So between Tuk'oer, Vezian, and Valentin, who's the biggest asshole? I feel like these are top 3 amongst the trashmen but I don't know just who is the biggest asshole in the top 3 itself.
i got a wholeass essay on this topic
- valentin – 7/10 asshole, but a pretty decent guy underneath it all. has his own moral code that he does mostly adhere to, is capable of recognizing his assholery, and is the only one on this list capable of genuine and unselfish love.
- tuko'er – 9/10 asshole, very little redeemable about him, except that he is capable of introspection and self-reflection. had the potential to actually be a great guy, but got too embittered by the world and can’t let go of the past. capable of genuine love, but it’ll never not be selfish.
- vezian – 10/10 asshole, he doesn’t even have the cool tragic backstory the others have to back his shit up. he was never a good guy, not even when he was a protagonist, and not now as an antagonist-figure. i don’t really know if he’s capable of genuine love.
Valentin is objectively an asshole. He’s a hypocrite when it comes to his treatment of MC, has no qualms about lying/cheating/murdering his way to power, and is just generally unnecessarily blunt, surly, and quarrelsome, but underneath all that, he doesn’t just have the potential to be a great guy – he’s actually quite valiant, albeit with some moral liberties and questionable methods, but let’s take what we can get, okay?
His whole arc revolves around his pursuit of revenge, at least that’s how others see it. But to Valentin, it’s a fight to amend his rightfully-perceived injustices. He isn’t doing it wholly for himself, in fact, his primary motivation is to seek justice for his mother, and in a broader respect, for all the others who have the same story he does. He doesn’t hurt those he perceives as weaker than himself, and he doesn’t blame the faultless, most of the time. MC is is the only exception to this because through all the hurt and anger that’s been pent-up, Valentin’s able to justify to himself why she’s an acceptable target, and bend his principles just this once.
Unlike the other two, Valentin’s perfectly capable of genuine and unselfish love, and already demonstrates it before MC. If MC were anyone else, he’d absolutely treat her very well, and he wouldn’t have any qualms about acknowledging any feelings toward her. MC’s only flaw is that she’s Burkhard’s daughter, and at the very least, Valentin can acknowledge his hypocrisy and deep down, he knows it’s unfair to hate and hurt her for reasons far beyond any control.
On a meta-level, is Valentin’s character an asshole? Yes, but only in this specific scenario. If his father had been even just 10% less of an asshole, or if he had a strong and non-murderous paternal role model, he wouldn’t be a victim of Asshole Syndrome. Would he still be a surly jerk? Absolutely, but he’d be pretty harmless to MC overall, so he’s a 7/10 asshole in AAB, but a 5/10 asshole as a character concept, if that makes sense.
Tuko'er, oh this piece of shit, Tuko'er. Undoubtedly an asshole’s asshole, he’s petty, ruthless, vicious, and completely unhinged. He takes delight in hurting the one he loves, and even more out of just being toxic toward her, and to be totally honest, he just wants to drag her down to his level so he won’t be so lonely down there hell. He’s an irredeemable abuser who is perpetuating the cycle, but let’s take a step back for a second to look at how we got here.
He grew up in a household where power was the only thing that mattered. His father scorned him and set out to purposefully to make him miserable because of his mother is, and his mother was emotionally-unavailable and resented him for being his father’s son. His older siblings either ignored and tormented him, and the same went for the servants. Despite all this, he was still very much a noble and magnanimous wide-eyed idealist, though he was internalizing all of this shitty behaviour deep down. Tuko'er craved affection and validation, received neither from his household, and the only person he ever really connected with and felt ‘seen’ by was Utanzhu. Funny enough, his frustrations over how powerless and useless he was in helping her all culminated to him falling victim to Asshole Syndrome, and becoming everything he didn’t want to be. Lo and behold, it worked in his favour, and validated his behaviour.
At one point, before he became an asshole, Tuko'er loved genuinely and unselfishly. He craved affection, but never thought he was entitled to it, but now, after embracing shitty behaviour so long, it’s become completely twisted. He treats his consorts and Samazy indifferently – polite, distant, and doing no more and no less than what’s expected, while with Utanzhu, it’s an all-consuming, irrational, and distorted love.
Like Valentin, Tuko'er is an asshole, but only under specific scenarios. If he had others he could trust, or if he had been sent away to a different court, he wouldn’t have become a poster child for Asshole Syndrome. In fact, he would’ve probably completely embraced his noble ideals, and become more like Yumaju, to be honest. Or at the very least, closer to what Valentin is, misguided and hurt, and trying to retake control of his life by fighting against those who hurt him. In KoK, he’s absolutely a 9/10 asshole with few – if any – redeeming qualities left, while he goes from about a 3-7/10 asshole as a character concept.
Now Vezian, my sweet and beloved Asshole Supreme. The OG Trashman, the Prototype Locria-Trashman, the guy who was just as deplorable when he was written to be a protagonist as he is now as an antagonist, an arrogant and pompous character who became a narcissistic psychopath the more I wrote him etc, etc, etc. I can’t tell if he’s more of a megalomaniac or a psychopath or a narcissist, but I can tell that he’s a real piece of work, and desperately needs some therapy (to be honest, they all do though).
Unlike Valentin and Tuko'er, he actually had a very good childhood. Sure, there were some snide remarks about his status and his mother, but overall, his mother loved him dearly, his father was at the very least, not overtly-abusive, his siblings, the Empress, and the other consorts were all either civil, or just distant to him, and the servants charged with caring for him all treated him well. Sure, he was always an arrogant little brat, but in a way, it was justified since he was very intelligent and talented, it’s just too bad he’s completely embraced the Asshole Syndrome. Nobody who really matters puts him down, but Vezian’s internalized those whispers he used to hear about himself as a child, and has now convinced himself that everyone sees him that way, and that Launcelin, is out to get him.
Can he love genuinely and unselfishly? At the moment, it’s a tentative yes, since he does love his mother and Doradeira, but other than them, I don’t know if he’s capable of forming that kind of bond with anyone else, even if he does fall in love with MC. In 10+ years of writing him, I’ve always flip-flopped on this aspect because I’d like to believe in the best for Vezian, and that he can eventually learn to be less selfish, more open-minded, but the older I get, the less it seems likely because he doesn’t think he needs help/change, and how can one grow and mature if they refuse to believe they need to in the first place?
So Vezian’s absolutely an asshole in ABEA, 10/10 the others wish they could be as irredeemable as him, but on a meta level, I don’t really know? I feel like he could become a regular harmless douchecanoe if he ever got the help he needed, but do I think he’d ever accept help, or even acknowledge that he needs it? He’s still such a difficult character to grasp, even though I’ve been writing him the longest in this list.