Which key protagonist has the most HEART?

Things have been kind of quiet lately. Let’s fix that! Lurking through some old topics I found one thread about which key character is the biggest douchebag. So that got me thinking about the inverse idea. I don’t really have a better way of wording this, but which key character do you think has the nicest heart? A lot are jerks on the outside, but at the core of every key protagonist is a pretty nice guy. Which one do you think has the most HEART?

General comments about their character is okay but be sure to mark anything that isn’t very very early series with [spoiler] tags. If you’re in doubt, tag it.

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You can really make a good argument for just about any protag. To list a couple points to kick things off:
Junker: Our watching of Hoshi no Hito really got me to care about the Junker even more than I did reading the kinetic novel. He was an ass to Yumemi at first but he could have left or stopped her at any time, but he didn’t.
Tomoya: Starts out apathetic but NGGH THAT CHARACTER ARC.
Riki: There’s not much I have to say about Riki. Sure, in the bad ends he messes up and does things like (Komari EX)rape an emotionally destroyed girl or (Kud)let someone watch her mom get executed but who doesn’t do things like that from time to time?
Otonashi: Knowing his backstory is enough to see he’s a pretty cool guy.
Yuu: A total prick but to be fair he got his shit together and (end of series)embarked on a quest to save the world

I don’t know much about Riki, but at least out of all the other guys Tomoya has the biggest change of heart.

Otonashi is automatically disqualified and the rest are all jerks except for Yukito, the only Key protag who seems to have determination, an understanding of others, and an idea of how to progress. If you take heart to mean passion, he has it. If you take heart to mean empathy, Yukito is your guy.


Hinata will forevee have the biggest heart in my book (yes he is a protagonist because you absolutely must consider Heaven’s Door). He puts up with yuri, is able to give otonashi the advice he needs without him asking for it, and heck, what happens at the end with Yui; if that doesn’t take heart then I don’t know what will.

Hinata is the broest of the bros, and has a bigger heart than anyone I know, fictional or not.


Hinata is kind of a special case as far as key protags go. He was originally a supporting character so he was designed to be a bro. One issue though

Masato would like to have a word with you.


I don’t know… I would say Tomoya doesn’t have that big of a change imo. I would say that he just emotionally detach himself from the world that makes him seem like a jerk… Deep down I don’t think he really changes, but instead his experience throughout the VN reattaches his emotion to the world. Otherwise, why would he help Nagisa in the first place? And why would people like Ryou and Kyou secretly like him?


Objection. He was the original protagonist of Angel Beats Track Zero before the anime even aired, so he can’t be considered as ‘originally designed to be a supporting character’.

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It’s gotta be Riki. He treasures his friends and once he falls in love, his dedication is unmatched. In many cases, in order to support whoever is in in trouble at that time, he must first overcome his own weaknesses. And to him, those are bound to be the scariest obstacles imaginable. He takes those on head on and either breaks through them or crashes and burns right away because the hurdle was too high. There is little hesitation.
That makes him different from someone like Tomoya, who’s hesitating and losing a lot of time due to his personal worldview and problems.

One of those is an H-scene and they don’t count for several reasons.


I find this topic quite difficult to answer. Mainly due to the vagueness of the question.

First of all, how are we defining “heart”? In the opening post, it was more clarified as “has the nicest heart”, however it was also mentioned that “at the core of every key protagonist is a pretty nice guy.”

Most people far too often associate those with the most “heart” are the ones who causes the most emotional reactions. As such, these are very subjective conclusions and can’t possibly hold any objectionable merit. Not to mention that this question is pretty subjective to begin with.

As such, how can we determine who has more of a “heart” than the other? Every protagonist has different priorities and different personalities. In the end, it’s difficult to really make a conclusion on who has “more heart” than the other because they all possess altruistic traits and has shown to go out of their way to help their friends.

One thing that should also point out is that the protagonist also grows in all of these stories. Of them all, Riki from Little Busters! is perhaps the one who had the most personal growth (as frankly, he was the wimpiest out of them all). However much like all the other protagonists, he ends up being able to face strife confidently and coming out a better person.

So perhaps the question should not be “who has the most heart”, but rather, “whose growth affected others the most?” That’s how I take it. After all, all the protagonists in the end are people who seem to be worth befriending.

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“Heart” either means kindness, compassion, or determination. Since the thread is a counterpart to the douche-bag topic, I’m guessing the focal meaning here is kindness. I’d disagree with limiting it to purely kindness because… There’s like one somewhat-consistently kind Key protagonist.

