Anime Cliches 32: Yamato Nadeshiko

Type: Character Cliché

What made it popular: Japanese Culture

Cliché Level: Extremely High

Where can you find it: Shuffle, School Days, Naruto, Ranma 1/2, Gundam Seed, Highschool of the Dead, Bleach, Highschool DxD, Toradora, Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Sekirei, Inuyasha, Mai Hime etc.

Description:

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Yamato is a poetic way of referring to Japan, while Nadeshiko is a flower that grows in the Japanese highlands. Yamato Nadeshiko together can mean “Flower of Japan” in loose, lazy translation, but what it really refers to is the ideal woman, the epitome of feminine beauty and grace. Yes, as you may have heard already, Yamato Nadeshiko is the idealized Japanese woman that was established around the Meiji Restoration, meaning 19th century Japan.

The Yamato Nadeshiko appearance wise generally have long, black hair styled into a Hime cut (see picture above), but in anime the hair colour can also be shades of blue. They should be of medium height, pale-skinned, modestly endowed, beautiful but not unrealistic or lewd,  they also should have clear and calming voices. The Yamato Nadeshiko ideally dresses in adult, traditional fashion, preferably in a Kimono.

Personality wise the Yamato Nadeshiko heavily draws from Confucian woman ideal. In case you don’t know anything about Confucianism, let me give you a quick summary. Confucianism is philosophy/religion that originated from China from the ancient philosopher known in the West simply as Confucius who lived around 500 B.C.

Confucianism, along with Taoism and Buddhism are one of the 3 biggest cultural and religious influences on the Islands of Japan, which affects their culture and behavior even to this day. (Reading up on these 3 philosophies/religions will help you see anime and Asian media in a completely new light, and generally give you a lot of meta knowledge and additional understanding.)

Anyway Confucianism is a very traditional and conservative philosophy, that stems from the fact that Confucius believed that humanity’s golden age, was in the past, and seeking to return to the past is the only way to stop the process of human degradation. Confucius emphasized the duties within the unit of the family, the duty of the father, the mother, the son etc. Each having their unique roles and duties.

The most important personality traits of the Yamato Nadeshiko is her unwavering loyalty, sense of duty and caring, motherly nature. The ideal Japanese Woman places the well being of her family, husband and children over her own interests and generally respects authority figures, be that the government, or the husband in the family. Other virtues include domestic ability, humility, maturity and wisdom.

In anime this typically makes the Yamato Nadeshiko a submissive character, especially towards her love interest and her family.

But this by no means mean that the Yamato Nadeshiko must be a weak character. In fact a good Yamato Nadeshiko should be like a fierce bear mother who will protect and defend her family at all costs should danger arise, even if she has to commit crimes or other heinous acts to fulfill that goal.

You might be wondering how a Yamato Nadeshiko would protect anyone, seeing I didn’t describe her as the most menacing character type. The answer to that is that Yamato Nadeshiko are also usually Onna Bugeisha (Female Weapons Master), who have more than enough training and weapons to protect the ones they care about. The reasons for this combination is also cultural. Before the feudal caste system was abolished, Yamato Nadeshiko were typically daughters of samurai caste, who were taught in the arts of war, literature and martial arts, most commonly trained in the mastery of a Naginata or a Bow.

After the feudal classes were dissolved, the samurai families essentially became middle class rich people, but their daughters retained the same skills, charm, elegance and virtues that they were taught in the old era. And when these daughters would marry a man, tales of the Yamato Nadeshiko would spread far and wide.

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However please note that this combination is not always used, the Yamato Nadeshiko doesn’t necessarily have to be an Ojou-sama or an Onna Bugeisha, this cliché mostly refers to personality, virtues and behavior more than anything else.

Why its bad:

I have the same problems with the Yamato Nadeshiko as with the DereDere. Meaning she is certainly excellent wife material, but that does not make her an interesting or even well written character in fiction, as they are rarely done right. Unfortunately due to their passive and submissive nature, they rarely ever influence or change the story by themselves, instead they just follow after the love interest or whoever is in charge/authority. It is also not uncommon for Yamato Nadeshiko to “get left behind” as the story spirals out of control and the focus is placed on the more active characters.

This cliché is easily in the top 5 of the most frequently used female character types, as you can easily find her in several hundred anime, across multiple time periods. It is only outdone in cliché levels by character types like the Tsundere and the Dandere. In harem and fanservice anime, it is very common, and even obligatory to have a Yamato Nadeshiko present, making her sort of token character on the harem check list. Outside of harems the Yamato Nadeshiko are one the most frequent “winners” of love triangles in romance anime.

If the Yamato Nadeshiko is the main heroine/love interest: Due to her nature and personality, more often than not, the Yamato Nadeshiko is a target of some drama or victimization, which you can see coming from miles away simply due to her being what she is in a given setting and theme. This drama is usually a choice type where for example she would have to disobey her father or family in order to get together with her love interest or ordeals such as choosing duty over love, or love over duty.

This would be fine by itself, if it were not for the fact that the Yamato Nadeshiko simply cannot choose due to the conflicting emotions and ideas in such matters since both of those things are to be valued to the archetypical Yamato Nadeshiko. So what they tend to do is simply sit in the house, depressed and wait for the protagonist to do something, which usually equates to him confronting her father and similar actions that move the plot forward. Yeah, not very exciting.

And another thing to note is that if they fail to add in the steel and willpower that is usually present in Onna Bugeisha, then the Yamato Nadeshiko becomes little more than a Yes (Wo)Man to her love interest, father, family or authority figure.

Also I personally don’t really find her to be that interesting or even relatable, as she is generally rigid, silent and way too well mannered and proper, which is also something that can frequently make her feel highly out of place depending on the setting. For example Yamato Nadeshiko are always this ‘alien’ or ‘outsider’ type of character in High School Settings that everyone just admires from a distance and few can get close to.

