Real Difference Between Western and Japanese Protagonists

Real Difference Between Western and Japanese Protagonists

Real Difference Between Western and Japanese Protagonists

by Steve Napierski to Comics

And that makes you the umpire for watching them both.

It really does seem that a lot of the more popular western hemisphere games have testosterone-induced meatheads for their protagonists. While on the other hand, a lot of the more popular Japanese titles have androgynous “male” teenagers in the lead roles. Why is that?

Well, in the west realism is the popular flavor and as such, you need a character best suited for this environment. A skinny emo kid carrying a sword 2x his own height doesn’t really fit that mold. While in Japan, fantasy is a more popular choice. And if you’re going to cast the lead in a fantasy game, you’re not looking for some beaten down war veteran who’s lost all love for humanity and only cares about killin’. You’re going to reflect on a simpler/happier time in your life when the worries of the world weren’t weighing down on you and anything seemed possible: your youth. And you’re just gonna call them all teenagers so the panties shots aren’t so creepy ;)

Discussion (21)¬

  1. Suppity
    Suppity says:
    March 17, 2011 at 12:49 am #

    Wait so western protagonists and japanese protagonists are gay for each other?

    • David Herbert
      David Herbert says:
      March 17, 2011 at 1:50 am #

      Like you could say no to that face.

  2. JayCarr
    JayCarr says:
    March 17, 2011 at 12:56 am #

    I agree with your commentary except for one point. I think that Americans, at least people who buy American made games, fantasize about being more macho than your average Japanese game buyer. Point being, their both fantasies. I don’t think anyone can really say most American games are trying to be realistic, even the war games (save Ghost Recon and the early Rainbow Six games, etc…)

  3. Armane
    Armane says:
    March 17, 2011 at 1:14 am #

    It boils down to the ideal body. In the west due to a bigger frame and steroids, ridiculously muscular men are considered man’s ideal. In the east, due to a smaller average frame, musculature isn’t really over exaggerated, and particularly in Japan, beauty is considered more attractive than masculinity.

  4. Agent Spliced
    Agent Spliced says:
    March 17, 2011 at 1:35 am #

    What I think is interesting is where it could go from here. Characters like Dante and Nathan Drake are starting to blur the lines. Now, with the new Lara Croft, we see a woman close to a ‘natural’ look for a female, so even the sterotype big breasts no clothes is being challanged. We could start seeing a switch on basic design as time goes on and tastes change, or even an accidental study in our own desires and those ‘in between’ character profiles get bad reviews, making the artists go back to the styles we see here.

  5. Awesome66
    Awesome66 says:
    March 17, 2011 at 1:58 am #

    I for one prefer the Japanese protaganist. Well… characters in general. I can really relate to them more. I know it’s an old game and some may not care for it much but most do, FF7 is a good example. I can relate to the characters more. I take a liking to Vincint. Theres a connection. Whereas American heros…. man… that title has Duke Nukem all over it. Not that I don’t enjoy blowing shit up though. It’s more for fun then involvment I guess.

    • BlackShepherd
      BlackShepherd says:
      March 17, 2011 at 4:24 am #

      I find just the opposite. Call it cultural differences or what have you but I find most of your Japanese protagonist annoying children who find something to blame for their short comings(mainly jrpgs). I fell more connection to kratos not because he kills monsters but he has accepted his fault in all of his sins and tries to rectify them even at the cost of his own life.(you could say he is blaming the gods for his families death but they lied and blinded him also he hates himself for it more then he hates the gods.) And where dose snake and raiden stand in mgs? (I connect with snake raiden annoys me) And all that high school love drama stuff annoys me too.

      • sheppy
        sheppy says:
        March 17, 2011 at 1:19 pm #

        Umm, what? The ONLY action he didn’t blame on the gods was being born. His brother being seperated at childhood? The gods. Him becoming a Spartan? the gods. Him becoming a marching death machine? the gods. Him nearly dying? the gods. Him getting his chance at resurrection to become Ares playtoy? the gods. Him slaughtering his own family in the name of Ares? The gods…

        The man has owned NOTHING of his decisions and that was a central theme of GOW II’s beginning. That he still blamed it all on the gods and was carrying a vengeance forward because while his sins were forgiven, they could never be forgotten. WRONG example in every way, shape, and form.

  6. Pyrokun
    Pyrokun says:
    March 17, 2011 at 3:16 am #

    I read an interesting article a while back. It explained this to me pretty well.

    Western video games, and western culture in general, people want to be the hero. That’s why Master Chief never shows his face, so people can project themselves as a guns blazing hero of all. Just think of the Army’s ad campaign. “An Army of One” That’s the kind of society that the America’s are.

    Japanese video games, and Japanese culture respectively, aren’t so big on the Individual. In Japan, it’s more of being a part of a group. It’s also not about rushing out and being the guns blazing hero to win the war and get to the end. In JRPG’s, it’s the journey that matters. helping your entire party get past each of their dark pasts and personal hurdles.

    That’s what I think anyways.

    I think the article was on the Escapist.

    • sheppy
      sheppy says:
      March 17, 2011 at 1:21 pm #

      Also, characters like Master Chief, Duke Nukem, and Marcus Fenix are very much the gay character stereotype to Japan whereas their masculine figures are our gay stereotypes.

    • Kyono
      Kyono says:
      March 17, 2011 at 6:35 pm #

      “In JRPG’s, it’s the journey that matters. helping your entire party get past each of their dark pasts and personal hurdles.”

      …PERSONA! Sorry, I had to.

  7. LilPimpT
    LilPimpT says:
    March 17, 2011 at 8:44 am #

    Your last sentence has grammar problems xDD

  8. Randomgamerdude
    Randomgamerdude says:
    March 17, 2011 at 10:48 am #

    Ok so where does Scott Pilgrim fit into this?

    • Segashinobidude
      Segashinobidude says:
      March 17, 2011 at 1:31 pm #

      He’s Canadian so it doesn’t count

      • Josh
        Josh says:
        March 17, 2011 at 5:54 pm #

        I think you mean he’s Canadian so he’d definitely a catcher.

        • Randomgamerdude
          Randomgamerdude says:
          March 17, 2011 at 8:06 pm #

          If he’s Canadian maybe he’s a goalie?

  9. DougChe
    DougChe says:
    March 17, 2011 at 11:47 pm #

    Wait the Japan one was a DUDE?!

    • Kyono
      Kyono says:
      March 18, 2011 at 3:36 pm #

      You mean Dood. Get it right dood.

      • Soap
        Soap says:
        March 18, 2011 at 6:51 pm #

        “catcher” is slang for a gay bottom/submissive/lady-man etc (real gays will tell you its not so simple, but this is just a stereotype, so being accurate isnt that necessary)

  10. thePuppetGeno
    thePuppetGeno says:
    March 19, 2011 at 12:08 am #

    In my experience, I’ve found more pitchers to be of the androgenous, and more catches to be masculine. Which sucks for me~ ho ho ho

  11. Anon
    Anon says:
    March 19, 2011 at 11:41 am #

    Swap to a pipe and suddenly Popeye.