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Tropin’ About – Thoughts on Honest Idiots

Stilts Out Loud   009   Crop Baka King

A wild Idiot King has appeared!

And we’re back with the next edition of Stilts Out Loud! *the crowd cheers as fireworks burst overhead* First, let me apologize for my recent lack of updates. I nearly burned myself out writing my ridiculously comprehensive Kyoukai Senjou no Horizon retrospective (Part 1, Part 2), so once that was finished I thought it’d be smart to take it easy for a while. Fortunately, this season’s crop of ridiculous[ly awesome] anime – not to mention a pint of delicious beer or two1 – have completely rejuvenated my blogger’s spirit! *punches the air excitedly!* Now I can finally get back to doing what I do best – talking about random nonsense with wholly unwarranted enthusiasm. I know you’re excited.

On this week’s agenda is the second installment of my Emerging Trends series. That said, as you may have surmised by this post’s title, I’m not calling it that anymore. Why? Because I can only take people informing me that a trend isn’t really emerging anymore (trope!) so many times before it drives me to drinking (more than usual). Thus, from here on out I’ll be grouping these posts under the title Tropin’ About, because that’s what I meant by “trends” anyway.

By the way, a quick note: when I say the word “trope,” I mean it in a very broad sense – tropes aren’t just clichés, but any broadly identifiable storytelling device. Like it or not, there are recognizable patterns in much of the fiction we enjoy, and I’m exactly the kind of weirdo who likes to pick them out, hold them up to a magnifying glass, and then yak on about them for a thousand words or more. So let’s do that, shall we?

Stilts Out Loud   009   Crop Random

I may talk a lot, but not as much as they do.

This week I want to talk about a character type that we’ve all seen countless times, and one which I’ve had a tumultuous history with. TV Tropes calls this type of character an Idiot Hero, though I prefer another term for them – Honest Idiots. You know the type – characters who are kind-hearted, hard-working, loyal, and probably nice to a fault, but who get a bit confused when the plot exposition starts, and for who the phrase “But what should I do?” is never far from their lips. These are the characters who would never engage in any kind of subterfuge, even though they would have no idea what that word means.

You see, I recently realized that in quite a number of the shows I have covered here at RandomC, I have found myself praising these honest idiots. Toori is the most obvious candidate, though there was also Issei, Shizu, and of course Madoka. Yet, it was while I was writing my aforementioned Kyoukaisen retrospectives that I realized how much my views on this character type had changed. I remember the moment, it was during episode three when Myriam held out her hand to Azuma and said “Do you know who I admire? People who are dense, but earnest.” It was at that moment that I consciously realized that I did too.

Stilts Out Loud   009   Crop Not That Much

But she doesn’t like them that much, Azuma. Not yet, at any rate.

This was not always the case. Once upon a time, any character who wasn’t both smart and highly logical (or at least tried to be) was met with nothing but scorn from me. Part of this was undoubtedly because I thought then (and still do now) that logic is a wonderful tool for navigating life’s challenges, though I now realize it was also probably because I was a pretentious little brat who hadn’t yet realized he wasn’t nearly as clever as he thought he was. Yet even so, that’s where I started – not-so-intelligent characters were objects of derision, while smart, sarcastic cynics were the heroes in my eyes.

Yet, eventually I came to a realization – and this is one I’ll write about in great deal eventually, though that might require a full-blown manifesto, so I’ll hold off for now – which changed my opinion of these characters, among a great many other things. This was my realization: reality in fiction is overrated. I realized that the thing that annoyed me about honest idiots was not that they were rather dense, but the fact that their style of haphazard decision-making doesn’t work well in real life! I felt it was silly to root for a hero who, if you asked them to sit down and write an essay or take the SAT, they would fail so spectacularly that their pencil would burst into flames as soon as it touched the paper.

Stilts Out Loud   009   Crop Not Realistic

Realistic? No. Friggin’ awesome? Hell yes.

But so what? Fiction isn’t about unfailingly reproducing reality, or there would be far less reason to read / watch / listen to it. Perhaps it’s true that honest idiots would be eaten alive in the real world, where hyper-intelligent human sharks are running around ruthlessly gobbling up all the good jobs and filling up the best schools. But, I repeat, so what? The worlds these characters live in are not reality. And that’s the point! Fiction is about transporting us to interesting worlds and exposing us to fascinating stories, and in doing so letting us experience things that are not possible – or at least not likely, or perhaps safe – in real life. They might not be realistic, but I’ve come to love the worlds where honest idiots can become heroes. Next to the confusing, messy tumult of our everyday lives, it’s nice to step into a world where their straightforward kindness and simple determination are rewarded rather than punished. Would that we had more of that in our own world.

