I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what makes a loser a loser, there are a few standards to go by when addressing a character like this, they have no job or a low paying one, mooches off others, no degree or diplomas and if still in school does poorly, untalented, been divorced, seen as odd, no girlfriend, no friends, bottom of the totem poll in a social order and is barley making do. When a character hits enough of these milestones they end up becoming a loser, but after watching multiple loser characters I found a contributing factor to what a loser needs to achieve the ever elustrist loser title, a feature that many overlook in the part of character creation, the feeling of being a loser.
Let’s look at your standard loser characters like Satou from Welcome To The N.H.K (Anime Adaption) and Tomoko from Watamote (Anime Adapation). While Satou is an adult and Tomoko is a student these are two loser characters. While Satou eventually gains friends and while he does get a job writing a script for a gal game although unpaid it’s still a job and while he doesn’t have a girlfriend he is still classifies himself a loser at least according to him because of his Hikikomori status, where he has withdrawn from society and basically doesn’t leave his apartment and the entire plot of the series is him basically trying to integrate back into society. Tomoko doesn’t have any friends, doesn’t have a lover and can’t interact socially with others at least in the anime series and for a long proportion of that series defines herself as an unpopular girl or in other words a loser and each time she tries to get out of her position in life and reach her goal of popularity she makes a fool out of herself and learns nothing from the experience that she has put herself in. Both of the series end on a happy note but these characters are shown to us as losers for the majority runtime of the series.
These characters are an amalgamation of what it means to be a loser and you could argue that them being a loser makes them a loser which adds into the feel of it but what about a loser character who has a friend and a life who would for all intents and purpose would just be an average guy.
I’ve noticed this in the play Be More Chill (A story about a boy trying to score with a girl so he injects a super computer (SQUIP) into his brain to help him and then it all goes wrong as expected) where the hero of the story Jeremy considers himself a loser despite having a friend and a social life, (I don’t care what he say’s having someone to play video games with in the basement sounds like a life to me) but for me at least I view him as a loser because he see’s himself that way. This character is still in school with him being on the lower standing in the school hierarchy despite having friends and a social life, during the begging of the play his friend Michael saying that it’s no better time to be a loser although with a happy tone making fun of there respective status. The SQUIP in his head digs into his fears and brings out what he’s hiding from himself that he is a loser and at the beginning of the play we get the feeling he is a loser because of his discontent with life.
You may disagree with me on this and say that a character must hit a certain amount of milestones to be a loser and gives of that feeling as I earlier described but with the for mentioned of Jeremy and despite having a friend and a life with him still views himself as a loser. While on the other hand a man who has no job, no financial stability, no lover and while he has friends is for all tense and purposes a loser but he doesn’t come off that way.
The Big Lebroaski houses a loser character Leboarski a.k.a The Dude and he’s living a typical loser life, no job, no girlfriend, looks like he got dressed in the dark and is not flush with cash. The typical loser but what makes him different he doesn’t think of himself as such, he knows he’s a loser he admits as much when people accuse him of this but he doesn’t care about how others see him he’s happy with his life. He has friends or singular friend now, has a hobby the he enjoys and while aware of his financial difficulties but he isn’t stressed by them, as he believes he will find an answer and he does. This man is happy with his life and enjoys what he does and that’s hanging out with his friends bowling and just living his life despite how insane it can get. Loser characters are never truly happy sure they can be for a few moments but they are never truly satisfied with their life but the Dude is overall happy and is never truly ever down he likes his life and so what if people call him a loser he is far more happy then they ever will be.
This can be argued of non loser characters too but these people have things happening in their life to say they have made it, jobs, friends, financial stability and a lover in they’re life these people want more and although they’re ups and downs they don’t view themselves as loser for long stretches of time like Tomoko or Satou do and it’s usually with the story’s narrative to have those ups and down compared to a loser characters life where it’s just downs for the character and even when heading upward they still feel down even when they have accomplished a great feat like create a video game despite how shitty it is or order a beverage they focus on the negative the fact that the game is shit at least according to them or the fact they dropped they’re drink for them life is always looking at what they don’t have rather enjoying what they do have.
If you are happy and still hit those loser milestones that doesn’t make you a loser as it’s a persons unhappiness which cements them as a loser.