If there's one thing this thread has taught me its that I never knew Mao was so poorly received.
I don't like him as much as Valvatorez or Laharl, but I always liked Mao. He's complicated. I liked the VERY personal connection he had with the villain and how much that fucked him up. Remember that the Mao we see is just his surface personality. I think Mao is more relatable if you've ever had a friend like that. That one jerk, who you hang out with but don't really know why. People set-up jerkass "facades" as a shield to help cope with trauma. In this case,
Suppression is a real psychological tactic many people employ. And I never expected a Disgaea game to go that deep into a character's psyche. He didn't remember because it hurt to remember, so he forced himself to forget. This is also the reason why his personality goes up and down throughout the game, as different people keep messing with his heart.
His change is much much much more subtle than Laharl's. His moments of genuine kindness are rare, but I still picked up on them. From the top of my head I can think of a few....
It's subtle, but it's there. The only real criticism I have is that his story is a little too
similar to Laharl's. But even then, that's not a huge complaint.
This has been "In The Defense of Mao", with ZekeFreek.