 

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Anime Cliches 31: The Japanese Catholic Church

Type: Setting, premise and character cliché

What made it popular: Japanese interest and mystification of western culture/religion

Cliché Level: Low

Where can you find it: Hellsing, Toaru Majutsu Index, Chrono Crusade, Blue Exorcist, D Gray Man, Trinity Blood, Tsukihime, Fate/Stay Night, Fate/Zero etc, Highschool DxD. (Heavily confined to the genre of fantasy)

Description:

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In real life the Roman Catholic Church is a shadow of its former self, it is no longer one of the key balancers and powers in Europe as it used to be, and far too many of its followers claim to be Christian yet have never even read the Bible and they are losing the numbers of their actual faithful day to day to the Orthodox Church.

Not so much in anime however, as the Roman Catholic Church for some inexplicable reason remains a mystical and powerful faction, that influences and protects the world from the shadows. It’s priests and nuns are portrayed as exorcists, demon hunters, vampire hunters, healers and other miracle makers.

The Japanese Catholic Church cliché can manifest itself in a variety of ways such as the Catholic Church being an Illuminati-esque organization or something with its own private army, the individual characters within the church are also likely to be super powered badasses, immortals, non humans or even straight up psychopaths. It does not really matter what form this cliché takes, for the average western viewer can easily tell when the Japanese Catholic Church is in effect.

(It is made all the obvious by all the fancy dresses they wear and all the inexplicably complicated but stylish weapons they tend to wield.)

In a multitude of anime they frequently use self censoring to hide the fact that its about the Catholic Church, this includes such methods as simply calling the organization with the simple denomination of the “Church” or the outright removal of notable figures and icons such as Jesus Christ. But no matter what they change and remove, it is still quite obvious when a religious organization or a priest is based off on Christianity.

Why its bad:

 This cliché is primarily bad from the perspective of a Western person as even the most inexperienced and irreligious people can tell that their portrayal of the Catholic Church is faulty. And I’m not talking about the supernatural stuff or the Illuminati Church, no what I’m talking about is that the Japanese writers who write them, have zero to no idea how western churches work or operate, which is why they end up making a dozens of mistakes that blatantly stand out.

One of the easiest examples is that anime frequently has Priest characters that are teenagers or even actual children. Obviously forgetting the fact that the Catholic Church has an age restriction on priest, according to canon laws they need to be at least 25 years old in order to be one. It’s not like they cannot have a 25 year old bishounen as a priest, they are just pandering towards the teenage audience as usual or are simply unaware of this rule.

Second example is the case of Nuns. For some inexplicable reason the Japanese don’t understand how nuns work or what do they even do in the social hierarchy of the church and are apparently incompetent at doing basic google searches to find out that information. So what they do when making nuns is that they take ideas from something similar to nuns from their own culture that they are familiar with, in this case Shrine Maidens also known as Mikos.

Japanese Shrine Maidens and Nuns are only similar in the manner that both are women that are also religious figures who occasionally perform certain services, rituals and ceremonies, but that is where all the similarities end. Shrine Maidens have a relatively greater degree of freedom in their roles and movements compared to the western nuns, who usually live in closed off communities. And most importantly Mikos do not need to take vows of chastity, they can marry off and have children whenever they want. They are also commonly depicted as magicians, seers, diviners who use their magic to help Japanese lords and warriors in folklore.

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So what do you get when the Japanese writers makes a “western” nun based on the idea of the Japnese Shirne Maiden? She will become a powerful spellcaster, usually serving as the wizard type of character within the party and will also be prone to being perverted and sexualized just like Mikos in anime. The only thing that really defines them as Catholic is their outfit and the Christian stereotypes that they act out.

It must be understood that this type of cliché is invoked and used for the exact same reason western movies have occasional far eastern elements and characters. It evokes a sense of mystery and unknown in the viewer due to not being knowledgeable and familiar of the other land’s culture and religions. Adding the Catholic Church as an organization is a very easy tool for Japanese writers to create the image of a foreign and exotic faction from something already existing for the Japanese viewers.

(Kinda similar to how we use the Triads and Yakuza in western movies)

But just like the Chinese laugh or feel insulted when they see our portrayal of their culture in movies, so can this cliché make us laugh at the absurdity and the over the topness, which our western culture and religion has been presented with. This cliché is obviously not as damaging to the Japanese and other Asian people as to the westerners who are familiar with the Catholic Church. It also at certain times can be quite offensive if you are an actual religious person.

Anime Cliches 30: Nakige

Type: Formula and Genre cliché

What made it popular: The success of Jun Maeda’s works and Key Visual Arts.

Cliché Level: Medium

Where can you find it: It is a cliché that appears in Romance-Drama anime, meaning you can see it in Clannad, Air, Kanon, Ef A Fairy Tale of the Two, Little Busters, Angel Beats, Anohana, Myself Yourself etc.

Description:

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Nakige is a formula cliché that crossed over to anime from the visual novel industry, which is made all the obvious from it’s name as Nakige can be translated as Crying Game. Both in visual novels and in anime, Nakige are made with the purpose of creating an emotional impact within the viewer and making you cry. The reason for this is that they went with the logic that viewers are more likely to buy and get invested in something that has affected them on an emotional level. And business wise this is obviously a smart and successful strategy.

Since Nakige is a formula cliché it naturally means that it includes everything from the atmosphere, the pacing, the plot and even the execution. Because of this Nakige is a cliché that rules over the entire series from beginning to the end, affecting everything within it.

The Traditional Nakige Formula is as follows:

1 – Comedic First Half: This is the part where all the characters (Mostly girls) are introduced and presented to the viewer. For several episodes these characters will play out various hijinks and comedic moments as well as the occasional unsuccessful attempts from one of the girls to win the protagonist’s heart as it is standard from Anime Rom-Coms. The overall tone is light and easy going, this is used to make the viewer relax and be put into a sense of security. (Obviously so it will make the later dramatic turn more effective)

2 – Romantic Middle: After several episodes pass by, one of the girls is finally successful and manages to beat the competition and get together with the protagonist. Romantic episodes follow as the other characters accept their new relationship. The atmosphere is generally heart-warming as the two characters are having the best time of their lives so far.

3 – Separation: But like they say all good things must eventually come to an end. Due to the events of the story and plot, the main female lead and the protagonist are left unable to continue their romantic relationship. This is where the most variation occurs as the reason for the separation can be something like a terminal illness, the girl being forced to move away, the girl and the protagonist breaking up and even death itself can be a tool for separation.