Oh, and there’s one other thing I’ve come to admire about honest idiots – they try. While a smart cynic might avoid tackling an enemy that they don’t think they can beat, an honest idiot will charge ahead anyway, simply because it’s the right thing to do. Sure, that should rightfully end in their horrific deaths, but I already said that reality in fiction is overrated, right? Compared to what I see everyday in real life, it’s nice to see characters who do what they think is right no matter the consequences. It’s nice to be reminded that those feelings still exist, even if only in the land of stories and dreams.

She may not know what she’s doing, but she’ll always try. Always.

Nowadays, many of my favorite heroes are honest idiots. I already mentioned some earlier, but Rinne no Lagrange’s Madoka deserves special mention because it was her dense honesty that inspired me to write this post. From never-ending shounen (One Piece, Fairy Tail) to harems (Love Hina, Infinite Stratos) to adventures (Slayers) to comedies (Baka to Test, Ben-to) to whatever Great Teacher Onizuka was, I find myself enjoying the exploits of characters who are used to getting 50′s on their tests and who get confused by big words more and more every season. That’s not to say that I dislike those smarty-pants characters I used to favor – I still respect that they try to logically work through their problems, so long as they keep their cynicism in check – but they now have to share the center stage with their less mentally adroit colleagues. Which probably annoys them to no end, but ah well.

Anyway, let me stop yakking and kick it back to you, my dear readers. Honest idiots, those simple, straightforward heroes who always do the right thing, even if it’s not the smart thing – do you love them or hate them? Let’s go to the comments below! By the way, I encourage both those who agree and those who disagree to join the conversation. I would love to hear from those of you who dislike these characters, especially if your reasons for doing so are different from the ones I used to hold. A lively discussion in the comments makes these posts so much more fun to write! Also, as usual if you have any ideas for future topics, you can email them to me at StiltsOutLoud@gmail.com, or send them to me via twitter at @StiltsOutLoud. Until next time, ja ne~

Let’s end with the other Idiot King, emphasis on the “idiot.”

_________________________

1 One or two while writing this post. There maaaaay have been others 自o(^_^ )[Back]

July 26, 2012 at 12:47 am
57 comments »
  • July 26, 2012 at 1:04 amCybersteel

    Idiots are good for the brain. You of all people must know that :}

    Prefer them MC’s ecchi idiots but with a heart of gold.

    • July 26, 2012 at 2:57 amCarVac

      Surely you can only be referring to Sakurai Tomoki.

      • July 26, 2012 at 3:20 pmCybersteel

        Baaazing! The guy doesn’t even fight but yet he’s so cool in every single fight scene.

      • July 26, 2012 at 6:36 pmCarVac

        He does fight, just with his… lightning crotch. ahem.

      • July 27, 2012 at 9:23 amRagefat

        Man, I crack up so much with the manga. XD

      • July 28, 2012 at 1:45 pmewok40k

        Tomoki is hidden genius – who else can construct a steampunk periscope system to be able peep in every corner of the town?

  • July 26, 2012 at 1:38 amZanibas

    There are two types of anime idiots that often come up:

    1) The idiot that appears in a pure comedy. Typically these idiots are the real deal, the 100% authentic, solely because the comedy runs from their endless energy. Examples include Joshiraku’s idiot, Azumanga Daioh’s idiot, Lucky Star’s idiot, and of course…School Day’s idiot. *ba dum tssh* Occasionally, there will be an idiot that’s so lucky they become unintentionally wise, but often that’s a once-in-a-show gag.

    Misao and Meatballs

    Osaka The Genius

    2) The idiot that appears in any other genre, and any non-pure comedy (rom com, drama com, etc.). These are actually idiots that pretend, hiding their true wealth of wisdom, ability, and knowledge underneath. They always will do something that only is possible in this art medium, like Stilts says. If they’re the main character, these idiots will charge into a seemingly impossible scenario, and fate will plot armor the hell out of them. Not that that’s a bad thing, but no one wants a goodhearted idiot to die :P. Examples include…too many to count.

    [It's harder to find clips of idiots being serious, especially without spoilers]

    As for whether I hate them or love them, it depends. If they’re the main idiot in a rom com that effortlessly puts on their plot armor and sweeps away all the girls, then I have my hesitations on them. The more justified their earned affections, the better I like them. Otherwise, if their purpose is to be the comedic gold that they are, I love them to death.

    Btw, Stilts, I see your Joshiraku pic, and I know you don’t like the show, but you cannot deny this idiocy can loop forever!

