Being the protagonist is a high-stress, high-pressure role.
She or he is often the face of the show and is usually there from the very beginning, after all. With the character’s thoughts and actions being established as important to the narrative and (typically) influential in regards to other characters, the protagonist thus is the default character to analyze and scrutinize. It’s not an exaggeration to say they often serve as the foundation of an anime series.
That means, however, the protagonist is an easy target for viewers to criticize and lambaste. If a series isn’t to your liking, then one might end up going after the main character and make it seem like it was his or her fault. The protagonist can thus be labeled as boring, or insufferably arrogant, or annoyingly perverted, or a horrible person, etc.
Given the pivotal role the protagonist typically occupies, it’s easy to see why you might opt to attack the main character. But before you dismiss an entire series on account of its unlikeable (which is in itself quite a subjective label) protagonist, perhaps you could consider the following three points, which all happen to be open-ended.
Sometimes There’s Character Development
In other words, sometimes a main character who is initially off-putting (i.e. is scum, is some emotionless robot, etc) might change (clean up his or her act, learn what it means to love, etc). So SOMETIMES it gets better.
But then it becomes a matter of commitment. Do you want to sit around and see how this character changes for the better or do you want to watch some other anime series instead?
And then there are series in which the main character doesn’t really change for the better. Perhaps some minor flaw is improved but overall he or she remains more or less the same. If you had stuck around just to see if and how this character would improve as a person, then I can’t blame you for getting disappointed if that’s the end result.
Agree to Disagree with the MC
Look. It might be a bit jarring when someone doesn’t agree with you. After all, you’ve (probably) put a lot of thought into your opinions and thus have confidence in your ideals. But then someone comes along and challenges your thoughts with a different set of beliefs, which could be hard to take for some.
The same goes for main characters in anime, too. If their points and perspectives align with yours, then they’re “relatable.” If not, then they’re not relatable.
However, you shouldn’t be so hasty in your judgment. As long as the protagonist (as well as dissenters in real life) make some sort of sense, it might be worth your time to hear them out. Maybe you can see where they’re coming from even if you disagree. And then maybe you might decide to continue watching this show to see if either you or the character will change opinions.
…Well, the events might play out like that, which would be nice. But you also might end up feeling like you’d have wasted your time following a series because what the character says over and over fails to connect and it’s like you’re watching an alien.
Whether or not you want to invest and hope for the best is something you’d have to decide for yourself.
A Side Character is Fine, Too.
If you truly do hate the main character with the passion of a thousand dying suns, then it’s probably best for you to consider watching something else.
But if you’re like me, then you’ll find some side character to latch onto instead in order to cope with the insufferable main character. You’d end up watching entire series hoping that one particular character gets some screentime and becoming disappointed when he or she is MIA.
…Yeah, don’t be like me.
What do you think about main characters? Are they crucial to helping you appreciate or enjoy a series? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.