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4 – Reunion: However there is no reason to feel afraid or anxious for it is the trademark of Nakige that no bad ends ever occur. The writers will eventually reunite the pair even if they have to use an outright Deus Ex Machina or even a Time Reset to do so. The protagonist and the girl are reunited and they live happily ever after, you know the drill.

The crying (both in the viewer as well as the anime characters themselves) typically occurs in either part 3 or part 4, but usually in part 4 as crying in part 3 only occurs when a really tragic tool of separation is used such as death or some serious terminal illness.

Why its bad:

As I already mentioned and illustrated, this is a cliché that affects the entire of the anime it takes place in, which is bad. Earlier in my main cliché article I declared that clichés do not automatically make your anime bad unless there is an overabundance of clichés, meaning it is full of them.

However this is a cliché that is unfortunately exception to that rule as the usage of this cliché can easily ruin the show on its own. The reasons for that are simple, it is very formulaic. Once you recognize the pattern and signs of a Nakige, then you can predict everything else that happens within the show, simply because it follows the Nakige formula.

If you are aware of this cliché, you will know about the separation that will inevitably occur after the middle part, therefore it will not surprise or shock you in any way.

You will also know that in the end the characters will reunite anyway, no matter how bad the situation in the anime gets.

What this does is obviously the complete and utter removal of suspense from the anime, which is one of the worst things that you can do in a drama. If there is no suspense over what happens next, then the viewer won’t feel any excitement or anticipation and the emotional effects of the reunion will be completely negated.

Additionally its bad due to its overemotional, exaggerated and melodramatic type of story telling, which will leave the less emotional viewers like me completely uncaring and disinterested. Though this is hardly an issue as Nakige are typically aimed at emotional people.

And lastly I cannot forgive the fact Nakige will refuse to resort to bad or even some remotely sad ending, it is very restricted on how it can end and that ending is only reunion, even if it has to resort to the most sinful of techniques and methods such as the Deus Ex Machina or the Time Reset to achieve the reunion, which is something that I must condemn from a writing standpoint.

The Antithesis to Nakige: In visual novels there is a formula called Utsuge, which means depressing game. Unlike the Nakige the Utsuge are not afraid to end sad or even depressing, in fact that’s the only way Utsuges end. Because unlike the Nakige, the purpose of Utsuge is to depress the player, there is no hope in these stories and everything the characters do only delays the inevitable. One of the most iconic Utsuge in visual novels is Muv Luv Alternative.

However Utsuge does not really appear as a cliché in the anime industry, there are only a handful of titles that can be “kinda counted” as one, but even with that its still nowhere enough. I only mentioned them because it might be something interesting to hear about.

 

Trading your fingers for material gains

I have come forward to ask you a question today.

Would you give away one of your fingers for 10 million dollars? ( Or any other large sum of money, the actual amount doesn’t have much relevance to this article).

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Why am I asking such a question out of the blue?

Because this is actually a question that gives quite the insight into someone’s character and personality based on what they answer. And by writing this article and explaining what the choices mean, I might cause you to reflect upon yourself and your possible choices in this hypothetical scenario. Self reflection is something that people rarely do nowadays so I have no problem sowing the seeds for it.

Let’s get the shorter one out of the way.

Choice 1. Not accepting

Even despite the fact that huge amounts of money, more money than what perhaps you could earn in your entire lifetime, money that could buy you everything that you ever wanted or needed was offered to you, yet you still had the self-restrain to reject this offer. What does this tell about you?

Well first off it means that you value your finger, a part of your body more than you value money, by extension it could also mean that you have no interest in material gains in general or that your desires and needs cannot be granted by money. You are a person of integrity who cannot be moved by greed nor envy (of the rich), and nothing will probably change that. It also means you are as rare as an unicorn in our modern consumerist and extremely materialistic society, where everything revolves around money and the products you can buy with the said money.

Or it could also just mean that you are afraid of pain or that you are scared of losing your fingers, no need for me to overthink everything, sometimes the simplest answer is the most probable.

Either way I believe not accepting is the most virtuous choice in this scenario.

I’m not going to utter some kind of cliché about how money doesn’t make you happy. Because I do not actually believe that’s true, money can buy you happiness by giving you the ability to attain objects and desires that you previously could not fulfill or get. So yes it is the things that become available through money that could theoretically make a rich person happy.

But there is but one problem with this kind of happiness, it does not last. We get our desires fulfilled and the objects of our wishes granted and we are filled with a short term satisfaction and a few days later if not sooner newer desires spring up within us. And here is where the difference between someone with lots of money and someone who is relatively poorer comes into play.

The poor person needs to work towards his desires, while the rich can grant himself anything he wants by simply flicking his fingers, his limitations has been eliminated, there is nothing blocking the way to his desires other than his self restraint which may get erased once you get filthy rich. Because of the fact that the poor person is blocked and has obstacles, when he actually attains his goals and fulfills his desires, they feel more satisfaction.

While the rich only feel a void as it wasn’t a challenge or a struggle to get what they want. Please note that this isn’t a problem with people who are inherently born into a wealthy family because they are used to it, but it is a much larger problem for those who attain a large amount of wealth suddenly even though they were living in poorer conditions previously, a.k.a. most lottery winners and those who receive a wealthy inheritance.

Their sudden change in lifestyle immediately goes into conflict with their past experiences as they were brought out of their usual habit and behavior by the force of money, they will start feeling increasingly less satisfied, due to this they frequently start seeking new thrills and even greater stimulus, and if this process continues their life becomes nothing more than a pursuit of debauchery. Such an easy way of how sudden wealth can destroy a person.

Now let’s move onto the lengthier second part, which is what I think most people would choose.

Choice 2. Accepting it

Congratulations, you lost a finger and got lots of money as a result.

How long do you think that money will last? You might be already deluding yourself of how you would save it or perhaps even invest it. But in reality it will be gone as quickly as the the money of your average lottery winner. Because people who weren’t born into wealth aren’t used to handling and managing large sums of money. Of course I’m not saying this in absolute, there are money-wise incompetent rich people just as well are those few lottery winners who did not actually waste away their money, but they are in the minority and I’m obviously speaking in general terms.

