Overpowered People in Fiction

Discussion in 'Fiction Writing' started by LelouDX, Dec 25, 2018.

  1. LelouDX

    LelouDX New Member

    I've recently just finished watching Sword Art Online as it was recommended by my friend and Kirito leaves a lot to be desired as a character. Simply put, he appears to be a self-insert, power fantasy characters. He's completely overpowered, he Gary Stus his way out of multiple situations like when

    [SPOILERS] he hacked into the game's main console so that he could preserve his and Asuna's daughter's code who turned out to be an AI that was about to be deleted. [END SPOILER]

    Power fantasy characters like him really take the fun out of a story when you know absolutely NOTHING can stand as a chalenge for the character. It's no fun when a character is suddenly good at something that we haven't even see his progression towards it. At least give us, the viewers, small tidbits of him exhibiting that skill to a smaller extent beforehand.

    Now let me tell you about one overpowered cueball in fiction that absolutely enjoyed watching as a character. You might have heard of a small anime called One Punch Man? If you haven't One Punch Man is a show with a guy that can beat his opponents with one punch. Now that premise may seem to be something I wouldn't like but surprisingly enough, I absolutely enjoyed the hell out of it. Saitama is an overpowered character, that much is true. But the one thing that differs him from Kirito, in my opinion, is that he's human just like us.

    Saitama became who he is, a hero, by training a ridiculous amount in a span of 3 years. How ridiculous you ask? He lost his friggin hair because of it! Now while it is impossible to gain superhuman strength just by training for 3 years, Saitama is humanized by his desire to become a hero by working hard, something a lot of us can relate to.

    What got me rooting for the caped baldy is his main conflict in the show. Saitama, who can obliterate any foe with one punch, is frustrated by the fact that he can finish fights with one punch. One punch is all that it takes and that takes the fun out of fighting for somebody who has said that he is "a hero for fun".

    We've all experienced what Saitama is going through to some extent. That slow burn of having progressed to a point that your skills are the best there is only be hit with monotony.

    Hope you enjoyed that short post of me talking about the place of overpowered people in fiction. I do believe that overpowered characters have a place in them just as long as they are written correctly and are not simply power fantasies.
    Last edited: Dec 25, 2018
  2. Scyllune

    Scyllune New Member

    I agree with your assessment of Sword Art Online, to be honest. It's not just a matter of having an overpowered protagonist; there's also the issue of the excessive use of deus ex machina in resolving the conflicts Kirito is embroiled in. It makes watching the arcs frustrating, leaving no room for organic growth in the characters.

    One Punch Man is an exemplary example of writing a good Overpowered protagonist. It also helps that the series isn't taking itself too seriously. It's a subversion of the common shounen tropes, and it does an fantastic job in portraying the character archetypes commonly found in an action series.

    Saitama is the titular lead, but the motivation behind his actions aren't grand or exciting. The audience already knows that he's more than capable of defeating the villain of the day without the old, unexpected 'power-up' sequences found in the show's forerunners. Resolving the conflict seems to be less of an issue compared to, say, whether or not Saitama has enough money for groceries. Here is a man, having the strength of a god and able to make the mightiest of intergalactic villains weep, concerned with catching Saturday sales so he can get by.

    There's nothing slimy or unappealing about how he treats ordinary concerns as a bigger issue than his heroics. Even if he's the overpowered protagonist, there's hardly any reason for the audience to dislike him even if his adventures seem mundane.

    Saitama is just an ordinary guy, but with an extraordinary gift that seems to bring him more trouble than good. He has that streak of heroism that pushes him forward in his endeavors, but it's not a self-destructive sort of desire to 'do good' and save the day. That makes him a far more realistic and believable character, despite his unmatched physical abilities.

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