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An H-game almost always has someone into whose shoes you are put. Rarely is it a Hello, Insert Name Here character - instead, you usually play as someone, usually male, and their face is never shown so you can more easily step into their shoes. It is also common for the game or game manual to give you a brief description of who they are and a little about their personality, just so you know who it is you are playing as.
However, not all are The Faceless by default. Some will have their entire face shown, and in the games where you are not having the character narrate for you, you get to watch them interact onscreen, even in scenes not necessarily H scenes by default. Also, even though it's uncommon, it is not unheard of to have the character in question be female while still exhibiting the standard tropes of a male hentai hero. Protagonists of ero-otome games aimed at a female audience, however, tend to use a different sort of characterization.
Finally, much like there is a Sliding Scale of Anti-Heroes, below is a scale of common protagonists, from most likable to most loathsome.
Type I: Nice Guy - A generally likable person who is usually accorded respect or admiration throughout the game, and is usually a virtuous, caring person. If he's a pervert, he'll likely be one of the kinder variety. Generally the protagonist of light-hearted H-Games or ones with little to no rape scenes.
Type II: Troubled but Cute
- Type A: Much like the Type I, but they have more flaws. Generally well liked or desired by most romance options, they may have some hidden things about them that are unsavory or make them somewhat unlikable, but they can graduate to a Type I by the end of the story for the most part. Seen most often in games with some dark themes, but generally end happy.
- Type B: Closer to being a very sympathetic Type IV, and even though games with this type are generally quite dark, they can usually either graduate to a Type I or remain sympathetic, though they can get worse if there is any Bad Ending choices, and conversely can get better, though their good endings are almost always of the Earn Your Happy Ending type.
Type III: Handsome Lech - Default protagonist. Can be desired by romancable options, but is generally not an inherent Jerkass or Villain Protagonist, just very lecherous. Generally not inclined towards rape, but it can be an option. Usually graduates to a Type I in most endings, though can remain as they are if there is a Harem Ending. Has two variants:
- Type A: Much like a Type I, but tends to get laid quite a bit, but since these protagonists are generally stars of games where sex is generally portrayed positively (though usually only if the protagonist is the initiating party)
- Type B: Closer to a Type IV, but the tone of the game is lighthearted enough having lots of sex doesn't make them more unlikable than they are by default by ingame standards.
Type IV: Jerk with a Heart of Gold - Somewhat unlikable protagonist, usually a protagonist of game with fairly dark themes. Can graduate to a Type I if the game allows, but if the game endings remain dark, may only reach Type II, or can end up a Jerkass or Villain Protagonist if the game has bad endings, and rape is almost definitely something they can do at one point or another.
Type V: Jerkass - Highly unlikable jackass, though what separates this protagonist from a Villain Protagonist is either the tone of the game, or the fact they don't go around raping for For the Evulz. However, depending on the game, they can graduate to Type III by game end, or even Type I if the game allows and they get sufficient Character Development.
Type VI: Villain Protagonist
- Type A: You are in the shoes of a Villain Protagonist, usually a Straw Misogynist who considers women (and in yaoi games, men) little more than sex objects at best, and torture subjects at worst, and they usually take sadistic pleasure in what they do. This protagonist almost never has a chance to improve themselves, and is generally the POV character of games based around rape and sexual exploitation.
- Type B: when the character isn't so much evil by choice as evil by circumstance. They usually aren't human, thus not versed in conventional morality, or they are human or humanoid and have a very strange Blue and Orange Morality guiding their actions. However, while they might be sympathetic in some respects, they are still just as amoral as the Type A version, if not as outright malevolent.
NOTE: The descriptions are based off the protagonist's initial portrayal, and examples should describe their overall progression to game end and how they can develop.
Type I Examples:
- Arata Fukamori of Princess Waltz is a pretty upstanding guy, and all his scenes are plot relevant, consensual, and even romantic. He also happens to be a mostly Badass Normal.
- Hakuoro of Utawarerumono is very much a Type I in personality, and generally speaking remains one. Has some Type II B traits, though for a long time they aren't apparent.
- Hewie from Castle Fantasia 2 Renewal is good example of this, and all of his endings end rather happily.
