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Topic: Strong Character = Bad Character?  (Read 5041 times)

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Strong Character = Bad Character?
« on: April 26, 2015, 01:04:44 PM »

    Offline Kiyza

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Alright, time for a serious discussion.

A thought came into my head the other day while browsing some comic forums. A lot of people seem to dislike Superman, with two oft cited examples of preferred characters being Batman or Goku. (Please, please don't bring Goku Vs Superman into this, I'm just using as an example) The main cited reason I see for this is that Superman is a boring character because his strength is often dictated by the plot and he's deemed "overpowered".

Of course, it's not just Superman that gets this kind of knee-jerk reaction. Individual series, regardless of medium, can be subject to this. I often see it given as a reason to ignore the Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann and its absurdly-sized machines. I used to have a tendency to actively ignore these kinds of series and characters myself until I started thinking the reactions of Vs debaters (who I often look down upon for how they reduce the entertainment value of a series to numbers and scans) wasn't a means of dictating the quality of a series. There are a lot of things I wouldn't have touched until I started letting go of this preconception and considering some of the things I've dug into in the meantime, I think it was for the better. I honestly think that power is arbitrary and any level of absurdity can be handled by a competent enough writer.

So the question I ask is, does the strength of a character -- or something in a series -- affect your enjoyment of it? Do you think that being strong makes a character less interesting? Do you actively avoid or seek out franchises according to characters' "power levels"? Share your thoughts.


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Strong Character = Bad Character?
« Reply #1 on: April 26, 2015, 01:08:42 PM »
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Strong Character = Bad Character?
« Reply #2 on: April 26, 2015, 01:19:06 PM »

    Offline Shyruni

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Here's my thoughts on it, after being into general media for so long.

People don't typically consider themselves as perfect, so the less perfect the person is, the more people can feel connected to that person.  So when that person, using Batman as an example, goes from being an ordinary human boy to becoming this absolutely boss superhero, it brings the character more to everyone's level. 

This also goes for challenge in general, particularly with challenges that the viewers themselves are facing.  When someone goes through a difficult challenge, you become much more interested.  What's going to happen next?  How is he/she going to react?  And once the challenge has been overcome, you feel a bit of satisfaction.

The problem comes with characters like Superman who don't seem to HAVE any problems.  You've got someone with incredible strength, speed, and intelligence, and is pretty much unstoppable.  Sure, it can be awesome to see him fight and use his powers, but after awhile it loses appeal.  It's hard to get attached to a character who's perfect in almost every way, and when there's no challenge that can reasonably present itself, it's like watching someone squish bugs for hours on end.   

A better comparison is Goku from DBZ and Goku from GT.  In DBZ, Goku continually finds people even stronger than him, which drives him to train as hard as he can to reach that new level, and finally overcome it.  That has great potential for a good story.  In GT on the other hand, Goku destroys pretty much every threat he comes across with ease.  He never has to train and only gets one more form that last for literally 1/2 of GT.  There's a few threats he comes across, but they seem very forced and you never get the feeling that he's really in trouble, and it's hard to connect to that.

Of course, this is just my opinion, so don't take this too seriously. 8)
« Last Edit: April 26, 2015, 01:22:42 PM by Shyruni »
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Strong Character = Bad Character?
« Reply #3 on: April 26, 2015, 01:26:46 PM »

    Offline DelmoonXz

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That is why society hates Goku, he is too strong, fast, known and famous. He started as a almost OP saiyan and he stayed there. I much rather Vegeta, Krillen and Yamcha, 3 nobodies who trained and stayed with Goku, getting stronger, while failing and bla bla bla (except Vegeta, he was just not always OP)

Think of it like, would you be well known for finishing the entire DBZ history as a SSJGOD Goku or
would you be well known for finishing it as chiatzu or krillen or bulma or even that fat guy with the sword.

so yea, Strong Character = Bad Character

For superman : He has several skills, immortality, heat ray, speed, strength ect, and never worked a bit... It's boring to see him fight, he must win.
Others like Batman or even Spiderman always fights, no matter how hard it is and really barely dies/loses. Although, we have seen both beaten up, killed or destroyed
« Last Edit: April 26, 2015, 01:29:58 PM by DelmoonXz »

Strong Character = Bad Character?
« Reply #4 on: April 26, 2015, 02:44:41 PM »

    Offline Shyruni

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Strong character does not automatically equal shittily written character. I typed out quite a long response initially but the damn internet got cut off an iI lost my precious wall of text >.<;

I completely agree.
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« Reply #5 on: April 26, 2015, 03:21:46 PM »

    Offline Kaiza

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Here's my thoughts on it, after being into general media for so long.

