Character Spotlight ~ Kannagi

I don't remember where I got this... Sorry

I don’t remember where I got this… Sorry

I’m going to write this based on the manga as I’m not a fan of the anime. Arata Kangatari is a story about Arata, a boy from 21st century Japan who switches places with a boy from a fictional world called Amawakuni where he finds himself on the run as a fugitive accused of “Himeou’s” murder. For all intents and purposes Himeou is the government in this story. Each of her guardians or “shinshou” owns a “hayagami” which allows them each a different power that she keeps them from abusing. This Spotlight is about Kannagi, the initial antagonist of the manga. Let’s all look at his track record.

  • Attempted to murder Himeou (Who looks like a young child)
  • Blamed the attempted murder on Arata
  • Threatened Kotoha in order to flush him out (A teenage girl)
  • Sent Arata to Gatoya (A prison where human rights are nonexistent)
  • Other stuff that the reader finds out about later

To top off this list, he’s a good deal older than he looks, by about a hundred years at least. Obviously there’s nothing good to say about Kannagi at the beginning of the manga. But no one’s trying to fool you into thinking that he’s a decent human being either. Predictably he ends up joining Arata’s group… after being cut down to size. Of course this wasn’t Arata’s doing. This was one of the other shinshou, Akashi.

While Kannagi is busy wrongfully prosecuting and hunting down Arata, Akashi kills all of his workers, destroys his house and starts decides to torture him until he forks over rights to use his Hayagami because you need the target’s consent to take their hayagami. You can’ just kill them and take it. If they die the Hayagami picks a new user on its own.

Arata started acting all main charactery and stepped in to intervene. Akashi laughs, taunts and leaves. Kannagi takes the first chance to attack Arata anyway. Yet after this Arata still thinks he should join them. Kannagi beats him up, but joins anyway.

He doesn’t change when he first joins them. He’s about as obvious in his intentions as Starscream from Transformers.

In terms of character I compare him to Kadowaki. Kadowaki is almost a complete opposite in terms of his actions. He started out as Arata’s friend. In middle school they got along great until some event of really minor importance bruised Kadowaki’s ego.

Apparently this little bump to his ego was more important than his friendship with Arata ever was because rather than tell him that he was insulted he ran a whole campaign of making his life miserable. He spread rumors about him. He vandalized his desk and locker and pretty soon he had plenty of helpers that had little else to do but harass Arata by doing stuff like dumping trash on him.

Of course, we’re supposed to feel sorry for Kadowaki because his mother left him and his father slaps him for saying stuff that he deserved to be slapped for saying. This guy has such desperation to hang on to his own self inflated ego there’s no low he won’t stoop to for it. There’s so much self pity going on it emanates from the pages as you read. How do you get to killing innocent people over an incident that happened on your track team in middle school? Kadowaki was everything I expected Kannagi to be, and then less.

I initially disliked Kannagi but I got used to him being there. I still don’t like him. I still think he’s a jerk. But the character spotlight is more how the character works in the story.

At no point is his past used to excuse his actions. It shows it as why he does it but there’s no  “It’ must be so hard for you,” or other backwards logic that seems to hang around Kadowaki. Kannagi’s motivations are explained but not excused.

As the series went on he gained some respect for Arata and humility. He also admitted to the fact that he was the one who attacked Himeou and not Arata and he genuinely has his back even though he makes the occasional joke about betraying him that no one takes seriously anymore. In short, Kannagi is a good example of someone letting go of their ego and learning to respect those around him.

He’s not likeable but he doesn’t come on too strong and he completes the show. Every main character needs a right hand man.

Next character is Squid Girl.

Character Spotlight ~ Rinoa Heartily

Picture courtesy of Finalfantasy.wikia.com

Picture courtesy of Finalfantasy.wikia.com

I’m not a fan of a game throwing a girl at you while you’re trying to save the world. It’s distracting. However, I knew from the cover that Rinoa and Squall were going to get together so while I wondered how they were going to build a game that was actually fun to play around a “love story” I was mentally prepared to find her a little irritating.

