it seems that the lack-of family is the reason for so much sadness in the world, and to be able to see people who find themselves in horrendous circumstances can still find family and love– that gives me hope.

That makes 7 misunderstood jerks, 5 heroes that die, and 5 villains seeking redemtion.

Honorable Mention

Touga, Shojuo Kakumei Utena

kain

Kain, Final Fantasy 4

Setzer, FF

Cloud Strife FF7

Cloud, Final Fantasy 7

Sephiroth, FInal Fantasy 7

Finally, I’ll conclude with fictional characters I had crushes on when I was a young child: Super Mario, Donatello, Gambit, Yamcha, and Tommy, the green ranger.

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3 thoughts on “Attractive and Compelling Fictional Characters

  1. i didnt have time to re-edit everything… sorry.. gotta run to a retreat now… ahhh!

    hopefully my points are well made besides the sloppy editing and incompleteness!!..

    happy valentines day!!

  2. Done!… I did add some analysis at the end 🙂

    get ready for the christian analysis follow-up post and the more academic EIS blog post (once I get my posting privileges back =P)

  3. Appears like quite a few xbox enthusiasts here, I am a fan too and love to play games… my gf says I play way too much, but man it’s so amusing. I’ve been playing motorsport and mw2 for half a year and can’t stop! What would you fellow gamers recommend? At any rate, appears like a nice website, is this wordpress? I’ve created a couple pages myself and ain’t easy. Cheers for taking time to writing this up.

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