I know that its a cliché that quickly gained money easily goes away, but its also entirely true as you do not the know the value of the money, you didn’t build it up steadily from nothing, you just received it out of the blue for your finger. Not to mention you already proved that you are a materialistic person by accepting the money, which will also mean that you will proceed to buy the materialistic items and needs that you could previously not afford in your poorer state.

You will buy things that you do not need, you will upgrade your house, your car, your lifestyle, you will switch from plain clothes to the most expensive designer clothes etc. Your money will be spent on unnecessary and costly luxuries, and thus the money that could have lasted you a lifetime had you maintained your previous lifestyle, will be gone in a few years if not months and you will be forced to fall back to poverty. This is exactly the reason why 95% of lottery winners can’t keep their wealth, they spend it on useless things without restraint.

You might say that the things they, most people would buy are not useless objects. So let me ask of you:

Why would they need bigger houses? If they could live in their old one just fine until now, they have no need of a new one, especially not one that is unnecessarily big or extravagant.

Why would they need brand new cars? It’s not like the horse power of your new vehicle matters much in the every day traffic jam. Your old and less costly car served its purpose just fine.

Why would they need designer clothes? It is only a symbol of vanity, having a brand on your jacket or not makes little difference, both serve their function as clothes just as good.

Why should they give money to their family members and friends? Just so they can spend the money uselessly like they do? They didn’t make or earn that money, so they will obviously not value it any higher than you do.

Frankly speaking most of the things that the average human being desires are nothing more but useless items of vanity and pride, that everyone was deluded by the consumerist society and media into thinking that it has actual worth. Rejecting the value of material objects is one of the first steps to enlightenment. The pursuit of luxury and wealth is no different from walking the path of hedonism.

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You might say that you can actually restrain yourself and won’t spend the money uselessly, but where was that restraint when you uselessly gave away your finger for a temporary gain of wealth? You sacrificed an integral part of your body for something uncertain. Your body is your first kingdom, the very thing that you have the maximum amount of control over in the course of your life, and you traded part of something that you had control over to something which you have substantially less control over, money is a volatile mistress.

It is only natural that you would lose it, after all you couldn’t keep yourself from losing your finger, so why would you be able to keep yourself from losing something which you have less control over?

You are no different than a King of medieval times who gave out his lands to the nobles expecting loyalty, only to lose more lands and power due to the greed and envy of increasingly powerful nobles. You will waste your money, then you will return to trade another finger, you waste your money again and sacrifice more of yourself, eventually you lose all of your fingers and only then will you realize how much a little finger mattered to you.

Those who would give up a part of themselves for money do not truly deserve it, nor can they keep it.

There is an ancient Chinese saying that an Emperor who would give a finger for wealth, does not deserve to rule nor can he rule. By giving away a part of his first Kingdom he will also obviously be more willing to give away a part of his second Kingdom, which he has objectively much less control over than the first and thus his Empire will be ruined by greed.

Ancient Chinese philosophers were heavily against materialism and attachment to objects, their focus was more on the people and society rather than anything else. They believed like Plato, that the lands should be ruled by Philosopher or Sage Emperors who would not bend to greed or any other human desire, they would instead remain firm like a rock in face of a river.

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Taoists believe in a “pendulum effect”, which states that if one tries to achieve an extreme in something, then the pendulum swings back and he gets the opposite of the desired result. For example if one seeks wealth then he might end up in poverty, if one tries to make laws, then one might end up making only more criminals. This is an important concept in Taoism, also known as “Overshooting the Mark”.

The Pendulum Effect can be easily applied to this scenario as you have seen in practice.

If you draw your bow for too long you will not only miss your target but you might also hit something else entirely. The point is to hit your target, to be moderate, to walk the middle road.

With all this said.

Would you still give away one of your fingers for material gains?

Anime Cliches 29: Chuunibyou

Type: Character Cliché

What made it popular:  The real life “syndrome” of the same name and further popularized due to the success of Kyoani’s Chuunibyou Demo Koi ga Shitai

Cliché Level: Negligible

Where can you find it: Chuunibyou Demo Koi Ga Shitai (Pretty much everyone), Denpa Onna to Seishuin Otoko (Erio Touwa), Konosuba (Megumin), Steins Gate (Okabe Rintaro), Umineko no Naku Koro Ni (Ushiromiya Maria), Oreimo (Gokou Ruri), Aura: Maryuuinkouga Saigo no Tatakai (Many characters, including the protag and main female lead)

Description:

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In real life:

Chuunibyou can be translated to “2nd year middle school disease”, which is an unnecessarily long name, so I shall simply just use Chuuni from now on. According to the internet Chuunibyou syndrome occurs most frequently in the 2nd year of middle school, hence the name, but apparently even some adults have it. People with Chuunibyou “suffer” from strange behaviour that most would consider either to be lame or embarrassing.

This strange behaviour itself can vary greatly, sometimes it manifests as arrogance in highschoolers, who suddenly start speaking in an arrogant “know it all” fashion as if they had the whole world figured out already. Other times it can manifest as the person suddenly developing interest in some strange hobby, like occultism or card collecting. And lastly the most commonly known one, is when their imagination goes overdrive and they start thinking that they are something they are obviously not, such as a wizard, a knight a demon etc And adopt the mannerism or in this case what they think would be the mannerism and proper behavior of such a character.

In anime, Chuunibyou is one of the most recent and still developing clichés within the medium, which means that this article should be updated as the years go on, Chuunibyou characters were popularized and surged in number after the success of Kyoani’s Chuunibyou anime in 2012, but this does not mean that you cannot find Chuunibyou characters in older anime.

