October 10, 2011

The Mighty Archetype: The Hero Who Hides Behind a Smile

The Mighty Archetype 1: Broody Jerks with Hearts of Gold

The Hero Who Hides Behind a Smile - Specifically the ones who put up happy, go-lucky fronts in order to hide complicated, often dark pasts. Mmmm.

At first glance, their appearance plays at a carefree if honorable attitude and they may even be a little goofy, making them easily underestimated. But the deeper you delve, the more you discover that what lurks behind the happy mask isn't all sunshine and rainbows. AND I LOVE THAT ♥

Exhibit A: Kenshin Himura from Rurouni Kenshin

*Official art by creator Nobuhiro Watsuki*

        Kenshin was a teenaged assassin during the Bakumatsu (think The Last Samurai), but his reasons for killing involved protecting the people of Japan and helping to bring about peace. He ended up accidentally killing the woman he loved, along with his enemy, when she jumped in front of his blade to protect him from an attack. When Japan enters the Meiji era and his job as an assassin is no longer needed, he becomes a wanderer (the word 'rurouni' means 'wanderer') and swears never to kill again (and keeps that promise).
        When we meet Kenshin, it's been eleven years since the end of the Tokugawa shogunate. He presents himself as this goofy, penniless guy who smiles a lot. But when his past rushes up to meet him, he slips back into the cold, ruthless assassin he'd been while everyone around him fights to return him to the warm person they know and love.

Exhibit B: Allen Walker from D.Gray-man

*Official art by creator Hoshino Katsura*

        Allen was a street rat with a dirty mouth and a bad (if noble) attitude. His left arm is what's called his Innocence--a God-given weapon that only exorcists can wield and the only thing that can kill akuma (demons). Allen's arm activated for the first time when his adopted father returned from the dead as an akuma and tried to kill him. Allen killed him instead with his Innocence (by accident since he had no idea what his arm could do), and the experience was so traumatizing that his hair turned white.
        When we first meet Allen, he's a harmless-looking kid who smiles a lot, is unfailingly polite, and just wants to be an exorcist.

In spite of Kenshin's past, his goodness really, truly shines through. And Allen is my hero. He's good and kind and amazing and fights so, so hard for what he believes in. He always smiles to put everyone around him at ease despite whatever he's feeling inside. He's an extremely complicated and tragic kid, and I love him to pieces.

So what is it about this archetype that gets to me? Maybe it's the fact that they've overcome these overwhelming tragedies and have somehow managed to remain untainted. They have complete hero complexes, always coming to the rescue, always shouldering everyone's burdens, and always the one to turn to when things get rough. But it's not just because they're good people--it's because they have lived and learned and have become better for it. And when their pasts come back to haunt them, they don't run from it. They face it and accept the consequences.

And there are usually hefty, hefty consequences.

Oftentimes these archetypes are driven by a sense of remorse or twisted justice. Kenshin protects who he can with his reverse-blade sword but never denies or excuses what he's done when his past is thrown in his face. Allen wants to be an exorcist in order to save not only the humans the akuma attack but the souls of the akuma themselves.

So what do you guys think of this archetype? :D Who else can you think of who would fit this mold?

Allen Walker, my hero ♥
(with Kanda, the only person who can turn sweet Allen into the bratty, foul-tempered street rat he'd been as a kid--it's kind of hilarious actually)

Full image here.

Have a great week! ♥

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