She made a great first impression with her audacity, specifically because Squall was limited in his social skills, not that he was shy; he just didn’t want to be bothered. Rinoa was idealistic and simple in the beginning. She didn’t have the military training everyone else had. Her father was a dirty politician himself. But under his nose, she was starting a rebellion called the Timber Owls.

I knew when she showed up that she didn’t know what she was doing. However it was only an implicit knowledge because I was a kid when the game came out. I expected things to work out the same way she did. I was sure I’d seen something similar in a movie or read it in a book but in the end it wasn’t until I was older than her that I could see the holes in her plans. She was sheltered but she had been watching the Galbadian soldiers mistreat and harass people for a while. She was tired, angry and she wanted ato end things quickly but at the same time she was out of her element.

Of course, she can’t see that. She’s a teenager. Are they known for being reasonable? Granted, there have been many young leaders that were great at their jobs but then there are incidents like the Shimabara rebellion, which ended horribly. She was also Seifer’s girlfriend at some point. Seifer, the emotional extremist… This was a Shimabara rebellion in the making.

I like that the game gives you the option of telling her just how you feel about her “orders” in the beginning. It didn’t improve her management skills but I certainly felt better afterwards. Her management skills didn’t improve until the last of her harebrained schemes landed her in a difficult ordeal with sorceress Edea. 

As a kid I thought it was her execution of it that was bad but I’ve since realized it would never have worked. After you save her from some monsters Sorceress Edea summoned she says she was scared and starts clinging to Squall aka the player. I was initially like “Yeah? It’s gone now; so get off me.”

I didn’t know that the reason she was carrying on about this was because she was surprised by the fact that she was scared in the face of danger. Of course, this was a crucial moment in the game where a lot of characters made mistakes.

Quistis running off to apologize to Rinoa for so thoroughly running through how stupid her plan was even though she was right she seemed to question her own motives behind it and couldn’t get it off her mind until she apologized.

Irvine couldn’t shoot the woman who was practically his mother and he went into this mission knowing but didn’t say anything until it was time to make the shot.

However, I did see a change afterwards in all of these characters or at least a reaction to their realization that they made some terrible decisions. The next time you see Rinoa and Irvine, they’re breaking you out of prison.

Despite the terrible decisions that were made, your loss wasn’t anyone in your group’s fault. The idea that you’d ever be able to shoot her and it would be over is a joke once you’ve played the rest of the game. You were sent to fight someone stronger than you and lost. But while Rinoa was able to shed that bit of stupidity from her, she still had a sense of humor. She was just more aware of herself and the situation.

 You’re still going to have to save her a few more times. During the conflict between the gardens you have to keep a level head and make sound decisions knowing that a girl that you’ve gotten rather close to lately is in danger because so are many other students are also in danger. Squall doesn’t drop everything to save her. He does his job. He only found her by chance. But this time she doesn’t balk or get upset. The situation is over and she’s ready to fight the enemy.

Her character works because she knows that she’s being a load when she’d been a load. She knows that everyone else has years of training over her. She knows that she’s the outsider. But she never gives up and that’s what really gets her out of the fight alive. As many times as you have to rescue her she still comes back strong and ready to fight ans with every set back she tries harder.

 It’s not something to take lightly because she can be safe and comfortable in her own home just by turning a blind eye and a deaf ear like her father apparently does. She doesn’t have to fight for people whose problems have nothing to do with her but she’s passionate enough that she’ll risk her life for the cause of strangers.

She compliments Squall’s personality. They’re both passionate about their beliefs and what’s right or wrong in the world. They also avoid the “damaged and healer” relationship which can be parasitic and destructive. He doesn’t lean on her or use her as an emotional crutch and she doesn’t try to make up for the bad things in his life or “change” him so much as look deeper and get to know what he’s thinking or feeling.

On a final note, if Zell didn’t get a hot dog before that game ended I don’t know what I’d have done. I mean, after a while it’s suspiscious.

