I forced @HKelle to watch Akagi with me and the more I think about it, the more disturbed I am. It’s not just that he is a 13 year old introduced by showing up unannounced to mahjong game hosted by Yakuza after swimming alive from a game of chicken that sent another kid to the hospital.
I am not joking.
Something I have noticed about Nobuyuki Fukumoto’s work is that he doesn’t really do backstory, and certainly not for his main characters. I haven’t watched the full series yet, but I highly doubt that we’ll ever get to know about Akagi’s past in depth. Instead, he just sets up certain details in the background that inform how Akagi acts. The year is 1958, in Japan. He appears to have gang connections of some type. He is an uncannily intelligent 13 year old, being able to quickly learn (and cheat) at mahjong.
There are hints given, but they aren’t elaborated much on. Craziest of all, he is the protagonist-a villain protagonist!
Think about some famous villains-famous villain protagonists-how many of them have a vitally important backstory? How many of them are old than 13?
I just had to share this because it breaks a long-held convention I’ve seen everywhere.
Backstories are supposed to make it easier to agree wtih a villain-hero. That’s why they are introduced that way. Think:Megamind, where half the movie is backstory, and youre introducing to very small kids the idea that environemnt is the main deciding factor in outcome.
When you give up on chronic sympathy, the backstory is overwhelmingly unnecessary. Its sweeping back into morally gray characters.
Peoeple like the idea of an underdog in a pack of villains, still. There is a sympathy vote without needing most of that because Yakuza ain’t 100% pillars of the community (although they have a better reputation than most Amwrican gangs). Any which way, backstories are often moralizing/self-justitifcation.
oops, i meant to come back and answer this but i guess i forgot
As far as famous villains go, a lot of them have backstories (for the sake of this question i’m considering only backstories that appear in the main literature, not in any transmedia or spin-off). Like in Spiderman or Batman movies, for example, we see villain creation pretty often. It can be a useful tool for fleshing out the character and letting the audience know their motiviation for Being Evil
as far as villain protagonists go, the backstory is especially important, again because the audience needs to know why this character is dancing around making corpses (a good example of this would be Joker), and it can also make us more sympathetic (as with Venom or Bloodsport).
as far as 13 goes ¯_(ツ)_/¯, you’re more likely to run into that in stuff intended for a younger audience. middle grade, shonen, ect. off the top of my head I can think of Mustard Gas from bnha, but he was in, like, 1 episode. There’s nothing wrong with a 13 year old villain, i think they’re just harder to make feel serious and not satirical.
literally anything by Alexander Gordon Smith
The Rains by Gregg Hurwitz
Icarus Down by James Bow
most of Adam Silvera’s stuff
Looking for Alaska by John Green
It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini
Schizo by Nik Scheff
arguably the last three could be for neutral audiences but i think we assign them that property more because they’re contemporary and talk about mental health than anything. The last two in particular were written by male authors drawing from their own experiences to talk about mental health issues that impact young men, so…
James Patterson and Kenneth Opel are also both prolific authors with a lot of books that target young men. the Alex Cross series still gets updates… I think… idk i kind of tune Patterson out because he’s everywhere.
it might not get talked about as much but there are plenty of authors who are passionate about writing books for young men.