    Have fun!

    • July 26, 2012 at 6:01 pmZhinvu

      Nice one there referencing Azumanga Daioh. Though personally I really can’t call Osaka a total idiot. She’s that little missing link that’s hard to put in just one trope…and I totally like Osaka for it. Just my two cents.

      • July 26, 2012 at 7:46 pmZanibas

        If you notice in the clip, there is more than one idiot in the world of Azumanga Daioh :3.

      • July 28, 2012 at 9:19 amkylone

        Osaka: Cloudcuckoolander

    • July 26, 2012 at 10:33 pmStilts

      I don’t know that I agree fully with your second point. Neither do all Idiot Heroes in non-pure comedies secretly hiding their competency (trope!), nor are they saved only by plot armor. Take Natsu of Fairy Tail. He’s not hiding his simple, straight-forward denseness in the least, and he certainly charges into fights that he has no right expecting to win, but he generally prevails through his own skills. In that case, he’s an honest idiot, but also a competent idiot. Those two things need not be mutually exclusive.

      As for Joshiraku, I watched the second episode like you suggested, but it still didn’t hook him. That OP and ED, though…subara!

    • July 26, 2012 at 10:58 pmZhinvu

      Got a point there. I forgot Osaka was 1/3 of the Bonklers. But definitely no one can forget Azumanga’s resident loose cannon Tomo.

  • July 26, 2012 at 2:23 amCroos

    Mx0 protag?

    • July 26, 2012 at 7:25 amKaris

      And this isn’t even animated; wish I can watch and chuckle at Taiga’s struggle and his interactions with Lucy.

  • July 26, 2012 at 2:45 amewok40k

    I find “Idiot heroes” usually amusing, but not to the extent to get to like them more over smart ones. The reason may be myself I usually ended on the “high grades, low social activity” end of scale, but using your brains once in a while makes often for spectacular pwnage of otherwise formidable enemies.
    case A:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQ116EVYVP4 Balalaika at her best
    case B:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K-3FOeBXDHA Rock becomes useful for the first time
    Then, of course there are more (mad scientist Hoouin Kyouma!) or less (Vash the Stampede, anyone?) obvious cases of OBFUSCATING STUPIDITY (hey were TROPERIFIC here…)
    One particular scheme that I’m finding working great, is smart/dumb heroes pairing working to great comedic effect with Slayers (Lina/Gourry) or Soul Eater (Maka/Soul).

    • July 26, 2012 at 10:39 pmStilts

      There’s certainly a level of relatability in studious nerds liking the smart characters, to be sure. That’s also why I started to like honest idiots more after I got out of school, and I entered the business world where raw intellectual ability took a backseat to ruthless, corkscrew cleverness (it’s sad but true). Still, smart characters who charge forward anyway can be some of the best – just like I said to Zanibas above, there’s no reason those traits have to be mutually exclusive.

      I definitely like the stupid/smart duos, though. Both Soul Eater and Slayers are awesome! +10 Stilts points for bringing them up ^^

  • July 26, 2012 at 2:52 amc2710

    When it comes to the idiocy of characters, it can be a hit or miss. Thus far, its either one of it or both at the same time. Off hand I can’t recall any but there is one thing that I’d like to say bout Kyono Madoka.

    I won’t consider her as an Honest idiot. But more of person who won’t resist saying no when anyone requests for help. True she has the habit of going in with guns blazing or completely clueless or even the innocent virgin (http://www.1999.co.jp/eng/m/item.aspx?it_c=10193219) who might fall for the guy… No wait… I mean girl that’s exceptionally nice to her (like a certain girl we all know > http://randomc.net/image/Bakemonogatari/Bakemonogatari%20-%2005%20-%20Large%2035.jpg).Madoka certainly knows what she does.

    But there is one “idiot” that I can’t tolerate. That’s hirasawa yui and characts from nichijou and azumanga. Their idiocy levels are of supremely epic proportions…

  • July 26, 2012 at 4:45 amLightnDark

    Meh, in my opinion there isn’t any love/hate going for these kind of characters simply because they are just works of fiction.

    As you’ve noted, anime and especially romcom/harem with leads like these aren’t meant to reproduce reality, although I never really understood exactly why the authors opt for such a trait in their character.

    On the contrary, I believe that sometimes certain anime strive achieve the opposite – to be as absurd as possible, while maintaining the “it can happen in reality but chances of it happening is 0.0001%” kinda deal. Why? Everyone has their fantasies and to see it animated is probably the closest thing we’ll get to reality, hence the birth of the “dumb but honest character who gets everything right in life”.

