Kei Agemaki is a loyal and obedient son who joins the ranks of the imperial army of which his father is a general. This sounds like a super boring character, doesn’t it? That’s why I love Agemaki! When a writer can take an archetype that is perceived as common and run of the mill and still compel me to want to learn more I get excited.
Agemaki is one of two protagonists in the world of Otome Yōkai Zakuro set during the Westernization of an alternate Japan. The stories were developed for television in Japan from a manga series of seven volumes. The anime shortened to Zakuro centers around the title character, a female fox spirit whom Agemaki is partnered and falls in love. It’s his relationship with Zakuro and the other members of the Ministry of Spirit Affairs that define this anime.
What makes Agemaki so compelling is he’s severely frightened of the spirits with which he has been assigned to work. As his position is one of some political clout he has great potential to embarrass his father and lose face with a man he fears more than spirits. These ideas while great to explore with a character in general are also at the core of Japanese culture: that family is important, that you and your actions are a reflection on them and that having your elders respect you is paramount to your success as a person. So on top of getting to witness how a character overcomes his fear we get to experience Japanese culture in a very real way.
Of course, Zakuro as a spirit herself is a principal proponent in overcoming his crippling fear. Her calling him a wuss all the time is certainly a different take on using peer pressure to inspire a change. I think though this is partially why he falls so hard for Zakuro and no matter how she feels is why he uses all the boring characteristics found in his character to be there at her side while she faces her own battles. He isn’t a macho man who takes care of everything, he’s not even the real threat to the enemy, yet in the end he’s still as manly as they come.
At heart Agemaki is a nice guy. And everyone knows good spells out to b-o-r-i-n-g! Yet Kei Agemaki makes you want to root for the nice guy, the ineffectual guy. I know he inspires in me a desire to create a good man who wins at the end of the story, overcoming great odds and forces for evil, all in the name of supporting the one you love and care for. Who can fault that?
This month I’m participating in a writing challenge to post everyday in April (except Sundays) called the A to Z Challenge. I’m exploring my love of characters, find the full list here. Read some of my other writing posts here. What characters do you love?