On Being Too Attached To Fictional Characters

Kakashi

It might sound silly to some people, but I’ve seen friends and strangers alike being overly attached to fictional characters. In the context of this blog, being too attached to 2D characters from anime or manga. Maybe even games! But I seldom read or hear people complain about characters in games. I wonder why…

This thought crossed my mind every time I read or hear fans complaining about a certain tragedy that has fallen on their favorite characters. Most recently, a friend told me she was scared to read the then latest chapter (probably two weeks ago?) of Naruto because she was scared to find out what’d happened Kakashi. Apparently, our mutual friend had told her that something bad might happened to the character. I didn’t know what to say when she explained her reason. I simply kept quiet.

Luffy and Ace

On the bright side, at least she wasn’t cursing or anything about bad things (might be) happening to her favorite character. I remember when Itachi (of Naruto) and Ace (of One Piece) were killed off in their respective series a long time ago, friends expressed emotions I couldn’t quite understand. Anger towards the author, disappointments towards the series, etc. Some even stop reading/watching a series. I may be shocked or sad when certain characters were killed off, but the feelings lingered only for a short while. I’ll be lying if I say I don’t feel anything at all, but I don’t harbor negative emotions.

And then, I remember hanging out with a bunch of people a long time ago. They’re friends of friends. I sat through a heated discussion in which they were debating which character is the best. I can’t remember which series they were talking about. But the whole point is, watching them comparing their favorite characters are akin to watching parents insisting that their kids are smarter. It’s pointless because we are all entitled to our own opinions, biased to things/people we like.

If I really try, I suppose it’s understandable to a certain extent why some people gets a little emotional than necessary when bad things happen to their favorite characters. After all, it’s a character they’ve been following closely for a loooong time.

On the extreme side though, in my opinion, are diehard fans celebrating birthdays of fictional characters. I’m not saying it’s wrong or even saying that it’s weird (I’m too used to seeing things like that at this point). I just don’t understand why.

It’s just a fictional character. Is there a need to get all worked up? Or am I being heartless?

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30 thoughts on “On Being Too Attached To Fictional Characters

  1. Your not heartless people are just a tad bit crazy. Celebrating birthdays of fictional characters is kind of strange but I feel that dropping a series because your favorite character died is mental. Did nobody realize Ace in One Piece was only characterized so he could be killed. He was nothing of interest before that but the writer took the opportunity to build him up right before he met is end for dramatic effect.

    I’m certainly not heartless but often I see the killing of a character to be a good thing as it means the writer has the guts to actually tell a drama filled story. Cowboy Bebop for example would not have become so famous if it wasn’t for the way it ended.

    • I see Ace’s death as an important aspect in Luffy’s growth. It’s not to say I’m happy to see him go, but I’d say it is necessary and I’m glad it happened. I suppose the ones who will drop a series after a character dies are people who couldn’t accept the direction a story is heading. As long as it’s not as desired, they get out of it. I find it very amusing to see a person who was once a big fan started cursing at the name of the series these days…it doesn’t make any sense.

      • That’s the one thing I’ll never understand. How can you like something one minute and then turn around and hate it the next. It makes sense if you disliked it from the beginning but hating it after watching say 200 episodes is beyond me.

  2. Thats interesting. I think I there is normal attachment to characters, high attachment to characters and obsessive attachment.

    I can show high attachment to characters, when I like certain characters, of course I don’t want anything bad happen to them or that someone bullies them (kimi ni todoke). Killing off a beloved characters actually is the worst outcome in that regard. That really can make me furious and I’ll curse the whole anime. Katanagatari for example, at the point my fav character was murdered, the show was dead for me. I didn’t felt anything for the rest of the story, it was so terrible.

    The “who is best discussion” would feel a bit childish to me, everybody has their opinions and choices, it’s a discussion with no end.

    I would say It’s wrong and emberrasing to celebrate bithdays of fictional characters :p
    I mean I wouldn’t even do this for my beloved Sonico XD

    • Hmmm…that’s a good way of categorizing levels of attachment to fictional characters. I never thought of that, lol.

      Really? But at least you still continue watching Katanagatari. I guess because you’re favorite character is no longer there, which makes it less interesting to watch? Sometimes it’s easier to want to watch a series when there are somethings that we like it in there, right?

      Haha, like I said, I don’t understand why they’d celebrate birthdays of fictional characters and probably will never understand. But if they want to, so be it. =)

      • Well, I completed it, but it was no fun at all, I guess that was the worst character death for me 😦 killing a main character in the second to last episode, was too much to be accepted. all the character development and cute scenes for naught. it really killed my enjoyment.

        Thats the danger of being too attached to a character, I have nothing against a little shocking anime, but not when something is happening to the characters I like the most ^^.

        • Oh the main character died? Hmmm…that’s interesting. This is piquing my interest because it’s quite rare to have a main character killed off. The only other anime I can think off top of my head is Death Note.

  3. Yeah, no, I think you’re in the right on this one. I for one have seen quite a few displays of over-devotion towards characters like Asuna from SAO. I tend to shrug it off though. Still, there are, for lack of a better term, bounds as to how far one can consider oneself a fan, as supposed to something else entirely. Celebrating character birthdays might be a bit too much.

    There’re also cases of people over-glorifying characters, especially characters that sacrifice themselves in heroic fashion.

    • Oh yeah, over-glorifying characters. I’ve seen that too. I mean, it’s okay to say great things about fictional characters, what cool stuff they’ve done or simply why they think the characters are super cool. But to get defensive when others disagree is beyond my comprehension.

