Ivory Jaws

Note: This post discusses spoilers for Tiger & Bunny, A Certain Magical Index, and Hajime no Ippo.

In episodes 12 and 13 of Tiger & Bunny, the heroes of Sternbild City fight the powerful villain Jake Martinez. His telepathy allows him to read an opponent’s intentions and avoid getting hit. Out of the four heroes who face him, Jake only ever gets hit twice: Once by accident when Wild Tiger trips over himself, and then a second time when Barnaby is able to land a clean hit, but Barnaby’s attack is enough to defeat him.

Broken rib or no, one hit doesn’t seem like it should be enough to take down such a strong adversary, but Tiger and Bunny does a good job of making it obvious that Jake’s weakness isn’t just a glass jaw, but a side effect of his powers. Jake is so adept at using his NEXT abilities to avoid any and all attacks that he is simply not used to being hit, and so making contact shocks him not just physically but psychologically as well. Even Wild Tiger’s inadvertent flip kick has little force behind it and yet still gives Jake pause.

When I saw this, I immediately thought of another villain: Accelerator from A Certain Magical Index. Like Jake, he is the mid-series villain, and like Jake, he possesses a power which prevents attacks from reaching him. In Accelerator’s case, he can control vectors, so any punch or bullet thrown has its direction diverted or even reversed with little effort. In the face of Index hero Kamijou Touma’s ability-canceling abilities however, Accelerator’s face meets Touma’s fist repeatedly. Like Jake, he can’t take a hit.

I think there’s something a little satisfying about villains whose weaknesses are something so simple and basic that anyone could avoid them if only they were familiar. With both Accelerator and Jake, they rely a little too much on their abilities, so when those are negated they do not have the natural reaction time to make up for it. In a way, these antagonists are portrayed as members of a kind of ability-based ivory tower, where their privileged statuses make them vulnerable to the rest of the world, even if it’s not immediately noticeable.

Interestingly, Hajime no Ippo shows the other side to this trope, though without any use of true villains. In the world title match between Date Eiji and undefeated champion Ricardo Martinez, Ricardo lands a severe blow on Eiji, which he’s 100% confident will take Eiji down for good. To his surprise however, Eiji manages to recover from that punch, which leads Ricardo to conclude that the only reason Eiji could’ve possibly taken that hit is that he must have fought someone whose punches are as hard if not harder than Ricardo’s own. This, of course, refers to Eiji’s fight with the main character Ippo, who is characterized by incredibly brutal punches. Had Eiji not gained the experience of taking hits from Ippo, had the impact not been engraved into his body, the sheer shock from being hit in a completely new way would have finished the match with Ricardo right there.

Which is to say, in a Martinez fight, Jake definitely wouldn’t want to get hit by Ricardo.

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