Who–Er–What is Nagi?

An artist. A lover. But of course, we can’t forget the more concerning quality Xenon has: he’s a virus.

Xenon Naginata, often called “Nagi” or “Father,” is a sentient virus. He is self-aware and has a strange obsession with “bonding.” Whatever that means, it can’t be good, right? Not necessarily. He seems like he’s a nice guy! So why do so many people disagree? I’ll let you draw your own conclusions about him. At his core, he is a monster, but I hope to show multiple dimensions and make him seem like a relatable villain (?).

Concept sketches. Jake, Naginata’s host, is only three feet shorter than him.

At his core, he’s a virus, not unlike a zombie virus or something similar. The sentient virus idea came to me after I played [Prototype] and Metroid Prime 3: Corruption. The thought of something like that fascinated me: a self-aware virus that would develop its own Motus Operandi; these “powers” or “instincts” driving it towards its ultimate goal: either create and bond or destroy and wreak utter havoc. He wasn’t always a virus, though. Originally, he was an original character for Naruto, an anime I was obsessed with in high school.

Nagi from my early days on deviantART. His design has…”matured” since then.

I’ll be the first to admit that his older designs were really embarrassing. I mean…I remember grabbing Spawn’s leg guards when I played Soul Calibur 2 because I thought they were cool. And LOOK at those… belts? I think they’re belts. His character was just as Frankenstein’d as his visual design: a goofy “ninja” who didn’t want to be a demon king and “lost it” at the sight of blood.  While a suit and tie might not provide much in the way of flashy design, it certainly presented an opportunity to rehash what I threw down. There was something there, I thought, but it needed to be refined. So I kept changing things. And changed some more. I introduced the concept of Parasites and Xenon’s mental instability and uncertainty of who he was and what he should do. All I know is that eventually, I made him strive to take over the world. You know, as any villain would. Why did I make him want to be a villain, anyway? Well, I’ll be honest, I wanted to make more of an antihero. Maybe not even an antihero. In concept, he and his family are like the eviller evil, darker than dark; that force that even a villain should be afraid of. Of course, that was back when I still had yet to mature both his character and myself as a person. At the end of the day, I guess he landed in the neutral zone. He did eventually get to the other side of the spectrum where he was just so mysterious and edgy and evil; his behavior was sporadic and akin to the random psycho culture or something of the sort. I had a vague idea of what he’d become, but still nothing extravagant and detailed. His hair did get longer, though, and he had a scythe that abused the lens flare filter in Photoshop, which was my jam in high school.

“…eventually, I made him strive to take over the world. You know, as any villain would.”

At this point, I had already figured out that he’d be some kind of “parasite king” that created monsters within his body and released them by some overly violent means. Oh my gosh, he was a crazy psycho anime boy!!!1!11one!!e! A good friend helped me design a monster that he’d create a while back. I wish I knew where his original sketch was but it helped kickstart that monster aesthetic I was looking for. Things were starting to look cooler, but my writing had a very long way to go. Heck, it still does. As time went on, Nagi became more and more devious and evil, but not much more in the way of dimension. I did wind up roleplaying as him and writing stories and blurbs as I tried to map out Nagi’s personality. I started asking myself things like why would he want to take over the world? Then I thought back to the reluctant overlord trope I was trying to figure out. Why is he a reluctant overlord? The answer is: why isn’t he? So I wound up asking more questions and answering them.  And every time I responded to another question, his design changed. He could possess people, jumping from host to host. He could turn them into monsters using his essence (essentially his vague genetic material). Then I’d add restrictions. Fine print. He’d keep evolving until I finally settled on the ol’ suit and tie.

“I started asking myself things like why would he want to take over the world? …Why is he a reluctant overlord? The answer is: why isn’t he?”

Nagi and Luke, as illustrated by Nana.

There had to be more to it, though. He wasn’t just supposed to be an eldritch horror that walks through dimensions and leaves Echoes in his wake. I started with the basics: a virus wants to multiply. That’s its basic instinct. Then, I added another layer. He wants to bring everyone and everything together. I calculated his host’s feelings into the mix, which in turn became his desire to make everyone happy, with strings attached. How would he do that? By infecting them, of course! So I finished the circle of thoughts that run through his mind. Then I had an idea to have both the virus and its host share the same mind space.

I introduced the concept of the two bickering with one another about the moral repercussions of their actions (Nagi, Winter 2020). In the meantime, while I did research on what that could entail on the psychological level, I determined that Jason’s strong sense of empathy would add another layer to Nagi’s personality, where he does, in fact, have to figure out what empathy is and how to embrace it. I want to make it a motif or a character arc where eventually, the idea of rooting for Nagi doesn’t sound like such a crazy idea. After all, in the long run, he is trying to protect people and make them happy, right? He just has a very invasive way of doing so.

My ultimate goal is to create a sickening, possessive monster who struggles to come to terms with his humanity. Perhaps I can achieve that as time moves on!

Image credits: Nana, Faragonart, orribu