That isn’t really what this topic is about though. Even if it was, a lot of Key protags don’t grow to such effect if at all, so the answers would be obvious.

Right. I’m aware of all of its connotations and definitions, but since it’s open to interpretation, I think it would have been best if there were some examples of exactly what people are looking for.

When it comes to “kindness”, I think it applies to all of the protagonists. Sure, they don’t always exhibit “kind” behavior (such as Tomoya, Yuuichi, Yukito), but they do show some sort of compassion through their actions. Besides, people with personality traits the three protagonists I mentioned earlier tend to show a bit of affection through teasing. While there are moments where some of the protagonists just seem straight up mean (such as Tomoya pretty much treating Sunohara like trash), you can’t simply dismiss it as something that character inherently does to every other character as that’s obviously quite the opposite of the truth.

Perhaps a good example of what I’m trying to portray here is something similar to how Leonard “Bones” McCoy and Spock (From Star Trek: TOS) interact with each other. If one were to initially view their banter towards each other, you’d swear they hated each other. The more you see them together, however, the more you can see the bond they actually share.

Right, like I said, Riki from Little Busters is the one character whose growth was the most substantial. Nevertheless, you can still argue each character still has a big “heart”. There are just some characters we connect with more due to the themes each story presented which, thus, would appear to have a bigger “heart” to us.

Sorry, this got really long and I used the spoiler tags a bit more than I thought I would

Alright, so my basis for judging whether or not a protagonist has “heart” or not will be based on who they are at the end of the VN/Anime, since I believe (especially when dealing with Key protagonists, who aren’t particularly malevolent) that past transgressions don’t necessarily define who they are now, especially if they drastically change in their character arc.

How I am defining heart is generally the archetypical qualities one would assume are associated with someone having a lot of Heart; having a strong sense of compassion, sympathy and develops emotional strength throughout the VN or Anime that the character is in. I also am considering a character’s weakness in this, as showing weakness in itself I consider a strength of the heart in regards to sympathy/overall caring (though I know not everyone will agree with me on that). In a lot of ways, for me to say a particular Key protag has the most heart, they have to by the end show the kinder traits that humans possess. Also, I didn’t include the protagonists from Air or Rewrite, as I only saw a bit of Air before dropping it and I have yet to watch Rewrite.

So without further ado…

Otonashi: In a strictly objective sense, this seems like the perfect fit, since he has the most sympathizable motivation/aspirations in that he wants to help people who suffered the same sickness that his sister died to. He also signed off to have any of his organs donated to people who might need it. It is evident that he
cares for his friends considerably, especially as the anime goes on. He pushes others to do the things they are a little apprehensive to do and generally is very supportive. By the end, we learn that not only does he have strong morals, plenty of compassion for others misfortunes but he can also show some weakness, in the form of him being heartbroken that his love Angel had to move on, leaving him alone (though he would join her soon enough). That weakness he had further proves that he has a very compassionate and caring personality.

Riki: Another strong candidate, Riki throughout the anime shows a great deal of compassion for his friends. As others have mentioned, some of his actions can be considered questionable, however, most of his intentions are consistently good. In order to have a strong heart, you must also have a strong will and be determined and of all the Key protagonists, I would say this most accurately describes Riki. Despite a lot of the circumstances he saw his closest friends deal with also including having all his friends nearly die in a horrific bus accident , his emotional strength and maturity only grew as the anime concluded. Riki first had to confront his biggest weaknesses in order to gain a strength of heart along with his compassion, and he indeed did so throughout the course of the anime. He went from seeming fairly weak to being the strongest Buster by the end, proving that he has a ton of heart. Though I still wouldn’t say he has the most (close second though)…

The Junker (from Planetarian): The way his character is set up, he likely might have the least amount of heart of everyone, especially given the setting he exists in. From what I gathered,
it seemed intentional as the great irony was that Yumemi’s character had all of the hope and humanity that The Junker had long since forsaken, despite being a robot . However, by the end, The Junker had become a person who exhibited more heart in his kindness and compassion towards Yumemi especially when she died, he seemed genuinely really sad that the thing that annoyed him so much at the beginning was now gone . Overall though, I don’t think that The Junker having plenty of “heart” was ever the intention of his character to begin with.

