What makes for interesting anime characters and plots.

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Answered by: William E, An Expert in the Anime 101 Category
What makes for interesting anime characters and plot? First lets examine what makes for an interesting character. Well for each person this answer will be slightly different. However what makes for a universally interesting or engaging anime characters is one that the viewer can personally identify with or understand.

Let’s take the main character Naruto for example. Some people may find him an annoying and unlikable character. Because they perceive him to be very simple minded and someone that always overcomes whatever comes his way. These people usually find him to be a very flat anime trope character for those reasons. But what they fail to realize is that because of his background and his need for acceptance (first because he had no family, and secondly because he was always looked down on) he acts the fool and reveals in it at the beginning. Because he thinks this was the only way for him to get the attention he wanted.

It’s because of that he failed to learn the necessary ability to effectively control chakra, and this is the reason he failed three times to graduate from the academy. So from this we can instantly see a character that is more depth than most people give him credit, and most people fail to see this because the never get over there first impressions. This is the unfortunate truth about most anime characters. They have to fall in to a character trope (or character cliché). Some really good anime characters will often fill in more than one trope. However more often than not the more popular and mass marketed anime, have characters that fit in to only one such cliché. This is the reason that Anime snobs will scoff at and avoid such Anime as Naruto, Inuyasha, Full Metal Alchemist, and Ranma ½.

As for what makes for interesting plot in an anime, this will also differ slightly from person to person. But there are something’s that can be identified that make for truly intriguing and fun to watch anime. Even the simpler anime that don’t have overly complex plots can be fun and interesting to watch. Let’s look at two examples for both simple and complex plots in anime that are generally considered good anime. So for the simple anime let’s look at Yu Yu Hakusho. In this anime the main character Yuske Urameshi was just another high school punk. However his fate takes a turn when he sacrifices himself to save a young kid from being run over. This earned him the right in the spirit world to undergo a trial to get his life back. Once he completes the challenge he is resurrected and hired as spirit world’s newest spirit detective.

The plot for the rest of the anime is that he must hunt down various outlaw spirits and either captures or kill them. Simple plot but because of the character involved makes for an entertaining anime. Now let’s look at one with a more complex plot like Log Horizon. In Log Horizon the main character is Shiroe, however from time to time the anime will center around one of a group of other characters. The plot is that a game that millions of people play called Elder Tales suddenly becomes real. The players that are logged in suddenly find themselves in the world of Elder Tales. Where food is tasteless, the NPC’s are suddenly different, and the dying no longer holds any consequences since you simply revive. Now stuck in this world they must not only find out how to live, but to also make a place for themselves and others they do this while finding out more about the new world around them.

This anime has a much more complex plot than Yu Yu Hakusho and it’s also a very entertaining show because of this. In short an anime can be good because of the characters that are in it despite a simple plot or because of a strong and engaging plot. But in truly excellent anime the characters and plot will support each other allowing both to shine.

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