Fanart Friday returns, bench-pressing an entire shelf's worth of required reading. Last week, we wrapped up April's "colors" theme with the color green, but this week we start a new theme--tropes! Tropes are sort of a storytelling shorthand, a quick way of breaking down the elements that make up the stories we watch, read, or play, and for the entire month of May we'll be checking out some of what I feel are the more interesting tropes. We'll be starting this theme with the GENIUS BRUISER, but I'll be adding in a few BADASS BOOKWORMS for variety!
It's too bad we don't see more of Michael Jai White--he's a really smart, well-spoken action star with real fighting skills who stars in shit movies
Much like the TVTropes page says, looks matter for this--a Genius Bruiser is both parts of the equation, physically intimidating while also possessing a powerful mind. On the other hand, a Badass Bookworm doesn't look very threatening, but is lethal in combat. Let's get started!
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My love of this trope started early--very early--with Panthro from the original ThunderCats. In either version, though, he's the exact same character--a gruff, buff older guy who works as the team's all-around handyman and mechanic, but pulls out a pair of nunchaku and f*cks dudes up when it's time to fight.
Sports manga and anime almost always have a "big guy" on the team, but occasionally you'll get a character like Gorilla Akagi, who leads Slam Dunk's Shohoku team as their captain and center. He's also one of the brightest students in the entire school, and yet he runs people over like a freight train on the court.
Pictured right there on the TVTropes page for "Genius Bruiser" is Dr. Henry "Hank" McCoy, AKA Beast, one of the founding members of the X-Men. Beast has always been my favorite member of the team, and I especially loved his random early appearances on X-Men Evolution. "So that's Coach McCoy... he's a big guy, but very educated. Nah, that's just a shoutout, he can't be Beast!" I love being wrong about things like that.
Final Fantasy's heavy hitters tend to be on the small side--Sephiroth has about the same build as Justin Timberlake--but every now and then you get a character who actually looks the part. FFVI's Edgar arms himself to the teeth with all manner of insane self-invented weaponry, and is about the same size as his (gigantic) twin brother Sabin.
I always appreciate finding a Badass Bookworm who is actually a bookworm. A huge chunk of Yomiko Readman's day is spent reading, and it's always kind of an annoyance for her to have to stop reading long enough to fight bad guys... or save the world... or just leave the house and get something to eat, really.
In the world of Fullmetal Alchemist, you have to be pretty darn smart to be an alchemist (essentially a magic-powered scientist)--even if you're the size of a house. There are no Badass Bookworms in the Armstrong family--tradition demands that they all proudly represent the Genius Bruiser trope!
In The Dark Knight Rises, Bane was a threatening, calculating villain who orchestrated a massive plan to break Batman. In the comics, he's actually much deadlier, wearing Batman down for weeks with a huge Arkham breakout, and able to beat two different Batmen (Bruce and Jean-Paul Valley) in single combat.
Black Lagoon has a pretty standard crew--you have the brains in Benny, the leader in Dutch, and the muscle in Revy. However, Revy's not just clever, she's actually pretty well-educated! It's also nice to see their "face," Rock, break out of his quiet businessman shell every now and then.
HEAVY WEAPONS GUY IS NOT BIG DUMB LUG WHO CARRIES MASSIVE MINIGUN NAMED SASHA. HEAVY WEAPONS GUY IS ACTUALLY QUITE GOOD AT MATHEMATICS, AS HE IS ABLE TO CALCULATE JUST HOW MUCH MONEY IT COSTS TO FIRE SASHA ($400,000 for 12 second) AND HAS PhD IN RUSSIAN LITERATURE. Also, in Russian, he's actually quite well-spoken and not as dopey.
Hajime no Ippo's Takamura is kind of a dumb lug on the surface, but to me it looks like an act. Aside from his lethal fighting instincts, Takamura is able to quickly analyze a situation, and has a solid grasp of anatomy, physiology, and practical physics, meaning that he doesn't necessarily have to overpower his opponent in the ring--he just prefers to win with brute force 'cause it's more fun.