Yuichi: This character is fairly normal/average in terms of Key protagonists. As the anime (referring to the 2006 one) concludes, he learns to gradually become more sensitive and even compassionate to others (particularily women) and does manage to achieve that like in Makoto’s wedding and his interactions with Shiori , though I would say he doesn’t grow or develop as much as other Key protagonists do. A likeable protagonist and has some heart, but not enough in my view to take the top spot.

Yu Otosaka (AKA Lelouche): Oddly enough upon further reflection, despite the fact that he starts of as a douche, he grows considerably and by the end, possesses a very strong heart and a surprising amount of character depth. Compare his narcassistic persionality and apathetic attitudes at the beginning (was perfectly willing to endanger the life of a truck driver to appear a hero) to his personality by the mid-end point of the anime showing a uncharacteristic amount of vulnerability and deep sadness when his sister dies and it is clear that through meeting others, he started changing his attitude towards others greatly and started showing a lot more heart. Given the events that he undertook, by the end he became someone who would actually fight for others and for something far greater than his own self interests. In a lot of ways, he has an abundance amount of “heart” through his newfound determination and kindness by the end.

Tomoya: This might seem exceedingly biased of me to have this as the protagonist who has the most heart, but I certainly argue that he does. In fact, Okazaki contains the best traits of all the protagonists I have discussed. Sure, similar to Yu, he started off as pretty dickish. He did, however, have a backstory that helped explain some of his more delinquent behaviors, as the VN says, he was abused as a child by his father. However, as the anime (and VN) continues on, he slowly starts being able to get invested in some of the characters dilemnas (much like Riki or Yuichi). The backstories he learned about in others lives and seeing how deeply it affected them on a personal level slowly helped him become more sensitive to others thoughts and feelings, even behind his sarcastic persona. By the end of the first season alone, he was very much a changed man who already possessed a great deal of heart. He became emotionally invested in Nagisa, who he would ask to become his girlfriend and had shown admirable determination in getting his newfound friends closure like getting Fuko what she always wanted by gathering as many people as possible for her sisters wedding and also recreating the garden for Kotomi like she had as a kid . I would even go so far as to say he helped his friends come to terms with their troubles as much or even more so than other Key protagonists like Riki.

Then After Story happens, and this is really where I think Tomoya proves his heartiness. To contrast, he went from being a person who would scrap with other guys for seemingly silly reasons to someone who fights for others/those he cares to protect. I do recognize that after a certain event (that being Nagisa’s death after delivering Ushio) he does become very hurt and hides from his responsibilities and runs away from his daughter much like his Dad largely ignored Okazaki However, even in a irresponsible and selfish act, he does eventually gather the courage to be a better man than his father and own up to said responsibilites. In easily one of the most emotionally powerful moments in After Story, he confronts someone from his past and ultimately admits that despite the circumstances, his father wasn’t really that bad and recognized that despite his father’s own turmoil, did try and be a father to him. It took a great deal of inner strength and compassion to do so, proving further that despite his failings and mistakes, he still had an immense amount of heart. And by the very end of the series, Tomoya has become a mature, responsible and very compassionate person who despite all the massive struggles he has faced and sins he commited, strengthened the weakness and frailty in his heart/personality; he also has the strong sense of family and morality that Otonashi had, the emotional strength that Riki posesses, overcame drastic obstacles as the Junker protagonist did, became more sensitive to the thoughts and feelings of others like Yuichi had and became someone who cared deeply about others and fought for them after being stricken with guilt like Yu had.

TL;DR: Otonashi in a lot of ways could objectively be considered the protag who has the most heart, as he has shown less selfishness than the other Key protagonists and has an admirable life goal. Riki also contains a lot of heart, since he helps other fellow busters out with their emotional turbulence and becomes strong, despite starting out weak both physically and emotionally. The Junker is still kinda a jerk by the end of it, but considering the purpose of his character and the setting he exists in, it is expected (still puts him out of contention in my eyes for having the most heart). Yuichi does possess some heart though gaining sensitivity by meeting and befriending various females, though he himself I felt recieved a smaller amount of character development, which does hurt his chances for having the most heart. Yu in hindsight has a lot of heart since he evolves rather drastically to someone who fights for other causes after reciving some humbling experiences through events in his life. I know bias does play into my choice a bit, but I feel Tomoya has the most heart since, by the end of After Story, he contains all of the other protagonists best traits that I just mentioned and becomes a much more responsible and emotionally strong person.


