Who Is Chara? – Rethinking Undertale


Who’s the [censored] in [censored]? …well that was weird. Okay, let’s try again. Who’s the [censored] in [censored]? ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME? What, I can’t even say “[censored]”
or “[censored]” without it being a fucking spoiler? Fine, whatever. This episode is going to have
spoilers for [censored]. OH JESUS CHRIST. HOW AM I GOING TO GIVE THE SPOILER WARNING IF I CAN’T EVEN GIVE THE NAME OF THE GODDAMN GAME?! Serioule though, you guys, this video contains spoilers for Undertale, a game that is quite seriously a game best gone into with as little knownledge as possible. Go. Go play it. Even if you don’t like jRPGs, even if you don’t like pixel art, blah, blah, blah, there are a hundred reasons to not do something cool. Consider it homework– experiencing something that has a lot to say about video games and storytelling conventions. Hell, it’s better than reading the Catcher in the Rye, isn’t it? Anyway. Spoilers. So mane spoilers. You have been warned. Are you ready? I’m ready. Let’s do this. WHO’S THE
FUCKING BAD GUY IN UNDERTALE?! Well if you listened to my spoiler warning,
hopefully you’ve played the game by now, you already know that [STATIC] SERIOUSLY. I’M WARNING YOU. YOU
BETTER NOT BE WATCHING THIS IF YOU HAVEN’T BEATEN UNDERTALE YET. JOSH, THAT INCLUDES
YOU. Just… trust me, I won’t put dicks in the video. [STATIC] You already know that that the bad guy is
Flowey. You remember Flowey–Flowey is the first character you meet in the entire game.
He’s the super helpful piece of shit who introduces you to Undertale’s main mechanics.
Of course, you later find out that there’s way more to Flowey than meets the eye. Flowey serves as a metaphorical devil on the
shoulder, trying to convince you that doing the right thing isn’t only boring, but pointless.
Of course, should you decide to be the hero, his discouragement culminates with him morphing
into a fullblown demigod. Of course, should you win and save the world and go back, you
discover that Flowey is, in fact, not a demonbaby flower of death, but rather the soulless essence
of the son of Toriel and Asgore who’d been injected with DETERMINATION, giving him the
ability to SAVE and LOAD the world, just like the player. But that’s okay, because in
the end, you’re given the ability to redeem Asriel-the-flower and save the world. [static] You idiot. Flowey? [STATIC] FLOWEY?! [STATIC]
The bad guy of Undertale isn’t Flowey. It’s [STATIC] Austin. It’s [STATIC] Chara. Me.
It’s You. You know who I am. You think I only exist in the genocide ending of Undertale?
Hahahahahaha, no. I am the Koopas you killed
when you were a kid. I’m bandits. I’m raiders. I’m every monster you killed walking
in circles in Final Fantasy to grind levels. I am the gaming conventions that trained you
to advance at all costs. Get the experience, money, kill everything in your path. That’s
how you solve your problems. I. AM. YOU. Jesus fucking Christ, shut up. What a diva.
You know, I don’t know what he’s doing here, to be honest, I didn’t even do a genocide
playthrough. I chickened out. But anyway. He’s right. If you’ve played the game
at all and either done a Genocide playthrough, which involves murdering every monster in
the Underground, or you just watched a playthrough on The internet, or, hell, just looked at
a wiki, you know about Chara. Chara is the first child to have fallen down into the underground,
and if you go through the Genocide playthrough, you get to meet them…or something like them? So what the fuck is Chara? Well, this isn’t
Game Theory, so I can’t tell you if Chara is a ghost, demon, you from the past, or whatever-the-hell
all the different in game explanations are. But I do know what Chara is in a way that
matters to you and me, and should make it obvious who the actual bad guy is. Because, okay, I’m going to level with you:
it is Chara. I mean, if you go through the whole game in the genocide route, Chara destroys
the entire world in an instant, with or without you. They have the power, and they do the
worst possible things with it. And if you want to bring the world back? Fuck you. It’s
going to cost you your soul. And you’re never getting it back. That’s some terrible,
evil-as-hell shit. And yeah, I know the last video I did was all about how evil didn’t
exist, but Undertale is a universe where pure evil, the kind that’s more of a metaphysical
force of nature, definitely, totally exists. So Chara is evil, and is definitely the Big
Bad Guy. But if that’s the case, how come you don’t even SEE this CHARacter unless
you yourself act like the worst piece of shit imaginable? This isn’t a rhetorical question, by the
way: I’ve been wrestling with this for weeks now. How come you don’t fight against the
actual villain of the game when you choose the most heroic path of them all, where you
save the lives of literally everyone, free them from captivity, solve all their problems,
and redeem the most tragic figure in the universe? Wouldn’t the most heroic possible thing
be to destroy the very definition of evil itself? What if I told you you’re actually fighting
against Chara every time you don’t kill someone in Undertale? You see, Chara, or, if you’re following
the instructions of Toby Fox, the creator of Undertale and named the Fallen Child your
own name, YOU, explains what they are if you go through and complete the Genocide playthrough
in its entirety. “HP, ATK. DEF. GOLD. EXP. LV. Every time a number increases, that feeling:
that’s me.” Chara isn’t just a demon or a presence of
evil, they ARE gaming convention. They ARE the lack of empathy we feel for Raiders in
Fallout. They ARE the mindless grinding in JRPGs. They ARE the boredom you feel right
before you close out of a game and decide to attack the guards to see how much of a
town you can kill before you die. They are the completionist drive that will do everything
and anything to expe rience every ounce of game that exists. They are the frustration
you feel when you can’t get past a challenge and just want to [static] fucking kill Undyne.
