"They know the science of war... but not the art!"
This is a character who takes delight in the elegance of war. At the one on one level it results in the preference for beautiful weapons and elegant tactics. Or it can result in a character who uses planning when Good Old Fisticuffs
would have a greater chance of ensuring victory. Not necessarily incompatible with Combat Pragmatist
, though it can verge on Combat Sadomasochist
when taken too far.
Goes well with Warrior Poet
and Blood Knight
and may sometimes overlap. The sister trope is Showy Invincible Hero
, when heroes care more about being badass rather than elegant. Many Fighting Narcissists
play at being this.
Anime and Manga
- Rose cares so much about elegence in fighting that he objects when he's helped out of rubble because it ruined his attempt to artistically escape it.
- Played with in the case of Yumichika who abhors ugliness but who defines beautiful combat by the Blood Knight style of the 11th division. Turns out he's hiding his true combat style because it's not what 11th division allows.
- Soul Eater's Death the Kid has slight elements of this due to his OCD-like obsession with symmetry. It's the reason why his weapon partners are the Thompson sisters; there are two of them, and they transform into identical guns, allowing him to fight with symmetrical weaponry. When one of the sisters is incapacitated, he refuses to use the other on her own for that reason.
- In Hellsing, many characters would wear this description with pride, but the Big Bad, the Major, more than the others. His love for war surpasses any loyalty he might have ever had for Nazi ideals, his desire to create it is his sole motivation in life, and he extolls his immortal amore for every facet of conflict with greater poetic fanaticism than the most radical religious zealot.
- Sunny, one of the Four Heavenly Kings from Toriko espouses this philosophy. While most others search for rare ingredients because they're delicious, he's only interested in those that enhance beauty. He frequently tries to invoke the 'Just in Time' trope (generally failing) because he thinks swooping in to the rescue in the nick of time is 'beautiful'. At one point, he refuses to sample a legendary ingredient simply because its sheer deliciousness causes anyone who tastes it to break out in a huge, inelegant smile.
- In Vinland Saga, Askeladd bemoans how no-one these days has any notion of beauty in fighting, everyone just screams and charges wildly. This attitude does not stop him from being a brutally effective fighter.
- Treize Khushrenada of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing. He goes so far as to betray his benefactors (even when their forces on the verge of winning) simply because they want to use computer-controlled Mobile Suits in place of human pilots, which Treize believes ruins the beauty of warfare and turns it into a "game" played by anyone rich enough to afford their own army, with the innocents caught in the middle suffering.
- Lotton the Wizard from Black Lagoon. Laughable in this case as all he is actually good at is making an entrance; though to be fair, it is never shown if he is a decent shot because he's yet to get one off.
- Miho from Sin City uses a lot of leaps and slashes, going through various ninja weapons in the process. Considering she's usually fighting random mob Mooks, it seems a little much.
- Count Dooku/Darth Tyranus.
- Tristan of King Arthur. In the opening battle, his kill count is not as high as the other knights, but his sword swings are graceful and flowing, and by the end, he's the only knight who isn't out of breath and covered in blood.
Live Action TV
- The Operative in Serenity, especially compared to Mal. Also Atherton Wing. Though he's less formidable than the Operative, he did kill a dozen men in duels and has a great love of swords.
- Michael Westen in Burn Notice fights with a concern for elegance. He is also a Combat Pragmatist.
- Babylon 5:
- The Minbari are this. They have elaborate rituals around combat as around everything else, and their warships are the most pretty.
- Londo Mollari is an intrigue aestheticist. For instance he goes out of his way to assassinate Emperor Cartagia with a jeweled hyperdermic needle. He appears not to be alone about this: Apparently Centauri have as loving a care for their poisons as humans have for swords.
- The Thrawn Trilogy:
- Admiral Pellaeon: he has long been tired of the act of war itself, but loves tactics for their own sake. Matching wits with an equally skilled opponent and so on.
- Grand Admiral Thrawn, too, was a big fan of strategy and elegance. In fact, his last words, after being successfully assassinated, were: "But... it was so artistically done." He even appreciated being on the receiving end of war.
- Martin van Creveld wrote an entire book on the subject called The Culture of War.
