Commanders of Fate: Characters with a Reason
January 24, 2012 8 Comments
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.