Fiction / Do characters need to redeem themselves or let them yield the consequences?

Usually this happens to anti-heroes or villains (especially ones with complicated backgrounds); for a character that so flawed, so infuriating (so evil…?) I think redemption is a necessity. But when it isn’t? Should character redemption always need to happen? Do characters need to redeem themselves or let them yield the consequences? Let them be their real evil selves?

Normally, I always want the characters to redeem themselves. And in our true human nature, I’d like to see how he repent the actions he chose to do—whether it’s in the form of sacrifice or change in ideals I want to see it because to me, it’s a solid form of growth.  I’m a type of reader who always eager to witness character growth but more so if the characters had done terrible and had big regret that weigh them down!

But as much as I want to see it, I also want to see them to owe up to their mistakes or their actions. They have to bore the consequences; otherwise the redemption wouldn’t feel true or honest. At least to me it will feel inadequate or lackluster or worst a sham if there’s no big thing happened after all of it. Also, I forgot to mention, I also want to know the reason behind the action. It is why character exposition is very imperative! What drove this character to this? Why did he take this course of action? Those questions! So it isn’t exactly to simply repent but to understand every aspect towards it and the actual redemption to be real and honest.

I should not fail to mention my favorite character redemption, right? For example, Mukuro Dokuro from 家庭教師ヒットマンREBORN! (Katekyo Hitman Reborn!) He was the first antagonist in the first battle arc in the series. He hated the mafia, and because Tsuna (the protagonist) was affiliated to the mafia, he involved him in his plan. But there was more to it than just venting anger; the story made it possible for us reader/watchers to understand his hate and the objective of taking such action. Because Tsuna was not your ordinary Mafioso (more like he refused it continuously) his encounter with him made the change in Mukuro possible (in a tsundere kind of way). And amazingly he became one of his guardians. It’s pretty amazing, right? In fact a lot of antagonists from this series ended up being an ally due to Tsuna’s charisma and idealism (the whole Varia, remember?).

Regardless of what they say about BLEACH (ブリーチ), I think the best shocker for me was Gin Ichimaru’s character (next to Aizen reveal because we can all agree that was one of the greatest plot twist in the history of manga! Give that man Kubo that credit). When I first saw the series, Gin came off as a totally shady character which if you read or seen Bleach you know what happened in the Soul Society arc. He betrayed them, fled and continued doing shady things with Aizen and co., but then Fake Karakura Town arc happened and we got to know the real reason why he was with Aizen, how important Rangiku to him…it was all a ploy, that revelation was completely unexpected (at least to me) so he redeemed without the actual change—because in the first place it was all staged and revelation made the redemption pretty clever. This is also how Itachi Uchiha from Naruto, upon learning the ‘real’ reason why he killed his entire clan.

OK, I got carried away there but now you see how amazing character redemption is (if done right!).  It’s very powerful! It’s exciting and it gives a meaningful in-depth and character development, so character redemption is needed…unless he’s just way too terrible (but I’m saving that topic for another day!)