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SMAC! MANGA DOJO #19 – How to make a charming character ⑤ Protagonists are always "HEROES"!

Mayuna Mizutani Mayuna Mizutani 06/08/2018 17 min read
  <Characters> Penmaru Is a ninja dog who dreams of becoming the greatest manga creator in the animal world. To help achieve his dream, Mocchi gives him a mission… “Learn how to create manga at the Manga Dojo.” Likes to go to the pool when it’s hot. “Shihan” Manga Master The master of the dojo and Penmaru’s tutor in the ways of manga. An experienced editor who has worked in the manga industry for over 30 years. Likes to listen to the sound of wind chimes when it’s hot.  

Ep. 19: How to make a charming character ⑤; Protagonists are always “HEROES”!

  Shihan: Ugh…… It’s so hot…… I’m melting……   Shihan: Why on earth is it so hot this year……?   Penmaru: Shihan! It’s time for my manga lesson!! Please teach me!!   Shihan: Oh great…… Now it feels at least 3 degrees hotter……   Penmaru: What’s the matter? Where’s your energy gone?   Penmaru: Well, that’s alright! Coz training will blow this heat away!! Let’s get started!   Shihan: Okay, okay!! Good grief…… Shouldn’t the protagonist of a series show a little more care for his elders?   Penmaru: Eh~?   Shihan: A protagonist should be more caring to others…… just like a hero!   Penmaru: H-hero, you say?   Shihan: Yes!  

TIPS⑤ Protagonists are always HEROES!