The quality that best defines the Chuunibyou Cliché at the moment would be Variety, for the Chuunibyou appearances across anime are so vastly different from each other, that I had a hard time just ordering and categorizing them into groups. But nevertheless I managed to break them down to 5 subgroups: (Note that these are subgroups that actually appear in anime and are observable, I did not list any other on purpose due to the fact that they do not appear in anime)

  1. Evil Eye Chuuni: A chuunibyou who is pretending to be a wizard, demon, sometimes both. Typically speaks in an erratic manner, often adopting archaic Japanese and starts refering to herself with pronouns like Warawa (signifies nobility or royalty amongst females). The Evil Eye Chuuni frequently talks about “unleashing her power” or “removing her seal” on her “evil eye” which she usually covers with an eyepatch. Heterochromia via eye contacts is a common element here. Takanashi Rikka and Megumin fall into this category.
  2. Strange Chuuni: All Chuuni’s by definition are strange, but the “Strange” Chuuni are odd even amongst other Chuuni. They often stare blankly into space, utter mumbles and make weird sound effects. They typically imagine themselves as aliens or other scifi characters rather than fantasy ones like the Evil Eye. If they are not an airhead cookoolander then they might speak entirely in techno-babble, which is highly confusing to the both normal characters, as well as to the viewer. Touwa Erio and Satou Ryouko fall into this category.
  3. Mad Scientist: The chuuni pretends or thinks that he is a Mad Scientist, they also dress and speak like one and frequently try to create “inventions”. Okabe Rintaro and Shiguma Rika fall into this category.
  4. Arrogant Chuuni: A chuuni character who sees him or herself in a superior light compared to other characters and does not mind pointing out this fact to the others. This may be entirely unfounded and played for comedic effects or the chuuni might actually be a genius or powerful enough to be an actual superior. This subcliché can be freely combined with the other groups.

The combination of an Evil Eye Chuuni and an Arrogant Chuuni would result in a character who speaks like this:

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“The dark powers that be have brought my great self before you to mock your feebleness. Bow before the greatness bestowed upon me by the dark powers!”

……..

“I see that you have been blessed by the dark powers! Not as much as they have blessed my great self, however still blessed nonetheless. How about we work together to serve the dark powers that be, so that we may relish their dark gifts even more?

You get the idea.

5. Emo Chuuni: Not a normal chuuni archetype, but a state instead that Chuunibyou characters reach when they come face to face with their own existence and their delusions. Shock, Trauma, Depression as well as Bullying can be factors which put a regular Chuuni into the Emo Chuuni mode. An Emo Chuuni is noticeably more brooding than a regular Chuuni and way less talkative. If they reach such a state in a serious show, then they might be close to suicide or snapping.

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These are the chuuni types that are most common in anime, but there are even more types in the mediums of manga and visuals novels.

Chuuni also greatly vary in terms of personality depending on the genre and seriousness of the work they are inside. They can be played simply for comedic effect, where not even the chuuni character takes their own chuuni-ness seriously and can switch between “chuuni” and normal mode at will. Others might only pretend to be Chuuni because they think it’s cool or because the story might demand it due to the presence of other Chuunis. (Take protagonist of Chuunibyou Demo for example)

Some characters might have had some trouble or issue in their past that caused them to become Chuuni or remain in such a state despite getting older, but this information is usually not revealed until the character is broken out of her Chuuniness. Or they can just simply have the syndrome without any further reason or explanation, which is how the more comedic and light hearted shows featuring Chuunis tend to roll.

Several sites include in the definition of Chuunibyou that the characters must not possess any real supernatural powers. However I am forced to disagree on this definition due to the fact that I have encountered several characters who speak and act like a Chuunibyou yet clearly have supernatural powers. Although it should be noted that they usually either have weak, inconveniencing or otherwise rarely used powers, but they are still powers non the less.

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Just take this character, Ascension Sur Barbankur also known as Beelzebub from the visual novel Maou no Kuse ni Namaiki Da! She dresses, speaks and acts like a Chuunibyou character plus she even has her “Evil Eye” sealed with an eyepatch, yet Vndb refuses to recognize this character’s existence as a chuunibyou due to the fact that she has actual powers due to being an actual devil. Even though its obvious to everyone who has ever played that game that she is a Chuunibyou through and through, it matters little if she is devil or human.

Why its bad:

As I mentioned earlier, Chuunibyou is still an evolving cliché and the amount of anime it affects are but a few dozen, in addition, due to their great variety this cliché is nowhere as annoying or bad as any cliché that I have listed previously. Unless you have a personal hatred or dislike towards Chuunis then I find it unlikely for them to be boring or annoying at the moment. Thus I ranked this cliché as Negligible.

The situation is relatively fine at the moment, but if it continues to grow and gets another large surge in popularity, then it will be cemented as a cliché and rise to low, and eventually medium cliché levels according to my classifications.

Once that happens I can already tell you why they will be bad. Repetition breeds contempt as always, if Chuunibyou’s become overused they will stop being funny and interesting, which is currently still halted by the fact that they have a lot of variety amongst them. Also in serious works their potentially sad/depressing backstory will become stale and predictable like many other cliché characters that tend to have a past that causes their current behaviour.

 

 

Anime Cliches 28: Deredere

Type: Character Cliché

What made it popular: Let’s face it, who wouldn’t want a girl who is head over heels for you?

Cliché Level: Medium

Where can you find it: Utawarerumono (Eruru), Naruto (Hinata), Fate/Stay Night ( Caster to Souchirou), Sayonara Zetsubou Sensei, Shuffle, Imouto Paradise, To Love Ru (Sairenji Haruna and Momo) etc. Commonly used characters in romance anime as well as hentai.

Description:

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Deredere girls in anime are characters who are utterly lovestruck with the protagonist and love him deeply, it usually happens as a result of love at first sight, but it can also be developed, as well as triggered by the protagonist’s actions. They are usually counted as active characters, but nowhere as proactive as the Genki Girl or the Tomboy. They tend to combined with the Childhood Friend cliché, which is used to justify their deep affection towards the protagonist.

In comparison with the other Dere types, I would say that DereDere is one of the if not the most normal of them all. They aren’t abusive like the Tsundere nor are they in love to the point of madness like the Yandere. The DereDere is usually a companion and even a friend towards the protagonist from the beginning of the story, but unknown to the protagonist she has feelings for him, which is why she goes to visit him early in the morning, or go cook for him when he gets sick.

The common theme with the majority of DereDere girls is that they never act on their feelings, simply because they are either too shy or because they believe that the protagonist would not respond to them in kind. And even when they actually muster up the courage to confess, it is muffled by the wind, train, or a passing car in the usual shitty application of the missed love confession cliché.

