What Makes a Villain...

Steven, and subsequently Shamus, are talking about anime villains.

There was a game released back in 1998/99 for the Playstation called Xenogears. Now, I know this isn't strictly an anime, but if you could turn a 26 episode season of your typical anime into a video game, this surely fits the mold.

The FMV's were animated by Studio IG, which instantly gives it the anime feel. It's frequently compared to Evangelion because of this, as well as the many other parallels. The basic genre is very similar. Extremely special robots, plus a rather cracked Japanese understanding and application of Judeo-Christian mythology.

I mention this because the main antagoist (I hesitate to say villain) in this game is an immensely intelligent, attractive, and driven man named Krelian.

He falls somewhat into the category of Trick Bosses, except for the fact that you never fight him directly. You spend the first third of the game oblivious to his existence, but he's the guy running the show behind the scenes and is damn well smart and resourceful enough to make sure you never quite stop him.

For anyone ever interested in playing this game, stop here because I'm going to go into some detail.

Xenogears has a plot spread out over thousands of years. The timeline is broken down into 6 "Episodes" of which the game you're actually playing constitutes the 5th. The extreme highlights of Episodes 1-4 are presented at various points in the game as the plot unfolds. Krelian is born in the time of Episode 4. During this time period, humans begin to manifest extra-normal abilities that are this world's equivalent to magic. Elemental alignments, healing, and all the other standard "magic" abilites begin to show up in limited numbers of the populous. The sets off tensions between the two major power on the planet, resulting in a war. There is a third party that is drawn into the fight at one point. Krelian just happens to be in love with the leader of this faction. Her name is Sophia.
The war doesn't go that well, and eventually Sophia mounts what is essentially a kamikaze attack on the enemy's main battleship with their own. Krelian is none-too-pleased with this. She is the political and spiritual leader of the Nisan Church and Nation and takes her duty very seriously. She won't be talked down. He's not a particualrly religious man, but he prays for her to somehow survive.

She doesn't.

It's at this point where he comes a little unglued. He comes to the conclusion that she died not because god refused to hear him, but that god doesn't exist. He decides that if god is not there to answer his prayers, he will create god with his own hands. The dangerous part is that, while he may be a little bit arrogant, he's a lot more capable. He's already been working with nanomachines recovered from a long lost Episode 3 era civilization, so he uses them to make himself ageless and proceeds to go about creating god. He gets a very necessary assist along the way from another more sinister villain and eventually succeeds. However, breaking with where you would normally expect this to go (based on the standard "I'll become god" cliche), he has no wish to become god, only to be with the god he eventually discovers.

So based on Steven's criteria:

1) Hubris: Yeah, he surely got that going his way. However, he still has to rely on a few key players.

2) Nemesis: Here we have a problem. He doesn't ever get his in the end, but he actually saves our protagonists in his "final" moments. (But he does do a whole helluva lot of nasty things to others to get to that point)

3) Comprehensibility: He's as cold and calculating as they come. Dangerously so in fact. You never best him.

4) Menace: Absolutely, but not in a direct way. For the most part, if he wants you dead, he has the resources to make it happen PDQ.

5) Attraction: He's a bit noble,in his own way, and there's plenty of yaoi fanfic out there to prove at least some "physical" attraction to the character.

Another villain is born on that same day in Episode 4, but he's of a very different sort. That's a post for a different day.


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