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Old 2012-07-14, 16:00   Link #1
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Question What Makes An Anime or Character(s) "Identifiable"?

It's been at least two weeks now since the summer anime season started, and this topic has been on my mind for many months now, but never felt the need to discuss this. But...since after watching a couple of summer anime as of lately I kind of wanted to talk about this. I was going to post this a few days ago, but was scared that many people on here will think that this will be redundant and pointless topic...but let's just see where this goes.

Anyway on topic.


There are many anime that people enjoy, hate, and ignore or whatever. But this is what's been on my mind for a long time now: What is it that makes a character or an anime series itself "identifiable" to the viewers (ie us)? Is it because of the character designs, genre, personality traits, talents or powers, story, premise, setting etc.

Many people have their own perspective of what they like or hate in a series and what not, but what makes you identify a series or character(s) to the point where it's enjoyable or worse, depending on your preference.

So what's your thoughts about this? If you wish to comment that's fine, and if it's pointless, ignore this post. I needed to get this off chest.
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Old 2012-07-14, 17:40   Link #2
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This is a really good thread topic.

To answer it, I think it's important to point out that there's two different levels of "Identifiable".

There's "Average Joe/Jane" Identifiable. Then there's "Online Fandom" Identifiable.

"Average Joe/Jane"
Identifiable means that the show or character is actually known outside of the anime fandom, or at least is known by the most casual of anime fans. Good examples of this are DBZ, Sailor Moon, Pokemon, Yu-Gi-Oh, Pokemon, and One Piece. Most of these shows run a loooooong time, sometimes air during good time slots (not late-night/middle-of-the-night timeslots), and are primarily geared towards actual kids. And those are the three of the main factors that make them well-known: Longevity, TV time slot, and target demographic. And if you're a major character (Goku, Pikachu, Sailor Mars, Aizen, etc...) in one of those shows, you'll probably be easily identifiable by extension.

But I get the impression that you're mostly curious about "Online Fandom" Identifiable, and that's probably a bit trickier. It's been my experience that all of the following helps:

1. Being based on a popular source material (Persona 4, the Monogatari Series, Clannad, etc...)

2. Being a "genre standout". Either by being a definitive work within its genre, or by being a bit of a deconstructive work within its genre (NGE, Gundam, Madoka Magica, etc...).

3. Appeal to fans of a particularly popular animation studio or VN/LN/manga/game maker (KyoAni, SHAFT, Type Moon, KEY, etc...).

4. Being connected to a famous writer or director (Urobuchi, Ikuhara, Watanabe, Okada, etc...).

5. Have high-production values (i.e. you can see this in how 'polished' the artwork, animation, and/or audio comes across).

6. Good timing. It's helpful for a show to air in a season when it doesn't have too much competition (nothing else prominent within its own genre, and/or nothing else hugely hyped).

7. Well-written/well-received. I would say that this is what sets apart the Madoka Magicas and Fate/Zeros of the world from the Guilty Crowns and Star Drivers of the world. (Just to be clear, I don't hate Guilty Crown and Star Driver, but their writing wasn't as 'tight' as PMMM and Fate/Zero's, imo).

For characters, certain archetypes seem to always be in style (tsunderes, kuuderes, dark magical girls, Rei Ayanami-esque girls, etc...). Aside from this, memorable scenes and distinct character designs help.

I'll leave it at that for now. I hope you found this reply at least a little bit helpful.
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Old 2012-07-14, 18:09   Link #3
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The answer is one of the 12 basic principles of animation and character design, appeal.

No single story or character can be liked by everyone, they can only make themselves 'identifiable' in your words, through the way they appeal to audience.

To create appeal for anything, you need to draw out the strengths of each individual character, give them charisma, give more important characters more emphasis in design and story. Appeal is not just looking cool and pretty, its about the very personality of the characters. The hotblooded guy, the tsundere girl, the melodramatic villian, etc. Take all these personalities and strengthen them with their acting and appearance and people will recognise these characters through their performance.

If you want to generate any emotion or atmosphere, make it as strong as possible, combine the story and acting of the characters with the setting and lighting, put in the right sound track and set the mood. Let your audience feel exactly what you want them to feel your show and characters are about. Let them know and relate to the characters and bring them into the story.

Its all in the context, build up as much detail in the scenes. What era is the story set in? Where is the story taking place? What do the characters wear and how do they behave in this setting? How would the characters interact with each other and their setting?

There is alot to think when you are making an animation, animators need to be psychologists, actors, biologists, physicists, architects, fashion designers etc. and more. It is the most scientific and technical of all arts.
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Old 2012-07-15, 00:15   Link #4
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Well, to identify a character, you right click, and then judging by the value of certain traits, decide if to keep, give to someone else, trade, or vendor trash it. Most will be vendor trash and a waste of your time.

