The Character Who Cannot or Chooses Not to Communicate

Character flaws afflict many, especially when it comes to fiction.

However, some imperfections are particularly prevalent when it comes to anime / visual novel / video game characters. I’m talking about when a character deliberately chooses to not communicate with friends or allies for various reasons, justified or not.

Please bear in mind that some characters really do have no choice but to keep their traps shut due to inescapable, dire circumstances. There’s nothing wrong with that unless if the audience is strictly against secrets in general for some reason. And that applies to literally no one. Even the most open aniblogger who overshares constantly (such as yours truly) has a few secrets up his or her or their sleeves.

But there are instances when a character makes the decision to lie or keep a secret when he or she or they don’t have to. If this is noticeably done multiple times throughout the series or game, it’s more or less a character defect!

With that being said, this is not really a black-and-white issue. Perhaps the guilty party actually does has good reasons behind keeping things confidential. Obviously the audience (usually) gets to see things from a more comprehensive point-of-view and (sometimes) have more time to react and think things thorough compared to characters who are more or less trapped within the story.

Be that as it may, sympathizing with the character who’s keeping the cards close to his or her or their chest is made more difficult when other characters are begging to know what’s going on yet the aforementioned tight-lipped character decides to keep distraught characters in the dark. Same goes for when a character keeps quiet only to be more forthcoming with the details after things start to go wrong.

Personally, I’m more receptive towards a character who attempts to keep mum in order to avoid worrying people. However, that doesn’t change the fact that their attempts are still misguided at best.

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Right now, the primary offender who’s guilty of choosing to not be open or communicative in my mind (among the anime series I’m currently following, of course) would be Okabe Rintarou from Steins;Gate 0. The fact that he keeps Rukako completely clueless didn’t sit well with me (Suzuha is also an accomplice, now that I think about it) and I consider his reasoning to be flimsy. Rukako shouldn’t have to feel all alone and left out just because of Rintarou’s ill-advised desire to make Rukako his “salvation.” Correct me if I’m wrong, please, but I’m not just not seeing it.

Admittedly, it’s sort of funny that he’s the only one who knows who Moeka is, but I also think he could have explained how he knew her to Suzuha and the others. With that being said, telling Rukako the truth and elaborating on his interactions with Moeka in a different world-line would mean talking about time traveling, which can really complicate matters.

But then again, Rintarou had no problem telling Tennōji Yūgo about sensitive information regarding time travel. Buuuuut then again, Rintarou was desperate for insurance and information at the time, so it could be argued that he had good reasons to run his mouth. Plus there are literal secret evil organizations running around…hm.

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It’s all very subjective, as with most topics. I just feel that sometimes a character keeps secrets for the sake of instilling tension or drama. But perhaps their reasons for being hush-hush is actually solid and I’m only being fussy.

What do you think? Does Rintarou have good reason to be so secretive, even around those who he cares about?


Thanks for reading.

13 thoughts on “The Character Who Cannot or Chooses Not to Communicate

  1. I always dislike this character trait. Of course I dislike it in real life where people don’t spell things out but then get annoyed when other people don’t pick up on their mood. But I always thought with Charmed and Sabrina the Teenage Witch and even Buffy, that their lives would be easier if they just told the people in their life what was going on. Secret identities for the sake of it just annoy me and mostly you end up going through the same repetitive drama over and over again.

    In the case of Steins;Gate, it seems really silly not to have the whole cast on board and keeping secrets seems like Okabe is just asking for things to go horribly wrong as the characters will do and say things that put them in danger and not even know. More importantly, they aren’t stupid and they know something is up with him and all they can do is worry because he won’t share.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Right. Sometimes the narrative tries to justify it, but I feel like the reasons are flimsy at best. Oh, the protagonist doesn’t want to put their loved ones in danger which would happen if they know what’s going on? Well, if they knew what’s going on then they just might be able to take the right steps to protect or take care of themselves.

      Yeah, I’ve been fuming over Okabe’s tendency to keep everything a secret for a while. It’s definitely one of his biggest character flaws.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. You don’t over share!! I love your sharing. 😄💖 Also, if characters in anime and video games DIDN’T keep quiet and have secrets… They would probably all be pretty boring! If everyone was completely honest and said exactly what they meant there would be no mystery, nothing to drive the story to greater depth!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You don’t over share!! I love your sharing. 😄💖 Also, if characters in anime and video games DIDN’T keep quiet and have secrets… They would probably all be pretty boring! If everyone was completely honest and said exactly what they meant there would be no mystery, nothing to drive the story to greater depth!

    Like

  4. I’ve yet to play the game, but my guess is that refusing to admit to Ruka the truths about the world they live in will result in one of his biggest regrets. With all the secrets, mysterious, and wild theories woven into the story, it’s no wonder why Okabe wouldn’t
    grab all the help he can get to figure out what to do next!

    Liked by 2 people

  5. This is where the differences between anime and visual novels are most pronounced, I think, at least when we’re talking about an adaptation like Steins;Gate 0. (I haven’t played/watched it yet, so I’ll have to talk more vaguely about the original, but it still applies.)

    In the case of Okabe, the medium through which we explore his story has an impact on how we understand him. In the anime adaptation, we’re basically taking on the role of a third-person observer, whereas in the visual novel, we’re riding along inside his head. In the visual novel, he’s still an unreliable narrator, but the fact we get to experience the innermost workings of his mind raises interesting questions as to whether he really believes the bollocks he spouts or if he’s just putting on a show for the people around him.

    This aspect is why, in most cases, I always tend to prefer reading a visual novel to watching an anime where both possibilities exist. Not only does the visual novel have the luxury of effectively unlimited time to explore its characters and narrative rather than being beholden to a broadcasting schedule (and the fickle whims of the seasonal audiences), it also allows the reader to experience the protagonist’s story in a rather more intimate way.

    This isn’t to say visual novels are an inherently superior medium to anime, I hasten to add! It’s just my experience that where both exist, the original VN tends to be the preferable version for me — though good adaptations do, of course, exist. (Clannad and Steins;Gate are probably the best examples; Grisaia is a fine example of How Not To Do It.) Your mileage may, as ever, vary!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. You’re definitely not wrong about visual novels. That’s why I generally prefer them, too.

      Aaaaand you’re definitely on point in regards to how visual novels are not inherently better. They have their shortcomings, too.

      I’m supportive of the anime adaptations of S;G and Clannad, but some people beg to differ as always.

      I’ve been curious about Grisaia. Sorry to hear about the anime adaptation.

      Liked by 1 person

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