They are generally shy, as DereDere are the typical girls who will get red like a tomato and starts fiddling their thumbs whenever something is implied between them and the protagonist, sometimes they cannot bear the teasing and just runaway at high velocity. Likewise whenever the protagonist does something that can be misunderstood, mostly unintentionally, she enters a similar state but does not run away as frequently, instead she might actually want for the protagonist to continue (only to be disappointed).

Due to their naturally submissive personality, they are one of the most frequently used character types in Hentai.

A rarer type of DereDere is a subcliché that is the inverse of the usual DereDere, meaning that instead of being shy and timid about their feelings, they are completely open about it and way more clingy and affectionate towards the protagonist. Due to the fact that they are still just as deeply in love with the protagonist as the regular DereDere, this frequently leads to various lewd scenarios and fanservice moments, so they are typically used in harem and fanservice anime. For the sake of defining it, I shall call this the Perverted Deredere. An example of such a character is Momo Veila Devilluke from To Love Ru.

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Why it’s bad:

While they are one of the least annoying and unusual Dere types, I would say that they are also the most boring. There is nothing more boring and unrealistic than a girl who loves you back no matter what, no questions asked. I get that “love at first sight” happens in real life according to some people, but in entertainment media this is nothing but lazy writing. The writers don’t have to actually develop their relationship and build it up logically, instead they can just go “love at first sight” and be done with it in a lazy and cheap manner. Of course there are DereDere that are actually developed, but those are the minority.

I also dislike it due to the fact that the existence of the DereDere in any anime brings forth a dozen other clichés as you could have seen it above, interrupted love confession and childhood friend cliché are some of the most commonly combined ones with the DereDere cliché. Likewise the comedy and antics become stale and predictable, since almost every show follows the same exact routine when it comes to these characters.

And the Perverted Deredere, while I obviously like her more than the regular Deredere, she only exist for the sake of fanservice in most of the anime they appear in. And it is ruined by the fact that even though she is 100% open about it, the typical anime harem lead never makes the move on her even though it would be perfectly logical to do so. Because most harem main characters are unfortunately Donkan or sexually oblivious protagonists, something which I loathe and believe to be a terrible combination with harems.

Lastly I would like to make the final comment that the typical beta males that are the protagonist of these anime clearly do not deserve either of the two, as they fail to recognize their affections and more often than not, mistreat them.

The Opposer

I decided to write about and analyze the role of the Antagonists in various works of fiction due to the fact that having a well written antagonist can easily save your story, while having a badly written one can just as easily ruin it and make it boring.

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Antagonist comes from the greek word ἀνταγωνιστής, which means opponent, competitor, enemy or rival. The antagonist is the character within fiction who opposes and stands against the protagonist, his allies as well as his possible goals. Making a good protagonist is not that easy, but making a good antagonist is even harder, for it is very easy to overshoot the mark and get the opposite of the desired result when making them.

What do I mean by this? Many writers try to make their villains sympathetic and likeable to the audience by giving them goals, motivations and ideals, which is not inherently a bad idea as there is nothing less interesting than an one dimensionally evil antagonist who is evil for the sake of being evil. But more often than not, by doing this they end up creating an antagonist that is more sympathetic or likeable than the protagonist, which is rarely their desired result. Whenever I watch or read some kind of work, I find it hard not to agree agree or sympathize with the antagonist someway or another, as the only thing that separates them from the protagonist is how far they are willing to go for their goals and what methods they use.

And on a personal level, the thing that usually makes me like an antagonist is also whose absence makes me hate or dislike the protagonist, that quality is the willingness to go far for the achievement of one’s goals. Heroes usually want to save lives and protect the innocent, yet they rarely ever go to extreme’s in order to do this, in my opinion they simply lack the balls. Take for example Batman, or any other superhero that does not kill, Batman has been doing his vigilante job for decades, yet he still fails to realize that there is no redemption or possible cure for most of the psychos he captures and sends to Arkham Asylum. They are crazy, cannot be rehabilitated because of their craziness and will simply resume their heinous acts the moment they have a chance to break out, which they do have quite often.

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Batman should have realized ages ago that he achieves virtually nothing by locking these guys up, as he is doing nothing more but stalling the inevitable, the fact that they  eventually will get out, set loose and start rampaging in Gotham once more. Yet he never eliminates or permanently neutralizes any of the villains on his own volition because of some sort of idiotic logic that if he kills he will become the same as them. In reality one wouldn’t be able to protect anyone with such a weak resolve.

It is usually the villains, the antagonists who dare to stake everything for the success of their goals and plans and by therefore, to me at least, are much more admirable than most of the protagonist characters. The protagonist are this “He who defends everything…” type of character many times in fiction, which is a dangerous position to hold in reality as the saying goes: “He who defends everything, defends nothing.” Yet fiction rarely every punishes the protagonist of such arrogance due to the fact that they are idealized rather than realistic.

But let’s not get too far off from the main topic, and that topic is:

What makes a good antagonist?

The easiest way to decide this is by showing you what types of antagonist the writers commonly use from worst to best.

1 – Evil for the sake of being evil: Characters with negative moral standards, those who do not feel any remorse after killing or harming someone, instead they delight on it. Or those who would not mind killing you for your mobile-phone or for your wallet. They can also be characters who revel in the chaos and mayhem they cause, such as your average pyromaniac. Making a character like this in fiction does not result in an interesting antagonist, even though many of the real life murderers and criminals fit into this exact category. But let’s be honest, it’s not like you ever found random street stabber X to be interesting or intriguing.

The reason for them being bad as characters, is that their characterization is halted or always brought back to the fact that their character is evil, that is their primary defining feature/trait. In fiction this is the laziest method one can use to justify the existence of an antagonist since by making them evil, you do not need to give any complicated reason for why they are opposing the protagonist, they are simply evil and everything ends with that.

At worst they are your average street thug.

At best they are your enigmatic killers like the Zodiac killer.

