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May 11, 2012

Look! The East is Burning Red!


*leaning against a wall, with hands in pockets*

A blog hop, huh?  That’s the first I’ve heard of it, but I’ll give it a shot.  Now then, let’s see…if my guess is right, then all I have to do is…yep, that should work.

*rotates neck*

*steps away from wall, takes hands out of pockets, and raises a fist*


This ability to self-promote, allowing a no-name writer and his reputation to keep on spreading… I’m positive.  This idea has acquired abilities of TV Tropes…with the help of CHIHUAHUA ZEROOOOOOOOOOOOO!

*bursts into a storm of lightning*

This blog of mine glows with an awesome POWER!  Its burning code tells me to entertain you!  Take this!  My words, my gags, and all of my pageviews!  SHINING CROSS-UP POOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOST!  


GO!  GO!  GOOOOOOOO!

*stabs the internet in the eye, causing terminal combustion*




Personally, I LOVE hot-blooded characters.  In the same sense that I've praised Captain America for being appealing because of his larger-than-life nobility, so too do I believe that there’s a lot to be had from characters that let their passion shoot out of every orifice like cannon balls.  And as I understand it, I’m not the only one who feels that way; characters who have “Hot Blooded” included in their trope lists tend to also have “Badass,” “Rated M For Manly,” and/or “Crazy Awesome” listed as well.  Sure, how cool or impressive a character is can vary from person to person, but ask a pool of fans whether they think Kamina from Gurren Lagann is cool, or if Phoenix Wright deserves more popularity from the gaming industry, and I’d bet you all the money in my pockets that you’d get an overwhelmingly positive response.

And -- oh wait, my pockets are empty right now.  Unless you want some balled-up string.

Anyway.  What makes these characters so effective and entertaining?  Why do we love them so much?  Why do people proudly post “Hot Blooded” as a trait of their WIP characters?  Why are certain YouTube comments filled with regular gents and gals boasting about how they grew beards from the sheer hot-bloodedness and suddenly have enough energy to punch through a volcano?  Well, I have a few theories -- four points that I suspect shed some light on the phenomenon.  Why four points, you ask?  Because I wouldn’t be Voltech “The Four-Pointer” McSparksteen if I didn’t.

1) Hot-bloodedness lets us live vicariously through fiction.


Sad but true: not everyone can be Captain Falcon.  That means that not everybody can drive in excess of two thousand kilometers per hour, race against ghostly creators of the universe, and punch you so hard a raptor made entirely of flame explodes from his fist.  (It’s not much a loss for me; I always preferred Dr. Stewart.)

Whatever the case, we live in a world that isn’t nearly as fantastic as the stuff we read about, or see on TV, or play in video games.  Given that superpowers -- outside of the ability to bend your joints in weird directions -- are a rarity, we have to make do with what’s shown to us.  This is one area where hot-blooded heroes succeed; they act with such bombast and gusto that we can’t help but be amazed.  It certainly helps that, nine times out of ten, they look like they’re enjoying it.  Even if they’re not, there’s something cathartic about what they do.  I spent more than a hundred words referencing G Gundam’s Domon Kasshu at the start of this post, mostly because it looks like it’s damn fun to shout out something like that.  Would I do that in real life?  Only if I was home alone, to spare myself from the risk of embarrassment in public.  Do I wish I could do it in public?  Yes.  Do I envy Domon for yelling so boldly without a second thought or even a stutter?  Hell yes.

 Wonder if he ever needs a few cough drops to get through the day…

2) Hot-blooded characters are proactive and dynamic -- something that readers enjoy.

I throw out the phrase “faffing about” a lot on this blog.  Why?  Partly because I like using British mannerisms.  But partly because of my preferences; you’ll forgive me for my generalizations, but I think it’s safe to say that characters who are actively moving and engaging in a plot (or their own aims) are a lot more interesting than those that stay in a rut for most of a story.  Or, alternatively, those whose aims are so middling that we end up getting bored before the real action starts.  I had a real problem with Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep because of this; in one instance, it seems like the spiky-haired newbie Ventus has had his third of the story completely drag to a halt as he “looks for some friends.”  Ignoring the fact that he already has friends, it takes the magical intervention of a MacGuffin and some contrived circumstances to get him back to the main plot.  Not exactly an appealing character -- and he earns no favors for looking exactly like the highly-divisive Roxas.


If Ventus had even a modicum of hot-bloodedness, I’d wager I’d enjoy the story roughly a zapillion times more.  Again, I’ll point you toward Domon Kasshu.  While his story unfolds slowly over the course of some fifty anime episodes, there’s rarely a moment where he isn’t in hot pursuit of his goal.  He’s out to find his brother!  Now he’s out to clean up the Dark Gundam’s messes!  Now he’s fighting with Master Asia to protect Japan!  Now he’s fighting his friends to save them!  Now he has to train!  No he has to beat his master!  And my personal favorite, now he has to win a tournament by -- through his own declaration -- not losing a single round!  He’s foolhardy and has a one track mind at times, but it’s that determination and passion to win that makes him appealing.  Notably, he’s got no qualms about dislocating his own shoulder just to get out of an enemy’s grip and carve out a win.


