Friday, January 30, 2009

Deconstruct Everything

In eroge, characters are supposed to be attractive, moe and likeable. Because that's the entire point.

Fictional (anime) Characters 101: All moe traits seem to be characteristics that in a real girl would be negative... but for some reason in fictional characters they evoke sympathy, tender feelings and attraction. Audience empathizes with the weaknesses in characters, rather than their strengths. KS girls are moe not because they are awesome at school, running, bureaucracy or bench pressing. They are moe (if they are) because they are weak and they suck. However, overdo this and we get Toradora. I've seen lots of anger on boards and discussions spent on the main cast, who all seem to suck way too much, somehow. Ryuuji is Taiga's Extreme Doormat Forever, Taiga herself is an aggressive, selfish bitch, Minori is an unpredictable devious bitch who doubles for an overdone cloudcuckoolander, Ami is an aloof, snobby and bullying bitch etc. Too much negative with little saving grace. Keeping the deconstructing flag high, I've lately been wondering about the balance of different characteristics, negative and positive ones, and how our characters would scale.

Speaking of Toradora, it's my new funny thing to talk about, but I tend to get a bit of rolling of eyes when I bring up Toradora and KS in the same context without mocking Toradora. Because it's shit, right? Yes... but Toradora is a really good product. I have no idea if I'm hitting anywhere close to the home, but Toradora has the feel of a professional work all over it, despite the shittiness. The people doing it seem to know what the target audience wants (shit) and are not afraid to produce it, with scientific precision. It kinda reminds me of Ken Akamatsu's claimed method of creating the characters of Negima (basically, randomly assigning a combination of moe/other characteristics to each because it wasn't important to make sense, he knew he'd rake in the yens anyway).

We are not pros, we don't even have a well defined target audience, so KS and its characters are quite a bit more... freeform. Constructing good characters is still the most important thing though, and this returns me to the first point. How much it matters if a character is a "bad eroge character", even if he/she would be decent character otherwise and who decides that? KS doesn't have to sell because it's free and I guess in a cynical sense it doesn't even matter if nobody likes it (this is bullshit though). So we kinda can do whatever we want right? Well, we are also clumsily aware of many of the laws of design and writing/art, of the expected expectations in the genre/audience/subculture and such, as I demonstrate above. So I guess we are somewhere in the middle, doing for the most part whatever we want because we are not pro enough to do otherwise, while at the same time worrying that taking the reader into consideration, even mild pandering, could be a healthier approach (have you read The Answer today yet?). This dichotomy can be painful at times.

I mean, one of the writers is somewhat frequently getting paranoid/neurotic panic attacks about his heroine possibly not being likeable enough.