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Are we truly wasting our time investing affection towards fictional characters? / Image © Mitchii G.

I think one of the most vital things an author needs to establish are the characters. I am character/s driven reader. I root, I swoon, and sometimes get way too invested in their lives that no matter how long it was since I read/watched, it still remains in my head (and to make matter cheesier—my heart). But some people took their liberties to squash your connection by stating an obvious fact: it’s fiction.

So what? I don’t think it weighs too much if the character doesn’t truly exist. It might not be in the real world but the connection I feel for this character is real. It’s what makes submerging to stories truly worthwhile. I don’t believe that I am wasting my time harboring genuine affections on people that doesn’t live in the real world. Because sometimes, for me, these characters presented things, situations that I might not be able to experience in reality. I think one of the reasons fiction exist. Why it is created—continuously created.

Truth is stranger than fiction,” as the old saying goes. When I watch a documentary, I can’t help crying and then I think to myself, “Fiction can’t compete with this.

But when I mentioned this to a veteran manga artist friend of mine he said that “fiction brings salvation to characters in stories that would otherwise have no salvation at all.

His words strengthened the conviction of my manga spirit.”

― Hiromu Arakawa, Fullmetal Alchemist「鋼の錬金術師」Vol. 12

I echo Arakawa-sensei’s colleague’s sentiment about fiction bringing salvation to character/s that is beyond redemption. Aren’t we always wishing for the silver lining in stories? It is why I think a well-crafted character will go a long way than scrupulous theme. Of course, it would be much better if this character is in a setting that is also intriguing. It raises the bar further. But if reader/watcher gets invested to this character it says so much, as if it breathes reality. As if it became somehow alive.

There’s nothing to be ashamed of if you love a character. The boundaries that reality and fiction seems to be setting it in sometimes get blurry when you as a reader see the life of the characters through reading/watching it. Like you experience it yourself. And as form of escapism, nothing beats the feeling, the satisfaction when the character triumphs in the end. It is why I read. The feeling I get is very real to me.

So how about you, do you have an all-time favorite character/s? What makes him/her special? Do you agree that we’re wasting our time by investing affection towards these characters? Care to share your opinion below?

2015 / 06 / 04

14 Responses to Me, my emotions, & these fictional characters.

  1. I love the idea of this post and the sentiments you expressed in it—I definitely agree with you in that being emotionally invested in fictional characters’ lives can be somewhat stressful at times but is always worthwhile. I think the empathy that fiction carries is very powerful, and it creates those very real feelings that we have about stories. Wonderful post (also, your design is *gorgeous*)!

    • Mitchii G. says:

      Thank you! Yes, it could be stressful but that’s part of the package. The fact it did get you means you’re deeply moved by this character. :D

  2. Tory says:

    I definitely don’t think I’m wasting my time. Even if they are fictional, they came from someone’s mind, someone who is very real. It is their creation, their thought, and maybe even their hopes. It’s quite similar to liking a piece of artwork, a piece of craft… except the character is somewhat intangible. Especially for books, the character exists differently in different minds. I think that’s why it’s a very blurry line, it came from someone real but then it’s not real. (What, tell me if I’m not making sense, haha!)

    I think one of my favourite characters is L from Death Note. He’s obviously weird, but he has a brilliant mind. He doesn’t show affection for other people in obvious manners, but he plans things such that it doesn’t cause them huge issues, rather than using words to thank others, he puts them into actions… which speaks louder than words when it’s received. :)

    A very thoughtful post you have written, I enjoyed reading it, gave me a lot to think about!

    • Mitchii G. says:

      Yes, it came from someone real & sometimes, more often than not, inspired by real person too so the emotions we get from this character is genuine. I love L too; he’s very smart and his sense of justice is what I admire him the most, even though in some sense Light objectives were noble albeit morally wrong, he wanted justice to be delivered in a proper platform, even for criminals.

      Eeeep, thank you. I’ve been often commented on how I think too much on characters I liked/loved, as if it is waste of time which I don’t feel at all.

  3. I’m also a very character driven reader and I really agree with everything you said. Why would I continue with the book if I didn’t care about the characters, and didn’t have any hope that they’d get a happy ending? If fiction was always like real life and most of the characters failed I don’t think I could take it. Even though seeing characters go through book struggles can usually get me even more invested in them…

    Though I also like to believe that most real people will get some sort of happy ending too. (I guess I’m more of an optimist)

    • Mitchii G. says:

      Yes, the affinity we have with the characters does push us to continue the story. Nothing wrong with being pessimistic, I think it’s a great attitude to always look forward to & stays positive. :D

  4. Kezia says:

    ASDSAFGFSJSKS CAN WE TAKE A MOMENT OF SILENCE FOR HOW AWESOME YOUR POST IS??

