…and no matter how much you may not like it, people hating your guts for it is part of the package.
If you follow me on twitter, you’ve probably seen my little rant on RE:Zero and its characters, especially the main character, Subaru. I’m not here to talk about RE:Zero, or even Subaru himself. I am here to talk about how we react to, and how we expect others to react, to characters like him.
You see, Subaru gets into some very unfortunate situations – some his fault and some coincidental. I usually watch my anime through a provider’s app so I generally don’t see the immediate reactions of my fellow viewers. This time, however, I got curious and jumped on the full Crunchyroll site to read through the banter. Lo and behold, Subaru’s misgivings had garnered a fair amount of disdain among viewers. Nothing out of the ordinary there. But then I started reading the inevitable backlash against this sentiment. “I don’t understand all of the hate for Subaru” and “At least he isn’t unrealistically perfect like Kirito” were flying left and right. So close, and yet so far. Let me be frank here, folks:
“If you can understand how a character is flawed, you already understand EXACTLY why people can dislike them”
Only in relation to fiction are character flaws romanticized. Perhaps we forgot why said flaws were desirable in the first place – because they rounded out a character to help make them more realistic. Since characters are ideological constructs masquerading as people, this is a good thing. But that is about as far as the positive aspect of it goes.
In real life, character flaws are weaknesses and bad traits – which are just that, bad. In real life, character flaws ruin lives, start wars, topple governments, destroy relationships and hurt people. No one praises you for failing to adapt to a situation. No one congratulates you for buckling under pressure. There are no “Person of the Year” awards for weakness. Simply put, your (or anyones for that matter) character flaws are not endearing.
And yet, despite that, people still learn to love and cherish each other. I understand that many find Subaru’s depiction refreshing and even I will applaud the anime for that bit of nuance surrounding the psychological effect of repeated pain and failure. I’m not here to tell you whether you should like Subaru or any other character or not. But please, being able to see a character’s flaws and understanding why people dislike said character are one in the same.