by: Lin Clark
; edited by: Michael Hartman
; updated: 4/17/2012
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Metal Gear Solid's Otacon seems like a whiny, geeky, Japanese otaku but he is actually much more than that. Read all about the history of the character and why he has an important presence in the MGS series.
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Introduction - Metal Gear Solid Otacon Profile
The Metal Gear Solid series is known for its realistic characters, all with different backgrounds and personalities that make them stand out. Otacon, real name Hal Emmerich is someone that many people can relate to. Taking his code name from the Boston Anime Convention, Otakon, it’s a well known fact that he’s a Japanese anime obsessed outsider. But he also has a special talent for hacking into computers with his smarts.
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Hal grew up in Boston with a seemingly normal family life. His father was an engineer who divorced his first wife and remarried to a woman named Julie Danzinger. Julie had a child of her own, Emma, who Hal grew very close to and considered a great baby sister. Over time Julie seduced the teenaged Hal who in turn was very curious about women. Once his father found out about this affair he committed suicide in the family’s outdoor pool dragging his step daughter with him. Emma survived by swimming out in the nick of time, but she resented her brother for not trying to save her, when at the time he was with his step mother in her bedroom.
After these events Hal grew depressed and did not want to speak to his family or even catch sight of them. He ran away from home and dropped out of high school, learning all his scientific and robotics findings by reading it up on the internet. Because of his smarts, he got into MIT where he secured a PhD after learning there for several years. Afterwards, he got a master’s degree at Princeton for science. The FBI grew fond of the young graduate and gave him a job at the desk to gather information on all types of cases. With his curiosity getting the best of him, he looked through their computers, hacking into them, causing him to be kicked out.
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Shadow Moses Incident
Hal worked for ArmsTech a Seattle based weapon’s designer for a few years after getting kicked from the FBI. In 2005, he was stationed in Alaska to create Metal Gear REX, unbeknownst to him that it was to be carrying nukes on its back. Solid Snake infiltrated the base and was told to rescue Emmerich, who was held hostage. Snake told him all about what the government was planning to do, causing Hal to be quite disconcerted about his project asking Snake to help him destroy it. He also grew affection for the enemy, Sniper Wolf, who was working with FOXHOUND. Snake had to neutralize her, causing Hal to second guess himself before Snake reminded him of the job that needed to be done. At the aftermath of defeating REX, Hal was rescued by the government and was safely far from Shadow Moses island.
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Tanker and Big Shell Incident
Snake and Otacon developed a team called Philanthropy, a UN organization set up to seek out and destroy nuclear weapons. In 2007, in Manhattan, NY, Otacon told Snake the whereabouts of a weapon on a tanker ship. It turns out his tip was right, which he got from his step sister Emma, since the ship was storing Metal Gear Ray, an advanced nuclear weapon. After these events, in 2009, Snake pretended he had died in the Tanker blast, as new FOXHOUND recruit Raiden was to infiltrate the Big Shell facility and rescue the president. Otacon served as yet again another source of information as he helped out Raiden from time to time telling him what the Big Shell really was.
Hal also saw his sister once again after many years, causing a minor conflict between the two. As Raiden was escorting Emma to safety, Vamp, a member of DeadCell, stabbed her in the stomach causing a serious injury. Snake caught sight of it and carried her to safety where Otacon was trying to reconcile with the injured Emma. Unfortunately she passed away in his arms, causing another tragic event to be tallied up for Hal.
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Liquid Ocelot’s Insurrection
In 2014, Snake and Otacon had made a come back, trying to stop Liquid Ocelot’s plan to take over the United States using one of the super computers made years ago. Snake, who had the appearance of an old man while only in his 40’s, struggled with trying to find Liquid’s whereabouts and Hal helped him over the codec as per usual, as well as trying to find a cure for his rapid aging. Hal also is taking care of Sunny, Olga’s child, and manages the airplane, the Nomad. Hal is much more strong than he used to be, and has even made the Mk II, a small metal gear capable of being used as a camera and weapon holding device. After Snake rescued Naomi Hunter, a scientist he met in 2005, Hal grew infatuated with her. She grew fond of Hal as well, while keeping a secret from all of them, which she revealed in a tape at the end of the MGS4.
Naomi also revealed while the group went back to Shadow Moses, that she was using nanomachines to keep her alive from her cancer. Hal, watching it unfold on the Mk II, couldn’t keep his cool and started to weep and sob remembering how everyone close to him eventually passes away. At the end of the game, Hal thinks Snake has committed suicide to end his burden and explains to Sunny that Snake is sick and he went away for awhile. On a good note, Snake couldn’t commit to the act and reunited with the two of them stating he wanted to live like a normal man in his last days.
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Love him or hate him, no one can say Otacon hasn’t had a tragic life. He may be a bit nerdy and whiny, but he has become a practical character that stands by Snake’s side at all costs. This is why Metal Gear Solid’s Otacon has become a video game icon in his own right.