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How to Write a Hated Main Character

What we can learn from anime, featuring Tower of God

“All Bam did was follow me. Why does he get everything? He’s just Bam.”

CrunchyRoll recently finished airing season 1 of its anime adaptation of Tower of God, which if you aren’t familiar, is a beloved webtoon with over 500 chapters out currently. Recently I joined the flood of people watching Tower of God and fell in love with it right away. In fact, it was so good I decided I couldn’t wait for the anime and went ahead and started reading the webtoon.

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Make Her a Focal Point

Tower of God opens on two characters in a quiet dystopia: the protagonist, Bam, and the character in question, Rachel.

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Build Desire Through Distance

They say distance makes the heart grow fond. Once the initial relationships are established, make the audience want more from the character by pulling them away. This is a common tactic, especially in anime. In Naruto, for example, Sasuke abandons the village in search of power and answers. Naruto chases after him, unwilling to lose his friend. Regardless of how we feel about Sasuke at that point, we now have a clear story objective predicated on the relationship between Naruto and Sasuke. In the meantime, we build our main character up.

Give the Audience What They Want

At the end of the season, Bam and Rachel are finally reunited. Rachel is paralyzed from the waist down in one of the tower’s brutal tests, but Bam comes to her rescue. He resolves to be her legs if she wants to keep climbing the tower. One of the test administrators, who allows or rejects people from going up the tower depending on how well they do on the tests, says that Rachel cannot go up the tower in her condition. But then we find out that Bam is a unique resident of the tower called an “irregular”, and because of this the test admin offers them a special, extra difficult test. If they can pass it, they can both go up the tower. Hype.

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Take Everything They Know and Love Away

Right as they’re about to complete the test and Bam is gushing about how he will be her legs, Rachel betrays Bam. She basically gives him the Mufasa treatment and shoves him into oblivion. Worse, it turns out that she faked being paralyzed in order to gain sympathy from Bam. In fact, it turns out she’s been using him this whole time, jealous that he’s the hero of the story and not her.

They/Them | Software Dev | Chronically seeking orange juice | devon.wellsa@gmail.com

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