    “If it ain’t broken don’t fix it” comes to mind here, since it (using dense characters) has worked in the past, it can and will continue to work, unless some drastic shift happens in the anime. Without fail every season there will always be characters like these, they’re a mainstay when it comes to character types along with the classic tsunderes, etc.

    Back to the original question: Personally I don’t like or dislike watching these types of characters, because while we all like to see realism in anime, it simply isn’t going to happen all the time. I generally take characters like these with a pinch of salt, accept and enjoy the anime for what it is, not what you want it to be.

    Zanibas had an excellent point, in the generic rom/com/harem-esque shows they can be slightly more jarring to watch compared to shows that aren’t, although it still depends on a case by case basis. Let us not forget these are just fiction so there isn’t any point in “hating” a dense character, or any characters for that matter. Why so serious?

    These honest idiots do have one thing going for them, since they are usually brain-dead in whatever they do, us viewers can also follow suit and watch them in a “brain-dead” like manner, whereas other shows/characters have complex plot/hidden meanings and require some thought. In order words: Some people like to watch anime as a form of enjoyment and not to put on their thinking caps and these is where the honest idiots come into the picture.

    At the end of the day, I would rather see more “intelligent” leads appear, or the opposite of these “honest idiots” for one simple reason – the former is underused and the latter way overused and we need some form of balance here :)

    • July 26, 2012 at 10:43 pmStilts

      It is certainly refreshing when you see, say a harem lead who is actually a pretty smart guy. One of my favorite examples of that is Teppei from Princess Lover. I probably liked that show more for having an awesome, honorable, and smart harem lead than anything else!

  • July 26, 2012 at 5:20 amZoboCamel

    I was about to write a long comment on this, but then I read what Zanibas wrote, and… well, it’s pretty much exactly what I was going to say. Essentially, I love the idiot characters in pure comedies – in particular, Osaka comes to mind – but not so much in other genres. The main thing, I think, is that they interfere with the drama, and – if I’m looking for decent plot – that can kind of sour my experiences of a show.

    Now, that’s not to say that I ALWAYS hate idiot characters outside of pure comedies – Tamaki, I think, was brilliant, and he was in a rom-com. But when I’m looking for plot, and I see potentially great moments wrecked just to have an idiot character repeat a recurring joke (Tomoki’s pantsu-obsession killing the tension of the story, for example, or Natsu’s motion-sickness sticking out like a sore thumb in the middle of a serious fight scene), I just get kind of annoyed.

    Going on from what LightnDark said, I’d also like to see more ‘intelligent’ protagonists in anime. Now, they doesn’t necessarily have to be academic or scientific geniuses (although some more KYOUMA could never hurt), but it’d at least be nice to see a harem lead who’s capable of rational thought for once (Tomoya works as an example here, I think). I guess it just comes down to ease of writing – I’m no author, but it seems logical to assume that it’d be easier to write ‘He’s stupid, so he just rushes into the battle’ than ‘The intelligent protagonist thinks of an in-depth plan.’

    Please don’t kill me if I’ve complained about any characters you like – I’m well aware that my opinions are simply that. I’m simply stating what I’d like to see more of.

    …You know, in retrospect, this ending up being quite a long comment after all. Oh well.

    • July 26, 2012 at 10:45 pmStilts

      I’m quite fond of both Tomoki and Natsu, and those traits never bothered me, but as I said, I wanted to hear from people who partially (or even fully) disagreed. So, thank you for your comment!

  • July 26, 2012 at 5:53 ambakakubi

    “to whatever Great Teacher Onizuka was”

    This part just destroyed me, lol. Honestly, how does one categorize GTO correctly, if that’s even possible.

    On to your question, I LOVE the honest idiot. Honestly I think my personality’s quite similar to them and watch them as throughout the years have turned me to the person I am today (of course there were other factors as well, not just anime :P ). They embody so much of what I believe in, even though quite a lot of things they do or attempt to do will probably destroy me in real life. But it’s fiction, so who cares! :-D

  • July 26, 2012 at 6:23 amAnanas

    Most shonen MC.

  • July 26, 2012 at 6:26 amSeishun Otoko

    I knew this was going to be a fun read when I saw Tamaki at the front page. I have to point out though, Madoka wins hands down as the best baka lead. Genki honest idiot + Moe + Yuri + GARRR + Ishihara Kaori = WIN WIN WIN!
    I have a soft spot for honest idiots too and you’re right, fiction and animes in particular are amusing because they contrast really well with reality and sometimes we just need catch a break from shits happening IRL. Oh and did I mention how awesome Madoka is? ;)

    • July 26, 2012 at 10:46 pmStilts

      You did, and I must agree. Oh Madoka-sama, would that I were half as awesome as thee…!

