Canon: Diabolo (manga series)
Alias: The Ultimate Offense, The Sword
Mayfield Name: Ren Redding
Born in: 20th Century Japan
Current Residence: 1486 Kramden Road, Mayfield, USA
Lots of people are optimistic. Ren Kimura, however, is opti-flipping-mistic. While a lot of people tend to unkindly relegate his behavior into the category of “overly naïve,” Ren simply has an irrepressibly fountain of sunshine somewhere deep within himself. He sees, overwhelmingly, the good in people, and believes deeply in the importance of second chances for everyone. As for his own trials in life, he takes them in stride, dusting himself off and pulling a smile back onto his face without missing much of a beat at all.
This might come in part from the fact that he’s empathetic—painfully so, in fact. Ren believes in people because he can always feel their pain, their own suffering, the losses they’ve taken. He feels the suffering acutely, pulls the pain into his own context, and desperately forgives the way intentions can be twisted by sorrow into violence and anger. It twists his insides that he can’t help everyone in the entire world to feel better. He struggles for it with unyielding passion, holding his own head high and spreading his own gospel of joy wherever he goes. The leader of the Six Generals who oppose him even grows a sort of affection for Ren because of it—it’s a rare and delicate thing, according to Agliarept, to find someone who has suffered so greatly at the hands of the world striving so desperately to save it from its own much needed destruction.
There are, however, some things that make Ren mad (apart from the demons leeching the souls of those infected by the Diabolo, of course). Technology, for instance, Ren hates—and it hates him back with a passion. What sprang from a general unfamiliarity grew into a deep-seated feud between Ren and all things technological once he became aware of the Diabolo virus and its ability to infect young people via electronic media. The way gadgets escape him is mildly infuriating to him, although each successfully dialed phone call or turned-on microwave is met with a fit of mild celebration. It ranks amazingly high on the list of things Ren finds generally humorless (perhaps just above people who kick puppies).
More importantly, he cannot abide people who hurt children. It’s one of the few things he doesn’t gloss over with furious attempts at seeing the good in a situation. The deepest nettle in his soul is the knowledge that his own childish inability to protect his cousin caused Mio the pain it did. His acute sense of this failure keeps him up at night—although sleeping on park benches doesn’t do much for his sleeping patterns anyway—tormented more over this past failure than the loss of his own soul. It drives him to be better than he is, to go out each day and fix some of the pain marring the world. Some people consider it a messiah complex to believe that an individual can so greatly impact the world that suffering will be eradicated. Ren considers it his job.
On a basic level, Ren is what many archetypes would describe as a ‘religious’ person. On a practical level, many religious people find him charming or else completely insane, depending on how long they manage to keep a conversation going with him. He’s grounded in a fundamental understanding of the teachings of the Christian church—and many other sects and religions founded on the principles of goodwill toward all and the forgiveness of misdeeds when repentance is sincere. It’s part of where his cheerful personality comes from; the idea that in the end, his efforts to help others will be enough to help them see the path to freedom from their suffering. On the other hand, he’s fairly certain he’s made deals with the devil and received messages from God. Call it six of one and half a dozen of the other if he’s lost it or simply understands something beyond what most people acknowledge as the real.
And, like many religious figures before him, Ren lives with a quiet guilt. He smiles and laughs and loves with a depth of pure emotions usually relegated to children who have not yet known suffering. In the back of his mind, though, the pain is always there. He doesn’t wake up in the morning without seeing Mio’s face, and he doesn’t fall asleep at night without hearing the screams of his mother. Most painful of all, he doesn’t exist a second without feeling the weight of the deaths he’s caused resting heavy on his shoulders.
But Ren loves the world—and he’s going to fix it.
Once upon a time, life was flippity awesome.
Ren had a family who loved him very much. He had a younger cousin, Mio, who adored him beyond belief. He even had a strange little orphan friend, Rai, who cared for him deeply. He was never alone. Every minute of every day saw his childishly happy smile and beaming joy. The Kimura family was the picture of suburban contentment.
But then Mio started going missing. They were barely seven years old, but Ren and Rai would find her covered in bruises, coughing up blood, struggling vainly to cover up rope burns. It started a crack deep in Ren’s heart that he barely noticed himself. The day the two boys found Mio nearly dead, it cracked wide open.
No one believed, of course, that the boys had found her in such a state. It wasn’t helped by the fact that the body wasn’t actually found at all. Their story was jumbled—that Mio was gone, that they wanted to be strong enough to save her; that they both saw the devil appear before them and promise to make them better, make them able to protect her from harm in exchange for their souls. The day he lost Mio, Ren also lost Rai—the two boys were ripped apart at the scene, hands slippery with blood, and thrown into worlds they didn’t recognize anymore.
Things began a rather quick downward spiral. The incident with the missing girl and two suspected seven-year-old murderers could hardly be expected not to break front page news. It marked the beginning of a nomadic period in Ren’s life. The family moved from place to place to escape the rumors—and lost a member fairly quickly as Ren’s father decided to opt out of the ugly little family secret. Through the ordeal, Ren strove to keep things the way they had been. He smiled all the time, nursed his mother when the alcohol wrecked her beyond recognition, packed without complaint every time they were forced to put their lives back into boxes again and keep moving.
Then Ren turned 17.
He started breaking things by just touching them. Glass shattered, furniture cracked, people winced away in pain. It terrified him beyond belief. The culmination came as he returned from school one day to find his mother already home and drunk beyond reasonable human limits. Petrified of hurting her, Ren took the abuse she lashed on him, only thinking to fight back when she came to the horrifying decision that—since it was his fault her husband was gone—he would have to fill her bed. There things got fuzzy for Ren. He knows she was forcing herself on him, he knows the fire was an accident, he knows he dragged himself from the wreck of the house and left his mother’s charred body behind.
There was barely time to comprehend the loss before the world kept turning. Rai appeared in his life again with little warning, dragging up the painful memories of Mio and the pact they’d made with the devil years before. It was, apparently, time for those dues to be collected. Souls ripped clean from their bodies, Ren was filled with a power of ultimate offensive attack, and Rai a power of ultimate defensive ability. Darkness whispered to them that Mio would be kept safe, away from harm and hate and cold lead pipes crashing into her fragile skull. Now, at 17, the price paid with their own immortal souls, Ren and Rai found themselves in a dance against the devil which had freed their cousin—they would be allowed one final year on earth to save as many souls as they could from the spreading infection of the Diabolo. Like superhero bats out of hell, they began scrambling down a new trail of blood—destroying teens infected by the virus Diabolo, a wicked permutation of the pact they’d made years before now digitalized to hit the population of the world hard.
- Father - Estranged.
- Mother - Deceased.
- Mio - Ren's slightly younger cousin. Presumed deceased 10 years ago.
- Rai - Ren's "strange little orphan friend" from early childhood until the age of 7. After 10 years of separation, Rai caught up with Ren in time for the two to reunite at the death of Ren's mother. As the other half of
- Hiromi - A 17-year-old girl Ren and Rai helped turn around before it was too late for her to redeem herself (partially) from the Diabolo and Devil's Snare. She works in conjunction with the duo from her computer. It's hinted at that she's Ren's "type" of girl, but more importantly she's a constant reminder to him that people can change for the better, and that their mission is not impossible.