Commanders of Fate: Characters with a Reason

Warning: This post contains minor to major spoilers for Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann, Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood, Neon Genesis Evangelion, Mahou Shoujo Madoka Magica, and Code Geass: Lelouch of the Rebellion (general).

As a sort of branch to my personal philosophy that I’ve yet to put into words, a few characters in anime came to mind that seemed relevant to what it is. There are quite a few things to factor in when thinking of a truly well written character, and to name a few they could be development, personality, motivations, and goals. One thing about characters that I truly admire is their actions in accordance with their ideology. Normally, characters tend to follow the general flow of the narrative they’re in, reacting dynamically to what happens around them, whether it’s an impending evil, or a common day-to-day adventure. The characters that I come to value the most are the ones who aspire to become the catalyst of that very flow, which distorts the direction of the future to their liking for whatever reason they may have. Following is a short list of characters that I believe to be candidates to fit this category.

An explanation to the qualifications that a character meets to make this list is in order. The only requirements a character must meet is an action that causes a significant influence on the people and/or environment in that characters’ respective universe. Each of these characters has his or her own rationalization, or reason, for committing these actions. These characters have fulfilled both requirements to a grand degree, having made a great action that changed history in their favor, and a proper reason to justify it.

It should be no surprise that Light makes it on this list. Only by chance, Light makes his arbitrary decision to cleanse the world of evil with the only means he has; the Death Note. As much of a whim his decision may have been, his vision was clear from the start, and stops for no obstacle that dare get in the way of his aspiration to become a God of the new world he wishes to create. Light has no doubts or hesitations for his actions and the destination he needs to get to.

Shinji is almost a hit or miss entry to this list, but if you’ve read my other post on my thoughts of Evangelion, it makes a little more sense. Speaking from the point of view of the original work, Shinji doesn’t form his world view until late in the show when he’s sick and tired of what’s expected of him. After absolute exhaustion on his psyche, Shinji completely destroys everything in the world. His father, Gendo, could easily make this list, but Shinji’s actions are a result of Gendo, and postdate him. Shinji takes the most dramatic action to shift history.

Arguably, the person who belongs on this list is Kamina for being the motivation of Simon. But regardless, watching the show will suffice to be an explanation. Nonetheless, Simon fits the requirements to be a character of reason. Under the oppression of those above him who disregard their voices, Simon and Kamina lead the movement up towards the heavens where they aim for all mankind to be one day. Simon’s sheer determination to move forward through his tribulation proves to be that of a commander of fate.

Father, not Hohenheim, is certainly a worthy pick for this list. Created as nothing more than a tool for a greedy man to cheat death, Father, originally known as Dwarf in the Flask, broke from his boundaries in the pursuit for knowledge, for freedom; something that is completely understandable as a desire for anything living. Father’s methods are deplorable to the rest of the world, and it’s no surprise when the lives of thousands is nothing more than a pointless and mundane means to an end. He created Alchemy, distorted government, engineered war in his favor, aimed to deceive and murder millions, and even absorbs God, all to become a perfect being with the goal of ultimate freedom.

Following Father comes Edward. Edward starts out as nothing more than a child. As a direct consequence of the actions of Father, and to that end, Hohenheim, Edward’s world view changes. His only goal in life is to regain his bodies back, and to understand the meaning behind his mother’s death. While this seems innocent and small-scale at first, Edward’s endeavors quickly escalate to a world-wide scale. There’s no doubt that Edward is the reason for the movement against Father and the insurrection against the government. And because Edwards causes are the consequence of Father’s, the two both make it onto this list.

For someone who’s only observed the actions of others around her for the duration of the entire narrative, Madoka seemed like an unlikely candidate for this list. After thinking about it for a little bit, it seemed to make sense. Madoka, essentially, let others make decisions for her, while observing them and their trials. When she begins to experience her own troubles, and gains an understanding of the situation at hand, she makes a decision that she thinks to be the best solution. When she gains the opportunity to make her wish, she essentially rewrites the laws of the universe. What better way to change the course of history than to change its logic? Madoka’s causation was for the greater good of her kind, and earns her place on this list.

Lelouch Lamperouge exemplifies the very essence of what this list represents. Without the mere supernatural element of Geass, Lelouch is nothing more than a human. His only resolve in life is to make the world a gentle place for his little sister, Nunally, suffering from blindness and the inability to walk. As a human, he becomes a symbol of equality, and liberation for the oppressed. Under the guise of Zero, Lelouch becomes a military leader to lead the movement towards an egalitarian society, so to fulfill his desire of creating a world ideal for Nunally. He stands neither on the side of right nor wrong, but moves only to his ideology. One of his many philosophies is to commit evil to confront a greater evil, and uses it to rise up to the position of emperor of the world, where out of pure benevolence, creates his ideal world. Lelouch moves with a confident stride, falters very little, and reaches his goal with an adamant stance. He is the most worthy pick for this list, and is the quintessence of a commander of fate.

