No More Heroes has always been a game I loved for a long time, but back then I just loved its insane violence and humor. Now these days I got to look into the game in a much different manner because back then I thought something this insane didn’t need analyzing, let’s just say I was wrong, big time! Suda 51 has made games before with many things to analyze about, just look at Killer 7. Now I will say Suda 51 hasn’t really made a game as great as Killer 7 and No More Heroes, but the closest was Killer is Dead which was his recent title so let’s hope Lily Bergamo will… oh wait that got changed into something else. So what is No More Heroes deal, well it’s quite simple, the game talks a whole lot about violent media while at the same time being part of violent media. No More Heroes is a game that actually dives into about what violence actually does and some of the morality issues behind it which is something I don’t often see in the violent media, mostly video games. A great way of looking into this is the many characters that you have to fight in this game. There are ten ranked assassins to meet as they all have their own personalities and something to show about violent media and a something else.
The first boss you fight in the game is called Death Metal and even with a name that seems to be pointing at the music genre, in the end this boss acts more like the noble swordsman. There have been many characters in movies, series, and games where they pick up a sword and do noble deeds while committing violence or the idea that they take pride in their abilities and the title that comes along with it. Death Metal is more about the pride, but in the end he ends up not liking the results he got. Death Metal ends up living a peaceful life inside of his mansion with everything he wants, but sadly that all doesn’t matter. Literally Death Metal’s first line talks about how he no longer has any desires which means his life is meaningless now. Take notice that he is only the tenth assassin as there are a total of eleven of them. Death Metal only killed one person to get to his rank, but who knows how much killing he has done before. Death Metal does live in a bit of regret and he tells Travis this since the path of fighting and murdering is just pointless. For a man like Death Metal he already has what he wants and just warns Travis that he should not go on the same path, sadly for him Travis doesn’t listen at all. This will be a common theme in No More Heroes which is taking a stereotypical role and putting it into a more realistic angle. With Death Metal even though he is noble and a strong warrior who ended up killing someone or many other people and for what, the title of the Holy Sword or ranked tenth? So Death Metal lives in regret since his fights were pointless, but what happens when one had something a bit more rewarding than riches?
Dr. Peace is my favorite character from the first game as it is because he has an amazing entrance. He is singing alone in a baseball stadium as this was one of his dreams, even though I would bet he wants an audience at least. The song Dr. Peace sings can be interpreted in many ways as some expect it’s about one of the final characters in the game or it’s about the doctor himself. First let’s go through his story as he is the character to talk about the most regarding story. Peace is a corrupted detective and that alone is probably why he became a ranked killer. Still there is more to him than that. If you look at Peace he easily personifies the western hero, the cowboy. Usually they are the silent heroes who barely talk and keep their lives a mystery. Dr. Peace parodies that a bit with the fact that he sings and tells Travis about his day. Peace explains that before the big fight he got to eat at a fancy restaurant and got to meet his ex-wife and daughter for the first time in ten years. So with the fact that he sings alone and that he comes from a failed marriage and barely sees his daughter anymore, all of this means he’s lonely, a common trope for the western hero. He lost his loved ones because he became a killer and the man clearly sees that and lives in regret. He wanted to be with his family, but in the end the pleasure of murder got to him. There is even a line he says, “People like us, we’re sharks attracted to blood.” So the idea of the western hero being alone and killing others could not make someone into a hero, I mean this game is called No More Heroes for a reason. Keep note of this as well since most of the characters that fight just want the gratification and pleasure of mindless violence and our main character is one of them as well and there is a reason why people like Death Metal had to warn Travis or teach him something at the least.
When I liked No More Heroes for the simplistic fun, I personally didn’t care for Shinobu as I found her somewhat annoying. Now that I’ve been looking at the satire this game has, Shinobu is the perfect representation of the femme fatale as this is seen in both Japanese and American media. Now there are two sides of this, there are the purely girls who kill and for some reason that is attractive. Then there are the ones who show how women can be empowering and performs many great tasks. Shinobu takes both of those sides and simply shows how messed up it actually is. When Travis first meets Shinobu she is in class and she kills her fellow classmates for no reason. Even Travis is asking her why she did this and sees that she is just blood thirsty. Right here is when we start to notice that killing people isn’t attractive at all, it’s just messed up. Again this just points to how looking at these stereotypes in a real life perspective just make them into meaningless violent personalities. Travis even mentions that Shinobu watches too many samurai movies and during this whole time he doesn’t even notice what he is doing, we will get to Travis at a later point as the perfect time will come.
Destroyman is next and with a name like that you can already tell he is an interesting take on superheroes. The heroes who hide their identities and perform justice while doing violent tasks as well. Destroyman takes the idea of hiding his identity a little different though as when he dawns the masks he actually becomes his true self. In the beginning we see Destroyman not in his outfit as he is just a mailman. The camera keeps shaking when it zooms up on him and he tells Travis that he needs to change. What he ends up doing is trying to get Travis to let his guard down so he can get a quick kill. This boss really just wants the murder to happen as he loves that more than the actual fight. He will act like a noble fighter, but he will stab you right in the back or to be more exact electrocute you when you shake his hand. Now while the usual hero is doing things for justice there are people think the ends justify the means. Well with Destroyman he has no ends while the means stay in place and those means are just violent. There is really no justice being performed here or any greater task for Destroyman, he loves to fight and kill and that’s his story. While on top of that Destroyman shows the dark side of superheroes and how they can avoid the law and never question their own morality. Destroyman is just a personification of all the bad thoughts of superheroes and again showing that these ideas in a realistic setting is just plan crazy and again Travis shares that idea as well, but with a different type of character.
I will continue my thoughts on No More Heroes for a later time as there is much more to look into. Then for those who haven’t played this game yet, do it! No More Heroes is a masterpiece and I would argue its Suda 51’s best game. The story alone makes this worthy of being a great piece of fiction, but at that same time the game is highly active and can easily keep your attention. While it’s being fun in the same regards as other violent games, it is diving into the factors about violent media and giving us a new way of looking at violence. So be prepared for the next part as we will look into the idea of death, magic, deadly old ladies, and some sexual interests. Warning for those who want to pick this game up though, it’s a really violent game and deserves its mature rating for a reason!