My five levels of sympathy

So throughout my days from watching anime, I’ve managed to establish five levels of sympathy, ranging from a deep connection with a character, to one that is merely laughable. I really couldn’t be able to label these levels properly without having seen some of the most depressing shows, or well crafted ones that allowed me to share something special with its characters. To make some examples, and to avoid spoilers, I’ll just name the titles of the shows. Some of the examples I’ll list don’t necessarily have character deaths in them, but rather the shows that would expect sympathy out of its viewers. Anyhow here they are:


The show creators are sadistic bastards who enjoy watching their audience suffer as they mercilessly torture their favorite characters to the end. It’s shows like these that make me wanna break down and take cold showers. I’ve seen way too much awful hell unleashed onto some of my favorite characters. I don’t care who you are, or what manly things you’ve done in life. It’s these kind of shows that take your soul and tear it up right in front of you. And it’s these shows that could change who you are as a person, and how you see things. If a show can make me sympathize well with its characters, it may just bump up that 9 to a 10, hereby scoring it as a masterpiece. Yes, it’s just that good.

Example: Clannad: After Story , Grave of the Fireflies , Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood

2. Well damn, I really I wish I could’ve seen you to the end.

This goes for the type of series with a character I was sorta rooting for while I was going through the show. There may have not been enough screentime for said character, or not much of a connection established with myself, as a viewer. Either way, I still felt something for that character and now that he or she is gone. Perhaps somewhat disappointed that I didn’t get to see that character live to the end. It’s just a damn shame. That’s all to it really. Just a damn shame that character suffered at this point in the series. I won’t bawl my eyes out over this one person, but the thought is still there. If the series can make me care that much about this one character, well then he or she’s significant enough to matter. Not just to me personally, but to the rest of the cast of characters and how they’ll feel over this kind of loss.

Examples: Ano Hi Mita Hana no Namae wo Bokutachi wa Mada Shiranai , Elfen Lied , Angel Beats!

3. I don’t care whether you live or die.

That’s just it. I honestly don’t care. I won’t be hurt if a certain character has to suffer, but I won’t be in jubilation either. It simply didn’t change my feeling toward the rest of the series. Didn’t take away from it, didn’t add on to it. To be blunt, it was pointless. The only other reason why it might have any impact, is to serve as a catalyst to move the plot forward. It can allow some motivation to be driveled into the heads of the cast of characters to take a course of action. Other than that, that loss didn’t mean much to me. One of the concepts of a series that can cause this, is adding time travel elements. Loss and death ends up feeling less and less emotional, when it can resolved through a change in the timeline. Not to mention, it may also become more and more dull seeing the same sequence of events occur time after time. True, it must be awful for the characters who have to suffer through the same travesties again and again, but from a viewer standpoint, it can be passed off with a shrug.

Examples: Mahou Shoujo Madoka★Magica , 5 Centimeters per Second , Last Exile ,

4. Who are you again?

No really, I don’t know who you are and how you even contributed to the story. Were you part of the cast of the entire time? I didn’t notice you. Maybe the way I feel this way is because the character simply didn’t stand out. They were just another character part of the rest of the crowd. In fact, there was no reason for this character to exist. Literally, the existence of these kind of characters amount to nothing. One episode, everyone else might feel a little saddened over this person, the next, everyone goes about their day and act like nothing ever happened. They are just so forgettable, their name completely escapes me. The only way they’re identifiable is by their physical characteristics. Their efforts are likely wasted at some point in the plot, unless it involves them being the sacrifice for the sake of saving the main character’s life. Well, main characters aren’t allowed to die, and just about anyone could take their place, but for the sake of removing a useless character, they will raise their hands to be the sacrificial lamb.

Examples: Mobile Suit Gundam , Sekirei: Pure Engagement , Deadman Wonderland

5. AHAHAHHAH! You deserved it.

These kind of characters need to die and/or suffer. Not for the sake of advancing the plot or allowing the main characters to triumph as the hero of the story, but for my personal enjoyment to see them suffer before my eyes. Believe me, I’m no sadistic person. I don’t take excessive pride and joy in seeing people suffer from horrific and gruesome deaths. For characters that I’ve hated for so long, seeing them meet their end, is an absolute joy for me. It’s almost like waking up to Christmas day, opening up the presents to see their bloodied heads wrapped under a bow. I wouldn’t give a damn in the world if the same thing was about to happen to me the next day. I got what I wanted and I can rest easy, knowing their souls are scrapped off their world. I’ll dance on your graves and knock over your tombstone. You didn’t deserve respect from me then, you don’t deserve respect from me now.

Examples: School Days , Death Note ,


About davethezombie
I watch anime on nearly a daily basis. I also try to read some manga every now and then.

4 Responses to My five levels of sympathy

  1. Pingback: Anti-Social Geniuses Reference Resource Mondays | Organization Anti Social Geniuses

  2. joseqq says:

    I would personally place Darker Than Black in a few of these categories. Now I begin to question my judgement in anime more.. then again, even if i say I hate certain shows… I really don’t and I still give them worthy scores. There’s a couple of manga that also fall with some of these choices. And fuck Ano-Hana.

  3. Pingback: Anti-Social Geniuses Reference Resource Mondays « Organization Anti-Social Geniuses

  4. Richard Paul says:

    I was recently questioned on whether there were conditional levels to sympathy. Can a person grow to feel “more sympathetic” or “less sympathetic” or display varying levels of sympathy? Does there exist intensities to sympathy that differ in expression? What are the distinctive differences between one person’s sympathy versus another? As I am still ascertaining a conclusive analysis and final determination to those questions, I came upon your blog. In your examples, you cite these five levels as demonstrating aspects of sympathy in regards what the viewer of animies may glean from such content . Specifically on how your personal definitions of sympathy are defined by such stories. Reading these examples, the thought occurred to me that these cited examples do not translate as sympathetic responses. Rather they are various emotional responses that possibly were initialized by a momentary sympathetic response or individualized emotional responses based on the content presented. Your titles and arguments contain language that intuit completely differing emotional responses that do not exist in the realm of sympathy. Here are emotional adjectives more appropriate to your cited examples:

    1: Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo! translates to ANGUISH

    2: Well damn, I really I wish I could’ve seen you to the end translates to SADNESS

    3: I don’t care whether you live or die translates to INDIFFERENCE; related is APATHY

    4: Who are you again? translates to CONFUSION & APATHY

    5: Aha, you deserved it! translates to JUDGEMENT, DISGUST, CONTEMPT

    I can understand in example 5 how its concluded this is sympathy in its negative or zero- state. You prove the absence of sympathy through descriptive language that translates better as CONTEMPT.

    So far, I have not found any conclusive evidence establishing sympathy as having “levels or differing qualities”. I suppose you can act on a sympathetic response, however that would be confusing action with emotional states…???

    Thank you for your blog as you have given me alternative material to review!

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