Characters can fight many a battle, physically or otherwise, and likewise, the methods of victory are quite diverse – however, there exists a fine difference between those who truly fight, and those who merely receive.
“It’s A Bird, It’s A Plane, It’s The Protagonist”
First of all, it should be established what a true contention is – alongside some relevant examples for greater understanding. An actual brawl is one in which at least one contending party has something to lose – if no risk is involved, then this is not a fight. There’s many series which manage to exemplify the ideal implementation of conflict – and for those who have seen it, one such case of point would be Valkyria Chronicles.
Within Senjou No Valkyria, there’s numerous wars – and losses are met on both the protagonist, as well as the antagonist front. It’s made clear that both are susceptible to the worst, regardless of how cloud nine the situation may seem at times – and each instance of combat or course of action therefor had a risk attached to it, which if nothing else, would be the dark calling of death.
Thus, when a character would go to fight, they would be putting something on the line in hopes of receiving something even greater, be it physical or spiritual – as why else would they dare take the risk? There’s an aspiration and cause to their action, which of course, makes the scuffle, the pain, suffering and effort, all so meaningful – no matter what the outcome proves to be. And on that note, the outcome itself is not pre-determined, since it has already been shown that neither the side of virtue, nor evil, is exempt from being toppled in defeat.
It’s worth noting that as a side-effect, this also enables one to develop a mutual respect for all parties, valiant or not, as they’re all equally putting forth a struggle to achieve their own respective goals.
Also, as aforementioned, one can see such proper square offs in many a series – with a random notable few being Fate/Zero, the recent Black Rock Shooter OVAs, or pulling out an older name, Seiken no Blacksmith.
“No Risk, No Reward”
Now in contrast, a pseudo-brawl is unfortunately far too often seen as well – and this is where one party is merely fighting for no apparent reason, aside from simply serving their technical role or position within a series, such as that of “main character”. There’s no coherent goal which they’re attempting to achieve, or the battle itself may have been readily avoidable – yet they go out of their way to engage in it with no significant purpose, and/or the outcome is already rather obvious from the start.
As the saying goes, “no risk, no reward” – if the main character is capable of crushing any foes with relative ease, then one is left with absolutely nothing to look forward to since no development would be the made. The character could obliterate a thousand enemies and still be at point “A” as there is no value to these victories – a difference is not had, nor was the chance for one even possible since it was already well-apparent that the opposite force stood no chance to begin with.
There is no risk if one party of the fight is evidently vastly superior over his opponent, and the fight transpires expectedly – with the party in question needing to expend little to no effort to secure an already foreseen success.
Put in perspective, imagine an overpowered RPG character stomping rats to death in a dungeon – unless that whilst being stomped upon, these rodents morph into colossal petrifying creatures capable of inciting terror upon a nation with merely their rancid breath, then watching such an ordeal is as amusing as witnessing the evolution of herbaceous flora with slender leaves, or in other words, watching grass grow.
Before dismissing it at that however, a commonly seen scenario is that perhaps the overpowered RPG character may be pounding these muroids in order to grant a salvation to an even more easily squashed entity, community, or object, which the rats have been assaulting. In that case however, the rats should be an actual threat – if the situation is easy as sneezing, that simply means the triumphant unit is overpowered.
And in case one hasn’t noticed yet, aside from the locust swarm of issues previously stated, predictable bouts are not entertaining – let alone as climax events. In this scenario, there is neither a risk, a reward, nor even anything of interest value – again, it’s a vain incident worthy of nothing more than being utilized as a metaphoric comparison for how dull something else may be.
By now, the difference between a feud, and merely the frivolous, should be transparent – and a common follow up would be a question of how exactly would one lay a foundation of risk for the actions of their characters, yet believe it or not, this actually requires no more than taking advantage of a certain mystical power held somewhere deep within every human, if not living entity, known as “creativity”.
To repeat a statement made earlier, as well as something which shouldn’t even need be said, every existence should be influenced by the possibility of passing away – if nothing else. And if creativity comes along, some other factors for consideration which are commonly seen, and occasionally masterfully mixed in, would be the elements of loved ones, emotional attachments, or bringing up a particular favorite of fantasy series, a super duper item with incredible arcane strength embedded within.
These concepts are not complicated to comprehend – and when the better of the two is in play, it’s unmissable as is the transition from night to day.