What are your thoughts on protagonists buying/owning slaves?

  • My take in the matter is not caring unless it gets really bad. Heck even if the people aren’t slaves in the story sometimes makes me feel bad since I live in a safe first world country now and came from a third world country. In the end I always tell myself tho it’s just a fictional story.

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    Thanks for all the replies! This is a topic I find interesting for a variety of reasons, including all the different ways people might view the topic, and it's something I'm thinking of writing a full blog post on at some point. It also gives me some things to think about for writing my own stories...

    Anyway, I didn't want to go into my own views on the topic to start so as to avoid priming the thread in one direction or another, but now that the discussion's been going for a while, I guess I can chime in now. In general I tend to be on the "it's fiction so unless it's really bad I won't get too worked up about it" side, though my specific feelings are definitely more complex than that.

    For starters, I do agree that most of the time, the LN MC actually owning slaves doesn't really contribute to the story. Rather than being "lazy" writing, though, I feel like the use of slaves is actually playing to a fantasy for the audience. Is there something inherently appealing to that audience about having slave girls who are fully devoted to you and whom you treat kindly to contrast against how slaves are normally treated? I certainly think so. Is that kind of fantasy "healthy"? More debatable, though I do like the general idea of how, in a master-servant relationship, the master is really the one who serves the servant, so maybe it's not that bad of a fantasy? (As long as it's not taken too far, of course.)

    The more interesting cases are those where slavery actually adds to the story. While it can be an interesting worldbuilding element, I think the real value of slavery as a beneficial story element is in exploring the nature of free will. After all, slavery, at first glance, stands at the complete opposite end of free will, and apparent contrasts like that make for some good tools for this sort of exploration. For example, someone who has freedom but feels lost in life meets a slave who seems much happier than he is... that can have all sorts of interesting implications, not all of which necessarily good, but still worth thinking about. There's also the question of to what extent people really are free, or if there are some things they are "slaves" to, even without being an official slave... Granted, most WN/LN writers don't go that deep into the subject, but the potential is there.

    So overall, I think the potential for slavery to be used well is there, and even if it's just used for the fantasy, as long as the protagonist makes a point of trying to serve his slaves, I don't really mind.

    That said, with all these LNs going the route of "male MC owns female slaves", I'm starting to want to write a story about a girl who ends up in another world and ends up owning male slaves...

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    Most LN authors don't dive that deep into this but they still do say something about slavery. Take shield hero for example. When the slavery was first introduced we see the slaves trapped in cages like animals. They were treated as less the humans. I think a great indicator on how slavery is dealt in the world what the series true to say about it can be seen with how slaves are treated and shown in the hands of slave traders (especially the very first slave trader that is shown if there are multiple). Are the slaves in cages? Are they in glass cases? Are they out in the open? These kinds of thing can shoe how slaves are treated in the world and what the author wants to say about it.

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    Even female characters that have a harem where they marry all of them together is rare. Asked a few months back if anyone knew of any female character that had multiple husbands / steady boyfriends simultaneously. The only major one in a Japanese work published in the west people could think of was in Juni Taisen. So even just a harem that isn't a winner take all would be something.

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    I'd say that there are definitely female characters with slaves/harems, but I wouldn't admit to knowing any of them, hahahaha...

    I know in the case of my stories, slaves tend to be much happier than your average citizen, but in general, the form that slavery takes place in my stories tends to be much happier for the most part (as long as the protagonist/villain/hero don't get involved).

    That said, I do believe that because of how many aspects there are to slavery, it is a subject that can be very deep if the author allows it, but the issue is that when you start getting more involved with slavery, you get harsher opposition. People who will hate you simply because you write about slavery, as an example.

    There are even a few LNs/WNs where slavery in the series can be fairly divided. Slaves that want to be free and slaves that want to serve until death. It is similar to loyal servants in anime where the servant is willing to die for their master and have no idea what to do if their master dies before them. You have those loyal servants who are like slaves that want to serve until death and you have the less loyal servants who are just there for the money and will leave as soon as they can, which is like slaves that want to be free.

    There are stories where you can really see the difference in loyalties when you compare loyal slaves, resentful slaves, loyal servants/workers, workers that are only there for the money, and so on.

    Take Ready Player One as an example.

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    That said, as previously mentioned, the battle in question was good and I don't doubt they continue to be entertaining. I might check it out again whenever it goes on catch-up.