Oops, too much Diablo 3...

The way for a character to be identifiable is to have some kind of purpose that can't be fulfilled anywhere else. This doesn't mean there can't have been similar characters done, but they have to be memorable in some kind of way.

You can usually define a character by how they act and react to the world around them. Those that tend to have a more explainable reasons for who why and what they are will be the more interesting characters. Note that depth doesn't need to always come with complexity.

As a entertainment medium, anime is where abstract ideas from real life come alive. They are generally exaggerated, but in general I would say a likable character would be interesting in real life. And an annoying character, I'd want to slap in real life. A villain would be a terrible thing in real life, but then again this is why it's best this kind of intrigue is stuck to fiction. Then again, we do villainize people IRL too. Well written characters will trigger these emotions. Anime characters don't really resemble humans, but they sure act like us enough and share enough features with us to remind of us of certain things.
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Old 2012-07-15, 00:35   Link #5
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From my point of view, probably a character who is experiencing things that I have experienced.

For example, I've never tripped and accidentally grabbed a girl's cleavage or pulled down her pants due to me reaching for something to grab onto to balance myself.

I have been in situations where I don't know how to respond to someone's feelings. Of course it's stereotypical of anime but it is also a real life situation.
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Old 2012-07-15, 00:36   Link #6
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What Makes An Anime or Character(s) "Identifiable"?

My point of view.

What makes an Anime Identifiable?

Simply the:

Name one cast like Kenshin links you to Samurai X

Cannot be relied to but it helps if one is unique to the anime.

Otakus are very familiar with this. Name the who and you got yourself a list.

4. Memorable scenes/Unique scenes
Very reliable if specified. Example, oh he tried to dunk the ball but got he's head hit the board ring.

What makes a Character Identifiable?

1.Character ( as in characteristic)
Hmmm.. example.... tsundere

2.Appearance (dress included
Even in real life you do this.

3. Seiyuus
Self explanatory

- sorry if I might have read the original question wrong...
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Old 2012-07-15, 00:39   Link #7
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For me, it's all about personality. The reason I don't care about the characters in Fate/Zero or Madoka Magica (sorry Triple_R) is because I didn't like their personalities so their stories didn't impact me at all. Okay, the Madoka Magica ones did, but mostly because of the animation. As for what I define as identifiable when it comes to personality? Voice-acting is important, of course. But the most important thing is that the character has emotions and the show is good at presenting them. Can't really say any more than that.

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Old 2012-07-15, 01:06   Link #8
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a little flippant (mostly because I am tired)...

Hair and Outline . If an audience or populace can recognize a character just by their outline (their shadow), then you have an identifiable character. Case and point: Tetsuwan Atom. Show an outline of his head or body to anyone in Japan and I expect the vast majority would know instantly who the character was, even if they never saw the show (the same is true for Mickey, Homer and Bart, Totoro, and a few other animated characters).

Everything else is subjective (CA wrote more or less anything I could write here).

edit: I think there was a thread here a few years back all about character outlines/shadows...
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Old 2012-07-15, 04:02   Link #9
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Another thing... Check how people Identify an Anime by checking the Anime Identification Thread. Other than the usual pictures as references, you could read their description. Its pretty interesting.
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Old 2012-07-15, 10:46   Link #10
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Originally Posted by Kirito View Post
What is it that makes a character or an anime series itself "identifiable" to the viewers (ie us)? Is it because of the character designs, genre, personality traits, talents or powers, story, premise, setting etc.
I hate to simplify my answer when everyone's elaborated but it's varying combinations of all of the above. Triple_R's list for identifiable by the online fandom are good qualifications for ubiquity. However, once the popularity is achieved there need to be ways of distinguishing the well-known amongst each other. Nobody would mistake Taiga Aisaka for Rin Tohsaka despite both of them being tsunderes, for example, while the only noticeable difference between K-On! and Hidamari Sketch is the artstyle.

So yeah, what makes an anime or character identifiable depends on the situation. It's not about how much recognition those traits have more than it is the right combination of those qualities to make it stand out.
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Old 2012-07-15, 16:47   Link #11
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I am a bit confused about the use of the word "identify" (and I think the variety of answers in this thread may indicate my confusion is shared).

When we say "identify", do we mean "distinguish" or to have something "stand out from the crowd"? Like, in a sea of anime, we can "identify" one particular anime over all the others? (That people can identify the particular show and not just see it as generic anime #253.)

Or are we talking about "identifying with" an anime or anime character? Like, we can "relate" to that character, empathize with them, and so on.

