Post Reply What Makes a Good Protagonist?
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Posted 5/21/16
Hey guys, first forum topic post so time to stir up some extensive discussions! I had been on the fence about writing scripts for some videos of mine that describe good characters, and it got me thinking.

What really makes a good protagonist? (For those not knowing what a protagonist is, it's just a fancy word for main character of focus.)



This was triggered when I was writing a piece on Boku no Hero Academia's Izuku Midoriya, and how his development differs from other Shonen heroes because of how much time it takes for him to cultivate, thus making the audience feel his struggle more and really root for him when he succeeds. In this instance, I developed a formula for a good protagonist in my opinion.

A good protagonist is a person who has a realistic personality for their situation and life, one or two specific flaws but a willingness to change to better themselves or someone else. (This rule excluding strict comedic stories, such as One-Punch Man and Sakamoto Desu Ga?)

Do you guys have any thoughts on good protagonists?
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Posted 5/21/16 , edited 5/21/16
Posting this topic in the manga section wont stir up to a lot of discussion ^^ It's pretty dead here.

My personal perfect protagonist is the kind that wants to save everyone, and gets the most convenient powerups out of nowehere just to do that.

But on a serious note, i'm not really sure. There's a lot of protagonists I like, such as Shiwoon from The breaker, but I don't consider him a great protagonist, just very entertaining and cool.

(Actually, Kaneki from Tokyo ghoul has everything I feel a good protagonist should have.)
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Posted 5/22/16
Izuku is as cliche as they come and Boku no hero won't be the mega hit people expect it to be.
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Posted 5/22/16 , edited 5/22/16
Well it already is.
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Posted 5/22/16
I think a good protagonist is a character who embodies the theme/ideal of a story by either living it or learning it e.g. a shonen lead learning about friendship and using it to defeat the bad guy (if the story is about friendship). Also I like protagonists who keep the action/plot line going by doing things but do not keep the plot line going just because they do idiotic things resulting in conflict.
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Posted 5/22/16
A good protagonist to me is like you said, someone with a realistic personality. One who struggles and has insecurities and doesn't suddenly become strong because they have friendship.
mnmike 
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Posted 5/22/16
I think there are two different archetypes of protagonists:

1) The Window. This type is simply a lens through which the reader views the story. Usually this character isn't horribly interesting by himself. In comedies, they will often play the straight-man (tsukommi) to the more zany characters around them. Often times these characters narrate the story. They are the protagonist, in that the story revolves around them, but they are not the most interesting character--and that is by design. If they do get their own character development, it is usually truncated or belated. Many harem leads are Windows, but you sometimes see it at other times as well (Mahoraba, Maison Ikkoku, Eureka Seven, etc.)

A good Window needs to be easily relatable and sympathetic. He needs to help spark action among more interesting characters, without detracting from them.


2) The Focus. For this type, the whole point of the story is to tell the main character's story. The protagonist is the center of attention at almost all times. Other characters exist to participate in the main character's story, not the other way around.

A good Focus needs to be a complex, complicated character. These protagonists do not always have to be likable people; in fact, many of the best ones struggle with their moral compases and sometimes do bad things (see: Monster, Clannad, Steins;Gate).


Of course, many protagonists fall in the middle somewhere. But I think it's useful to understand that different main characters will serve different functions in different stories--and that is perfectly okay, as long as they do their respective jobs well.
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