So as we discussed last time, ‘Edgy’ characters get a bad rap, some of it deserved, some of it not so much. This time around we’re gonna talk about character specific stuff to really try and send home why edgy characters are in fact great, and how when done right they can be some of the coolest characters in their respective series. Today I’m going to be highlighting possibly the coolest character ever created, and how it should be a case study in edgy done right.
Vergil from the Devil May Cry (DmC) series has his edgy bingo card filled out. Troubled past? Check. Questionable motives? Check. Acts in questionable ways? Triple check on that one. Makes you feel uncertain about him? Check. Darker color themes, solitary nature, more brooding nature? Check check check. Reserved/distant personality that he projects to hide his true emotions? Oh you know it baby. So now that we’ve clearly established he is in fact Edgy, what makes him done so well? Well like I mentioned last time, a lot of it comes down to characterization and the audiences understanding of the character. Simply put, how well do we know the character and his motivations? Vergil appears time and time again in the DmC series, and whenever he does appear he is always on the opposite side of our protagonist, Dante. He’s also his twin brother and eternal rival.
Vergil and Dante are both demi-humans, being born from the legendary demon Sparda and a human woman named Eva. Sparda was a super powerful badass Demon that grew a liking for humanity and decided to singlehandedly take on the Demon Realm and the Demon King Mundus, and then sealed away the realm so that they couldn’t go after the humans so freely. Naturally this pissed off… every demon in existence, and after Sparda mysteriously vanished they attacked the home of his wife and sons while they were still children. Eva found Dante and hid him somewhere safe before running back into the house to find Vergil, however she died before she ever saw him and Vergil escaped on his own. However in Vergil’s mind, she had always favorited Dante and the night of the attack he believed she chose Dante over him and left him to die, causing his emotions to get twisted. He hated Dante and his mother, but more than anything else he hated himself. For being too weak to protect his family, for being too weak to stop his life from being destroyed. He grew an obsession with power, believing it to be the only thing that mattered because you can’t keep anyone or anything safe without power to protect it.
Vergil being half human and half demon has always played an interesting role in his and Dante’s relationship. Vergil’s obsession with power drives him to antagonistic and even evil actions, however through Dante we see that he is constantly going about his pursuit of power the wrong way. Because humans are so weak when compared to demons and in need of protecting, Vergil views the human half of him as inferior and constantly suppresses it whilst nurturing his more demonic side because he believes it will make him stronger; it’s the reason he shows so little emotion. However throughout the series Dante has proven that it’s his humanity that makes him stronger, and that by nurturing it rather than neglecting it he is constantly able to surpass all of the strength Vergil manages to claw for himself. Vergil’s desire for power gets distorted to an endless chase for ultimate power, and his motivations become clouded and lacking. However Dante’s desire to protect people and love those around him pushes him to constantly get stronger but with a clear motivation behind it. As Vergil keeps shedding more of his humanity in the pursuit of power, he loses the entire reason he wanted power in the first place behind, which ultimately serves as his downfall. It’s great because it gives his ‘edgy’ traits a clear purpose for being rather than to try and make him look cool.
One of the best things about Vergil is he’s the opposite of the ‘Bosses when you fight them vs. when they become playable’ meme. He’s a playable character in three of the DmC games, two of which he’s a major antagonist and the hardest boss to fight. When they made him an enemy they gave him a full move set of his own rather than simple attack patterns. This made it really feel like you were dueling against an equal to you, they aren’t just using some basic attacks with easy to read patterns, they’re using full combos and special moves and varying up their approach just as if you were fighting another skilled player. It also had the benefit that it made turning Vergil into a playable character extremely simple. It’s one thing to see someone do some cool shit, but it’s another when they put the keys to the kingdom in your lap and say “go wild”. It removes a layer of separation between you and him and leads to him sharing the cool spotlight with you, making you even more endeared to him. It’s great because you can do even more crazy and complex combo’s than even he does in his boss fight if you get really good at the combat.
