Being as huge an animation fan as I am, I’m starting to realize that the more I like the characters, the more I’m likely to love their respective media. Consequently, if I absolutely despise the main character or too many characters, I’m not going to like their series one bit.
I love Teen Titans and Avatar: The Last Airbender because of how fleshed-out and likable all the main characters are. I like The Legend of Korra because even though I have some problems with the show, I do really love Asami and Korra. I don’t have the most comprehensive knowledge of Overwatch but I really love the character of Symmetra because she’s a beautiful and powerful autistic woman (and really all the women of Overwatch are beautiful and powerful how can I not love it). Cybersix is an okay show itself but Cybersix herself is amazing. And I have a lot of fave Disney heroines either from nostalgia or from personal empowerment (Belle, Mulan, Pocahontas, Vanellope, Honey and Gogo, and even Aurora). But I hate Steven Universe now because I really dislike most of the main characters (ESPECIALLY Steven, who’s become a mouthpiece for the writers) and the characters I DID love have been regressing into tropes (Garnet is mostly just Ruby and Sapphire in a trench coat and Peridot is nothing but comic relief).
So when it comes to my absolute faves, Big Hero 6 and Wreck-It Ralph, it’s probably not a coincidence that Hiro Hamada and Ralph are actually my fave characters of all time.
Why is that?
Because, as someone who is autistic, has struggled with mental illness, has a limited social network, and is only NOW really starting to figure out my place in the world, I relate to these characters so, so much. Not to mention they’re brilliantly well written too.
Not only is Hiro absolutely adorable, but he’s also a brilliantly well written teen boy character. It would have been very easy to just make him another whiny teenager, but he’s not. At the start of the movie he becomes enthusiastic at the idea of bettering his life, even if he needs some encouragement. When his brother dies he doesn’t become all brooding and angsty, he becomes seriously and realistically depressed. He has trouble letting people in at first, but his world brightens up when he makes close friends and becomes a superhero. He hits a road bump when confronting the villain, but he’s able to let out his grief in a peaceful manner, is comforted, and gets back on the right path. Eventually he’s able to rebuild his closest friend and start his road to a promising future. For me, that kind of parallels my own life: how I was in a horrible mental stage for almost two years before this movie came out, and how I started my path to recovery. Now, for the first time in 22 years, I no longer feel like killing myself, I have a wonderful friend, and I’m determined to get a job as a social service worker. (Have you figured out why this movie is my absolute fave yet?)
And Ralph, man, he’s just such a good hero. He goes through a LOT of character development (going from a lonely but still kind of selfish ‘bad guy’ to a true hero who’s willing to sacrifice himself for the only person who was ever nice to him) and is someone I wouldn’t mind actually being with. Like I know a lot of people find Tadashi Hamada attractive, and while he is, I don’t really know Tadashi well enough. But Ralph? Not only is he big and burly and very cuddly, but you know he’d never leave you behind and would do anything for you, and you’d have a lot of fun with him.
But I think there’s another major reason. Both characters have their flaws. Ralph, being a bad guy, doesn’t always do the right thing or have the best sense of morality (he takes obvious enjoyment out of interrogating Sour Bill for information). Hiro initially wanted to partake in dubious bot fighting and was at one point enraged enough to actually kill a man. But despite their mistakes, they’re fundamentally good people and actively make an effort to change. They TRY to be better people.
The same cannot be said for some of my absolute least fave characters, Anna from Frozen and Joy from Inside Out, movies that I cannot stand.
Joy is just…a bully. I’m sorry, but she is. She is obsessively controlling over Riley’s brain and making sure she only feels HER emotion, nothing else. But she always pushes the blame on Sadness. On their road trip Joy is consistently rude and condescending to her, and even at one point is willing to let Sadness DIE just because “Riley needs to be happy”. It’s only when Joy realizes that Sadness is useful that she goes back to get her, but even then, she never actually apologizes to her or acknowledges that she was wrong. That just constantly made me uncomfortable and made me feel the wrong way.
And Anna…ugh. Anna literally makes everything all about HER. She constantly disrespects her sister’s boundaries, even when she’s trying to ‘help’ her. But does Anna actually love Elsa? Of course not. When Elsa kicks her out of the ice palace Anna doesn’t even acknowledge her sister until she’s literally about to die. I know I’m supposed to feel sorry for Anna and find her sacrifice meaningful but, like, it’s your sister, of course you’re going to want to save her. That doesn’t mean you actually LOVE her. I understand I have a HEAVY bias against Anna because I identified with Elsa and was upset that she wasn’t the main hero, but…yeah I don’t like Anna.
But you can see why I hate their specific type of character (cheerful quirky girl protagonist): they feel like the universe revolves around THEM. Hiro and Ralph have to realize that other people matter, too. They have actual character development and give a damn about others. Anna and Joy are ‘perfect’ and only care at the very last minute.
Anyway, this was slightly more personal than my other posts, but I felt like it was important to share.