  • July 26, 2012 at 7:07 amfragb85

    It all comes to one thing: craft. Even Idiot Heroes need a certain craft to make them watchable. You have to LIKE them. Madoka is a great example. I hear a lot of detractors say she’s a dumbass. The truth is she’s a lot more complex than that otherwise I wouldn’t appreciate every time she’s onscreen.

    That’s the thing with any character archetype. Its not about how cliche it is, its about how to make it interesting.

  • July 26, 2012 at 7:47 amKJacket

    For sure there are different types of idiots but it also depends on so many other factors so love hate or neutral is all possible.

  • July 26, 2012 at 8:03 amJimhawk

    The thing I find most appealing about honest idiots is that they are exaggerated reflections of ourselves. I’m not a full-blown idiot by any means, but I certainly do some things every once in a while that make me facepalm myself once hindsight sets in. Idiot heroes are what happen when writers take those moments and say, “What if someone was like this all day long?” The result is a character who inspires a mixture of laughter and exasperation in the viewer. Don’t we all feel the same about our own silliness? At the end of the day, these characters are, as you said, completely fictional since they wouldn’t be able to function in society, but their basis on human tendencies helps me empathize with them. It is for this reason that I’ve always loved idiot characters.

    On a good day, I’m Keima, on an average day, I’m Kyon, but every once in a while, I do something foolish like Kagami or even the aforementioned Akihisa, reminding me that it’s okay to be stupid sometimes and to just get a laugh out of it!

    • July 26, 2012 at 10:49 pmStilts

      you remind me of one of my favorite sayings: “80% of the human race is filled with %^#$in’ idiots, and who fits into that 80% changes by the minute.” Like you, I’m under no illusion that I don’t spend a healthy amount of time in that 80% (and that percentage might be a bit high, but what’s life without a little fun exaggeration? :D), so it’s fun to see some of my own occasional idiocy reflected in the characters I watch. It reminds me that it’s okay to be a baka sometimes ^^

  • July 26, 2012 at 8:05 amcaramel_cod

    I’m a bit sick of them, honestly. I don’t want my heroes to “always do the right thing” and “never give up no matter what,” because good characters always have problematic flaws.
    If you want to do an idiot protagonist effectively, you have to make certain that their idiocy does in fact end in tragedy once or twice, with the ultimate effect of such experiences being a more mature character.

    • July 26, 2012 at 10:52 pmStilts

      I can agree with that, with one caveat: it depends on the tone of the series. With a Fairy Tail, while the characters certainly do learn and grow over time, most of the charm is in the carefree, charge-forward-for-our-nakama spirit that Fairy Tail (the guild) embodies. However, for something like Rinne no Lagrange, whose tone is rarely silly (though it is funny) and is frequently dramatic, you’re completely right.

      Yes, I love using Madoka-sama as an example. She rocks! (maru~)

  • July 26, 2012 at 9:27 amsaviourshadow

    though i dun really like the way u put it but wateva…………

  • July 26, 2012 at 9:39 amClick

    While I tend to eschew terms like idiot hero and tsundere for being completely inadequate terms of character analysis, I do recognize them as a mold for characters in the anime industry. The problem with these character molds, especially with the two that I mentioned, is that they tend to confine a character to a singular mindset and keep them as two dimensional cardboard cutouts. If there is no effort made to break out of their respective molds, this is especially bad. There are no unique outcomes for that character’s actions and that unique result is what makes a character not only human, but different and unique. The actions specific to that character will define and make him, him.

    While character traits aimed at widespread appeal (sexy, bad ass, funny, dorky, sardonic) are hardly ever bad since accessibility is not only smart for sales but good for bringing in an audience which wouldn’t be normally interested in a premise. Widespread appeal traits hardly do not entertain certain groups of viewers. However, having characters who are either empathetic, sympathetic, enigmatic, respectable, or an embodiment of an ideal is much more important than having characters who are physically perfect or cool. While the former traits listed are indeed positive and can give a character some personality, those latter characteristics listed are ultimately what will mark him as human.

    • July 26, 2012 at 10:54 pmStilts

      In my eyes, that’s not the trope’s fault, but rather a misuse of them. I’ve seen plenty of cardboard cut out tsunderes and idiot heroes, to be sure, but also plenty that were complex characters. You’re right; if a writer gives them that single character attribute and stops, the character will be shit. If, however, it is one among many, then these can be very powerful tools to help make an entertaining character.