- Hisao Nakai from Katawa Shoujo. While he has his flaws, and a debilitating heart condition, he manages to cope with them both over the course of the game, changing for the better along the way. His personality does not shift to another level even in the worst bad endings: he does feel a lot of regret over the Your Cheating Heart in Shizune's route, and in Hanako's bad ending he is genuinely shaken when she snaps on him due to thinking he only pities her...
- Hyaweh of Prism Ark, also an Idiot Hero.
- Luka from Monster Girl Quest has Good Is Dumb attitude. Turn out that he knows that he's acting like an Idiot Hero, but it's the right thing to do. Even with his Dark and Troubled Past reveals as the game progress, he remains a nice guy. He does dip into Type II at times, but he always manages to recover a little wiser each time, still retaining his decency and innate nobility.
- Naoe Riki from Little Busters!
- Osanai Syouko from Aoi Shiro, a female example.
- Rudy of Brave Soul has aspects of Type III, but for the most part is a Type I. He also happens to be a Badass Normal.
- Ryouji Misawa from Cosplay Fetish Academy is mostly this, with some Type III A inclinations (justified given the premise), and he can either remain the same in most endings, or be a played straight Type III A.
- Yuuji Tachibana from Snow Sakura.
- Ichigo is a female example from Sugar's Delight.
Type II Examples:
- Shirou Emiya from Fate/stay night is a 60/40 mix of Type II B and A respectively, and while he has trouble with overprotectiveness going into Stay in the Kitchen tendencies (mostly to Saber), being somewhat Oblivious to Love, and has a ton of reasons to be brooding (both normal and supernaturally induced) like fellow Nasuverse character Shiki Tohno, he's ultimately a decent guy with a good heart, though his portrayal is somewhat different depending on game arc.
- Raidy Of Lightning Warrior Raidy is mostly a Type I except for her Pay Evil Unto Evil tendencies (she visits sexual torture on defeated bosses to give them a taste of their own medicine as retribution for what they did to their victims), resulting in her being a Type II A. In fact, being a female Knight in Shining Armor even gets her wide praise in both games.
- Leiji Osumi from Critical Point walks a fine line between Type A and B. While he is a calm, serious professional who is generally upstanding and civil, he has a Dark and Troubled Past that causes him to have PTSD induced dark moments, and he can even die in several endings. Conversely, he's a decent guy for the most part and can graduate to Type I in some endings, and can be a Type III B in others.
- Shiki Tohno of Tsukihime is a Type B version, and even though he can ultimately get some happy endings, he can get many early Bad Ending paths, and can even die in the actual final scene of the game, depending on route. Generally likable to an extent, not to mention a Bad Ass, but does have some dark traits about him (not all of which are his fault) that can make him something a Jerkass at worst.
- Fuminori from Saya no Uta starts off as sympathetic, but quickly reveals himself to shun all normal human contact (not that he doesn't have his reasons) before the first few scenes are over. Over the course of the game, he can remain a Type II B if one gets the earliest available ending, or can descend to a Type VI-A or -B in the other two endings.
- Takahiro Maejima from Hitomi is an odd case, given how the game has dark and light paths you can follow, and if you pick the most lighthearted path, he becomes a Type I. He can descend to Type VI territory in other paths, and wind up a Type III-B in others but overall, he starts as a Type II-B.
- Kurou from Deus Machina Demonbane is a Type II-B. On the surface, he's a foul mouthed slacker douchebag, but that's on the surface. Once you get past the surface impressions, he's a very devoted Badass Abnormal mecha pilot (who is just as Badass out of the mecha) who, depending on route, wins over Al, Ruri, or Badass Abnormal Action Girl Metatron i.e. - Lecia, and though his portrayal varies somewhat in each route, he generally remains a Type II-B.
- Kouhei Kagami from Yume Miru Kusuri is a Type II-A. On the outside, he's pleasant and on fairly good terms with everybody. On the inside, he's transparent, shallow, and willingly keeps his distance from others. He graduates to a Type I by the end of each heroine's good ending.
Type III Examples:
- Both Do You Like Horny Bunnies games feature a Type III-A protagonist, and their endings usually put them in Type I territory by the end.