People don't typically consider themselves as perfect, so the less perfect the person is, the more people can feel connected to that person.  So when that person, using Batman as an example, goes from being an ordinary human boy to becoming this absolutely boss superhero, it brings the character more to everyone's level. 

I completely agree with this point. I feel that a viewer can like a character more if they can understand,  relate to, and connect to them.

That said, I might have to disagree on the whole "Strength = Bad Character". A lot of people are using superheroes or main powerful protagonists in their examples to back this theory up.

I must ask you then, how about antagonists? The super villains we all see that (usually) get destroyed by the main protagonist. Surely there are at least a couple out there that would be considered 'strong'. And I'm sure they're likeable to a certain extent/perspective.

Let's take Buu for example. He was quite strong and posed a huge threat to everyone only to be defeated in the end by the hands of our main OP protagonist Goku. Even though this may be the case, why are there a large number of Buu fans out there?

I remember asking a friend who his favourite character in DBZ was and he answered "Buu". I then proceeded to ask him why and he said, "Because he just never seemed to die!".

Of course, not everyone may share the same opinion as my friend...but that's not the point here. I was just using Buu as an example. He's one of many characters out there with large power and a large fanbase.
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« Reply #6 on: April 26, 2015, 04:16:21 PM »

    Offline Evangelion

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I'm perfectly fine with strong characters as long as their initial powers and power-ups are reasonable.
Superman for example is fine for me because his strongest attack makes him 'human' for the next 24 hours. That means he has an exploitable weakness. FairyTail on the other hand is plain bad. Nakama Power and Natsu getting on Gildarts level after one year of training is BS which made the character bad and unlikeable.
I'm not reading/watching something to asociate myself and my weaknesses with a fictional character so vulnerability is not necessarily a requirement for me to enjoy a character and his or her development throughout a series.

Strong Character = Bad Character?
« Reply #7 on: April 26, 2015, 04:19:38 PM »

    Offline Xarlok

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I completely adore characters that have overwhelming physical power, raw power as Hanma Yujiro...what can I say ...I worship raw physical power !
I actually seek those types of franchises but I'm failing at finding them.

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« Reply #8 on: April 27, 2015, 06:41:52 AM »

    Offline Kaiza

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Personally I never understood why people seem to think characters can only be considered well written/developed if they are relatable.

hmm...perhaps 'relatable' is the wrong word. Maybe the word we are looking for is 'understandable'.

What I mean is that maybe characters will make choices and actions that we as people will not be able to relate to due to lack of experience. However we still consider them well written/developed because we are able to see WHY they did what they did. And because we can see it from that perspective and understand their way of thinking, we like them more.
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« Reply #9 on: April 27, 2015, 06:50:17 AM »

    Offline Shyruni

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I completely agree with this point. I feel that a viewer can like a character more if they can understand,  relate to, and connect to them.

That said, I might have to disagree on the whole "Strength = Bad Character". A lot of people are using superheroes or main powerful protagonists in their examples to back this theory up.

I must ask you then, how about antagonists? The super villains we all see that (usually) get destroyed by the main protagonist. Surely there are at least a couple out there that would be considered 'strong'. And I'm sure they're likeable to a certain extent/perspective.

Let's take Buu for example. He was quite strong and posed a huge threat to everyone only to be defeated in the end by the hands of our main OP protagonist Goku. Even though this may be the case, why are there a large number of Buu fans out there?

I remember asking a friend who his favourite character in DBZ was and he answered "Buu". I then proceeded to ask him why and he said, "Because he just never seemed to die!".

Of course, not everyone may share the same opinion as my friend...but that's not the point here. I was just using Buu as an example. He's one of many characters out there with large power and a large fanbase.

I think antagonists are typically a bit different than protagonists in terms of why we like them.  For example, unlike protagonists, we typically like the villains BETTER the stronger they are.  The stronger they are, the more of a thread the protagonist has to overcome. 

And there is something attractive about power.  With protagonists, it's not that we don't like it when they're strong, but we like to see them attain that strength through hard work and effort.  That way, when they win the fight, you feel like the victory was deserved.