Next week I’m going to write a character Spotlight on Kannagi from Arata Kangatari. He’s the type of character I usually despise.

Character Spotlight ~ Jack Carter

Picture courtesy of sharetv.org

Picture courtesy of sharetv.org

Jack Carter is the average-Joe sheriff in a town where everyone else is a genius. I’m quite used to seeing the opposite of this premise and being terribly unimpressed with it. The TV Genius is often a guy who speaks in sesquipedalian loquaciousness that hides simple but inaccurate formulas that if written in plain English could be disproved by a third grader.

I will admit that they have taken creative liberties in Eureka. However, they did this after showing their work and in cases where the plot hinged on it. They didn’t just throw out a “Reverse the polarity” in every episode to fix the problem.

I will admit, for some geniuses, they come up with some really horrible ideas but their genius is in their ability to execute the idea. Foresight is another area entirely. Foresight doesn’t get you an extra number on the IQ test. But Jack Carter isn’t one of these geniuses, he’s just the guy that cleans up after them, the sheriff.

Obviously, he is an audience stand in. I usually find these irritating. I prefer people just make a character. I’ve never seen an audience stand in I could relate to and it’s not because I’m black and female. It’s because I’m not there for other people to project their logic and opinions on to me which an audience stand in is frequently for. Jack Carter’s got his own opinions and his situation is relatable for me. I’m the below average child of “Mensa qualified” geniuses. Jack is a guy with an IQ score of 111 in a town where everyone else is Mensa level. (The Mensa cut off is 132.)

This is why Jack has trouble getting people to take him seriously as sheriff initially and when some part of their invention has gone wrong. He doesn’t understand their jobs or how most of the stuff works until you explain it to him in layman’s terms so people figure “Well if you don’t understand that much, you probably don’t know how it works,” or “I’m way smarter than you. How could you possibly correct me?” Fortunately, most of the main cast doesn’t act like that or it would make the show unwatchable.

In fact the characters that actually matter don’t see the intelligence difference as some huge divide between them understanding each other or being able to relate. They even treat him like a human being. And eventually they have a great deal of respect for him as he’s saved them from turning the town into a crater on several occasions with surprisingly simple solutions to the complicated problems they create.

My favorite example of this would be the time that Fargo accidentally set a nuclear bomb to head over to Russia via satellite and after spending the whole episode getting the answer out of the inventor who now had Alzheimer’s another one started up with a ten minute countdown. Cue the panicking. Jack might have been panicking himself. He rammed his jeep into it to change its course so it never reached the satellite that would have redirected it to Russia and started a nuclear war.

I probably wouldn’t have done that. I would have been under the impression that a bomb made to withstand exiting and entering the atmosphere before detonating upon its landing would have blown slam up from being rammed with a jeep. Of course, wording it like that might have dispelled the thought for me.

I don’t know the age of Jack Carter but it’s clear that his life didn’t just begin as the show started. He’s been in law enforement before. He’s been married and divorced before and he has a teenage daughter from that marriage who actually has her own character development and is a part of his life.

Even though she is a teenage delinquent in the beginning which must be embarrassing when you’re the sheriff, she’s just doing it for the attention and eventually shapes up. I saw a shift in her character when she refused alcohol from her aunt (the adult in the situation) on the grounds that it was illegal and she’d been taught better. It’s eventually found that she is every bit as smart as the others in Eureka and she gets into Harvard.

Of course the timeline for that may vary. Jack goes through several different timelines yet he always tries to create a safe place of semi-predictability. This safe, normal life is taken from him over and over again as inventions malfunction, people misuse power and their own intelligence and time pushes them in and out of the temporal paradox more than once.

Surely, by the end of the show he knows that he’s never going to find it, that things are never going to be normal that even when he settles down into one life he can wake up at the beginning of those four years or in an alternate timeline where Allison is still married to Stark and his daughter is in jail instead of college. Yet, in spite of this, he always keeps a spark of optimism that pushes him to keep trying even when everything he’e done can be snatched up from under him in an instant. Optimism is a good trait to have in a main character. 