  4. I like hot anime chicks and cool dudes.., but enough to build shrines around them or buy blow-up sex dolls of them…or whatever other ejaculation items are for sale of them.

  5. Not heartless at all. I don’t care to celebrate my own birthday (which is sad, since it was three days ago) let alone a fictional character. I might jokingly say I like a character, but that is as far as I go. Its admirable to an extent to see some people can get that immersed into the material and series, yet doesn’t happen for me or alter my perception. Still able to enjoy it/dislike it all the same.

    • Happy Belated Birthday!! As for me, I’m too lazy to be bothered to take the lead in celebrating anything. Usually if there are any celebrations, I just let others decide what to do, where to go, what to eat.

      If a story of a series is likeable, whether is comedy or drama, it isn’t important who’s in it or not. If it’s fun, it’s fun. If it’s not, it’s not. Period.

    • I feel awkward too, when people are celebrating my birthday, especially when I’m totally expecting some kind of “surprises” they are spicing up, lol.

  6. I think the example you bring up with parents arguing about their kids being the best is the perfect analogy for why people get so worked up over fictional characters. Now, those characters may not belong to anyone, but people can feel attachment to them, just like a parent does to their child or a person to their pet. It’s understandable considering how much “personal” information you know about the characters. Once people get attached to things, I think it’s only natural to think that it’s superior to everything else.

    • I understand where you’re coming from, still, I can’t help but wonder if it’s necessary to get worked up over something that isn’t real.

  7. “But I seldom read or hear people complain about characters in games. I wonder why…”
    A game I recently played, the “new” Dante of DmC, had pretty much became the laughing stock of the franchise.

    But other then that, indeed, I can’t think of any others at the moment.

    I always wondered the mindset of people celebrating their favorite character’s birthday. Buying tens or even hundreds of merchandise ranging from figures, dolls, plushies, posters, etc.. all on one character is kinda weird, mental even. But dropping a show just because your favorite character is just as mad.

    I find that character’s death in a show can be quite meaningful, especially if so if it’s an important character who had important bonds with the rest of the cast, unless we are talking about psycho anime where dozens of characters die for no good reason.

    • Unfortunately, I’m not familiar with DmC. I only watched the anime before.

      Speaking of buying tons of merchandize of a character, I have a habit of only buying one figure per character. It looks too crowded if I have multiply figures of a character. I don’t have problem with others buying multiple though, lol.

      “Unless we are talking about psycho anime where dozens of characters die for no good reason” <- I don't know why, but Another popped up in my head. Not that they die for no reason. It's the curse!!! I agree with you on character's death's meaningful role in a series. Deaths like Ace's and Gurren Lagann's Kamina play vital roles in building other characters.

      • DmC (take note of the small letter “m”) is a rebooted version of DMC, with a “rebooted” Dante too. Either way, comparing the new Dante and the old Dante is like comparing a bread crust and a high-quality steak.

        I try to limit myself to one too, especially so if it’s scale figure. But I ended up getting multiple versions of some figures too anyway, Black Rock Shooter for example, I got both the nendoroid and figma version, would love the scale figure too but it’s extinct in the net now, and there’s also a problem with space, lol.

        A recent anime I watched, Hellsing Ultimate, is a true masterful anime of psychopath and bloodiness, an awesome anime to watch, especially when I need some insanity xD Indeed, death, while controversy, is definitely an important element.

        • Lol, what an analogy. I guess it’s just not up to the standards or expectations of original game’s loyal players.

          Yeaps, besides, most of the time a character will have at least one version of scale figure from multiple manufacturers, so it’ll be very hard to choose which to buy. Especially when there are different unique designs. What attracts me to buying a figure is its level of details and the dynamic of a figure. So if both present, I bet even I will have hard time to resist.

  8. I actually want to write about why people celebrate characters’ birthdays. Seeing people pull out all the stops for their birthdays just mind-boggles me. Though I was guilty of this as well at one point.

    • It’ll be great if you’d actually write about the reason why fans celebrate a character’s birthday because I think a lot of us couldn’t understand why. So, it’ll be good to read more articles written on this aspect. More perspectives might at least shed some light, providing an understanding.

  9. Pingback: When attachment to anime characters goes too far — 毎日アニメ夢

  10. You’re not being heartless, but we shouldn’t judge these people as being crazy or anything of the sort because judging others is plain ignorant. Not that I’m saying you are, but I read that first comment up there from that reader. Anyway, yes, we shouldn’t get too attached to characters because in a sense we may lose sense of reality. I think your friend who was afraid to read that Naruto chapter wasn’t too attached to Kakashi, but it does hurt when your favorites die. Not that Kakashi truly died (not at that chapter yet). It also takes either a lot or not that much time to accept it. If you’re truly curious to know why people get so obsessed with fictional characters, I think you should just ask why they’re so emotionally drawn to them. It might be due to a past experience, current social conditions, etc. Who knows.

    • You’re right, I should ask for the reason they’re being protective of/attached to their favorite characters instead of shrugging it off, wondering on my own and assuming others are just being big fans of the characters much like being fans of popular rock stars. As in, assuming they’re being a fan of certain characters solely because the characters are cool. That assumption led me to think what’s the big fuss about the death of a character or the need to defend one’s favorite character. Should I have view it from a different perspective, maybe I’d have gotten a clearer, overview picture of this situation.

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

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