Joke’s on you because (AB spoilers) he doesn’t have one


The problem with Tomoya is that sometimes, he outright refuses to care about certain people and their troubles or doesn’t take their feelings into consideration, as I said, when there’s something weighing down on him. He gets really stubborn about it and it takes a third party to take his hand and properly explain to him why he SHOULD care and be considerate.
It’s not an outright bad trait, I mean, it’s pretty natural, but it goes to show that Tomoya is not as selfless as other Key protagonists.

I’ll name a few examples.
Tomoyo: Society was being a jerk and trying to pull Tomoya and Tomoyo apart. Tomoyo’s life goal at that time - saving the sakura trees in front of the school - had been put at risk. That triggered Tomoya’s inferiority complex. He believed that Tomoyo was too good for the likes of him and that he was dragging her down. So he ignored her feelings and one-sidedly ended their relationship. (It did get the job done and prevented Tomoyo from doing anything stupid, since she was too stubborn to take any smarter approaches.) Take note that to him, it was not a short-term strategy to help Tomoyo achieve her goals. He genuinely believed that Tomoyo was better off staying away from him forever. So getting back together was 100% Tomoyo’s effort.
Ushio: What got Tomoya to finally take care of his daughter like he was supposed to was not his sense of responsibility. Akio and Sanae have simply forced him to spend time with Ushio so that Tomoya would start loving her. And that love was stronger than the grief of losing Nagisa. All it took was spending a bit of time together, which he had refused to do for years. He did not care enough for her to even share a little bit of his time with her.
Naoyuki: A father who had crippled you and talks to you like a stranger is not easy person to have a heart-to-heart talk with. But Tomoya was really damn stubborn in this particular case. So the game changer this time was Naoyuki’s mom who walked up to him and said “Hey, he’s actually a great guy”, and then Tomoya suddenly remembered all the good parts about his father, realized he was an even bigger failure and changed his mind.

And while those conflicts did get resolved (mosstly by someone else’s effort), there’s no guarantee that Tomoya had actually learned something from them. In the end, started to care about specific people (he would not push away Tomoyo, Ushio and Naoyuki again), but I’m not convinced that he would definitely do better if a similar situation were to occur again.

Joke’s on you because Taka already pointed it out.

And now that the joke is done with, both of you can start giving him a fair chance, since he’s a solid second place.


Tbh I thought we disqualified him because his entire character is based around how much he cares about every single member of the SSS

Honestly I only made the joke because I haven’t read AB and the anime gives me nothing to work with. I just dunno what Otonashi is. At first glance he is too malleable to get a handle on.

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Nice counterpoints to my post. It gave me something to think about and I have some (admitedly really long) counterpoints (to yours) on why exactly I disagree, though I do see where you are coming from. There is a TL;DR at the bottom if people don’t wanna read the lengthy response I wrote out, though it has more context and detail than the TL;DR has. Anyone who has not read nor watched After Story nor the OVA’s shouldn’t click on the spoiler tags (obviously).

Tomoyo: [spoiler] Sure, his feelings of inferiority had a part to play in him breaking the relationship. However, there is more at play here. As you mentioned, yes the student body judged him unfairly because of his reputation and they were relating it back to Tomoyo. Tomoya saw first hand that him staying with her was hurting her chances, despite the fact that the students (as they are in all high school anime) were being judgemental pricks. So was he really only thinking about himself when he broke up with her? His own feelings do play a part in this, as love itself is generally selfish and in some respects, Tomoyo was being selfish in her own selflessness to keep the relationship together. It would only cripple her chances at achieving her goal and Tomoya has likely in some aspect been conscious and aware of this. I don’t feel like he was ignoring her feelings here and in some aspects, he was being mindful of it. Tomoyo, in this case, was spreading herself too thin and despite her noble efforts to spend time with Tomoya where she can, she was clearly not well equipped to juggle all these issues herself. Despite the fact that Tomoya may still be a delinquent, I didn’t feel like he was purely being selfish and ignoring the other person in this relationship, since staying like this and hurting her own chances at being the Student Council President because of his own feelings would have been more selfish and harmful if anything.

