Monday, April 12, 2010

Helpless Hero

They are strong and can kick some serious butt. They may have some of the best and most interesting attacks/abilities seen from the other side of the screen and are enjoyable to watch. Still there is always something about them that makes them second banana to the other characters. May it be their emotions or their personality. Sometimes it just out of that person's control. Either way they tend to be saved by the main hero. It is possible for them to play the hero but tend to let you down. They are...

*The Helpless Hero!
There are a lot of things I can say about the Helpless Hero. So much rage I have for them but also so much love too. They are really a double edge sword.

To begin with, the Helpless Hero isn't something that is subjected to women alone in anime. It can be used to describe men and women in different anime series. It just that Helpless Hero is something noticeable in shonen animes. It is one of the most obvious things in anime too since they tend to be characters that you like but always ending up disappointing you in fights or something. Well that is how it is for me at least. I always end up liking these characters (and they tend to be the female leads too) and how awesome their fighting style is. Then when they get some fighting screentime, they seem so to be not as strong as they were made out to be early in the series.

The problem with Helpless Heroes is that they seem overhyped in the beginning of the series. You can see the potential in them as they display their abilities but once they get in a fight you see they can't really do it on their own. They have somebody there either helping them out. Even worse they get stuck fighting somebody who is clearly just there for comedic value. Sakura (Naruto) is a good example of the first case that I bring up.

Sorry, didn't felt like watching Naruto on Crunchyroll to get a recent screenshot of her

There is so much right with Sakura that makes me so upset. I think that she is just one reason why I dropped Naruto or don't stay up to date with the anime. (That means I don't watch the anime as much as I should so I could be wrong with recent events.) The thing is that this girl is actually (physically) strong to where she even scare grown adults that are higher ranked ninjas and is smart but she just gets pushed to the side like a minor character. The worse part is that she even got a second chance during the second half of the series to be an awesome stand alone character and even then failed to be one.

I remember watching the second episode of Naruto Shippuden and seeing Sakura fighting against Kakashi, The girl was actually giving the guy a run for his money and Kakashi even commented on how similar she was to Lady Tsunade. Then later on in the series you see her struggling in a fight. The girl has great brains on her and has the guns (more like fist) to provide beatings with but it just not happening.

Rukia (Bleach) is another good example of this.

Quick summary: Rukia meets Ichigo and gets injure. She is forced to stay on the sidelines and watch Ichigo do her job and provides some help. Eventually she recovers and you get to see her in action with her Zanpakuto. Rukia looks powerful using it then gets smacked around. Ichigo comes in and saves her. Rinse and repeat the second to last sentance.

Rukia follows the same thing as Sakura too. You go though the first part of Bleach waiting to see how awesome she is in battle. You see it and then get disappointed.  Like Sakura, she has the guns but nothing is really happening.

Enough talking (was I doing that?) about two of the 'Big Three'. How about an example of the comedic Helpless Hero, Lucy (Fairy Tail).

I really like Lucy. This girl is maybe the main reason why I watch Fairy Tail because she has a cool power and is smart. Heck, she is the first character you seen when you watch Fairy Tail so that makes me like her more. Her design is the stereotype girl in anime (big boobs). Overall I like her. The girl has spunk and stuff to show which is good for the female lead in this show.

Still what happens to her in Fairy Tail? She gets played as mostly comic relief in the show and in battles. Lucy ends up fighting characters that really seem like a joke and it is just painful to watch. The girl has her moments but really it just feels like they stick her in a battle to get a laugh and wait till Natsu to do something.

So whats the problem with Helpless Heroes?
"That seems to be the trend in Shonen. They need girls in the series but it doesn't mean they'll be very good at anything."
-Jennifer M.
That could be the problem for female Helpless Heroes in shonen animes. The writer just looks at his cast and says, "I need a girl here. Hmm...Well how about this? Ta-da! Now this cast is diverse!"

This seems to be happening a lot in recent shonen series too when you think about it. Women didn't really play a role in older shonen series. Now they are as a lead but most of the time come out to disappoint you. Maybe I am watching the wrong series? Maybe there are female leads  that won't disappoint me. Maybe I am just over thinking this a bit too much. Still I just know that the three that I mention so far all have cool powers, they are smart but always end up getting the short end of the stick when it comes to battles and storyline.

The reason why these ladies fall into the Helpless Hero category is clearly because of the writer. There is some blame to share with the personality of some of these characters like Lucy but for characters like Sakura and Rukia it is all the writer. Maybe it is because manga artists don't know what to do with  these characters or they just want the main hero to share all the glory. Maybe both but still why must you give such cool powers to these characters? It is a pain for the reader to see so much potential in these characters go to waste when we know they can be of good use. So this goes out to you Kubo Tite (Bleach), Hiro Mashima (Fairy  Tail), Masashi Kishimoto (Naruto) and all those other manga artists who seem to make shonen Helpless Heroes (because I know they are so reading this blog haha). Either stop making female Helpless Heroes or learn how to make good use of your characters! It is giving a bad name to girls (and boys) all over the place.

Okay, I am done ranting now...Thoughts?

*I am not sure if Helpless Hero is an actual character type. It just a name my friend and I came up with for these types of people. 


  1. I think it's rather frustrating to see the potential of the abovementioned girls being underdeveloped. It's like there are much more that they can do but they just seem not to be showing their best of abilities. For example, Sakura had proved herself to be much more capable than she's portrayed to be in the Gaara Retrieval Arc. In a way, it's disappointing to see that while they are quite capable on their own, at the end of the day they don't
    really help much. Haha.

  2. @Lisa-chan

    Yeah. That is the worse part. Sakura has so much to offer as a character yet they don't use it. It was like what was the point of her training with Lady Tsunade? So she can just look good? You think for the main female lead that she would do more.

  3. Sakura is a horrible character in my opinion. She starts out as a booksmart girl with no practical knowledge, nor the attitude to pull it off.
    In Shippuden she has got attitude and more than enough power to make good on any threats. In fact, that's the problem. She's still extremely booksmart, but now she's edging her way to Hokage-level in practical application of it. It's just not possible to involve her in a fight and still write a story about another character from the same age group.
    Sakura is over-powered, and the writer doesn't know how to handle it. Who knows how long it is before she too can defeat Naruto with only one finger... /rant

    I'd say the group is generally called "Side-kicks". They are just there to give the Main character someone to talk to. A useful side-kick might be able to save a less important person from the enemy; but if a really important one needs help, the Main will have to pick up the slack.

    I'm glad I'm not the only one to *facepalm* when I heard Rukia's ranking. The fella from 9th, he healed the people when they first broke into Soul Society (Ichigo fought Kenpachi etc.), is higher ranked within his division, if memory serves.