A couple of years ago I was cruising the internet as I am wont to do (I actually should have been working. That just goes to show what kind of a writer I am), and I came across the Myers-Briggs test! I love taking those little personality quizzes you see on Facebook and what not, so I decided to jump in on that and ya know what? I’m an ENFP! I’m the sparkly, energetic, rainbow powered unicorn of the world! Oddly enough, all of my closest friends are introverts, one of my best friends being an ISTJ–my polar opposite! The up to my down! The cold to my hot. The Batman to my Joker! We’re pretty much our own foil!
Throughout literary and nerd history we see a gaggle of foils: Superman and Batman, Sherlock and Watson, Arati Kagami and Souji Tendou, Naruto and Sasuke. These pairs of characters–these foils contrast in such a way that they highlight particular qualities about each other. This is what we call the Red Oni, Blue Oni foil–one of the many different types of foils which we will discuss in coming weeks.
Pulled from Japanese folklore, the Red Oni, Blue Oni foil represents two yokai: Jorogumo (red) who captures her prey by batting her eyelashes and flirting and Yuki-onna (blue) who uses innocence and elegance.
The Red Oni, Blue Oni foil shows two individuals that have contrasting personalities and often different approaches to the world. Their “hot and cold” take on life cause them to bump heads in a form of rivalry as the two aren’t necessarily enemies but two people with two very different views on life, like my friend and myself.
The Red Oni (Jorogumo) is the embodiment of determination, passion, wildness and defiance (yours truly). Extroverted and overflowing with life, the Red Oni are people-oriented and bound to act before they think. Loved by everyone–even their enemies who may eventually become their allies–the unbending determination of the Red Oni is what gives them the respect of the people around them. They are the Inspired Influencer and the Dominant Driver of DISC and Extroverted Thinkers and Extroverted Feelers in Myers-Briggs. Red Oni lean more towards Chaotic alignments.
Key Strengths: Charming, cheerful, loves people, energetic, talkative, passionate and compassionate, positive, unpredictable, expressive influencer, and all around fun guy!
Key Weaknesses: Undisciplined, too talkative, emotionally unstable, hyperactive, scatterbrained, gullible, disorganized, late for work, and sometimes frivolous.
Popular Red Oni include Wolverine, Harry Potter, Naruto Uzumaki, Eragon, and Shotaro Ishinimori
The Blue Oni (Yuki-onna) is associated with serenity, control and observance of authority. A Blue Oni is more intellectual, proud, traditional, introverted, and goal-oriented. Blue Oni personalities are often respected by others, but also likely to confuse their peers because they are difficult to read and have an air of mystery about them. They are the Contemplating Conscience and Stable Supporter of DISC and Introverted Thinkers and Introverted Feelers of Myers-Briggs. Blue Oni lean more towards Lawful Alignments.
Key Strengths: Detailed, conservative, analytical, organized, a perfectionist, faithful to a fault, discreet will of stone, elegant (in the more dignified ways), selfless, an excellent medic or lawyer.
Key Weaknesses: Rigid, too straight-laced, critical, bashful, pessimistic, moody, depressed, impractical (yes, both practical and impractical), has unrealistically high expectations, paranoid
Popular Blue Oni are Cyclops, Ron Weasley Sasuke Uchiha, Brom, and Philip Sonozaki
Have FUN when writing this type of foil! You don’t have to force your heroes into a box. The Red Oni is fueled powered by emotion, but they’re also more laid-back than their Blue Oni counterpart. However, the stoic Blue Oni is unpredictable and that can cause them to erupt if pushed too far. So weigh the two out. Have the roles reverse. The Red Oni becomes the calm, composed partner and the Blue Oni is the passionate hot head in times of crisis.
Carry this out in other ways in how they speak, react and even how they fight. A Red Oni may rush headlong into a battle, while a Blue Oni will hang back and analyse the situation before making any moves.
The Red Oni, Blue Oni foil is one I will be using in my work in progress (more to come about that in the coming weeks), allowing me to explore the relations between the two heroes and how they co-relate to the world around them. But for now? I want you to give it a try!
EXERCISE: Write a story of 500 words or more where the protagonists are the Red Oni, Blue Oni pair. For an extra challenge, have the Red Oni and Blue Oni behave how they normally would behave, then toward the end of the story have their roles reverse.