Tomoya’s feelings of insecurity/inferiority here are in a way, still him showing that he does in fact care. These thoughts have some selflessness to them I argue as he is still thinking of her and putting his own desires aside. While there is definitely a self-absorbedness to being insecure and having that complex, for that inferiority kick that you mentioned to happen, he would’ve had to be thinking about Tomoyo’s goal. And once she had achieved it, it was a better time to have a relationship in. Deep down, both Tomoyo and Tomoya must have known it. Tomoyo was the one here who wanted the relationship back and did a lot of the work, but an important thing that Tomoya made her realize was that there is a right and wrong time to fight for a relationship. In the end, it was still Tomoya’s decision to go back to her anyway. [/spoiler]

Ushio: [spoiler] Alright, so yes, him leaving after Nagisa’s death in delivery WAS a morally terrible thing to do. However, to say he was forced to do it I think is a stretch and to say he doesn’t care about Ushio at all I strongly disagree with.

Sanae, from my understanding, was asking Tomoya to go on a family visit. She (who might be the kindest, thoughtful and loving person in the Key universe I argue) would never just forcibly make someone still decimated by grief over the delivery be with his daughter, despite that indeed is the right thing to do. If she did, then it’d be pointless in making Tomoya as a person/father grow from this. She had to have him willingly come with them on the family visit. And if he really didn’t care about Ushio to begin with, despite some apprehension and resistance he had shown to the idea, would he ever have eventually accepted? Both Akio and Sanae knew more than anyone that Ushio needed Tomoya in her life just as he did her and forcing them to meet would be wrong, despite good intentions. It was a conscious decision on his part to not only take responsibility for him running away before but also giving Ushio the father that she needs.

Just like with Tomoyo, his reactions to the situation were more caring and even selfless than it may seem at first. He never forgot what he did and in many ways, he might not even have known how to go back with all the shame and incredible amount of guilt he felt. And even when Sanae and Akio both disappeared, he didn’t necessarily just bolt and leave her there stranded. He stayed strong and despite his own feelings of total worthlessness, asked her how she felt about being with his father who abandoned him for years. This is not something even his own father did much of.

Like I have mentioned many times, what I argue really matters here is his actions after the tragedy and how he made up for it. Tomoya didn’t run away and especially once he started to reach his own conclusions about his mistakes (note that none of them scolded him for his actions) and it further strengthened his resolve to be the best father that Ushio deserved. A good counter-example to yours is when he told Ushio about Nagisa and what kind of person she was, despite how painful doing so was. This is another action that proved just how caring Tomoya really was. In addition, this wasn’t something that others even had to tell him. Him righting his wrongs was essentially up to him and he alone had to stop living in denial so he could repair a broken family that could only get worse with the passage of time. Despite the difficulty and length of time getting there, he overcame his own turbulence and not only did what was right but also started being the best person and father that he could be to Ushio. [/spoiler]

Naoyuki: [spoiler] This one I think is especially unfair to Tomoya, considering the neglectfulness of his father and that Tomoya was indeed in a toxic environment (will touch on further soon). Of course, he would be stubborn to come back and acknowledge he tried his best, he had little else proving otherwise in his own viewpoint. His grandmother offered a perspective that he hadn’t thought of because he was deeply hurt from his father’s neglectfulness. In a painful and negative environment, it is easy to forget that parents are still parents. In a sense, you could see Tomoya as being even worse than his father for straight up leaving, but contextually there is a bit more to that action. Whenever a child is abused or neglected like that, they are likely to repeat the same sort of attitudes that they were raised in and pass them down onto their children. Tomoya neglected his own daughter in a similar way that his father did, but the big difference is what they ultimately did to change it. Tomoya’s father indeed was “there” for his own son, but never particularly made a strong enough effort to be a father to his son. He in his own way had made a few attempts and did provide for him, but he was unable to overcome the grief of his loss. He arisen ultimately the better person, which was proven by him telling his father that he wasn’t so bad and that he recognized that his father tried his best. The fact that someone else had to offer a more grounded perspective doesn’t make his actions here (or anywhere else) any more disingenuous, as he needed someone who loved him to help him through a tough time and try to look at the past with a more rational outlook and perspective (like any other human would in a really tough time in their lives).

