Greetings! If I were to ask you what is the most important aspect of any narrative- what would you say? I think that the general consensus would be the characters of any narrative. Of course characters are a fundamental part of any narrative- without having someone doing something a story couldn’t exist. The presence of characters does something more than structurally hold a narrative together. They are the driving force which attracts people to the narrative. Without characters, stories lose their essence and their soul.
Anime is no different in this regard. In fact the characters are on the many strengths of the medium. Anime distinguishes itself from many other mediums by having characters with an extremely devoted fan base. Yes other fandoms are passionate about their characters but it seems to me that anime fans take this to a whole other level. Waifu and Husbando wars run rampant throughout the community and is one of the backbones as to how we connect to other fans. We feel personally slighted if something bad or undesirable happens to a character we love. Sometimes we even take our passion too far and hurl threats and cross lines that should never be crossed. We are a passionate bunch of people.
Then – what about these characters is so appealing to the fans?
Obviously, I cannot provide an answer for all of the fans out there, I don’t know what is inside their heads. Some love these characters because they find them cute or attractive physically, others because of what the personalities of these characters and their accomplishments. So how about me? When I was looking at the list of characters that I was creating for recently published list of my favorite anime girls (200th Post Special- My Top 25 Anime Best Girls), I realized that there were various reasons that I picked these characters as my favorites.
The main reason that came to mind was that a character was someone that I could sympathize with or relate to. I know that I at least can best relate to those characters who have been through similar situations that I have. We all have an easier time relating to someone that has tread a similar road to us. In many cases, anime characters experience real world problems even in crazy and unusual situations. The trauma of loss, the desire to be with the one that you love, and the desire to find your place in the world are all things that we all experience and so do many of these characters as well. It doesn’t matter that such stories take place in the depths of space or a fantasy world- these characters experience the same things we do every day. Just like such experiences define us, similar experiences define many characters in anime. Many of the characters react to the experiences in a way which is certainly human and genuine. They laugh, cry and grow just like anyone would- a nuance which is lost in many other forms of entertainment. These very human reactions aid an otherwise fantastical narrative and help to keep it grounded for it’s audience.
It is not just the character’s reactions to the events of the narrative that appeal to me, it is the inherent personalities of many of the characters that strike a cord with me. Yes, many characters are the definition of tropes or could be seen as a fraction of a personality. However, there are some which are much more than that, They may have a trope or trait which defines them, but throughout the story are revealed to be much more than we initially thought. This is the same as many people in the real world. Many of us put up a public front, show the world the side we want them to see only for that to be a fraction of who we are truly are. We can use simple words to describe people- kind, arrogant, intelligent and yet that never fully describes a person. A well written character can be explored in a similar manner. The characters which many of us enjoy have the distinction of being like us, more than just outward appearances.
Even those characters that are less complex are still amazing to watch. The shy and intelligent type, the hard working and driven individual, the nerdy and awkward character- these are all ways which many of us would describe ourselves. Anime may have it’s tropes for it’s characters but even in those tropes we find a much more diverse character personality types than in other forms of media. I personally love the fact that anime has characters like me even if some of them are a bit stereotypical. One of the reasons that series such as Haganai and Gamers are among my favorites is that they include characters who despite everything are awkward, nerdy, outcasts. This is vast difference from many Western protagonists who are simply hard to relate to.
Anime characters also have a tendency to represent the best (and sometimes worst) of what humanity is capable of being. I will certainly admit that as a person, I am not really special in any way. I have been teased and bullied, seen as a weirdo, and don’t really possess anything that would allow me to stand above the crowd. But these characters do- whether it is a special power or skill or simply the will to be great. Honestly, there are some characters which I look up to for these reasons. These characters can be either total bad asses or someone who strives to the best possible version of themselves. They can put themselves above others or have the courage to stand up for what is right. They can be someone who is similar in personality to myself but through out the course of the narrative finds a way to be a better person or achieves their dreams. Also on the flip side sometimes it would be nice to be a jerk and self centered like many antagonists tend to be. It would be so freeing to be concerned with yourself even for an hour or day. These characters whether good or bad have an impact on the worlds they live in- something which myself and other people strive for.
Of course the physical appearance of many of the characters doesn’t hurt either.
What about anime characters appeals to you? Am I totally crazy with my thoughts on this topic? Do you have any favorite characters? I would love to hear your thoughts. Please comment below or message me on Twitter (@Railgunfan75) and let me know what you think. So until next time, this is Railgunfan75 signing off! See you soon and stay geeky my friends!