- Ibuki of Lets Meow Meow is a very nice guy version of Type III-A, and his endings usually end in him becoming a Type I.
- Both protagonists of the Come See Me Tonight games are a Type A version of this, unless one gets the bad ending, otherwise they graduate to full-fledged Type I. They can still do this if they get the Harem Ending, winding up a being a mix of Type I and Type III-A.
- Takuya Aihara from X-Change straddles the line between III-A and B. He has a few options to force himself on someone at least once a game, but for the most part is a well-meaning if not-too-bright rape magnet. That said, his good ending paths tends to send him into Type I territory.
- The protagonist of True Love: Junai Monogatari is a definite pervert, but never strays from chivalrous territory, can be surprisingly good at giving advice at times, and several of his key events with the girls involve saving them from Near-Rape Experiences.
Type IV Examples:
- Taki Minase of Bible Black starts as one, and can graduate to a Type I, or in some endings downgrade to a Type VI.
- Azai Kyousuke of G Senjou no Maou is this. He's a very cynical person who thinks that money is what makes the world go round due to his upbringing, but as some routes progress, he reveals a genuinely nice side to him. He becomes a Type V in two bad endings.
Type V Examples:
- Conquering The Queen brings us Vincent Conquer, who can easily jump to Type VI, but starts as a very dark Type V, managing to avoid Type VI territory in universe for a long while due to a combination of Genre Savvy and Pragmatic Villainy, and even when he does descend into Type VI in some endings, he milks Villain with Good Publicity for all its worth to compensate.
- It's hard to know what to make of the title character of Rance. It's said at one point that he's completely pure of negative emotions like jealousy, but he's got very few apparent scruples, and he doesn't care one way or the other whether the women he wants to have sex with want to have sex with him. Depending on how innocent he really is, he could be a very dark type V. His redeeming quality however is that he wouldn't dare lay a finger on an underage girl like Sengoku Rance proves.And the time he was magically duped into doing so in the second game horrified him.
- Yujiro from Slave Pageant is a classic Type V for most of the game, with heavy Type IV leanings, and most of the endings have him graduate to played straight Type IV, and the harem ending makes him a Type III B.
- Kuro from Idols Galore is apparently a textbook Type V from the start, except somewhat more classy about it, and thanks to having a Cute Bruiser Morality Pet, it takes quite awhile for his amoral tendencies to totally show. Once they do, he reveals himself to be, at absolute worst, exactly this type of protagonist, but overall, he usually winds up being far closer to a reluctant Type IV, mostly by virtue of the fact most ending paths reveal he's not nearly as ruthless and amoral as he'd like to believe himself to be, which even he is surprised by. In the Harem Ending, he can even straddle the line between a Type IV and and a Type III B.
- Ginji Takeda from Jewel Knights Crusaders starts as this, and dips into Type VI territory quite a bit. Can mellow out to a Type III B in most endings.
- Yuu Saito from Misleet. His only redeeming point is his victim is even worse than him. May even end up as Type VI depending on the route.
Type VI Examples:
- Akane from Hanachirasu is a Type VI A, though he does seem to be aware of it, as it was all a means to an end, hence why he kills himself at the end of the first ending.
- Gibo protagonist Yusuke Yagami reveals himself to be a Type VI A almost immediately, though some endings can nudge him into straddling Type V territory.
- Virgin Roster protagonist Kengo Inui is a definite version of Type VI A, enjoying his role as Villain Protagonist, and the fact he always winds up a Karma Houdini doesn't help. Has a brief Heel Realization moment at one point, but nothing comes of it.
- Atlach=Nacha protagonist Hatsune is Type VI B. She is a Jorogumo, a Giant SpiderYoukai, and thusly it's in her nature to eat humans. On the other hand, a major part of the reason why she's eating people is to restore power, she can do the same thing by having sex, and her default path is to both seduce and eat people, determining who is left alive and who becomes lunch primarily by gender bias (girls for lovers, boys for lunch). There seems to be a harem option, implying that she might have a merciful side.
- The player character of Rapelay is a Type VI A through and through. A girl he felt up on the train reported him to the police and got him thrown in jail. His response? Rape her, her mother, and her younger sister in retaliation.