Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Confrontations

I'm not sure how common this is with other writers, but I like my confrontations between heroes and villains to have stakes on a physical, emotional, and spiritual level. Growing up on an unhealthy diet of shonen anime, '80s action movies, and old comics and manga, got me very well acquainted with the first two. The last came from my conversion to Christianity, and a desire to dig deeper in the stories I had already liked. Of course, those are all thematic elements. It's nothing to beat the reader over the head with.

But my point is, what happens when all those elements come together? When your protagonist is up against something that not only can kill them, can't be broken mentally, and threatens your very soul? That's a triple decker of trouble.

There are three examples I can think of, all of which are regularly considered classics by their fans. The first is The Lord of the Rings, which is self-explanatory, and the second is the Trigun anime, which is possibly the most influential piece of media in my life. These hit harder for having a three dimensional conflict that can be seen from multiple angles, and be no less powerful.

The final example is in the anime classic, Yu Yu Hakusho. The third major story arc in the series is called "Chapter Black." The main character, in typical shonen fashion, has developed to be a powerful fighter that could demolish any enemy. Think of any popular shonen whether Dragon Ball, Naruto, Bleach, or Fist of the North Star, and you know that the grab for power is what makes the difference in whether the hero wins or loses. Being right is one thing, but it needs power to back it up.

Chapter Black is different.

This story arc centers on the appearance of seven psychics appearing in Tokyo who threaten the world by opening a gate that will allow monsters into the world to destroy the human race. Yusuke Uremeshi, a spirit detective and the main character, is tasked with stopping them. Yusuke is incredibly strong, but now he wonders just what the point is in taking orders? After certain recent events he has become much too complacent. He begins to get bored with normal life. The world is made of paper. He flirts with crossing a line that could very easily devour his soul, and it comes back to bite him.

What makes this story arc so good is that Yusuke's strength is in more than how hard he punches. For the first time he is faced with the task of intentionally killing villains to stop them. This is because their powers are far beyond mere physical strength. They want to show how horrible and rotten the human race is, and Yusuke has to stop them. He has to prove them wrong without falling victim to his own strength. But, maybe they have a point. How great are humans, anyway?

For a hint of this, watch the video below. The confrontation Yusuke has with the Doctor is one of my favorite confrontations in any medium. Marvel at the direction and choreography, and wonder at just how the main character is going to get through this without falling into the villain's trap. This is one of those moments that has stuck in my head years after seeing it.



Too good. However, that is not the full confrontation. To see the rest, go watch the show! It is in episodes 73 and 74 available on the Funimation website for streaming.

If I can write one thing in my life as tight as this, it would be enough for me.

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