While it may seem unrelated, there is something very important to Tomoya himself that isn’t being addressed. People in many aspects are a byproduct of their environment, especially when said element is negative. You can see this in many other Key protagonists. There are indeed characters like Riki and Otonashi that had arguably worse backstories, but both of them had a home of positive reinforcement, kindness and love. The Junker easily had the worst environment of everyone in a world already thoroughly trash and discarded by humanity’s foolishness, thus he was incredibly jaded and hardened from being in this environment for so long. Okazaki’s character is no exception, as he lived and for a good duration of the anime and VN, was still living in a abusive and neglectful environment. Thus, he didn’t have a Kyousuke to look up to nor a proper parental figure to guide him in these situations to know what he should do. People like Akio, Sanae and others helped guide him because he desperately needed it to grow and to become the person who he was by the end. No one really “forced” him to do anything, as the points you brought up were still choices that Okazaki made. He could have chosen to stay with Tomoyo, despite all the circumstances and her potentially hurting herself in her own thoughtfulness. He knew that Ushio deserved a lot better than a deadbeat father who ignored her because his father was too weak, so he put his own guilt aside and still went through with it, even when Sanae and Akio purposefully bailed. Tomoya could have kept running away from his own responsibilities and the past itself and pretend like it never happened. He could have also chosen to ignore his father and still write him off as a terrible, horrible father. Each time, he was offered a different viewpoint or an opportunity and took it into consideration not only for himself, but for others.

It would be one thing if Clannad had ended whenever Nagisa passed on and Tomoya just ran away. The episodes that happened afterwards were incredibly vital to his character and him becoming a much kinder, thoughtful and compassionate person. I see where you were coming from and how these actions may make him seem far less caring, but given the context and environment, I still stand by what I had said. Would he have done the same thing over and over again with others? I feel that’s mostly speculation but when the anime ended, he now had that warm, loving web of support so he could continue to keep growing better as a person. So I would be inclined to say no.

TL;DR: [spoiler]I don’t feel that Tomoya was really “forced” to make any of the decisions that were for others benefit, nor that he is uncaring. Many of these dilemnas dealt with his own feelings of insecurity and his emotional bias in the situation and like anyone else, he needed the love and guidance that he never received properly as a teenager to overcome them. That doesn’t make his actions any less kind or thoughtful, as when we see other friends or family members make bad decisions, we talk to them and help give them different perspectives or opportunities to move on and heal in their times of need.

In Tomoyo’s case, his own thoughts of him dragging her down had a fair bit of confirmation from his environment, since as you have pointed out, society itself wanted them to be apart. It was also beneficial for Tomoyo ultimately for her dream and even though it may seem he is only thinking about himself and ignoring others, I argue he was being conscious of both his insecurity and Tomoyo’s dream. Insecurities in themselves, when relating to others especially, can be seen as selfless.

In Ushio’s case, Sanae would (and in my eyes didn’t) force Tomoya to be in Ushio’s life. She was persistent, yes but never forcibly brought this upon Tomoya. She did it because she loved them both immensely and knew that it was best for them to be in each others lives. Besides, there is a distinction between persistence and force, as one involves willingness by the other party to partake in the activity. He actively had to make a decision to come along and start to own up to his responsibilities as a father and be there for his daughter and ultimately he did (which also shows that he isn’t uncaring as a father either). Even when Sanae and Akio left the family trip and it forced Tomoya to spend time, he was considerate of Ushio’s feelings and asked if she still wanted to continue the trip, something his father never did. That and him resolving to be the best father he can be for Ushio proves that he does in fact care for her. Otherwise, he would have continued to ignore her and give in to his own self-pity. He even told her about his mother, something that no one suggested to him that he had to do, as everyone understood how difficult that would be for Tomoya.

Regarding Naoyuki, of course Tomoya wouldn’t want to meet his father. Confronting someone who abused and neglected you (even if he still tried to be the best father he could be in his own way) is never easy and he needed an outside perspective on his father and the situation they dealt with for him. He needed that emotional support when looking back on it as it was a very difficult time for both his father and Tomoya. She only told him how she felt about it and didn’t impose her own will on him. Just like with Sanae’s offer, he had to make a decision whether or not to continue to run away from his past. He ended up admitting to his father that he in fact wasn’t terrible and now that he was a parent himself, saw that he only did the best he could in his own way.

I stand by the claim that Tomoya did all of these things willingly when analyzing the situation in its full context and wasn’t forced to do anything. Not only that, but there are a lot of times in life (including ones with other Key Protagonists like Riki) where our protagonist needed guidance, reassurance or emotional support. The three examples you listed don’t necessarily have people telling him WHY he should care, as in each of those, he receives different perspectives or opportunities which help him make the best decision. And in my opinion, this isn’t that different than other Key protagonists. Each three examples were offers that he decided to do the right thing in, which also reinforces in my opinion that Tomoya is indeed the protagonist that has the most heart.