It’s important to remember that characters of anime are a lot more than just a character. They’re people. Whether they’ve been gifted with powers beyond human ability, or they’re nothing more than a bug underground, they’re people with ideology, fueled by motivation and consequence, who aspire to take action and use their world view as a basis for how they want to exact their influence on the world around them. It’s this aspect of characters that make them the most human.

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About Suda
Video games and anime reviews.

8 Responses to Commanders of Fate: Characters with a Reason

  1. GOD DAVE WHY YOU GOTTA RIP ON ALL MY POSTS.

    But in all seriousness, I don’t necessarily agree with a couple of the characters you mentioned here, to be honest. Mainly due to the fact that they lack a backstory and it seems like they didn’t have a great motive to do the things they wanted to. I wasn’t satisfied by their ideology that they were a generally good or bad person, just because that’s just who they are and the writers said so.

    The rest though, I can agree with. Those characters did have a good reason to do even some of the most drastic decisions in the series, which I did admire about their character.

    • sudatama says:

      There’s no importance in whether or not the character is morally good or bad, but rather, specifically, in their actions in changing history regardless of the degree of motivation, even though it is present for each character.
      The importance relies on their action, of which every one of these characters fulfills. In my view, arbitrary actions are not a negative factor in their value. A good motivation only adds to the value, but little to no motivation doesn’t reduce it.

      • I do think motives are more necessary than you think they are. They give ‘reason’ as to why these characters do the things that they do. The ‘reason’ you give to those characters is that its just who they naturally are. I find it that characters are better shaped by their experiences than by just their own actions.

  2. sudatama says:

    I’m not saying that they’re unnecessary, but only that it’s better to have one, and not a penalty to lack one. For example, Light barely had a motivation; it was an arbitrary decision to rid the world of evil. Having no reason to rid the world of evil is not a bad thing, because that action itself is what’s important. The action has the influence on the world, it causes the change, it’s the catalyst to the shift of history.
    The motivation and reasoning isn’t relevant to all that, but only to the person in shaping his action. But in the case of Light, he doesn’t even need one, and the same may or may not be the same for other characters.

    • And that is just why I don’t like Light. He believes in the death penalty! He’ll just kill anyone at anytime he wants! Did he not get enough love as a child? Where did this narcissism come from? You’d think for someone who has a cop for a father, he wouldn’t mindlessly kill anyone because they’re a “bad” person. Not to mention he started killing innocent people out of selfish gain. He’s a complete hypocrite. If Light’s just a complete arrogant apathetic asshole just because that’s simply the way he is, that’s pretty poor character writing. Hell, even Lelouch was throwing up after his first kill.

      • sudatama says:

        The concept of good and bad is subjective, and is a key element in what makes up these characters. The views of Light and Lelouch can be seen as good and bad from anyone, but it doesn’t change the fact that they’ve done what they’ve done. From the perspective of making this list, the actions are what counts, and where the value lies; motivation and back-story only add to it. If this were a character analysis or a judgement of how well written a character is, your concerns would be relevant. But that is not what this post is about, nor what these characters qualify as; people who take action to make change.
        If we were to look at Light as a human being who arbitrarily decided to kill all people he judges to be evil, then that’s just what he is. A human who made the decision and acted to follow suit. If we were to judge his character, you could call him out on being shallow and badly written.

  3. Correct me if I’m wrong but isn’t this post titled ‘Characters with a reason’. Actions are meaningless if there’s no justification behind them, or better yet ‘reason’ itself. You back up these characters by their own ideology, which is perplexing to me because they would’ve had to form their ideology from something else.

  4. sudatama says:

    All of these characters do have a reason, and it is not to be confused with motivation. I put little emphasis on motivation specifically, and more on action.
    Lelouch – Reason: He believes the world is corrupt and he wants to fix it for his sister. Motivation: His sister. Action: Successfully change the world.
    Light – Reason: He believes the world is rotten, and wishes to change it.
    Motivation: None. Action: Rids the world of countless amounts of criminals, striking fear into those who would think to commit crime, and creates the illusion of safety in the world.
    Just from comparing these two characters, They both have reason for their actions, and their actions do have immense influence.
    Say Lelouch truly had no reason or motivation to do what he did. The end result would be the same thing; recreating the world in his favor, and only because he was bored. His action is admirable, because he creates change. Having a motivation and reason just makes him more admirable.

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