So, I've been wandering the internet recently, and I've noticed a few disturbing things.
One of them being the fact most people don't actually understand how to properly debate/argue a point, and the other being that when people who don't actually understand how a debate works write a story involving two sides with conflicting ideas they rarely depict both sides appropriately, especially if the topic reflects real world issues.
See, if you want to be taken seriously it's a good idea to know how to argue your side of things and an even better idea to also understand both sides of the argument before you even begin trying to argue both sides in a fictional work.
So, let's jump right into the kind of thing I'm talking about with a very simplistic example.
Odds are, if you're the kind of person that would actually read this little journal of mine, you've probably read manga before, and if you've read manga before you've probably crossed paths with a shonen or two.
If there's one thing I'm sure I don't need to tell you, it's the fact that a lot of shonen stories feature the protagonist(s) going on long rants about friendship and how it always makes everything better.
I'm not going to deny that friends can really improve most situations, but I will point out the fact having too many people in a stressful situation dealing with a delicate issue can make things nearly impossible to handle properly, especially if any of them have hot heads. Even more importantly, some friendships aren't quite strong enough to weather the storm, and if you've mistakenly brought a fair weather friend along to bash in the skull of Lucifer, you're both probably going to die when your buddy tries to ditch you at the first sign of trouble.
It's fair to say an army of one can most definitely beat a group of friends in many scenarios, depending on others to the point of being helpless alone is always a bad idea, it's much better to be self sufficient while having the option to call in backup if you feel it's necessary.
That said, I don't expect a shonen series to go very deeply into that argument, or even take the argument any further than a villain screeching about how awesome being alone is immediately before he's flattened under the mighty boot of friendship.
But they are a great example of how not to depict two opposing sides.
That problem isn't in anyway limited to the shonen genre, it permeates just about everything, from fanfics to mainstream news.
See, what a lot of people do is depict the side of the argument they agree with as something only the enlightened few would understand, thus they always make sure the heroic protagonist embodies this set of beliefs down to his core, and have him run around sharing his amazing enlightenment with the rest of the cast, usually never actually calling his beliefs into question in a meaningful way or actually challenging them with an argument equal to, or greater, than his own.
Given the fact hero boy can't possibly be wrong and they have no interest in actually challenging his beliefs, or arguments, the villain is almost always a ridiculously evil strawman with a butchered inaccurate version of the opposing belief.
It's easy to say someone who disagrees with the protagonist, who usually holds the same views as the author, is evil if the only version of their perspective you allow anyone to see is a bad strawman argument, which happens to be a very obvious trick a lot of people use to make their characters seem more enlightened than their opposition despite that rarely being the case in reality.
In my experience, if the only way you can make a character with your views look good is using a strawman, then you probably need different views.
People really love to employ the strawman tactic when the argument is between liberal and conservative sides on any given issues, something I'm sure many marvel readers are aware of.
But I'm going to avoid getting into anything too political for this bout of rambling, instead I'm going to give an example of how to do a very simplistic conflict the right way:
Let's say your story is about a protagonist trying to rescue the princess from the antagonist.
Let's say the basic plot goes something like the average Mario game, our protagonist has been summoned by the princess for some big event, and midway through a powerful invading force begins raining hell fire down upon the festivities.
Our protagonist witnesses the princess being carried off by the invading horde, and he vows to rescue her, as well as to defeat the antagonist.
So, the next thing we need to do is figure out exactly why the antagonist snatched the princess and why the protagonist is willing to risk his life to save her.
let's say the antagonist is brighter than the likes of Bowser, and the princess is more valuable than the likes of Peach, our antagonist snatched her so he could use her to operate a super weapon only her bloodline could activate, she'll be killed in the process, but he needs the weapon to stop an immensely powerful force he has no other way to deal with.
As for the protagonist, he's trying to rescue the princess because the rest of the royal family didn't survive the invasion of the antagonist's forces and she's the only living heir, without her the kingdom will fall into chaos as different factions try to fill the void. Our protagonist is effectively trying to stop the crumbling of his society.
So let's skip ahead to the final confrontation where these two will square off physically and ideologically.
The protagonist argues the antagonist doesn't have the right to kill thousands and abduct the princess, only to sacrifice her for a super weapon, two wrongs don't make a right, by the standards of our protagonist the antagonist is no better than whatever threat he's trying to combat. Not only did his initial attack leave thousands dead, but the loss of the royal family is hurtling their nation down the path to civil war, the actions of the antagonist will likely cost the protagonist's people millions of lives in the long run, and he won't stand for it.
The protagonist believes the antagonist had other options, like reaching out to the protagonist's nation for help, or literally anything else.
Meanwhile, the antagonist justifies his actions do to the fact his civilization is on the verge of being wiped out entirely, asking the royalty of another nation for one of their family members so he could sacrifice them fire a really big gun isn't exactly a plan with a high chance for success, and the antagonist was on borrowed time as it was.
Pulling the royal family into an alliance against the enemy force would have been pointless, if the antagonist could defeat them so easily they certainly wouldn't be much use against what he's fighting.
Not to mention once this threat finishes with his people it's just going to move on to another civilization, and from there onto the next.
Both arguments are relatively fleshed out, and you can at the very least understand why both side has chosen to take their chosen course of action.
Neither side is favored over the other by the author, and both are given a fair chance to say their piece, whichever side the reader sides with is their own choice.
See, the more you put into the antagonist the more you get out of the protagonist, does he give up on saving the princess for the greater good, does he call the antagonist a lying bastard and press on with his mission, does he kill the antagonist but finish antagonist's plan to fire the weapon, does he even win?
The more poorly thought out and limited your antagonist the less room you give the protagonist to grow.
That's about all I've got to say for the moment, but I'm sure I'll have something else to ramble on about soon enough.
The morale of this incredibly long wall of text is actually quite simple:
If you're going to have two different ideologies clashing against each other, it's a good idea to let both shine in their own right, allowing the reader to draw their own conclusions.
Now I'm off to go do things involving a pangolin.