      • July 27, 2012 at 12:46 amClick

        I’m mostly in agreement, but there are some extra things I’d like to throw in. What a lot of people tend to forget about secondary character traits (especially Moé) is that those traits in particular aren’t bad; they’re actually quite positive. Widespread appeal and accessibility, while never truly necessary, are hardly ever bad and there’s really no way around that. However, a character’s actual depth, characterization, and interactions are far more important, since those are what will ultimately set a character apart from the rest. A characters with only widespread appeal aren’t characters; they’re props.

        Also, while this is sort of on the personal side, I do believe that categorizing characters characters into personality based tropes is a really shitty and lazy character analysis. It’s a lot like you said; there are many characters who have personalities independent of the tropes they belong to. Personality based tropes like the idiot hero are notably different from tropes derived from physical appearance such as the loli since they denote and imply a set behavior for the character. I find it especially brutal to categorize well-written characters, a good example being Tsukishima Aoba, an entirely three dimensional character, of the wonderful Cross Game being thrown into the tsundere bin.

        Then again, I guess we also have characters like Orimura Ichika, who has the personality and awareness of a baked potato and fits the trope to a T. When a character’s mental capacity is just exploited for the sake of getting them a harem or creating cheap, shitty conflict within a character dynamic it’s hard to watch (and this is coming from a guy who used to think that Infinite Stratos was the greatest shit ever). They’re different from an idiot like Kamina who, while larger-than-life and sometimes hilariously moronic, is ultimately entirely human, admirable, and completely empathetic.

  • July 26, 2012 at 11:32 amkumakaori

    Characters like Tamaki, Madoka, and Akihisa stand on their own. But, what really makes the idiot hero shine, for me, is their tsukkomi. Their best bud who will smack ‘em and force their head back straight after one too many crazy ideas. The rest of the host club for Tamaki, Lan (somewhat) for Madoka, and … … oh forget it, they’re all Idiots in Baka Test orz.

    (Stepping into Nichijou.) Sakamoto to Hakase’s antics. Mai, Mio, and Yuuko… bluh. I don’t remember who is who X3;. *one visit to the website later* The main reason I preferred the Shinonome household, was there was Not. Enough. Tsukkomi. against Yuuko and Mai’s antics =A=. Mio provided a little, but Nano and Sakamoto ftw~ ~w~…

    (Stepping into Saki.)Nodoka to Taco’s antics, Mako to Hisa’s, .. ok i’m certainly getting off track, but all the players that actually freaking knew how to play and didn’t rely on some hax, broken, gimmick <<;. Tsuruga's Kanbaru, Kazekoshi's Captain (ok she still had a gimmick, but she was still incredibly good, and not gimmicky.) Kiyosumi's Nodoka (Digital gimmick is least gimmicky <<… I think y'all are about to revoke my Logic card ^^;;.) Where was I?…
    *sigh* who knows, moving on to Achiga, Shizu is clearly our headstrong idiot, and I guess, Ako would be her level headed friend. Hard to say much about Achiga, Senriyama stole the show for me ;p.

    Heh, perhaps I've spawned another topic for Stilts to cover ;p. Those level headed friends who keep the headstrong idiots in check ;).

    • July 26, 2012 at 8:50 pmkumakaori

      blast and dammit Kajiki not Kanbara <<;. I always get them mixed up =3=. it's not just in the anime, they've got me swappin' them too T^T;;.

    • July 26, 2012 at 10:57 pmStilts

      Stealing that for my topics folder… ^^

      But yeah, you’re absolutely right. A great example for me is Yuuji from Baka to Test. Sure, he’s an idiot too in his own way, but compared to Akihisa he’s certainly the smarter of the two. It’s in their interaction, in them playing off one another – and the two of them playing off the rest of the cast – that magic is made.

      When are we getting that next season again? :3

      • July 27, 2012 at 1:17 amNeo

        I agree with you. I like the time when Yuuji tap Akihisa shoulder(or vice versa) and the scene change into black and white. Everytime they do it hilarity ensue.

        If they make season 3 i would like to see sports festival arc Show Spoiler ▼

  • July 26, 2012 at 11:52 amYukie

    “They might not be realistic, but I’ve come to love the worlds where honest idiots can become heroes. Next to the confusing, messy tumult of our everyday lives, it’s nice to step into a world where their straightforward kindness and simple determination are rewarded rather than punished. Would that we had more of that in our own world.”

    Interesting..now I think I know why I love shounen jump titles so much.

    • July 26, 2012 at 10:59 pmStilts

      I’m glad to have helped!

