I said that this week I’d talk about Undertale, but Sans is really, really hard, okay? Sheesh, if there’s anything after the hour long laser show of his special attack I will probably end up ragequitting harder than I’ve ever ragequit before.
So today we’ll just talk about some character building; my husband and I just finished off Fate Zero, and it brought up some interesting questions to ask about your character. (As a side note, I personally didn’t much care for Fate Zero. The storytelling style was, imo, unappealing…and I felt like their use of child deaths was a pathetic cheap shot.) For those unfamiliar with Fate Zero, the basic plot is that wizards summon ancient Heroic Spirits to fight each other to claim the Holy Grail to make a wish.
We’ll start with Ryuunosuke:
Ryuunosuke is a serial killer. He mostly summons his spirit on accident – he was toying with summoning a demon and has no idea what the Holy grail wars are. He just wants to kill people, children mostly. He summons Gilles de Rais – if you know the old Bluebeard fairytale, you know he was a murderer. The historical figure was a commerade of Joan of Arc who got into creepy occult, sacrificed a bunch of children to the devil, and eventually was put to death for a way more mundane crime. Embezzling or something.
Since they’re both murderers, Ryuunosuke and Gilles get along famously. They eventually have a really creepy conversation about God. Giles declares that God never punishes the wicked – that he didn’t die from murdering children but because the people wanted to steal his lands. Ryuunosuke asks if there is a god, sounding upset that there might not be, which confuses Giles. Ryuunosuke explains that the world is so cool, that there’s something magnificent in every detail if you just know where to look, that there must be a god, and he thinks that God must love humanity since he spends all his time writing the stories of humans. He continues that he thinks God must love all kinds of stories, the good and brave as much as the blood and gore, because “why else would he make blood and guts so interesting?” This is heartening to Gilles; obviously, with his work with Joan, God is a big deal to him, and it’s exciting to find a point of view where God is just another performer, even a clown, that can be impressed by horrible misdeeds as much as anything else.
I’ve…heard a lot of, erm, interesting viewpoints on God from villains before, but not this particular vein before. And while the conversation was uncomfortable for me, it did make me think more seriously about how many of my own villains think of God, if they even remotely believe in one or not, if they want to, hope to – what, exactly, is their situation with it. Because in a big way, I think, one’s belief in God can be, often is, a reflection of their belief in morals. Even if one does not believe there is a god, this can still be helpful in understanding a person’s moral standing. There are plenty of atheists who rightly point out that doing what’s right because it’s right is a higher moral behavior than doing something that’s right because you’ll avoid punishment and get a reward. And therefore doing what’s right to avoid hell or gain heaven…there can also be the perspective that since there isn’t any omnipotent being watching out for humanity, you personally have got to do it. Obviously there’s a lot of variety when it comes to believing or not believing in any god.
The other interesting conversation in Fate Zero was about what it means to be king.
Ultimately, Alexander the Great insists that to be king is to live the most inspiring lifestyle he can, to encompass the dreams of his people on the full spectrum of good and evil, to give them something to look up to. Arturia (Aurthur, who is a girl in Fate Zero) believes a king should be humble and serve his people, encompassing an ideal. Gilgamesh just kinda holds himself above most of the conversation, seeing the other two as items for his own amusement. Alexander mocks Arturia’s ideals, saying that she couldn’t possibly understand her people that way.
What does it mean for your characters to be kings, or even just leaders, figures others look up to?
Ultimately, what role does your character try to fulfill, want to fulfill, expect to fulfill? Not what role do they actually fill – not what you want or need them to do. It’s not just their own ideals; maybe they have a view of what it means to be king, which is why they would never want to be king.
Part of the hard part of asking big questions about your character is determining what those big questions even are. So I think it’s important to look for inspiration anywhere, even an anime you didn’t much care for, to find new dimensions to add to your characters. I know I’ve only worried about my characters’ religious views if religion is a really important part of the story, or if religion is an important part of the character. But religion is always kind of a thing, even if it’s just a personal moral code and rejection of anything more. You could argue that’s not religion, but that’s not the point; you have to consider religion to determine your character doesn’t have it. And while I have overlords…what they want to do is different than who they want to be. I haven’t thought much about that.
While you shouldn’t include everything about your characters in a story, you can never know too much about them yourself. Besides, each new discovery brings with it a new realization for the whole story, a new development.