Speaking of combat, lets discuss his fighting style. Where Dante’s fighting style is chaotic and overwhelming, Vergil’s is cool and precise. His blade Yamato is a special katana that is said to be able to cut through anything, even the fabric of space and dimensions. Sparda used this blade when he destroyed the connection between the human and demon realms and left it in the care of his son Vergil before he vanished. In battle Vergil uses it to create shockwaves form his blade that can travel with precision across great distances. His speed and agility are unmatched even be Dante, and his signature move ‘Judgement Cut End’ is capable of creating a massive dome of frozen time where a myriad of slashes appear that break apart the fabric of reality as he traps his foes in a storm of slashes that all strike together when he sheathes his blade.
He also has a plethora of tools at his disposal outside of Yamato. He can create blades out of thin air with just a thought, can shoot them at enemies or have them spin around him to form a defensive barrier that shreds those who get close, he can send dozens of them into the sky and have them fall across the battlefield like rain, and he can even deflect gunfire with them. He also has a pair of super-charged gauntlets and greaves that let him send enemies into the stratosphere with super-powerful punches and kicks. He has a special form he can enter known as ‘Devil Trigger’ that supercharges his physique and speed and allows him to regenerate his wounds rapidly. He also can create a clone of his true devil form that fights alongside him in battle and often shows his true emotions.
The secret to what makes Vergil so cool and so well done is that he goes all in on the edgy and cool personality to the point that it convinces us too. He’s a reserved badass that uses a special katana that can cut through dimensions, and he quotes Shakespeare whilst he annihilates his foes. He has the classic spiky haircut that so many of them seem to have and wears blue and black colored clothes with darker themes. What’s great about these factors though is that their is intent behind each trait. He wears dark colors and spikes his hair up to differentiate him from Dante (who is the one in red), it’s not just to make him look cooler (though it still 100% does). His more reserved personality juxtoposes the cocky loudmouth jokester personality of Dante, and his focus on his katana stand apart from Dante with a massive arsenal of weapons he likes to play around with. Like I mentioned in the last article, character traits should have intent behind them regardless of the ‘trope’ or ‘niche’ the character is filling. Giving a character traits to fill a trope without their being any reason for those traits to be their just creates a bland and unbelievable character, be they edgy or paragons.
Music is also a great way to characterize a character; many characters have personal themes attached to them that just ‘feel’ like you’re listening to the musical equivalent of their soul. Think of how Superman’s themes always sound so heroic and triumphant, or how menacing and foreboding Darth Vader’s theme sounds. Music can convey raw emotions in ways sometimes even words can’t, and Vergil has a theme to rival even the greatest. “Bury the Light”, even the title evokes an image of a character torn between good and evil. This is almost a 10 minute track, and it is amazing; both from a musical standpoint and as it conveys the character of Vergil. This is not only my favorite track from any game, it is my favorite song. Period. I have listened to this track over 100 times, and I still listen to it when I’m in need of a pick me up. I’m literally listening to it right now as I’m writing this sentence. It’s just so damn good. Just… give it a listen and tell me it didn’t rock your soul whilst also send you into a trance-like state of deep thought and contemplation.
And… that’s a wrap! Honestly as good as my paragraphs of text may have been to try and convince you that Vergil is the absolute coolest, you could just as easily look up a compilation of Vergil’s appearances and his attacks on YouTube and be swayed just as easily. I also love how all the main DmC characters take a unique approach to the cool/badass character type. Even if Vergil isn’t your cup of tea (liar) you’re quite likely to find Dante or Nero to be amazing as well. Basically this is my not so subtle way of saying that the Devil May Cry series is phenomenal and that you should experience it yourself. I’m honestly not sure what I’ll do next, but that’s part of the fun of it! However until then, I want to thank you all so much for reading this, and I hope that you stay healthy until next time!