I don’t mind morally gray characters. I shared my thoughts already about how my favorite characters don’t represent my moral principles. I enjoy every spectrum necessary to elevate a narrative; if making the protagonist unethical then so be it. I’m way past that naïve thinking of a simple plot-line of good vs. evil.
Now, antiheroes. Not really the most original idea an author will come up with nowadays. Many already did that, some were brilliant, and some just want to fill a status quo not bearing that a trope without substance is just that—a trope. I love diverse cast. Protagonist doesn’t have to be straight up good person to call him a hero (today readers use this label synonymously with “main character / MC”. And again, we’re on this part of the generation that protagonist isn’t a simple a representation of goodness; or a slayer of evil, but rather a singular perspective of a story.
But I think writing a story with a morally gray protagonist is not simple feat to do. It can be worse—it can be cliché. It can be insignificant trait as if trying to mold a character to fill up “interesting” hero vessel. Readers can definitely see through that; and sometimes I find the attempt pathetic. I, for one, can tell that an author is just trying and the evident lack of character development and even sometimes its disengagement to the narrative is plain obvious. But with sincerity and clever writing I think antiheroes are thought-provoking device.
When it comes to antiheroes the character that always comes to mind is Light Yagami from DEATH NOTE デスノート. When I first watched it (during my internship were I sneakily watched youtube videos during downtime—and yes in 2007 the year it was originally broadcast. Yep, old as a turtle!) I was so, so intrigued. Particularly episode 2 where for the first time, another lead character clashed with Light’s idea of justice. Morally speaking, Light’s ideas and methods were wrong. But at the same time we also think that those who did wrong didn’t even consider their victims’ rights. But justice is for everyone—even criminals have the same rights. And so, the ideological ruling of “every life is equal” comes to play. Therefore following that concept, Light’s idea to eradicate the criminals—is in plain word, wrong. But is it, really? Such mind stimulating things make me like a morally gray hero—at least once in a while.
And in the same series, when you have such contrasting characters like Light and L, and in an established plot/scenarios—it is a pleasant reading experience as a reader. Same goes with 亜人, Kei Nagai is selfish. He mostly works for his own interest. He sometimes shows generous acts but in a roundabout way. And he doesn’t mind being label negatively, as I said his interest comes first. So these types of characters in a way it keeps me thinking. Isn’t that part of reading as well? At least to me, aside from entertainment and temporary withdrawal from reality, it is also to move these gears inside my otherwise stale head.
Of course, I don’t mind your typical good heroes—in it a depiction of all we idealistically, and to some extent realistically want. As a reader I see fiction & reality separately. So goodness and compassion are still my go-to, but sometimes in this world we’re living in, bending the rules may get you farther. At least fiction gives me a view of that angle!
And that’s it! How about you what do you think of antiheroes? Do you also enjoy reading with morally vague ideals? Who are your favorites then? Leave me some lovin~ by sharing your thoughts or liking this post!