When literally almost every friend I have pestered me to try out Overwatch, there was only one who knew that it wasn't going to be the cool skins and gameplay that won me over: all they had to do was suckerpunch me in The Feels with the damn animated shorts. All of them really resonated with me (I even shed a Manly Tear™ during some of them), but one in particular that really hit home with me was Dragons. I don't really like to expose my weaknesses on the internet or anything, but if you ever need to win me over/wanna hit me right where it hurts: give me sad robot boys, angry middle-aged men, and tragic relationships between brothers. I'll most likely be on board faster than you can say "RYUU GA WAGA TEKI WO KURAU".
I have so many favorite characters in Overwatch (both based on lore and what I find fun to play), and in all honesty it was really hard to pick just one. (If only I could share the Discord logs of Kula and I lamenting over which characters we had the time to apply for.) However, Genji's story and character is one that is very close to my heart: you can always sell a sad cyborg story to me, but what I personally love about his tale is the importance of two really poignant themes: self-acceptance and forgiveness. For me they are two things that are something we all struggle with, things that make us decidedly human: ironically told through the story of someone who looks anything but.
"Perhaps I am a fool to think there is still hope for you... but I do.
Think on that, brother."
Genji and his older brother Hanzo were born into a yakuza family. While his older brother Hanzo trained diligently as the heir to the criminal empire, Genji was allowed to live as he pleased. Upon their father's untimely death, the clan elders urged Hanzo to reign in his younger brother, fearing that his playboy lifestyle would bring trouble to the clan. When Genji was unwilling to change and accept his responsibilites as a Shimada, Hanzo was forced kill his brother. Broken hearted at what he had done, he fled the clan and returned yearly to honor his brother a castle that he was no longer welcome in. Unbeknownst to Hanzo however, Genji had survived: his body, on the brink of death, was saved by Overwatch, who rebuilt him into the cyborg we know him as today. However, the broken relationship with his brother and his unrecognizable body was something that Genji struggled with for years to accept.
As we see in Dragons, Genji has come to forgive Hanzo for what he had done to him in the past, as well as accepted his new cyborg body. I suppose it was really moving to me because there are people who I can't forgive for even lesser things (like idk, eating my leftovers) and yet Genji can find it in himself to forgive his brother for choosing the clan over his own family and killing him. The amount of maturing that Genji had to do between the time when he barely wanted to hold any responsibilities vs. how he is in the present day is something I can only imagine came after years of hardship and struggle. On top of that, he had to come to terms with his cyborg body: an everlasting reminder that all of this had happened. Genji's time with the robot monk Zenyatta is something I'm really curious about and lore that I hope that Overwatch will explore in the future, because I think the struggles that Genji went through during this time period would be really telling. Part of me thinks that his struggles with Hanzo, and perhaps even himself, go far beyond his cyborg body, and perhaps all this happening is a really big awakening for him not just as a cyborg, but as a human being. (After all, Genji was known to be a bit of a troubled youth.)
Because pop culture loves irony, much like any other sad robot story: Genji teaches us what it means to be human. That self-acceptance goes beyond appearances, and what matters is what's inside. That forgiveness is important not only for those who need to be forgiven, but for ourselves to properly heal. It's a big ol' wonderful & sappy story about self-love, and I reallly love that because it's such an important lesson to understand as flawed human beings.
[ On a more comical note to help alleviate this sap fest: I'm a fairly mediocre Genji player, but it's better to let other people play Genji anyway because how else am I gonna check out Dat Sweet Cyborg Ass. ]