Hello everyone, it was a very busy week for me this week and so I won't be reviewing a comic this time. Instead, I'm going to talk about a character archetype I've been seeing quite a bit recently, the badass character. Specifically, it seems like the many popular series right now have a badass main character and I've also been reading a web comic called Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou, a web novel where the main character has this archetype as well.
In this article I hope to explore why Kirito from Sword Art Online, Tatsuya from Irregular at Magical High, Saitama from One Punch Man, and Hajime from Arifureta Shokugyou de Sekai Saikyou to see why these characters could be characterized as a badass. I will also how their badass characteristics are executed and my personal thoughts on each character in turn.
I'm using the tvtropes article on badass characters as a baseline for what is a badass with an emphasis on the fact that badasses are defined by the fact that their actions are often risky or unrealistic, which makes them seem like something greater than a human. I'm also taking into account their appearance, relationship with other characters, and general demeanor.
A few things to note, I'm writing from memory at this time, so might points might be a bit inaccurate and the I have a small amount of exposure to Tatsuya and Kirito compared to Hijime and Saitama.
From what I've seen of Kirito in the Aincrad story line, Kirito has the appearance of a badass character, but mostly acts within the bounds of reason. Kirito's appearance seems to channel a few things, most notably Dante from Devil May Cry and outfits from the Matrix due to his black trench coat, all black outfit, and his dual weapon wielding weapons. In his journey through Aincrad, Kirito encounters many difficult situations, but he doesn't go beyond the bounds logic to accomplish his goals. Also, most of the times he gets help from a friend or he's following a plotline. The only exception I can think of is when he challenged that Santa Claus boss monster on his own because he didn't accept help from one of his friends to fight this monster when his friend offered to help him.
Personally, I have a hard time seeing Kirito as a badass because his actions lack nuance. Kirito never made any decisions that had implications past the situation that he currently faced and so he never had to do anything risky to accomplish his goal. As a normal protagonist, Kirito is pretty good because he gets a decent amount of character development, but I have a hard time classifying him as a badass.
Without a doubt, Tatsuya is a badass character. He is able to take care of most problems on his own and he often has a serious demeanor through what I've seen of the series (the first arc of the series), but the execution of the rest of his character is lacking. In appearance, Tatsuya's badassery mostly comes from the way he holds himself, treats others, and how he solves his problems. He's quite straightforward and is willing to what ever it takes to get what he wants. Also, whenever Tatsuya is faced with a problem, he is able to solve it with little to no effort. If it's action, Tatsuya can one shot basically anyone. If it's small conflict, he can solve it by providing sound logic.
By any definition any of badassery, Tatsuya will fit it to the T, but I feel his badassery isn't deserved. Tatsuya is like a carbon cut out of what a badass is, but he lacks the core of what a character a badass, a clearly defined goal. Without a goal, it feels Tatsuya acts the way he does because he was written that way. I have many other problems with Tatsuya's character and with the series in general, but the main point is Tatsuya feels like a shell of a badass character.
Despite Saitama's appearance, he is a great example of a well-executed badass character. What makes Saitama a badass character is how he solves his problems in an incredible fashion. He can literally take out final boss esque monsters with one punch and if confronted a social problem he can usually brute force his way through it with his strong values and physical strength. On the other hand, Saitama looks nothing like a stereotypical badass character with a simple outfit and appearance, which contrasts how much of a badass character he is.
What I feel makes Saitama such a good badass character is that the reader is shown the down sides of being like Saitama. Everything comes easy to Saitama and so it's hard for him to get excited for anything. He goes through his life with a relaxed demeanor, which makes for some great comedy in certain situations and it makes him endearing to me. Saitama normally doesn't act like a badass, but when faced with an obstacle, Saitama will always overwhelmingly destroy what's in his way.
Most of you will probably have no idea who I'm talking about due to the nature of material this character is from, so…
Shameless plug for Arifureta:
Forum thread about it: here
At the beginning of the series Hajime starts off as more of a standard shounen hero in that he super weak and naïve, but as the series goes on he becomes a badass character. From the description of his appearance later in the series, he definitely looks like a badass character because he has white hair, wears a black trench coat, wears an eye patch, has an artificial arm, and dual wields guns as well a using other fire arms. So I image he would look something like the dark flame master from chuunibyou.
Hajime backs up his appearance by acting like a badass character as well. He often pulls off acrobatic moves when fighting his enemies and he has a habit of pulling of ridiculous maneuvers while in battle. Eventually, Hijime gets so strong, that he begins defeating most of his enemies with one shot.
I really like Hajime's portrayal as a badass character because of what he has to go through to become a badass character. Hajime's transformation into a badass character is a painful one because he is brought to the brink of starvation and then goes through a painful metamorphosis to gain power. Not only was Hajime's transformation physically painful, but he also had to go through a complete shift in mentality to actually transform as well. So, when Hajime begins to one-shot monsters later in the series, it feels extremely cathartic because of all the trails Hajime had to endure. In short, Hajime's badassery feels justified.
Writing the word "badass" so much has left a bit of a bad taste in my mouth because "badass" is an extremely subjective term, but the emotions characters like this can evoke are extremely interesting. Badass characters can make the ridiculous seem amazing and it's extremely fun to watch characters be badass because their actions seem crazy or unexpected.
So what I leave you all is this, who's your favorite badass character and why?
The images of Saitama and Kirito were taken from Amazon.com. The image of Tatsuya come from the Mahouka wiki. The image of Yuuta came from the chuunibyou wiki. The image of Nick Fury came from Tvtropes. I do not claim to own any of these images.