Antagonists on the other hand typically exist to be a threat, so we WANT them to be strong and powerful.  Not just because we like seeing awesome power and cool-looking characters, but because we want the villain to feel...well, threatening.  If the enemy is pathetic, there's not much of a boundary for the hero to overcome, and they end up feeling like a joke.

This is also what I love about the Dragonball series, because not only are the antagonists powerful, but just like the Protagonist, they also get stronger over time.  It becomes a constant battle of efforts, and it makes both the heroes and villains of DBZ interesting.  You want the hero to win, and yet you want to see how much stronger the villain can become and if they hero can surpass the new challenge.
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« Reply #10 on: April 27, 2015, 07:34:46 AM »

    Offline Morrison

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Strong Characters aren't bad characters. It just depends on how well their Story is written/executed and in what Genre they appear.
For me it matters how the power is achieved and what comes with it. Drawbacks, Conditions, and so on.

Fighting in Superman was super boring to me. Back then I always thought: He was that dude that would carry Plains around and land them safely, of course he would win a fight against wannabe-supervillian #548. What made Superman special TO ME, was the Story behind him. He's just this guy that tries to fit in. He's pretty much a parody of a human-being, which is sad and sort of cool to me at the same time.
Fighting in Batman however, was super exciting. Because you did NOT know what could've happened. Batman couldn't just fly to safety or dish out punches that would make several skyscrapers collapse. He was just a normal Human being, who needed to think twice of every of his moves which was nerve-wrecking, but kept me reading/watching the comics/movies. I just liked how this (well-trained) normal dude keeps pushing hisself beyond his limits.

It's pretty much the same in Dragon Ball. Goku was always my one of my favorites. He had his Limits, he often found his match, but he never gave up. He's constantly pushing his own Limits and is at least trying to overcome the challenges ahead. Same for Future Gohan, btw.
Now, we have SSGSS, a Power-Up that puts him on Bills' Level and once that was revealed, I was a little dissapointed, to be honest. When I watched the Movie and saw these 2 clash, I didn't feel the "thrill" I had, when I watched these two clash on Namek. With a ridiculous power-up like this it was clear as day that Goku and Vegeta would win, with no problems at all. They did not have to overcome anything nor was it a challenge, so it was simply put boring to watch for me.

I guess I just don't like poorly-written overpowered characters, as they bore me after a while.

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« Reply #11 on: April 27, 2015, 12:20:27 PM »

    Offline Tofu

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I'm not really against strong characters. The thing is that if there's not challenge because he's stronger than anyone in the universe... What's the point? I love how in Fairy Tail, they're actually weak compared to the enemies they face and still, out of willpower and the love for their friends they manage to win against the enemy that just beat the shit out of them.

I totally loved Bleach, that same aspect where he was not really that strong and yet he kept on getting stronger to beat the enemies he had to face. I did hate the Ulquiorra fight mostly because (and I will start spoiling here so don't read the spoiler if you don't want to get Bleach ruined)
Spoiler for Some Bleach stuff:
he just came back to life as a monster where he had no control over himself and just beat the shit out of him without any effort at all. The fight against Aizen was like that but it was freaking amazing because of 2 main reasons: 1. He had control over himself and he wasn't just an OP monster and 2. He trained to get as strong as he got at that point and was not just a demon inside of him giving him the power boost. I haven't read the manga yet so don't spoil me xD.

I went full anime here but it still applies to all kinds of fiction. OP and unbeatable characters like GT Goku and Superman can still be good characters and have a nice story/personality but the fights won't be as amazing as they could be in other stories where they have to train or keep trying to beat that enemy that will destroy the world or kill their friends.
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Strong Character = Bad Character?
« Reply #12 on: April 27, 2015, 12:43:48 PM »

    Offline Darkclox

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-I always like to see a developing character getting OP in the next part of the series.
-I like to see seinen masterpieces with overpowered characters and good plot, not comedy.
-If you add comedy + overpowered character it will suck.
-Weakling character = shounen character, getting power up in middle of a fight that they almost lost
-I hate characters treated like princess by being protected by other girls.
-I hate characters that can't do something by themselves.
-I hate idiot characters with heroic feeling. That's the worst combination ever, it just sucks.
-I hate those ''nakama power ups''.

I like Guts from Berserk.

That should answer some of your questions.