I have loved anime since I started watching it in my mid-teens. One of the biggest traits that struck me was the characters. They just have something about them you don't see in other forms of media. For the longest time I couldn't put my finger on what it was, but I've given it a lot of thought, and here are six things I see in anime characters we can apply to characters in novels.
For example: Naruto's (Naruto and Naruto: Shippuden) appearance and outfit expresses his personality and background very well. The bright orange jumpsuit reflects on his hyper side (in turn, when he grows up and gets more black in his outfit this shows his maturity seeping in), and his crazy, blonde hair and bright blue eyes connect to his lineage and reflect his energetic personality.
The shinobi sandals and headband show that he is a ninja, particularly a Village Hidden in the Leaves ninja by the marking on the headband. The whisker markings on his face allude to the connection to the Nine-Tailed Fox contained inside of him. From just his appearance you already know a lot about Naruto.
|Naruto looking epic.|
|Shu Ouma (Guilty Crown)|
For example: Shu (Guilty Crown) is a very introverted character. He doesn't talk much which limits how well you can see his personality from the outside. He can look aloof, clumsy, and a bit dense, but through his thoughts, his intentions of desiring to please others and feeling drastically different from the rest of the world even before he receives his power become clear. By seeing into his head, we see the true him.
|Shu's power is awesome just saying.|
|Kiba (Wolf's Rain)|
For example: Kiba (Wolf's Rain) is a wolf in a post-apocalyptic world near the end of time. Wolves have been hunted to near extinction to prevent a prophecy from coming true, so now he makes himself look like a human to disguise himself. He is an orphaned wolf raised by a Native American shaman, takes much pride in his wolf heritage, and is determined to travel the world to find Paradise with some other surviving wolves. I don't know about you, but I have a hard time comparing this to anything I've read or seen.
|The phasing from human to wolf and vice versa is so cool.|
How it applies to writing: Give your characters unique features, powers, and backstories. Think out of the box and search for ideas you've never seen before or take a unique twist on something old. You're the creator for your characters, go wild with ideas for them.
|Rin (Blue Exorcist)|
For example: Rin seems like a typical, obnoxious, and a bit dumb character, but he did a few things that made him different than others. Though he isn't the best at academics, he is a fantastic cook. The other characters joke about how that is the one thing he is really good at. He is very compassionate, especially to people or even creatures that feel like an outcast or misunderstood. In several instances during the anime, he helps encourage creatures to be better such as Kuro (the cat creature below).
Rin is also much wiser than I thought he would be. This is was the first thing and the biggest thing that made me astonished at his character. In one part of the anime, he is in class with a guy named Suguro who has been bullying him through out the school year. Sugoro dares him to come fight a captured demon inside a pit nearby while the teacher isn't looking. I expected Rin to do it and get in trouble like I've seen in most similar situations, but instead he refuses, because he knows he could get in trouble or even killed. Then saves Suguro from the demon. This unexpected action of restraint is what really made me fall in love with the character.
|Kuro is so adorable. ^ ^|
|Winry Rockbell (left) and Edward Elric (right)|
(Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood)
For example: Ed (Fullmetal Alchemist and Fullmetal Alchemist: Brotherhood (the better one)) is very expressive. When he is happy, sad or mad, he is not afraid to show it. But there are things that particularly get up his grill such as being called short or his younger, taller brother, Al, being confused for him--because Ed is short. On the other hand, Winry is generally more composed and subtle--unless Ed gets on her nerves. But she gets extremely excited when she sees any cool automail.
|Ed just looks so hilarious when he gets mad. XD|
Certain things can set off a character that won't set off another like something that makes them remember a painful event in their pasts or perhaps it's just something that's just plain irritating. How each expression is conveyed is different too, some people yell when their mad, while others just cry and their cheeks burn.
|Kirito (Sword Art Online)|
For example: Kirito (Sword Art Online) is very good with computers and game terminology, but not so good with being social due to not having many friends in the real world. He has a soothing and calm voice. His famous catch phrase "Link start!" is his most well known line. Yoru (from Shugo Chara) says "nya" at the end of his sentences to accentuate his cat-like self and talks like a little kid, since "nya" is the Japanese equivalent for meow.
|Kirto being all techy.|
Conclusion - Anime characters have a lot of amazing characteristics, but so can yours. Be creative, look at your character from the inside out, and keep them human(ish. Depending on if yours is an alien or fairy or something ;) ). Happy writing!
|Yoru (Shugo Chara)|
Have you applied similar things to your characters? What are some of your favorite characters (anime or others) that show some of these features well?
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