MANLY AND COOL.  

3) Hot-bloodedness provides high-spectacle, over-the-top action.

Captain Falcon’s Falcon Punch.  Simon’s Giga Drill Break.  Stahn’s Satsugeki Bukoken.  Hulk’s Thunderclap.  Anything related to the Doom guy.  Those that give themselves to hot blood, undoubtedly, love their jobs.  And can you blame them?


The old saying goes “actions speak louder than words.”  And nothing speaks louder than a whirling drill powered by passion, or the quakes caused by a single attack from the Hulk.  No matter how sophisticated or learned any of us might become, at one point we were all children -- tykes that got misty-eyed at the sight of heroes unloading with their best moves, or shaking the sky and earth alike with little more than their impassioned shouts.  We’re still like that deep down.  Even if you’re the sort that reads The New Yorker while sipping tea and munching on crumpets, deep down there’s still a part of you that loves seeing a hero punch a villain in the face.  The more hot-blooded you are, the more fantastic that punch becomes, and the more you delight at the sight.  It allows for an expression of individuality, of that character’s essence distilled into an offensive or aural form.

Again, let's look at Domon Kasshu.  His signature attack is -- at first -- the Shining Finger.  It’s a basic grab to the head that makes your Gundam experience a fatal shutdown.  And as per the Gundam Fight’s rules, “A unit whose head section is destroyed is disqualified.”  It’s a simple, yet effective way to end the match and make sure he doesn’t have to deal with that guy ever again.  (In theory, at least.)  When his rage is at maximum, Domon uses the berserk-tastic “Shining Finger Sword” which is basically a giant screw-off laser attack.  By series’ end…well, just watch.


For American audiences, G Gundam is about ten years old.  And yet I’d wager there’s a subset of viewers that can quote that scene, that episode, and the entire series word-for-word.  You might think that it’s a waste of energy.  But in their eyes, the chance to come even within a mile of the heat given off by Domon and friends is worth it.

4) Hot blood shows us just how far we can go, if we just give it a shot.

This is a comment I spotted on YouTube a while back.  It had such a genuine effect on me I saved it in a file and kept it in My Documents.  It’s a good thing, too.  Because now I can trot it out for you.

“There was a girl I liked. Didn't even really know I had feelings for her, and things were awkward, when we hung out.

Then one day, I was about to drop her off. My radio had been stoled from my car a long time ago, and I have my ipod as a replacement. In that ipod, is this song. Well needless to say, when I gave her a hug to say goodbye this song started to play, my heart swelled with courage, and I kissed her.

We've been dating for 3 years now.”

What song was that?  A song from Hot Blood 101, better known as Gurren Lagann.


A good story can do a lot of things.  It can entertain.  It can teach.  It can enlighten, and frighten, and days they can brighten.  And most of all, they can inspire.   

I wouldn’t go so far to say that hot-blooded characters are good role models.  Domon (again…?) has severe emotional issues, from keeping his rage in check to learning how to express even base things like happiness or appreciation.  But what’s important is that A) by the end of his show’s run, he’s a lot better off than before, and B) even in the face of monstrous adversity, he soldiers on.  He’s a guy who’s only at ease on the battlefield, and so much of his life has been dedicated to fighting you almost end up pitying him.  But he’s very, very good at his job.  With scalding passion and a thunderous voice, he makes himself known across the globe.  That’s something that even the meekest of wallflowers can admire -- and if they’re so inclined, can even aspire to recreate.  All we need is a little impetus…say, seeing a hot-blooded hero in action and deciding to adapt those abilities to real life situations.

It’s actually not as difficult as you think.  Observe:


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2 comments:

  1. You make a great point with #2. Hot-blooded characters are proactive. Proactive characters have larger drives for sturdier goals. Both are good for a story's plot, improving everything overall.

    The problem is that logic isn't really a hot-blooded character's forte, but a bit of impulsiveness seems to help a protagonist.

    By the way, would you put this code via HTML at the end of your post: http://www.linkytools.com/get_bloghop_code.aspx?id=140558&type=basic

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    Replies
    1. "The problem is that logic isn't really a hot-blooded character's forte"

      True enough...although on the other hand, screaming and punching can solve a LOT of problems in the real world. See: me at a camp dance-off circa 2007.

      No one was spared. And I stood triumphant atop their mangled, scorched bodies.

      It was the best summer ever.

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