Wednesday’s What About: Weak But Skilled Characters

In some series, there are characters who are naturally talented. Perhaps they are blessed with luck or they are just very skilled in many areas. These characters usually seem multi-talented and essentially outclass many of their allies or peers.

But this post isn’t about these kinds of characters.

(Spoilers about Tokyo Ghoul:reWorld Trigger, and Saki in this post)

I’m talking about the characters who stand on the opposite side of the spectrum. Compared to the gifted and strong characters, these characters are undeniably weaker in almost all areas.

However, the underdogs tend to have a knack for a few specific skills. As a result, they usually become specialists who focus on one or two techniques or styles in order to compete with the powerful all-rounders who has them beat in everything else.

Is that vague enough for you? Sorry about that. Maybe it’s time for some examples.

Yonebayashi Saiko from Tokyo Ghoul:re would fall under the weak but skilled category, in my opinion. Compared to her opponent who outclasses her in nearly everything (after all, Urie regularly pushes his limits exercising and getting stronger while Saiko is usually a sedentary shut-in who play video games), Saiko beats him in kagune manipulation. Observe how she’s able to freely reshape and remodel her kagune to suit the situation.

Saiko about to hand a whoopin’ to her opponent.
Fighting her macho opponent with macho arms!

No other ghoul (or half-ghoul) has demonstrated this degree of flexibility and freedom thus far in the series. By practicing and honing her best talent, Saiko has risen from a mere pudgy one-trick-pony with low stamnia to a potent fighting force (exercising helped her out, too, of course).

Another example would be Mikumo from World Trigger. He has a below-average amount of Trion (which is like energy or qi or mana in other settings), which limits his offensive and defensive capabilities. Nevertheless, he’s a smart thinker who comes up with excellent strategies and is able to make things difficult for stronger opponents.

Mikumo’s teacher, Karasuma, praising Mikumo’s strengths.

Lastly, I think Suehara Kyouko from Saki would qualify as a character who is weak yet skilled. Think about her opponents. In the quarterfinals, she’s up against Iwato Kasumi (who can let a goddess spirit possess her and grant her tile suit manipulation) Anetai Toyone (who has seven supernatural abilities which defy likeliness and probability) and Miyanaga Saki, the main character of the series!

Yet through quick  hands and prior knowledge of her opponents’ playstyles (a little of research goes a long way), Kyouko manages to stay a step ahead of everyone else for most of the game despite having no real mahjong powers to speak of.

And then in the semifinals, she’s up against Virsaladze Nelly, (who has total control of flow), Shishihara Sawaya (who summons Ainu gods and clouds and is shown to have at least 10 abilities) and Miyanaga Saki once again. Unfortunately, she couldn’t pull through during the semifinals, but she really put up a good showing for someone who has no supernatural abilities.

She’s skilled, but Kyouko is pretty smug (and pretty).

I personally think these kind of characters are more interesting than ones who were born with it all. The way these underdogs embrace their strengths and attempt to do their best against opponents (who are theoretically stronger) is very inspirational. We can all learn a thing or two from them. Of course, we might not be as gifted as they are in one particular skill or skillset, but the message remains.

Who are some of your favorite “weak but skilled” characters? I would love to hear about them in the comments section!

10 thoughts on “Wednesday’s What About: Weak But Skilled Characters

  1. Suehara-chan is a great example from Saki. First one I thought of was Yumi, since she’s able to hold her own against Koromo and Saki while the other normal player, Ikeda, is thoroughly overmatched.

    A couple of other characters that I like:

    Ikki from Chivalry of a Failed Knight. The fact that the MC of a battle series was this trope rather than the usual overpowered Kirito clone was one of the reasons I enjoyed Chivalry so much.

    Teana Lanster from Lyrical Nanoha Strikers. A very different sort of main character in a franchise known for its superpowered magical girls. Tea’s magical power is average at best and her abilities are unremarkable, but she does have some useful specialized skills, a brilliant tactical mind, and almost too much ambition – one of the things she has to learn is not to put herself or others at risk from pushing herself to take on too much. She ended up being my favorite of the new characters in that installment.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks. I wanted to include Yumi, too. She held her ground very well in both Saki and Achiga-hen. Poor Ikeda. If only she played more like she did in Achiga-hen.

      Oh, he’s definitely different in that regard. It keeps his fights way more interesting.

      I’m going to have to get into the Nanoha franchise as a whole but I really like the sound of Teana Lanster. There’s just something underdogs, you know?


      1. I’m actually slightly surprised you haven’t tried Nanoha already, given how popular it’s always been with the yuri community. With all three seasons and both Vivid spinoff seasons having legal streams for the first time ever, Eleven Arts planning to screen the latest movie in North America next year, and another movie due out in Japan next summer, it’s the best time in a decade to be a fan.

        That said, I usually recommend a viewing order of 1st movie–>Nanoha A’s (TV)–>Strikers for new viewers, because I think the 1st movie tells the first season’s story much better than the first season does, and of course the animation is also miles better.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I’m a bit behind when it comes to classics, admittedly. I should catch up on the roots! Especially since it’s going so well for Nanoha fans lately, as you’ve said.

          Got it. Thank you the recommendation!


  2. Very interesting post, Remy! I agree, these characters are (usually) much more interesting than the gifted/all powerful ones. They are, for one, relatable and then they are inspirational, like you mentioned. Also, they are part of what I would usually call the tortoise and the hare syndrome.
    The underdogs are underestimated to the point of being considered unworthy of attention, so the gifted ones feel safe to downgrade their abilities. Meanwhile, the weak but skilled keep working on their own abilities and out of nowhere, end up surpassing the clearly more talented yet overly arrogant rivals. It’s an interesting device and it’s not uncommon, not even in real life.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh, I’m glad you found it interesting and I’m glad you agreed with the mush coming out of my fingers!
      This tortoise and hare syndrome sounds both interesting and apt to these types of situations.

      Mmm that seems to summarize how many situations unfold in both fiction and in real life.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Your love for the underdog is showing, Remy!

    Being weak in general but honing the skills you do have sounds very admirable to me, even more than chasing after an improbable dream or just giving up to be bitter. I’m only familiar with TG anime but still, that level of kagune manipulation is amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It’s always showing. It’s my Vivid Underdog Love, Visible to All!

      I’m glad you agree, yay! These kind of characters know their limits yet push themselves to do as much as they can and it’s inspirational. It usually makes for interesting mindses and battles, too. If they are forced to find creative ways to get around the fact that their skillset is imbalanced as heck, that is.

      Mmm Saiko is a great character. The power of being an otaku propels her imagination! Kaneki is cool and all but I like her even more (she also has one of the best quotes in the TG verse, in my opinion: “Well… men say this and that, but shove a pair of big tits in their face and they shut up right quick.” She jokingly said this right after giving her opponent a cooldown hug, shoving his face into her chest so he would calm down).

      Liked by 1 person

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