There’s no accounting for taste.
This is a phrase used to justify odd couples, but it also applies to everything. Every person after all has their own individual preferences. So I’m going to list my top five fiction preferences when it comes to characters.
- Characters With Realistic Mental Disorders
I love characters who have problems, I especially love characters who have problems that can’t be poofed away by plot convenience, one of the best problems, mental disorders.
Mental disorders aren’t well talked about in media, but I LOVE when a story has the guts to have a character with consistent mental problems that don’t just go away. This is because mental disorders is something that’s been a constant companion in my life. Characters who are just normal don’t really resonate with me like people with depression, OCD, PTSD and the personality traits that come up because of it, like obsession, paranoia, self doubt. Those are more challenging hurdles for a character especially when it’s a consistent trait throughout.
2. Actual Underdogs
Everyone loves an underdog story, but there’s a recent trend where an actual underdog never really stays that way. Stories tend to have a trend in them where someone who was at a disadvantage at the beginning of the story gets some sort of power up during the story. Now I am not opposed to this assuming this is a rightfully earned power up, like someone actually training from hell or a logical extension of their abilities. What I don’t like is a character just being GIVEN power as a way to make them keep up.
It just doesn’t feel earned when a character just gets random power ups. Also isn’t it always MORE spectacular when a character through more mundane methods manages to take out a stronger character? Either by being clever or by having access to something that the stronger character didn’t consider.
In short I think a character who isn’t the strongest but still can win is awesome. It shows more creativity than if someone just stomped through a problem. Which brings me to the next point.
3. Boring But Practical/Mundane But Awesome Characters
This character is sometimes but not always the underdog. That’s why I thought a separate section for it, but I just LOVE characters who are normal but are clever enough or skilled enough to get the job done anyway.
I love this in general because a lot of amazing things have been done by us mundanes that it’s so great to see it show up in more fantastical fiction. Sometimes even just using the more fantastical elements in clever ways is enough but the fact that this character is as much as this setting can be normal is great.
4. Characters With Actual Physical Limitations
This is slightly different than mental disabilities. Of course mental disabilities are more interesting to me, but characters with actual meaningful physical limitations is also fantastic. It doesn’t have to be an actual disability either. Maybe they’re just physically frail or lack endurance or maybe it’s a side effect of the powers they do have, like being so physically strong it’s hard to handle smaller objects.
Actual disability is also fine too, especially when it isn’t played up as some sort of superpower. Someone being genuinely inconvenienced or hindered by a physical problem especially when they’re otherwise very competent is something I like to see because it highlights a struggle most people overlook.
5. Characters Who’s Genuinely Compliment Each Other
There are a lot of roles in fiction that are created for narrative purpose. Like the love interest or the funny guy, but in truth I like it when characters are around not for a narrative reason but for an actual team reason. I like teams in fiction that actually compliment each other’s skills and work reasonably well together. Not teams just thrown together and expected to work their shit out because some of these characters serve a narrative role.
In my mind, no Love Interest is not a valid team role, be it male or female. Just like comic relief isn’t, nor is ineffectual loner. I want characters to work together because of both their skills and personality. Especially if the plot has them doing something important.
I of course have other plot preferences but decided to cut it down to characters for brevity.
Of course all the images above are from the source materials and anime not made by me. One of them is from deviantart, here is the link.