At first, I wasn't even planning on putting Yuki from The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya in here, until my roommate reminded me of all the awesome stuff she does! Remember that face-off with Ryoko? Or that completely insane alternate dimension with the giant creatures? Yeah, Yuki's earned a spot here.
Iron Tager is a mass of metal and muscle with some of the easiest inputs for command throws in any fighting game I've ever played. It's too bad that you only see him sciencing it up in BlazBlue's Story Mode and character endings... and when is sorta-mad scientist Kokonoe gonna be playable?
I'm always impressed when I see an iconic character get perfectly adapted to an artist's style. Golgo 13 is the world's deadliest marksman and assassin, but did you know that snipers have to be really good at math? You have to account for wind, drop rate, elevation, and more before you even pull the trigger. Check out the documentary Surviving the Cut for more proof on how smart elite soldiers have to be!
Tsunade didn't seem so smart in her early appearances on Naruto, but later on in the series it's impressive to see what she's put together--a functioning village economy and a smarter military structure that makes medical skills mandatory. She's also one of the most feared hand-to-hand fighters in the entire world--she doesn't need any fancy jutsu when she can just punch your head clean off.
Let me just say that Chad is one of the most criminally underutilized characters in Bleach. Big and brawny, able to stop fights as quickly as they start, and higher-ranked in grades than just about any of the main characters? Nah, that sucks, let's just add another half-dozen new characters instead of developing the ones we already have!
Jesus Christ, Ganondorf, y'ever hear of manscaping? While the King of the Gerudo is a fierce fighter and sorcerer, the real shocker is his manipulative abilities, making Link do all his dirty work for him and then showing up to stomp him flat. It was a blast getting to actually take him on in a swordfight in the Wii version of Twilight Princess.
Someone last week requested the girls of Magical Girl Lyrical Nanoha, so I actually adjusted this week's theme specifically to accommodate that. See, the "Genius Bruiser" trope focuses on looks--a character looks big and dumb, but is actually big and smart. Little girls are not really all that threatening in terms of appearance, so the Nanoha girls actually fall under the "Badass Bookworm" umbrella!
It's already been stated that offensive linemen are the smartest guys on the gridiron, and Eyeshield 21's Juumonji completely embodies that. While he's not a very nice person, and he's incredibly rough when it comes to football, he actually keeps his grades up and works hard to live up to his father's sometimes-brutal expectations.
While Durarara's art style kind of gives everybody the same body type (seriously, Heiwajima should be built like Chris Hemsworth), there's no doubt that scheming jerkass Izaya Orihara isn't a Genius Bruiser, since he can trade punches with the likes of Heiwajima without dying.
For all the trouble his mother goes to in Dragonball Z to make him study, Gohan does end up becoming a scholar and raking in that take-care-of-your-parents dough that Asian parents are so fond of. It's actually a nice change of pace from "alien overlords constantly trying to kill you."
I can't decide whether JoJo's Bizarre Adventure Part 3 hero Jotaro is a genius or a moron--he has no idea what his Stand is really capable of, and just uses it for physical attacks. However, this means that he has to come up with all kinds of ingenious strategies to defeat people with far-more-complex power sets!
One Piece has a number of super-smart people who are able to hang with the big boys in a straight-up fight. Aside from Robin (a multilingual archaeologist-assassin) and Nami (possessed of immense meteorological knowledge), you also have their transforming doctor, Chopper, and their cyborg shipwright, Franky, who apparently lets his big boys hang straight out. Er, that kinda came out wrong, you know what I mean.
And that's all for this week! There's no way I could have included everyone here, so without looking at TVTropes, who do you think best embodies the "Genius Bruiser" or "Badass Bookworm" character types?
As always, your work is welcome here on Fanart Friday, regardless of your skill level or experience--just PM me a link to your work, and I'll make sure to include it in a future installment! For those of you wanting to get a head-start on next week's theme, we'll be covering the AFFABLY EVIL and GOOD IS NOT NICE tropes, so put your best hardass face on! Without cheating, which characters do you think fall under these tropes? Sound off in the comments!
Thanks again for coming by and checking out Fanart Friday--have a great weekend, and we hope to see you next time! Now, I'm off to go see Iron Man 3!