Garou, the Tragic Monster

Justice from the Point of View of an Antagonist

Being the strongest character is the ultimate goal for the protagonist of any Shōnen anime – but what if that ultimate power is also a curse?

The anime One Punch Man starts off by handing us a protagonist, Saitama, who’s already the strongest character in his universe. In fact, he’s so strong he can defeat any enemy with a single punch – hence the name. This power is his ultimate curse, as it leaves him bored and depressed. He simply doesn’t get excited about anything anymore. Now, my favorite character from One Punch Man is not Saitama, but Garou, a 19-year-old human with martial arts skills. Garou is not a friend of Saitama’s; he is, in fact, the exact opposite, an antagonist, who even calls himself a monster, despite being an ordinary human.

While Saitama is the protagonist of One Punch Man, every character has their own unique background story, circumstances, and motivation for what they’re doing, and Garou’s are what make him my favorite antagonist in all of anime history. His story starts as a little kid, when he’s playing with his classmates. Every kid has watched TV shows about heroes fighting bad guys, but Garou, unlike the other kids, is always rooting for the monsters, who get so close to defeating the heroes, but can never succeed. When playing with the other kids, he always plays the villain, and he gets bullied and beaten up in return. Whenever he stands up against a “hero”, other kids come and help that kid defeat Garou. In the light of these events, Garou decides that he wants to be different: he wants to be a monster that breaks the cycle of the heroes winning. He wants to become the ultimate monster that will defeat every hero.

Because he’s getting bullied and beaten, Garou quits school and joins a Martial Arts dojo run by S-Class heroes, who are the highest-ranked heroes on the fictional planet of Silverfang. He trains every day to become stronger and more powerful, but his Sensei has no idea about Garou’s actual intensions. When he turns 19, he realises that he can´t learn anything at the Dojo anymore, so he leaves. Before leaving, however, he defeats every other student and almost kills them all. Garou thinks he’s now ready to end the constant defeat of villains and monsters, so he declares war on the Hero Association. He defeats a few heroes with ease; however, many more follow and try to stop him. Although struggling, Garou manages to strike them down. Now, in most movies and TV shows, the villain first overpowers the hero(es) and comes really close to winning. In the last possible moment, the hero(es) get that one, critical extra boost of power through friendship or love and manage to hold their ground. With Garou, it’s the exact opposite: at the start of each battle, the heroes overpower him, and he needs to find some extra strength to defeat the heroes.

What’s interesting is that I found myself rooting for him every time, because to me, he feels more like a misunderstood hero. Even though he’s the antagonist of the anime’s actual main character, whenever he is on screen, he becomes the protagonist. After all, we’ve learned his backstory, seen fights from his perspective, heard his thoughts, know his ideas and anticipate his tricks. Those are all features usually reserved for the main character! So Garou is presented to the viewer as the protagonist, even though he is a villain. To me, that makes him the best antagonist in all of anime.

Author: Chris Schneider

Small stitch, big effect

Why donating blood is a true act of human kindness

Syringes, needles and the sight of blood – the definition of a nightmare for many people. Admittedly, getting a long needle inserted into your vein and seeing your own blood run into a bag can be terrifying. What I’ve just described to you is everyday life for our silent heroes. Those who don’t wear capes – those who donate blood and save thousands of lives.

Can I give blood?

If you’ve decided to donate blood, congrats! You’ve already made the first step into the right direction. Fortunately, there aren’t too many prerequisites you need to fulfill. Firstly, you have to be fit and healthy, which seems obvious. A minimum weight of 50 kilograms is required, otherwise your body couldn’t cope with the missing amount of blood. Be careful if you’re pregnant or have recently traveled to a foreign country (especially tropical regions with diseases like malaria). To really be on the safe side, donors fill out a detailed questionnaire about personal data which is then thoroughly examined by a doctor during a preparatory conversation. Unfortunately, due to the current legal situation, some people (like queer men or trans people) are excluded from donating blood. Make sure to eat and drink sufficiently on the day of your donation to avoid fainting. In the aftermath, you mustn’t do any kind of physically exhausting activity.

What happens to my blood?

The process of donating itself takes only ten minutes. A blood pressure cuff helps the nurses find a suitable vein where they insert the needle. This is nowhere near as painful as people always imagine. Next, approximately 500 milliliters are extracted. This is quite a lot, considering that an ordinary person has a total of 4.5 to 6 liters of blood running through their veins. Afterwards, the blood is split up into its components in a centrifuge and examined for diseases in a laboratory. Plasma makes the biggest part and is used to fabricate different kinds of medicines. Erythrocytes, the red blood cells, help people who have lost lots of blood due to accidents or during surgery. Platelets, causing the blood to clot, are indispensable for cancer treatment. As all three parts are included in your blood, a single donation makes you a triple lifesaver!

Who will receive my blood?

In the USA, 36.000 donations are needed – every day!  Especially cancer patients depend on them, as platelets are used for chemotherapy. The second group of recipients suffer from severe cardiac or intestinal diseases, followed by injuries caused by accidents. Hospitals are in urgent need of blood type 0 rhesus-negative because it’s regarded as universally compatible. To be precise, everyone can receive a donation of this type regardless of their own. Statistically, everyone needs one blood donation in the course of their life on average. But did you know that you can also donate blood to yourself? Sounds strange but it’s possible if surgery is performed on you. In this case, you can be 100 percent sure that your body won’t reject the donation. In the end, it doesn’t matter who receives your blood. The only thing that counts is the fact that you will save someone’s life. If this isn’t the best reward, what is?

Author: Chiara Ferner