- The Sword Monks of The Scavenger Trilogy devote their lives to combat asthetics. They raise fighting to a form of sculpture — an artwork carved in time, position and flesh.
- In Warhammer, champions of Slaanesh tend to exemplify this trope. Their sense of aesthetics gets more and more bizarre as they progress.
- Warhammer 40,000:
- This is essentially one of the Eldar's hats. Everything about the Aspect Warriors - their appearance, their tactics and even their weapons - are greatly influenced by their mythology and ancient traditions: the Howling Banshees (close combat specialists that use special masks to amplify their screams, leaving them disoriented and vulnerable) reference the Eldar crone goddess Morag-Hei and the screaming banshee that foretells deaths, the Warp Spiders (teleporting heavy infantry armed with brutal anti-infantry weapons that fire clouds of Razor Floss) reference the little constructs that glean the Infinity Matrix and ward off Chaos influence, the Fire Dragons (their anti-tank and anti-fortification specialists) reference the brutal, wanton destruction of war, etc. Fittingly, a lot of their heavier weapons, such as the Fire Prism and the D-Cannon, are capable of some really awesome pyrotechnics. Eldar units are sleek, colourful and look dazzling on the tabletop and contrast greatly in terms of aesthetics with, say, the Necrons, the Imperial Guard or the Orks.
- Plus Lucius The Eternal, who fights all the more furiously against worthy opponents, but goes into apathetic ennui against unskilled enemies. Also, a lot of the Dark Eldar now embody this even more than their "good" cousins, with a lot of the troops competing to get the most elegant/spectacular/daring/hilarious kills.
- There's also an alien race, mentioned in the fluff, that lives by Hollywood Tactics and measure success and victory in battle by how cool they were able to make the battle look, not if they succeeded at any tactical or strategic goals. This makes them infuriatingly annoying to fight, and unfortunately they have some very flashy technology that will kill you just as dead as any other species' weapons (just in a more flashy way).
- The Viskeons were a Proud Warrior Race who delighted in the intricacies of hand-to-hand combat and individual duels, to the point where they held ranged weapons in disdain and refrained from using them. Eldrad Ulthran guided a Tyranid hive fleet into the Viskeon's planet to protect an Eldar maiden world. Against the ravenous and incalculable hordes of Tyranid monsters, they didn't last a single night.
- Vega of Street Fighter fame: the only thing he loves more than fighting (in his trademark flamboyant style), in fact, is himself.
- The Devil May Cry series is all about killing demons with maximum style. Both Dante and the player are expected to be Combat Aestheticists.
- Pretty much Zhang He's personality in Dynasty Warriors, although in 7 it's somewhat tempered with seriousness later when Xiahou Yuan is killed during the fighting at Mount Dingjun.
- HK-47 of Knights of the Old Republic at times expresses sentiments like this, most explicitly at one point in the sequel where he outright calls his assassinations art. In context, this is a positive aspect, as HK-47's art tastes runs towards the minimalistic — he prefers clean, efficient kills that limits collateral damage (he is happy to have groups as targets, of course. He is still a murderous robotic psychopath). This is contrasted with his HK-50 knock-offs, who goes out of their way to kill as many people as they can without jeopardizing the mission (at one point, one of them even rejects the term assassination droid in favour of calling his function wanton slaughter).
- Matador, the living embodiment of beautiful killing, in Shin Megami Tensei.
- Nifilhema in Lusternia. It's a package deal of Combat Aestheticist, Torture Technician, Combat Sadomasochist and Mad Artist: she spends most of her time devising tortures as unnecessarily intricate and harrowing as possible, for the sheer artistry of it. Her followers are much the same way, killing their enemies with as much style and finesse as possible.
- In Vega Strike, judging by communication lines, for all their differences both Rlaan ("Hulls pop like vibrant seeds. Splashing photons in a void. I am sticky.") and Aera ("A superior display — may we both be remembered...") have such trends.
- Omega Zell from Noob likes to take poses mid-combat despite being a Fragile Speedster and inverts the stereotype of using charisma as a Dump Stat, regularly refusing new gear that would protect him better because it doesn't look good on him and/or has a cost in charisma.