I don’t know about surprise factor. But I do agree that there’s a certain *intrigue*, like — the first time you see Soujirou is when he’s about to stick a dagger in someone’s face, and that’s juxtaposed with his pretty smiling face and his cheerful polite language, and I think that clash is interesting. It makes Shishio’s right hand man and expert assassin more interesting than he would be if he were a FE7!Jaffar type.
Hmm. Yeah you may be onto something, maybe it’s the intriguing dissonance that makes it work.
The question, then, is why we don’t do that over here in America. (I should note that even the “attractive” female villains are usually not genuinely attractive. They tend to be drawn in that range of “so overly sexual they’re ~slutty~” or some other pervasively negative region of “not ugly.”)
(IIt’s interesting you bring up Jaffar - but weren’t Gharnef, Manfroy, Nergal, Ashnard, and Validar more reminiscent of the western variety of villains? imo, FE tends to have an even split between their appearance, with an interesting side effect that it’s always the completely unredeemable ones being the most off-putting.
Personally … I think looking at western animation brings up some interesting light on the topic, given Disney’s substantial impact on anime? And Disney - generally speaking - has a very narrow idea on what a villein should look like. Narrow, angular/triangular features, usually somewhat on the older side (regardless of gender), black/purple/red as the theme colors (it’s interesting to see so anime villains also take on those colors even when you’d think there’d be more cultural differences?), and well, you probably can go on.
I can’t possibly answer your original question as to why anime tends to beautify the villains, but perhaps one of the reasons western animation doesn’t follow suit is … fear of stepping out from Disney’s shadow? Disney’s so interwoven with non-comedic animation that it inevitably is the self-fulfilling prophesy of western animation trends, so to speak.
¯\_(ツ)_/¯ that’d be my best guess!
note/disclaimer: by no means am I knowledgeable about cultural differences; these are merely my personal observations on these trends.
Plot twist: a movie with a 20-something character who has never kissed anyone and has never had sex but is presented as a perfectly normal, socially well-adjusted individual