I meant to say this when you made your first post, @botanSenpai, however I want to give huge kudos for not only giving out a specific guideline on your interpretation of what “heart” means, but also giving a very well thought out, and thorough explanation on each character’s level of “heart” and effectively comparing them.

I really do find a lot of your observations to be interesting and it is quite obvious that you are capable of critical analysis. There are many points you’ve made many others would have other missed or disregarded. It’s been quite some time since I’ve thought about any of these characters, however I’ve found that a lot of how I felt about those characters you mentioned fall in line with my own thoughts.

After reading your posts and taking your points in consideration, I find myself agreeing with your position in regards to who had the most “heart” out of the Key protagonists. Well done in your posts, Botan! Certainly someone I definitely look forward to seeing post more often.


Just so that we’re on the same page: This topic is about which protag has the most heart. I’m not saying that Tomoya is a bad person, or a failure, or that he is severely lacking “heart”. He’s still awesome. I’m saying that he posesses some weaknesses that clearly place him below other protagonists when it comes to “heart” and the examples I use refer to his lack of selflessness under certain circumstances. Namely, when Tomoya is suffering particularly hard, he agonizes more about his own pain than he does over that of others. That’s totally natural and legitimate in most cases, but that’s also why I can’t place him at the top.

You are arguing that Tomoya, after refusing to listen for a long time, does accept the kindness of others and the end and changes his mind. However, that only means that he’s not completely cold and still feels something. Unfortunately, a lot of damage is done while he’s hesitating and the one putting in the most effort is not him. He is simply accepting a good solution someone else has worked on. I do not consider the decision of accepting the kindness you’re given as an extraordinary proof of “heart”. This is also we are of different opinions on whether or not he’s learned from those experiences: I believe that since he’s not the one who faced the problem and worked out a solution, he may not be aware of what exactly was wrong about his way of thinking.

In Tomoyo’s case, Tomoya’s decision did get the job done, but it would also have pulled the two apart for good. He did not plan it as a short-term strategy with the intent of getting back together once the problem at hand is solved. His inferiority complex was still there, telling him that Tomoyo is too good for him and he’s just dragging her down. That “Two people like that… can’t be together” (actual quote from the VN). He was set on forgetting everything about his time with Tomoyo and leaving it all behind and he got pretty close to achieving just that. In that snow scene, Tomoyo had convinced Tomoya to come back to her. She had reminded him of his love for her. She had convinced him that it’s fine for him to be with her because he is now the most important thing to her.

In Ushio’s case, again, he was not doing the whole work. It was Sanae-san. Compared to that, not running away when he was alone with Ushio was a comparatively meager contribution. Of course, he loved Ushio. He loved her before she was even born. Of course he felt responsible for her, of course he felt bad about her trip getting cancelled if he didn’t get his ass up eventually. But his suffering was greater than that. And only after spending some quality time with his daughter did his parental instincts kick in and turn the tides. And only after that emotional boost did he feel strong enough to walk the painful path.

Lastly, Naoyuki’s case is where I believe Tomoya was the most at fault. You see, Tomoya kept rejecting his father because his father stopped showing him any love after that incident. He demanded unconditional love, which he is by all means entitled to, but he wasn’t willing to meet him halfway. He was convinced that his father didn’t care about him anymore and was being really stubborn and wished to not care about him, either. And that attitude came back to bite him. During After Story, he realized that Naoyuki was associating himself with some shady people. And while he did kick that one guy out of the house, he didn’t convince his dad to cut ties with those criminals as he should have. He clearly ignored a red flag here. I won’t say he deserved to have his career ruined over this but he was really being selfish. He knew there’s something bad going on but he didn’t want to help his family without getting anything in return. He refused to love someone who wouldn’t love him back. Where’s the “heart” in that? And in the end, Tomoya did not decide on his own to reconcile with his dad or question his impression of him. His grandmother had simply proven to him, that, contrary to what Tomoya thought, Naoyuki DID love him a great deal. And only then did Tomoya start seeing things from Naoyuki’s perspective. This is a very specific case about a very specific person and I’m pretty sure that what Tomoya learned from this was not to not judge a book by its cover or that everyone is fighting their own battle, but simply that his daddy loved him after all.

So once again, Tomoya is a great guy, but still not the greatest, considering how he’s sometimes not ready to face his personal fears or reconsider his attitude when those things get in the way of supporting others.

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