Protagonist Portraits

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quinnsea
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Protagonist Portraits

#1 Post by quinnsea » Tue Aug 22, 2017 4:11 pm

I'm probably really late to noticing them, but I feel like they've become the norm in visual novels.

It's kind of weird to me. Not that it's a bad thing, I just feel like it's an interesting change! I figured visual novels were typically made so people feel as much like the main character as possible. Not everyone wants to make character customization a thing, so most Japanese VNs seem to make it so the protagonist is as generic as possible. Anyone can fit in. Having a faceless or unknown appearance for a protagonist is even better in this aspect due to how easy it is for the player to imagine themselves in their place.

Why do you think people haven't adapted this as much? Do you think it's a bad thing if a visual novel doesn't have a portrait of the protagonist in the corner? I'm curious!
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Limabaen
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Re: Protagonist Portraits

#2 Post by Limabaen » Tue Aug 22, 2017 6:09 pm

I've never thought of myself as being the protagonist, nor do I enjoy reading about blank slates. For me a visual novel is just a digital book with pictures and choices, so like any normal book I'd want the main character - whom we usually see the story through the eyes of - to be as interesting as possible. Blank protagonists for self insertion often lack proper personalities which frankly makes interaction with other characters dull as there is simply nothing to "bounce off". So I think the wish fulfillment vn without substance is a slowly, slowly dying breed, especially in OELVNs.

Which means more people want interesting protagonists. Which means more protagonists treated like characters rather than placeholders for the reader. Which means protagonists with sprites.

(Not that there's anything wrong with making or liking blank slate protagonists. I just feel that the overall way the community sees vns has shifted so the role has become more unwanted over time)

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Re: Protagonist Portraits

#3 Post by parttimestorier » Tue Aug 22, 2017 6:12 pm

I'm curious about which VNs you've noticed them in recently that make you think they're the norm now, since I'm not sure I'd say they're super common in my experience. But I do much prefer a protagonist who's either customizable or an actual developed character to the faceless, personality-less Japanese schoolboy you see in some VNs. That's because aside from a few very immersive exceptions, I rarely feel like I'm really roleplaying as the protagonist in VNs. So kind of like Limabaen said, a protagonist I barely know anything about feels less like a blank space for me to self-insert into and more like a weak character.

Seeing portraits of them on the side of the dialogue box can definitely be fun, especially if they were customizable and I'm seeing the character I created. But I don't think it's a bad thing not to have portraits either. I'm more concerned with who they are and how they interact with the other characters than how they look, for the most part.
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Re: Protagonist Portraits

#4 Post by quinnsea » Thu Aug 24, 2017 7:39 pm

Huh... That makes a lot of sense now that you've dissected it in that way. I bet more people have started seeing them as books too because of it. Kind of makes me wanna replay some VNs looking at it with that sort of perspective instead. Most of them probably would hold up better in terms of EVNs, but I'm not entirely sure about JVNs? Have they changed a lot? I haven't played a JVN in a while.

In terms of specific VNs that come in mind that have portraits of the protagonists in the corner, I'm primarily thinking of Rock Robin, Dream Daddy, Backstage Pass, and Date Or Die to name a small handful. I'm not sure if it's already the norm, (Sorry if I kinda spoke in absolutes there. Whoops.) but I feel like things are headed in that direction. At least in OELVNs.
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