“#1: You admire a character for trying more than for their successes.” –Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling
As I was catching up on Nagi no Asukara earlier today, I found myself reflecting on how much more I like the character of Hikari since his introduction. At first he was a bratty little kid, all angry and confused and brooding about situations that aren’t going his way, and honestly, that’s fine – he’s a middle school boy, and they’re not exactly paragons of patience or clarity. That didn’t always make him a treat to watch, though.
Now is another matter entirely. Watching Episode 15 really brought it home for me, but honestly it’s been there for a while. And here’s the crucial element – he tries. He makes an effort. He’s doing something, not just sitting around whining about it. He doesn’t always succeed – he didn’t save Manaka, his feelings weren’t returned (yet? maybe?), everyone still went to sleep – but he keeps trying anyway. Even when he was in pain during Episode 15, when he was confused and overwhelmed and slowly folding from all the pressure, he still tried to do his best.
To use an older example, compare Evangelion’s Asuka and Shinji. It’s no wonder many people like Asuka more, despite the fact that Shinji was the one who actually took out most of the angels – where Shinji was passive, whining, and had to be forced into trying, Asuka stood up and tried her absolute hardest until she shattered–and then came back from the brink to fight again, even if it ended badly. Yes, she was flawed in many, many ways, but at least she tried.
Success is overrated. Our heroes can lose. What matters is that they keep trying, because that’s the kind of person we want to root for.
Look forward to more posts on Pixar’s 22 Rules of Storytelling whenever I have an excuse. They’re kind of amazing.