A good indication of a well rounded character is whether or not your opinion of them changes as the show/movie/book progresses. If you feel the same about the protagonist from beginning to end, chances are there wasn’t a lot of character growth happening. People are a lot more complex than that, so a character that triggers a variety emotional responses as you get to know them feels less like a prop and more like someone you could actually meet.
Enter today’s happy-go-lucky protagonist, Naru Kotoishi from the anime/manga Barakamon.
When she’s first introduced, Naru feels like that one annoying kid we have all met (or once were). She’s nosy, loud, keeps zero secrets and has zero filter for the words that come out of her mouth. She’s the product of a small countryside town where children have to make their own entertainment. Instantly she attaches herself to Handa, the main protagonist. I wouldn’t call my knee-jerk reaction to her hate, but I wasn’t a fan.
But even by the end of the first episode I had little inklings of liking her.
It’s not that her behavior changes. She’s still the rambunctious little kid she always was. But the longer you spend with her, the more you see a genuine earnestness emanating from her character. While initially it felt like she was latching to Handa in a desperate attempt to quell boredom, she quickly proved me wrong.
It’s almost like she is there to channel the local town spirit into Handa’s life, acting as a bridge between him and anyone else he may encounter. And when he doesn’t understand something, she explains it all with simple words and an “how could it be any different” attitude that children so often have. By just being her kind (and occasionally obnoxious) self, she (along with the help of the town) turns his experience from one of isolation into one of community. And it feels like in today’s world, we could all use that innocent childlike support.
Here’s to Naru
What characters have grown on you?
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