Hey, I love your blog very much. UnderSwap is my favorite AU and I love your interpretation of it. That being said, I know this has to do with UnderSwap but what is your opinion of Undertale Asgore? I mean the feeling I get from most fans is basically Toriels viewpoint on it. But personally he was just trying to do what was right for his kingdom. I feel like he needs more love.
Oh dear, you just hit my weakest weakness. I can’t let an oportunity for some good ol’ character analysis pass. My
apologies for the size of what lies ahead, if anybody wants to skip it it would be completely understandable. Also if you’re here for the Underswap and want nothing but Underswap you can skip this too, since this is a canon-heavy post and probably something that has been said a million times already.
Ok, ready? Let’s go.
Let me start by saying that I absolutely love Asgore (we both do). He is a wonderfully complex and credible and, at least on my opinion, one of the most relatable characters in the whole game. You go the whole game hearing about him from other characters, both in a positive and negative light, and by the time you actually come face to face with him a lot of players have already made an image in their head of who Asgore is. That makes him so interesting for me, because just like in everyday’s life, our opinion about the people we don’t know is shaped by the opinion of those who we do know and care about. A lot of players care about Toriel and trust her, so they trust her opinion that Asgore is in the wrong, but a lot of players care about Undyne and Papyrus too, and they say Asgore is good so how can you not believe them? Unlike other characters who you can easily categorize into “good” and “meh” (because there are almost no “evil” characters in Undertale”), Asgore walks a pretty thin line between love and hate depending on the moral values you as a player have, and how much would you be willing to forgive.
But alright, who is Asgore then?
Asgore is a nice person, you can’t deny that. He’s kind and caring about the needs of others, he loves his family (or the memory of them), treats other with the outmost respect (even a baby Undyne attacking him for no good reason), and goes out of his way to do things for the benefit of his people (what kind of king would dress up as Santa and personally visit his subjects just to bring them joy? WHO DOES THAT? Certanly not our Toriel, she has people who do that job for her). He’s emotional and sensitive, prone to take bad desitions when under stress, and then quickly regrets and blames nobody but himself for the results. He’s a big, fluffy, sensible monsters with a kind and caring soul.
But, he also has very defined flaws. One, namely: he is a coward.
Now, you may believe that Asgore’s actions were solely for the good of his people, and you are entitled to your opinion too, but it looks to me that the force behind most of his actions was not a sense of selfless sacrifice, but fear. Asgore was willing to endure emotional pain and even lose the love of his life in order to keep the hope of their people alive, yes, but you have to consider that at the moment he took that desition, keeping up his promise of war was the easy way out. He was scared, once the words were out and monsters had a visible positive reaction about the whole thing, that if he were to go back on his word he wouldn’t be able to give his people anything that could replace it. Even when he regreted his choice, and even when Toriel loudly dissaproved, bearing the weight of that declaration and sticking to the plan was still infinitely easier than facing the consecuences of his explosion of anger and trying to find an alternative that felt right and could fail. His was not the sacrifice of a leader who did what needed to be done at the cost of his happiness, but of a broken father who lost control after being overwhelmed by his loss and was too afraid to change the way things seemed to patch themselves up.
When they finally see each other in the pacifist ending, Toriel pretty much spells it out:
And some may think this means Toriel is actually ok with the idea of killing humans, but not with killing them if it’s not absolutely necessary, and I respectfully disagree: She is still very much against killing people for any reason. What she was trying to say to Asgore is a lot more direct: “You lied to everybody, and to yourself, because you were too scared to face the full impact of your mistake”. And Asgore agrees with her. Were if not for his unplanned declaration of war, he never had the intention of leaving the Underground in the first place, and Gerson tells you just that in the genocide run:
Asgore didn’t want to lead his people to an unavoidable end in the surface, and he didn’t want to have to kill children for it, but he also didn’t want to take away the hope that his declaration unadvertedly provoqued and believed he wouldn’t be able to provide his people with a better alternative. His cowardice was what kept him indecisive and stopped him from commiting to any path, leaving him as Toriel said, “meekly hoping” that he would never be forced to choose.
And THAT is exactly why I love him so much: He is the embodiment of dichotomy, his inner conflict is majestic, and his flaws are real and relatable. Who has never gone through a situation in which they were trapped between a rock and a hard place, hating the situation but too afraid to try to do something and make things worse? Asgore goes through this and reacts in such a (ironically) human way to it. He bears his guilt and his fear but keeps going, not because he wants to, but because a whole race is expecting him to, because the will of his people pushes him in that direction and he is afraid of what may happen if he pushes back. “King Asgore will let us go” “King Asgore will give us hope” “KING ASGORE WILL SAVE US ALL”. How many times did those words go through his head again and again while he fought and killed those children? Did they give him strengh, or did he feel like a man drowning under them?
But… all the empathy in the world can’t change the fact that he still killed those kids. “Cool motive, still murder” applies to everybody no matter the circumstances, and even though I myself can forgive his actions, that doesn’t mean everybody can, or should. As I said, the way you as a player see Asgore depends on your morality, on what you place more importance to, and in how much you are willing to forgive. There are people who can relate to being overwhelmed by a situation that seems out of your control, and they will be more inclined to take Asgore’s side. But there are also people with a strong sense of morality, who they themselves would die rather than going down a path they know is wrong and they don’t believe in, and those people, like Toriel, would find it a lot harder to give Asgore a second chance, because that’s who they are… and that, my friend, is perfectly understandable too. Forgiveness is a gift, not an obligation.
… And that’s it, because this wall of text is HUGE just with Asgore alone. I wanted to say more about his relationship with Toriel, why I think she would never be able to fully forgive him, and talk a bit about HER flaws too (since she’s my favorite character and I have her flaws more present than anybody’s else). I also wanted to talk about how this traslates to our version of Underswap since this is still an Underswap blog but… seriously, these are a lot of words already.
Maybe later, if you guys are not bored of me talking by then.