My next character spot light is going to be on Rinoa Heartily from FinalFantasy VIII.

Joan Watson from Elementary

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Picture courtesy of race-bending

This may come off as sounding pretentious but these are just my opinions. I don’t count them as facts. I feel that since Arthur Conan Doyle is the original author of Sherlock Holmes and owns the characters just like Katsura Hoshino is the author of D.Gray-Man and owns the series and characters. Any other works on it are fan-fiction. I do not look down on fan-fiction. I really like the practice. I also think that if you like a show you will respect how it was done.

That does not mean keep everything exactly the same. That would just be repetition.  I’d never watched or read anything related to Sherlock Holmes based on the cliché cameo appearances they made in so many other shows. Sherlock sat around smoking his pipe saying “Elementary, my dear Watson. The lady wasn’t wearing a wedding ring when she checked into a hotel with the man yet she had a print on her ring finger, clearly she was having an affair,” while a fat, bumbling Watson sits there like “That’s my pal!” with his teeth practically hanging out of his mouth.

Current

I’d never intended to watch anything based on Sherlock Holmes but I rather liked the show even though I was rather suspicious of the decision that Watson should be a girl. I thought something along the lines of Really? Are they serious? Not one of these. Does everything have to be about…

My apprehension did not subside when she was introduced as his “Sober-companion.” Somehow I couldn’t bring myself to believe that Sherlock Holmes was ever involved in drugs because I never knew that he was smoking cocaine in that pipe. It might have been legal then but it’s kind of a crime now.

 Watson is the only sane man (or woman) in Sherlock’s world. Everyone else is used to his antics when she shows up. Holmes is immediately rude to her, like he is to everyone else in his usual clueless way. He seems to think she’s got good intentions but isn’t quite up to the task.

Watson however self-conscious as she may be is not going to be belittled insulted or toyed with into leaving her post. She is impressed with his intelligence and has a great assessment of his abilities but she is not in awe of him. Sherlock is tactless, has no manners and in the first episode repeatedly rammed his car into the culprit’s car because he was frustrated with the fact that it looked like he was going to get away with it. She thought that this was part of some brilliant plan he had. And then she found out he was just mad. She knows that he’s just another person under it all.

As she spends time with Sherlock he can see that she’s brilliant even though she can’t. She’s very conscious of her mistakes where as he has a great ability to not dwell on his unless he’s at a dead end. She develops her perception but also she develops insight into her own intelligence and in her new career as Sherlock’s sober companion she’s exposed to many ways to develop her perception while using her medical knowledge in new ways. She adds to the show because she has the ability to pick up obscurities but with a different perspective.

Why it works

 I didn’t know just how well they pulled this off until I saw the movie(The recent one with Iron Man in it) and did a bit of “homework” on it. The relationship between Sherlock and Watson was almost exactly the same. Watson, now a female, Asian sober companion who recently quit from being a surgeon was still the same person as the male Caucasian Watson who was still in his profession as a doctor. Someone, genius in their own right yet gets dragged into crazy shenanigans by his intelligent but crazy thrill-seeking ,friend.

I think it’s a great thing for someone to make a character who can be the same person under any circumstance but with a natural reaction to the circumstances, especially over one hundred years after the original story.

Consistent

                Watson is a doctor

                Watson is actually pretty smart, possibly on par with Sherlock

                Watson isn’t nearly as confident of his/her own abilities

                Watson understands Sherlock better than others around him

                Sherlock relies on Watson as a friend and partner

                Sherlock trust Watson with more than he’d trust others with

Difference

                Watson’s a girl

                Watson’s Chinese

Thank you for reading

I forgot to put a Haiku at the end of my last post, or two.

Don’t be jealous of

Others around you for what

You already have

I’m pretty sure I’m missing what the actual gist of a haiku is here. Next week I’m going to do a character spotlight on Midna from Twilight Princess.