  • July 26, 2012 at 12:10 pmSteelman

    Great post. There are many things that come to mind, but I will focus on just one point.

    I do not think that Toori incarnates the principles of an idiot hero.

    Sure, he might not be brightest out of the bunch, nor the best orator, nor the best fighter, nor the best negotiator. But he doesn’t need to be. He is a leader, and he shows over and over that he has the qualities to be such:

    - Toori knows his people. Ever noticed that when he needs to pick somebody, he always seems to select the best person for the job? He recognizes talent and is not afraid to delegate. This is what a leader does, and it is in straight contrast to the traditional idiot hero (Madoka is the best example in your set), who charges into the fray trying to solve the issue by herself. Not only that, but during his dialogue with Horizon in Ep 11, Toori clearly shows phycological insight.

    - Toori supports his people. He picked the best support ability possible. He is not afraid to defend them (see the debate in Season 1).

    - Toori knows how to motivate people. The end of episode 9 is probably the best example (and personally, one of the best scenes in anime history).

    I’d like to expand more on the last point. I remember watching Episode 9 of Horizon and comparing it to “banquet of kings” in F/Z. Who’s the best king out of the bunch? I recall people praising Iskander, but I would content that Toori is actually a better king. Iskander leads by having people embrace his dream – but this is a finicky proposition, as best shown in Berserk. In what is perhaps the most poignant scene in the manga and anime, Griffith explains to princess Charlotte that his companions are not friends to him – because a true friend would never abandon his dream to embrace Griffith’s. Show Spoiler ▼

    But that’s not the case with Toori; Class 3-Plum doesn’t follow him because he wants to get the girl – they follow him because his dream incarnates the will of the people, the desire to build a country where everybody can be happy. That’s what a king really his: a symbol and focus of the unity of intent of the country. People don’t need to give up their dreams – the king represents them.

    Summary: Toori is far from an idiot hero. To me he is the best example of Royals Who Actually Do Something, where that something is the right thing to do – not fight, but lead.

    • July 26, 2012 at 11:03 pmStilts

      I still think he’s an idiot hero, but that doesn’t make him stupid exactly. The fact that he is secretly quite competent (regardless of whether he hides this on purpose, or whether it’s just in his nature to act silly) doesn’t make a lot of his actions any less stupid. Take prematurely charging towards the Testament Union forces in Season One, or when he asks Musashi-sama what he should do in episode two of this season. He still does stupid stuff…but yes, he’s not a complete bonehead by any means.

      You’re definitely right that Madoka is a better example though!

  • July 26, 2012 at 2:49 pmMmrph

    I LOVE HONEST IDIOTS. I don’t know why, I just do. When I started reading this, I immediately thought of Finny from Black Butler.

  • July 26, 2012 at 5:27 pmMelissa

    I love idiot heros and heroines besides I would rather have a character who is “average but enjoyable” rather than a character who is “strong but forgettable”. An example of this would be nanoha who to me isn’t a very compelling character because she never doubted herself, got discouraged or felt helpless things that wuold made her a much more rounded character instead of being overconfident where a’s characters like Sakura kinomoto and madoka kaname where very rounded because they felt those things.

  • July 26, 2012 at 5:32 pmcatalyst

    “to whatever Great Teacher Onizuka was”
    I believe it falls under the genre of “F#$%ing Awesome.”

    Recently, I too have enjoyed Idiot Heroes, like Issei from DxD and Haruyuki from Accel World.

    But for me, the ultimate Idiot Hero(ine) will always be Kanzaki Nao from Liar Game. She is the pinnacle of the archetype! In fact, the entire plot of the drama revolved around disproving the existence and authenticity of the Idiot Hero.

    • July 26, 2012 at 11:05 pmStilts

      Quoted for truth! They need to reanimate GTO badly. It’s the weakest of its various incarnations, and I still enjoyed the hell out of the anime. Remake plx!

      • July 27, 2012 at 12:45 amcatalyst

        I don’t know if you’re watching it already, but I highly recommend the currently airing drama remake of GTO starring Akira from EXILE. It is epic. I don’t know if it’s been fansubbed though, since I watch it raw.

  • July 26, 2012 at 9:37 pmBeckett

    Well, I don’t DISLIKE Honest Idiots, unless they have a really annoying personality. But overall I still tend to like the smart characters more for the simple reason that I don’t care for entertainment media that makes stupidity look like a virtue. The Honest Idiots have other traits that actually are virtuous (usually) so they get something of a pass but this glorification of dullness is one of the main reasons I can barely watch American TV anymore, half of the shows on TV nowadays are reality shows about morons. Some examples taken from shows that have been mentioned already: Bakatest, I liked Shouko more than the main characters; Great Teacher Onizuka, Urumi was my favorite character; Azumanga Daioh, I liked Yomi the most. I don’t hate stupid characters generally but I personally usually prefer the smart ones.