    Anyway, it’s a topic that I’ve been pondering quite a lot recently. I’m most definitely the type of person that likes to obsess over fictional characters and mull over them constantly *cough haikyuu, knb, tg cough* Like what you mentioned on your post, the characters seem so alive somehow and those I admire so much can also be a source of inspiration for me. I don’t think what I do is a complete waste of time since there are just as many things that you can learn from fictions as in real life.

    I have quite a bunch of characters that have managed to touch my heart and affect me so deeply but I guess I will go with Oikawa because I feel like he’s that character who I can always relate to the most. His hard work, efforts and failures — it’s fiction which closely resembles reality — we’ve all experienced things like that before. But he gives me hope and reminds us once again that there’s still a long road ahead of us which is waiting to be explored. (oh god why do I have to be so preachy and cheesy haha)

    • Mitchii G. says:

      EEEEEP~ thanks Kezia. It’s been bugging me to write it down so I hope I managed to convey my two cents over this topic.

      Yes, they are alive to me, not in the sense that they exist; but struggles, the pain, the joy & everything in between it echoes so much in me that it elicits sincere emotions out of me. I think reading and our affinity to these characters happened because of how we can relate to them, not in an exact mirror of RL but most of the time what these characters feel & what we feel are somehow synonymous. :3

  5. Valerie says:

    First of all, FMA! I read most of the manga but never finished it :( But I did read most of it haha!

    Also, favorite characters. Hmm. I HAVE A LOT. I mostly love the characters from video games, The Book Thief, a series that I’ve spent my life on that just GIVES ME THE FEELS. I finished this one video game series that I spent at least 3 years on, and the ending was HORRIBLE. And it destroyed me, literally. So yeah. I agree. Characters. Emotions. THEY KILL US ALL.

    I also think plot matters, but it won’t work if the characters aren’t fully developed :)

    • Mitchii G. says:

      Yes, the plot is as significant as the character development. We follow the characters lives so it is imperative that it is properly flesh out. :D

  6. I love this post, Mitchii! And if you look at the post in my CommentLuv below, you’ll see how much I agree with you.

    I get far too attached to fictional characters. I let them burrow into my mind and my heart, and I let them stay. I think about them, I write about them, I make playlists about them.

    And it’s wonderful. I’ve never had anyone diss the fact that I let these fictional characters consume my life, but if they did, I wouldn’t let them. Fictional characters have given me SO many things that people in my life have failed to give me, and that’s one of the reasons I love them so much. Because of what they give me, even if it’s not explicitly written in the text, and even after I finish reading their story.

    As for my favourite characters, one’s name is Azael :D He’s amazing, and I have told the author a hundred times how much I love him. And she’s happy. So he’s made me happy AND her happy, so there’s nothing better than that, really!

    • Mitchii G. says:

      Oooh~ interesting I haven’t heard of the character or the story it came from, I’ll check your letter then. ;d Yes, exactly! Even though they aren’t real per se the emotions they elicit from us is real.

  7. While I know many people who would think it’s stupid to get so invested in a character — someone who doesn’t even exist! — that you’d cry over them, laugh with them, write about them, and basically let them occupy every space in your mind, I for one definitely don’t think that it’s a waste of time at all! Even though it’s painful to admit that they are just fiction, that doesn’t make them any less real. Like you said, they help us experience things we otherwise would never experience — and that is magic in a world where magic shouldn’t exist. They also give some of us a connection when we have no one else to connect to. It makes us feel less alone sometimes, you know?

    I feel like people who think it’s a waste of time to love a fictional person will change their minds if they came across a character they TRULY related to. They’ve just never had that connection, so they don’t understand how powerful characters can be. ^^ And hmm, my favorite character? Impossible to pick! I love everyone from Harry Potter, everyone from Percy Jackson, everyone from the Grisha Trilogy, everyone from Tokyo Ghoul (omg the Christmas dinner side story was so cute), everyone from KnB, everyone from Haikyuu… and the list goes on and on, haha.

    Also, it’s so cool that you own the English versions of FMA!! Gosh, definitely one of my favorite manga of all time. The story was brilliant from start to finish. <3

    • Mitchii G. says:

      Yes, Chapter 31.5 invigorates me!!! Gives me so much life!!!*coughs* Ok, you brought up a good point, the reason why I’m so invested with a character is because they accompany me. They make me feel I have someone, knows how it feels and that’s so important to me; & I guess to everyone else too. xD

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