Character Profile 1 : Ben Itou
Benjamin Edison Itou
First Appearance: Tales of Reign
Today it is beyond time to drop in on a unique person I know very well. That person is the wise-cracking, Halfer, Ben Itou! SPOILERS* Follow.
"Man, bro they really worked some things out on you!" Ben Itou TOR Chapter 8 Gilded Cage
Ben first came into being as a throwaway character in the first draft of Tales of Reign. He was intended to be a minute attachment to the main character, introducing Reign to the space between humanity and things they deem different. Ben’s initial existence was to confirm all the fears Reign had about being accepted in Sol, yet writing Ben felt like a much greater opportunity to explore the fault in the Mor’h so I decided to further develop him and learned to love him. As anyone who has read the series so far can understand, being a Halfer is an entirely awful thing to endure, the only saving grace is the shorter lifespan (that line feels very Mor’h doesn’t it?) Being a Halfer, genetically altered as an experiment by the Mor'h, clearly defined the 1st Ben. I felt that his character could not only accept his disorder but given a strong enough presence, overshadow it.
Benjamin Edison Itou became the character that Ben the 1st was not. For one he has a family that becomes absolutely necessary to the development of the first human settlement on Mor’h. Their presence, accepted or not, had little effect on their desire to thrive. Ben became instrumental in challenging the vanity of Reign’s existence developing a brotherhood in the process. In Ben’s own story, Itou’s World, we learn that Ben has been living in hiding, essentially tethered to the outside world only through the internet. His father Taiyou is so protective he attends a Comicon with him though he thinks it a dangerous idea as Halfer’s aren’t the most protected in Sol-the event that happens in that arc leads to a great change in Ben. We learn that the person Reign’s story connects to, having shared cell walls in detention, had already outgrown the restrictions of being a Halfer, leaving Earth for a little place called Green Acres and becoming further entangled in the Halfer struggle by proxy.
Ben Itou is an estranged son to his mother, blessing to his father, culturally apathetic to his Japanese roots, in love with POP culture and was my son’s favorite character at the time. My son was thirteen and I won’t forget his reading the first rough draft and tearing up when Ben’s story took a harsh but inspirational turn. He sat the book down and said glassy-eyed, “you did that.” It was like watching a scene from The Never-Ending story as the boy reading the book couldn’t handle anymore anxiety produced by the narrative. I convinced him to keep reading as I knew the character had more to contribute to the shaping of a Mortalien future.
In Tales of Reign, Ben Itou is the heart behind the suffering Halfers. His disfigurement, short-lived life and eventual rebirth damns and celebrates the nature of the Mor’h as an alien culture. He becomes an artifact of a time when the Mor’h lacked humanity given the evolving transformation Reign brings to the story. Ben’s perseverance in the struggle to be accepted when prejudiced and discriminated against is an example of personifying a problem, bringing it to life and breathing fight into the fighter.
Ben can be found in Tales of Reign and Tales of Reign Dominion in imaginative HD/3D