  Penmaru: But Shihan, didn’t you say that protagonists shouldn’t be perfect? The more sympathetic and friendly the better, right?   Shihan: That is also correct.   Penmaru: Hmm??? I don’t quite get it……   Shihan: Let’s see…… maybe it would be clearer if I tell you the definition of a HERO, in manga?   Shihan: Here, the word HERO doesn’t mean the goody-goody type with a certain superpower that you’d typically imagine. In fact, we can call any person a HERO so long as they have qualities that fit the 4 conditions.   Penmaru: 4 conditions? For being a hero?   Shihan: Exactly! They are:
  1. He/she has a strong sense of “JUSTICE.”
  2. He/she can act for the sake of others.
  3. He/she can act with courage.
  4. He/she is solitary.
  Penmaru: Hmm…… Some of those click for me, but others don’t……     Shihan: Let me elaborate on each one. First of all, a hero needs his/her JUSTICE…… a certain belief that cannot be compromised. Why? Simple! Because no one likes an unethical coward.   Penmaru: Wow! An unprecedentedly clear reason indeed!!   Shihan: Right? If the readers don’t like the protagonist, they won’t follow the manga. Therefore, a protagonist should be a person who shares the same values as the readers, and has an understandable principle, no matter what actions they take.   Penmaru: ……But then, how would I go about making a dark hero? If that’s the theory, how come they exist?   Shihan: Good question! Of course, the JUSTICE can be something unique to the protagonist, so long as it’s relatable. The important thing is to have at least SOMETHING that the protagonist strongly believes in, that could be called “JUSTICE.”   Shihan: Take Light Yagami from Takeshi Obata sensei and Tsugumi Ohba sensei’s ‘DEATH NOTE’ for example. Light’s deeds are not something that the general public could morally justify. However, Light has a strong belief that criminals should be judged no matter what – which is a principal that many people can relate with. From the outset, he didn’t use the Death Note based on his own selfish desire – he simply followed his own way of JUSTICE. This is why he gained popularity among the readers, even though he was obviously taking the wrong path.    Penmaru: I see! That makes a lot of sense… If it wasn’t for his sense of JUSTICE in executing criminals, I doubt ‘DEATH NOTE’ would have turned out as exciting as it did!     Shihan: Yes. We can also say that Light is a very “Protagonistic” character in the way he fulfills the 2nd condition, as well…… He is a hero that can “act for the sake of others”.   Penmaru: Meaning……?   Shihan: From saving villages that have come under attack by bandits, or helping a granny cross the street, to trying to prevent someone being swindled, or getting rid of a bully who picks on weak guys……   Shihan: Any popular hero who has a strong sense of JUSTICE, doesn’t act JUST for himself. In the end, he/she always commits an act that makes someone else happy. On the contrary however, a person who sacrifices others for his/her own benefit, is only an unlikable coward.    Penmaru: Right! Light didn’t just deliver justice for himself, he believed his actions would make for a better world…… In short, they would help other people as well.   Shihan: Yes. If ‘DEATH NOTE’ was simply a manga about Light committing murder, I believe it wouldn’t have been nearly as interesting.   Penmaru: Yup! One of the best things about the manga is that it makes the reader question “the meaning of justice/evil” and introduces the idea of “bringing justice to the evil in society that exists outside the law”…… Awwwww, how stimulating and exciting these concepts are!!     Shihan: ……Putting your HYPER mode aside, the 3rd condition is that “He/she can act with courage”. In other words, a protagonist is a man/woman of ACTION, who goes to the trouble of doing things that he/she doesn’t necessarily have to.   Penmaru: Huh? A person who does things he/she doesn’t have to?   Shihan: Exactly. Sometimes there are things you can do that may help others, but you’d rather not because it’s bothersome, or even detrimental to you. True heroes however, have the courage to take action, despite the trouble it might entail.    Penmaru: …… I know! It’s natural for an ordinary person to look away, but TO THE READERS SURPRISE, the hero takes the necessary action!    Penmaru: So taking action would surprise the readers, but NOT taking action doesn’t surprise anyone since it’s such an obvious choice! ……Am I right?   Shihan: Hahaha, you’re starting to get it, Penmaru! Exactly. Protagonists are protagonists because they can surprise the readers. Protagonists would be less charming, if they couldn’t exceed the reader’s expectation in a good way.   Penmaru: Hehehe, I see!     Penmaru: ……But, I still don’t get the “Protagonist is solitary” part…… Aren’t heroes often surrounded by good company, accomplishing the impossible together with the help of their companions?   Shihan: Hm. “A hero can become solitary”, would be a more precise way of putting it, I guess.   Shihan: This is what Hirohiko Araki sensei, creator of ‘Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure’, said in his book:
“A person who can only fight with the help of somebody else is not a ‘hero’, to begin with. Whenever I see a person who brings company to a fight, I feel ‘Why don’t they stop relying on others and deal with it by themselves?’  Even if they have reliable company, a protagonist should rely on themselves and only themselves……otherwise, they don’t have the right to become heroes.”
  Penmaru: Eeeeeeee!? Well, I think I understand what he means…… but Araki-sensei sure is being strict here!   Shihan: Now now, don’t be hasty. Simply put, Araki sensei’s opinion is that a person who needs to depend on somebody else at important moments is not cool at all.   Shihan: Same in reality, isn’t it? Who likes a man who’s over the age of 20, but still needs his mother to help him decide which clothes to wear on a date? Or a woman who takes forever to decide what she wants to eat at a restaurant? Would you want to become friends with somebody after seeing that side of them? Would you think they’re cool?   Penmaru: Ugh……those words are a little hard to swallow……   Shihan: Hahaha, pardon my choice of words! Anyway, a hero should be an independent person, who can do anything all alone. Continuing with Araki sensei’s advice……
“Pursuing an ideal, even if they’re going it alone and don’t care if they conform to society’s rules or not…… That, I believe, is the most beautiful state a person can achieve…… A person who is adored by others, yet gains no profit and may even die in the shadows. Somebody who still pursues the true justice within themselves…… That is a true hero.”
Penmaru: S-Soooooooooo COOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOL!!!!!   Shihan: Indeed! A person who can carry out their own justice, and act for the sake of someone else, even if it means going against the rest of the world…… Readers from any generation love those kinds of heroes.     Shihan: ……So, those are the 4 aspects to becoming a “HERO”, which is necessary for any protagonist! Penmaru, as a protagonist yourself, you should show your HERO side more often!   Penmaru: Well, I’m OK with that…… but I thought you were exhausted from the heat? Why get all fired up again?   Shihan: Oh…… Oops, there I go again……   Penmaru: Hehehe, you definitely have a fire in your heart!   Shihan: Oh, you stupid little boy…… enough talking! Let’s start the training. Today you shall sketch 100 different hand positions! Off you go!   Penmaru: Hyeeeeeee!! Why are you being harder on me than usual!?!?!?   Shihan: …… Hmmm, perhaps it’s about time for a makeover?   Shihan seems to have a plan up his sleeve……? What will happen next time, on the 20th episode of this series!? It’s been boiling hot in the northern hemisphere and pretty warm in the south too so take care everybody!!   Did you enjoy reading this story? Did you find the hints and tips to improve your manga production? If YES, please share the article with your fellow creators! If NO, please let me know how we can improve Penmaru’s journey! We welcome any and all kinds of opinions and questions, requests and comments, day and night! Don’t forget to follow me on Twitter for updates 😉
Script: Mayuna Mizutani – Follow me on Twitter and Facebook Illustration: Roberto F. – Support him on Instagram, Facebook & Tweet your questions / opinions / reviews at #SMACMangaDojo, and I will answer! 😉  
Mayuna Mizutani

Mayuna Mizutani