  • July 27, 2012 at 3:51 amColonelMiim

    Tamaki was cool when he was serios :p he was only an idiot when it came to himself!

  • July 27, 2012 at 6:04 amJello

    I don’t think it’s as much of the character classification as it is how well the character is made. Then again, how well the character CAN be made has much to do with what kind of character it’ll be. A good character needs faults. Regardless of how humankind will always strive for that image of perfection, the best characters are always those with real decisions to make and something to lose. It boils down to something similar to the eternal Batman vs Superman debate. Superman would most certainly win in a fight, but that’s why we like Batman more.

    The reality of character creation is that it’s much easier to give an “honest idiot” faults rather than the “cold genius”. When people watch an honest idiot the balance between honesty and stupidity falls right in line with making a like-able character people can relate to. Making a cold genius isn’t so easy. The issue is the cold genius type doesn’t excel in his environment and please viewers by having faults. It’s exactly the other way around; the cold genius type excels from being the closest to perfect as humanly imaginable. Faults and the cold genius archetype don’t drive the same speed…heck, they don’t even drive the same way! Thus making the balance much harder to strike. When people follow the cold genius, they want to see him stake everything and then win it impressively with out-of-this-world tactics. They want to KNOW he CAN lose.

    Spoiler for opinionated ranting of some series, which is not everyone’s cup of tea. ;)
    Show Spoiler ▼

    I guess this turned to ranting real quickly, but I wanted to do the cold genius characters some justice! Stilts! I hardly think liking the witty, smart, and logical ones has anything to do with being a “pretentious little brat” as you’d call it. I think it has more to do with the state of anime today.

    It’s just too hard of a character to get right and the money vs time vs effort mindset is only going to help shelve those characters forever :(…

    • July 27, 2012 at 12:30 pmStilts

      When I mentioned being a “pretentious little brat who hadn’t yet realized he wasn’t nearly as clever as he thought he was”, that was entirely talking about myself. I don’t think that’s true of everyone, it’s just that when I became more aware of my own failings, I became aware of the likability of these characters.

      I guess what I’m trying to say is I don’t think you’re stupid, really!!

  • July 27, 2012 at 6:21 amStyxounette

    I like idiot heroes as long as the world they live in doesn’t seem to bend so they win in the end. It’s the difference that makes Rock Lee loveable in my eyes and Naruto not so much. The idiot hero is best suited to a world without mercy because it enables him/her to mesmerize us with his ability to “kick reason to the curb” and never give up. Tamaki had an assholish grandmother, a sick mother he hadn’t seen for years, gaijin heritage, and yet he is kind, crazy and adorable. TTGL had humans fighting against mecas (ZETSUBOOO) and yet Kamina never backed down, instead he tried fighting the mecas with katanas and guns held the wrong side up. And succeeded.
    Idiot superpowered idiots on the other hand do not win my favors. When Naruto/Natsu/Ichigo is in a pinch, all he seems to do is wait for a power up (which inexplicably happens). It doesn’t have as much impact as Luffy who nearly kill himself from exhaustion everytime he’s fighting the final boss of the arc. Or when he tries eating his opponents.
    Idiot heroes are the cure against despair, and I think this is the reason we love them so much.

    • July 27, 2012 at 12:36 pmStilts

      I agree with everything you say, save that Natsu belongs in the group with Naruto and Ichigo. In my eyes, Natsu is far more similar to Luffy than the other two. Natsu doesn’t wait for a power up, but fights totally with everything he has (including using clever moves and strategies). It’s only occasionally that a power up saves him. Usually it’s his will to fight, and/or his nakama.

      (and Stereoman would agree if she reads this, if that helps!)

  • July 28, 2012 at 3:43 amThe Moondoggie

    Isn’t H.I.s usually attached with The Hero trope if H.I. = protag? All because they’re the epitome of “good” in their respective series?

  • July 28, 2012 at 8:52 amkenji

    reminded me of liar game…

  • July 28, 2012 at 1:04 pmNaYa

    Sometimes it frustrates the hell out of me when I watch them, but I just can’t hate them.
    I find myself both yelling at them but rooting for them at the same time.

    Of course, my favorite type of characters are the smart and cunning characters that plan/take care of everything in the background, be it heroes or villains.