[static] And this isn’t just metaphorical–it’s
made very clear at several points throughout the game that some very special characters
suspect or even outright know that they’re in a video game. Chara was the first Child
to fall into the Underground–they’re what came before you, before you experienced this
world yourself. They are, in short, every video game you’ve ever played up until now,
that’s trained you that enemies are infinite and disposable. Which means that every character
you spare, every conflict you resolve peacefully, every soul redeemed, and every time you forgo
cutting the fucking shit out of FUCKING MUFFET BECAUSE JESUS CHRIST I’LL BUY YOUR FUCKING
DONUT GOD is quite literally a blow against Chara, against the lack of empathy, the mass
murder that we’ve all come to expect as commonplace in our video games. And the ultimate defeat? Redeeming the seemingly
irredeemable, soulless Asriel, even as they attack you relentlessly, threatening everyone
that you’ve grown to love and attached to, refusing to rise to the bait. That–that is
the ultimate deathstroke to gaming conventions, to our natural instincts, and to Chara. Of course, the unfortunate reality is that,
while you can beat Chara, and fight those instincts to dehumanize, to destroy instead
of resolve, to see everything there is to see even though it may irreversibly harm both
the inhabitants of the world and yourself, Chara is never truly defeated. You’re just
one resetted game away from falling to the temptation and giving them strength. Luckily, it takes even more determination
to fully actualize Chara, having to murder your way through all of the Underground. The
game makes it so this CANNOT possibly be a mistake. You have to mindlessly, coldly grind
through an area, eliminating every monster before moving on, maximising your EXP and
LV, and you have to do this all the way through the game, and beat some of the hardest fucking
boss fights I’ve ever seen. Once you make it through the Gauntlet and kill your Conscience– Yeah, that’s right, Sans is basically a
Nihilistic Jiminy Cricket. –and then…it’s done. Your game world,
through your dedication and determination to do so, is forever tainted, marked with
the blood of dozens of innocents. Then, ONLY then do you get to meet the byproduct of your
efforts: Chara. The personification of emotionless achievement. Everything, at the cost of…everythin
g. Congratulations, you made it all the way to the end of Undertale having learned nothing.
Or maybe you did. But it’s too late, your knowledge comes at the cost of this Universe. And sure, you can find a way to purge the
game of this knowledge through some tricks and tools, but it doesn’t matter. You know
the truth. And at the end of the day, Chara isn’t something that lives inside the world
of Undertale–Chara is in all of us, all the time. Gaining strength and refinement in first
person shooters, MMORPGs, when we watch the news and see tragedy and the oppression of
the weak and feel nothing– Chara is the cold lack of empathy that lives inside all of us.
The part of us who sees other people as numbers. The beauty of Undertale is that you have the
option of either fighting against the preconceptions and gaming conventions that you’ve been
trained to rely on, or you can, instead, decide to argue with the game and say “No, I like
the way games are.” You’re forced to see the terrible consequences of your choices
if you go that way, but the great thing is that it’s never locked in until you commit
to it all the way. You can always go back and save the day. Or not. Who cares. it’s
just a video game. Right? [static] right. And that, that is the fucking bad guy of Undertale.
It’s inside us all the time, and it’s always watching.
Thanks for watching.

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