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2 – The Insane: Little different from category 1, instead of opposing the protagonist due to being evil they do it due to their lack of sanity and overall craziness, which is just pretty much another way of justifying the actions of the antagonist and eliminates the need to write a proper character, seeing the author can make the crazy antagonist act however he wants to. It doesn’t matter what he does, he is crazy, no one will question it.

At worst they are your typical psycho.

At best their craziness have reached a level where they are no longer a mere crazy guy, they have become a walking embodiment of chaos and mayhem. (The Joker from Batman comics for example)

3 – The Monsters: With this category we are finally moving somewhere as monster antagonists do not oppose the protagonist out of being crazy or being evil. Instead they can do it to perpetuate their existence or because its natural of them to do so. But of course there are as many monsters in fictions and stories as there are trees in a forest, and some of them are little better than category 1 or 2. But again since they are monsters, the writer once more does not need justification for their actions as their existence itself is the justification, thus he can avoid proper characterization this way.

At worst: Zombies and other brainless human eaters.

At best: Monsters like Dracula who are intelligent enough to communicate, scheme and play with the protagonist before eating them.

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4 – The Oppressors: In the last few decades, depicting authority and the government as something evil, oppressive and corrupt has been quite common across a multitude of media, which is obviously in relation with the real life progressive movements that keep springing up. In fiction the oppressor antagonist can be anyone who is in an authority or power above the protagonist characters, let’s say he is a prison guard and the protagonist is a prisoner, or if protagonist is perhaps a land owner and the antagonist is a politician who wants to take away his lands.

The roles of the antagonist in this category can greatly vary, but the common link is that he is always above the protagonist, who is subjected to his whims and power, making it easy for the protagonist to be exploited or otherwise be harmed. I personally loathe this category, for it is nothing more than cheap emotional manipulation, it is extremely easy to make us feel sorry for the protagonist and sympathize with him when such an antagonist is present, as it immediately casts the protagonist into the role of the underdog.

Due to the fact that such stories are usually told from the protagonist’s viewpoint and perspective, we do not get the side of the antagonist, all we see is that he is an oppressive asshole towards the protagonist for virtually no reason, so it becomes next to impossible to like or sympathize with him, leading him to become an 1 dimensionally evil villain, and once more the writer avoids proper characterization as the oppressor simply oppresses because he can.

At worst they are your dickish cops and prison guards.

At best they are your shrewd and corrupt politicians.

5 – The Corrupted: Now we finally arrived at the categories that we can consider to be decent and perhaps even good. Corrupted antagonists are characters who were once good and perhaps even a friend or ally to the protagonist, but due to events that happened in the story or due to the corrupting influence of another antagonist, the character goes over to the antagonist’s side and starts opposing the protagonist.

The quality here largely depends on how well the corruption is done, if the corruption is instant then its shit and makes it look like bullshit. Good corruption are all gradual that start somewhere in the story and reach their peak as it continues, the more foreshadowing and implications of the corruption we are shown the better it is. Characters who were already corrupted at the start of the fiction are much harder to care about, as we did not see them fall and thus it is harder to sympathize with them.

The Corrupted Antagonist is rarely ever the main antagonist is in the fiction, as his corruption is most of the time the result of another antagonist’s actions and scheming, he usually serves as a secondary antagonist due to this, but on rare occasions the Corrupted Antagonist eliminates the main antagonist and becomes the primary villain that the protagonist must face. The possibility of redemption is a common theme with this type of antagonist.

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6 – Conflicting Personalities with the Protagonist:

Some people simply cannot get along, this can very well be the relationship between several protagonists and antagonists. Maybe they hated each other the moment they met, maybe the protagonist realized the true personality of the antagonist with a single glance, and was naturally repulsed by him. Or maybe this antagonist was once a not so willing ally or companion of the protagonist who finally had enough of the hero’s personality that always ticked him off and finally decided to shut his mouth.

These antagonist are more often not closer to a rival rather than an outright villain as they rarely have the desire to kill the protagonist for real, they just want to make him lose or perhaps beat him up. But in rare cases when their personalities are polar opposites, such as honourable vs dishonorable, deceiver vs honest, one can expect blood to be spilled. In this case antagonist antagonizes the protagonist simply because he does not like him, which I believe to be a far better reason than simply being crazy or being evil.

7 – Protagonist’s relation to the Antagonist

Not all antagonists appear out of random when the protagonist reached a certain point in his quest or goal. Indeed some of them may have come from the protagonist’s past or from his circle of acquaintances. Perhaps the protagonist have wronged them in the past, maybe the protagonist’s actions have caused some kind of misfortune to befall on the antagonist and his family members or anything that would make the antagonist hate or resent him and cause him to become his opposer.

And this is exactly why this is one of the best types of antagonist’s, because they have a proper reason for their antagonistic behaviour, or at the very least they themselves feel that they do, which immediately makes them a million times better than the psychotic characters who just delight in opposing our protagonist or the corrupted character who did not become the antagonist on his own will.

One of the best examples of this type of antagonist can be found within the Korean tragedy movie called Old Boy. In the film, the protagonist called Oh Dae Su is kidnapped at the start of the story, he spends 15 years in the antagonist’s captivity, not knowing the reasons or anything related to why he was kidnapped in the first place.

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Eventually Oh Dae Su is released and given a chance to find out why he was kidnapped. Throughout the course of the movie, our protagonist is forced to dig into his own past to find out the truth, while the antagonist is trying to make him remember as well as simultaneously torturing him. After a certain point he realizes that due to the fact that he started a nasty rumor in his highschool years, the antagonist’s sister had committed suicide, but because of the fact that he had transferred before the suicide he soon forgot about this rumor as it was completely trivial to him.

But it was certainly not trivial for our antagonist who was willing to plan and enact his revenge on our protagonist, even if it took decades of waiting and preparation to accomplish, as his revenge was quite complex, he did not simply want to kill Oh Dae Sue, no he had planned something far more sinister that I shall not spoil.

Another good example would be the Monster from Frankenstein as the Monster wasn’t something inherently evil, its original nature was actually quite good, but his good heart was corrupted by the treatment he received from humans and the rejection from his own creator, Doctor Frankenstein. The Monster’s revenge is highly justified yet also sad at the same time.