The original post talks about people's preferences and likes and dislikes, but I'm still not quite sure what the intent of the question is. So I think some of the answers provided above are interesting... but I have no idea if it really answers the question or not.
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Old 2012-07-15, 17:19   Link #12
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Many big hits have been identified by some catchy trick they pulled off. Haruhi had the episodes out of order, the super exploitable ending tune, and God Knows.
Evangelion was rather gruesome and the ending triggered a huge shitstorm.
Madoka had Inu Curry to do the witches' realms, and episode 3. Same for Bake, its quirky presentation catched the eye from the beginning.
There are probably more examples, but it goes to show that you don't necessarily need to have a super deep or moe content/essence/whatever you want to call it, if you have an awesome presentation for the show.
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Old 2012-07-15, 18:55   Link #13
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I agree with relentlessflame that it's not entirely clear what you mean when you say "identifiable."

From a purely aesthetic standpoint, character and costume designs are what tend to do it. That's what allows you to pick out a series reference in a parody or in fanart.

Otherwise, there's usually something about a series that endears it to people. It could be the storyline, it could be a whacky or trademark character in the series. I tend to remember series by those traits.
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Old 2012-07-16, 08:28   Link #14
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I think he means "identifiable" in the sense of "What makes you identify with a character?" Which tends to be a bit different depending on the person. We each tend to identify with people who are most like us, or are reacting in ways we have in the past.

For me, I tend to identify with stronger rational types (Nanoha, most shonen heroes), and tend to NOT identify with weak, emo types (Shinji, Madoka) who can't seem to make a real decision until the end of the series.

Even though this could descend into character discussion, I'll go a bit further explaining my reasoning. There is a certain character type that has become somewhat popular lately, called "moe." It's not something I like... well, I don't see it as bad, per se, when used in moderation. But it is being used too much nowadays, like fanservice. It is designed to specifically target the lolicons, and thus makes me feel uncomfortable. It feels like it is specifically created to be a socially acceptable form of pedophilia, ie, "I'm not a lolicon! I just like young moe girls!"

As I said, the character archtype is fine with moderation, but it very easily crosses a line into pandering if there are too many, or it is too pronounced.

This also leads into a problem I've called "moe thumping." It's when they take that helpless-looking girl and send her through horrible circumstances. BAM, instant fanbase. They kick the puppy as a cheap tactic of getting otaku to instantly fangasm over. While there is some justification, because this does happen in real life, it is highly risking crossing over into "Are you kidding me?" territory. Instead of taking the time to develop a character, it is all too easy to make them into a helpless moe type, and then thump them. Repeatedly, sometimes (Fate, Madoka, Homura).

Much like the fanservice in shows like Seikon no Qwasar or High School DxD, it feels tossed in just to up the popularity, to cover up for the weak plot and annoying character traits.

So, that's what I don't identify with. I tend to like the stronger, more rational characters, regardless of gender. Nanoha and Erza(Fairy Tail) being two of my favorites. Both women that are strong, and yet still feminine and with endearing traits. Erza is still capable of acting moe and cute from time to time, but it is more for comedy.

As for males... you can almost name any main guy from any shonen series, since they seem to be the epitome of strength. But they lose points if they are dumb (Natsu, Goku).
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Old 2012-07-16, 09:32   Link #15
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The number one factor would be the character design. Everything else is just secondary.
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Old 2012-07-16, 18:02   Link #16
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Originally Posted by Kaijo View Post
I think he means "identifiable" in the sense of "What makes you identify with a character?" Which tends to be a bit different depending on the person. We each tend to identify with people who are most like us, or are reacting in ways we have in the past.
This is an interesting take on it.

In that case, what makes me identify with a character is usually events that they are put through. Usually if they're suffering in a manner that I can connect with struggles that are present in my own life, or if they're going through a situation that I've been pondering, then I identify with them.
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Old 2012-07-16, 20:16   Link #17
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well it easy to identify and remembered person with unique key feature. like Sena Butterfly Hair decoration or Char mask. everyone that come after a character (or less famous) and have similar feature can often been called "copy"

classic example will be Yurippe and Sora is been called Haruhi copy simply because it have similar hair and ribbon
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Old 2012-07-16, 21:19   Link #18
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Well, if the OP’s “identify” is about “recognizing” a character, then the main factor would be the character design, as others already mentioned (my avatar & sig are perfect examples ). If it’s about “relating to a character” then it depends on the impression a character gives to the audience. It’ll be different for each person. For example, there are ones who admire and can relate to Madoka while there are others who consider her “not that much”.
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Old 2012-07-16, 21:49   Link #19
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I guess:
1) Seiyuu
2) Chant (Engrish or whatever)
3) Powers
4) Apperance
5) How he/she dies (lost her head twice)
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Old 2012-07-16, 22:17   Link #20
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Then you can take things even further to the level of: ICONIC.

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