Meet Karna, a legendary badass from the Mahabharata. ((An ancient epic ten times longer than the Illiad and Odessy combined, and the only thing in the history of India that doesn’t suck)) Never heard of him? It’s a damn shame. There are at least three crappy anime adaptions of Romance of the Three Kingdoms but none for the Mahabharata. It has so much potential, not just to become an epic anime, but to become a bestseller. One billion Indians would pay good money to watch it! ((Too bad 900 million Indians don’t have any money))
You will never find a character more GAR character than Karna.
Karna’s birth is a long and complicated story. ((See Wikipedia)) For the purposes of this post, you just need to know two things:
- Karna was born with the sun god’s earrings and armor attached to him, which basically made him immortal
- Karna was born to a princess who feared the social stigma of being an unwed mother
Karna was abandoned by his mother and adopted by a low-caste family. ((A caste is basically a social class. For details, see Wikipedia)) He grew up humbly and kicked ass at everything. Although he had the talent to become an elite warrior, he was denied the opportunity to train at a school for warriors due his caste. Karna wasn’t about to give up, so he did what any real man would do: he went to train in the mountains.
Of course, mountain training isn’t complete without instruction from a bitter old hermit. Unlike the school that rejected Karna for his low caste, this old hermit only refused to train nobles. Unaware of his true lineage, Karna promised he wasn’t a noble and submitted himself to the hermit’s training. The old hermit bitched Karna around. ((The most effective way to teach anyone anything because it instills discipline)) One day the hermit took a nap on Karna’s leg. Karna knew he’d fail if he woke up the hermit, so he remained absolutely still. While the hermit was napping, a beetle came along and bore into Karna’s thigh. Karna didn’t flinch. His profuse bleeding eventually woke up the hermit, who surmised that Karna was so GAR for toughing out the pain that he had to be a noble. The hermit got pissed off, kicked Karna out, and cursed him.
Now aware of his noble blood, Karna crashed a battle skills competition for princes and schooled them all, most notably Arjuna, the man ((not some Earth Maiden)) who would become his rival. Everyone acknowledged that Karna was the mightiest warrior ever, ((Yes, mightier than Conan)) yet nobody accepted him as a noble because he couldn’t identify his family. Then the prince who would someday become the evil emperor stepped forward and pronounced Karna the ruler of one of his recently conquered territories. Karna swore his friendship to the prince, thus binding him to the side of evil and ensuring his untimely demise.
Far from being corrupted by evil, Karna was renowned for his honesty, generosity, and humility. Although he was constantly treated like shit because of his background, Karna never bitched or cried, instead letting his actions speak for him. One time Karna attended an archery competition in order to win the hand of a princess. ((How romantic <3)) To win, a competitor would have to lift an infamously heavy bow, bend it far enough to string it, and then use it to shoot a revolving target while only looking at the target’s reflection.
Karna easily lifted and strung the bow, but before he could shoot, the princess declared that she wouldn’t marry him because of his commoner’s background. The princess ended up marrying Arjuna. Karna got his revenge several years later by calling her a whore as she was forcefully disrobed in front of the royal court.
When war about to break out, the gods realized that mankind was doomed as long as Karna was alive to fight for the side of evil. In order to render Karna mortal, they needed to somehow separate Karna from his armor and earrings. The rain god came up with a slick plan. He knew that Karna would never refuse a request at noon. ((Owing his life to the sun god, Karna would always pray at noon (when the sun is at its highest point) )) One day the rain god disguised himself as a peasant, approached Karna at noon, and asked Karna for his armor and earrings. Without a moment of hesitation, Karna pulled out a dagger and severed the armor and earrings from his body. ((OH SHIT!)) The rain god was so GAR for Karna that he impulsively gave Karna a divine weapon as compensation.
In an attempt to prevent the war, Karna’s mother met with Karna and revealed her true identity. ((Spoiler: Karna and Arjuna were brothers. There is so much potential for a kickass anime here…)) She also told him that he was the true successor to the throne. Even though Karna could’ve prevented the war by accepting the crown, he declined because he was too honorable to betray his allegiance.
During the war, Karna and Arjuna faced off in a battle for the ages. It was more or less even ((Despite the fact that Arjuna’s charioteer was a god (who was a total badass in his own right) )) until one of the wheels on Karna’s chariot got stuck in the mud. ((Due to a curse (not the hermit’s curse, another one he picked up. Poor Karna could never catch a break.) )) Typically it’s the charioteer’s job to free a stuck wheel, but Karna’s charioteer was a jerk, so Karna had to get out of the chariot to fix the wheel himself. According the the laws of war, the battle was supposed to be suspended until the chariot was fixed, but Arjuna realized that he couldn’t beat Karna in a fair duel and had to shoot him while he had his chance. ((He was also pissed off that Karna killed his son. Karna was too brave to accept the kid’s surrender)) Due to the hermit’s curse, Karna was unable to summon a divine weapon to protect himself. Instead, he accepted his fate, stood his ground, and took the decapitation like a man.
In sum, this is what it took to kill Karna:
- The second most powerful warrior in the world breaking the rules of war
- Voluntarily discarded immortality
- Two curses
- Divine intervention
- A jackass charioteer
- Acceptance that his death was necessary for the well-being of humanity
After the war was over, Karna’s mother revealed that Karna was her firstborn and the true successor to the throne. The current successor, her eldest living son, was so infuriated that he cursed all women to never be able to keep a secret again. ((The curse holds true to this day))
Here’s why Karna is more GAR than any anime character I’ve seen:
- Golgo 13: Lacks Karna’s righteousness
- Kenshiro: Hesitant to fight his friends and brothers
- Maid Guy: Gets beaten by women
- Archer: Worse at archery
- Kamina: Died a much less manly death
If you’d like to draw a Mahabharata manga, contact me. Warning: I plan to retell the whole story in a completely different setting so nobody bitches at me for minor historical inaccuracies. ((Giant robots?))