Giving the antagonist a proper and genuine reason is likely to set both characters into the grey area rather than dealing with everything as black and white, making them both sympathetic and somewhat relatable.

8 – Conflicting Ideals

The conflict between the antagonist and the protagonist can occur on the level of ideas, for example if the two of them represent fundamentally different and opposing ideals, it is only natural for them to eventually clash. The protagonist could be the living embodiment of progress and evolution, while the antagonist could embody backwardness and the past. There is a bit of a crossover with Category 6, but it is not the same as it deals far more with the characters ideals, goals and actions rather than just their personality.

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A clash of ideologies can occur when the protagonist and another do not agree upon some action or event, for example a honourable protagonist having different ideas in war and battle than a Machiavellian manipulator, this will easily turn the previously neutral character into the antagonist. Such clashes can also occur between politicians trying to run a country or various merchants trying to profit and screw each other over.

Since the conflict occurs in the realm of ideas rather than just the realm of characters, it is far deeper and more meaningful than any other type of antagonist and protagonist relationship, therefore I shall place it on the top.

Special Type of Antagonists that I will not number:

Fate: Rather than have the antagonist be a concrete person, some works may make something intangible or transcendent the antagonist of the story, one of these things can be fate. For example the protagonist is cursed and fated to die if he does not do X or Y. Or something terrible happen if the protagonist fails to arrive at a certain location at a certain time. In Prince of Persia the Warrior Within, the Prince is running from his inevitable fate and trying to fight off the manifestation of the said fate in the form of the creature known as Dahaka. While other antagonist arise within the game, his overall goal still remains to change his fate, this is an example of Fate itself being the antagonist.

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I have rather mixed feelings about this type of antagonist, since if Fate truly existed, then it is not something you could work against as a simple human being, it is not something you have power or control over. And many times because of these facts, such stories are usually revolved via the usage of Deus Ex Machina’s or something equally bullshit. On the other hand if the story is about the inevitability of Fate and how it is futile to try avoiding it, then it becomes an entirely different matter. Although very few stories ever go that way.

God: Yes, even God can be the antagonist, or any other godlike being in fiction. When God is the antagonist, he does not want to kill the protagonist, because if he wanted to do so, it would be very easy to just make him die with his omnipotent power. So instead what God does is test the protagonist and gives him challenges, if the protagonist can succeed, then he triumphed over god. Yet again, this scenario is bullshit because if God did not want the protagonist to win he would have simply designed an impossible challenge since due to his omniscience he would know what the protagonist can do and cannot do, therefore the protagonist only wins because God himself willed it so. And I don’t see much point in such a story.

Category 1, 2 and 3 make me seem like as if I hated horror stories, and that is actually very true but also highly unrelated to the matter at hand. Horror characters like Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers have literally no character as far as I’m concerned. But that is actually fine since characters barely matter in horror movies, as most of them exist only to suffer and be killed. Rather than relying on characters horror flicks make use of suspense, terror and shock factor in order to chill the audience, for those purposes Category 1, 2 and 3 are probably the best choices for obvious reasons.

Likewise the Joker is a perfect villain for the usually idealized world of superheroes, as he reminds us that not all humans are worth saving or preserving, that people like the Joker who exist only to sew chaos will never stop being what they are no matter how many times one jails or beats them. It is instead the superheroes reaction, or in this case, their lack of reaction that I am dissatisfied with.

What type of antagonist you need hugely depends on the genre you are writing in, category 8 despite being the best of the bunch, obviously wouldn’t work with your standard horror movie as it would slow it down and make it boring, nor would it be a proper situation or premise to explore a clash of ideologies.

But the more sophisticated work you are aiming for, the more obligatory it becomes to use one of the antagonist types from the higher categories, as usage of the lower categories in a work that presents itself in an intelligent light only worsens your quality, yet too many writers still make this mistake, there are far too many works across multiple mediums that try to be seen in a serious and realistic light yet they keep having 1 dimensional villains and antagonists, that you can do nothing with but hate or dislike, as they are characters who are made to be hated.

One common mistake that the writers usually make is that they create antagonist that do not fit with the theme or the setting of their work, this comes as a result of trying to make an antagonist interesting, but backfires on them, as it makes him strange and out of place instead. For example a mad scientist obviously doesn’t belong anywhere in the dark ages, nor does a knight or an inquisitor belong in our modern times, yet I see them done all the time.

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And this isn’t the only mistake that authors commit by trying to make their antagonist interesting, the second most common one happens by giving the antagonist some kind of power, and accidentally turning them too powerful, far too powerful for our protagonist to actually defeat by his own power. The creators typically don’t realize this fact until its too late, and thus they are forced to use some kind of bullshit or Deus Ex Machina to defeat the villain, which is something that you should always try to avoid or it will end up looking this stupid.

If you are in such a situation I would honestly just recommend to let the villain win rather than resorting to the sin of using a Deus Ex Machina, sure it will be shocking and might be even disappointing to your audience, but it is still far better than being known as a hack writer. Besides I don’t really understand this whole taboo against downer endings, they have a possibility of being good, especially due to the fact that rarely anyone does downer endings.

Third mistake that stems from trying to make an antagonist interesting is that they often end up doing nothing, like really, many writers create an antagonist and put him to the sidelines, and refuse to use him until the very last moments of their work. This is bad because the greatness of any antagonist comes from their interaction with the protagonist and his allies, if he only does something at the very last moment of the story, then it is quite hard to care about him.

But it’s not like its impossible to understand their logic. Their logic goes that if the antagonist appears too often it will cause him to become stale and boring. While true to a certain extent, not appearing and interacting frequently enough causes way worse problems. A good antagonist has a sense for timing, making him appear when one least expects it is a good idea for a shocking introduction or memorable appearance. Also if the protagonist had multiple interactions with the antagonist prior to the ending, then it makes all the more sense that he defeats him due to learning from his past experiences.

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I would like to draw the conclusion that a good antagonist is a character who antagonizes the protagonist regularly but not too often, has a relationship of mutual dislike throughout the story and is driven by something more than simply being crazy or evil, likewise he should also be someone that can be defeated by the power and efforts of the protagonist, otherwise what’s the point to an impossible challenge?