Looks can be deceiving: Manga art choices with characters.



Last time I talked about the Tropes of Shounen manga, however there are a lot of different styles for manga, and the way they are drawn is indicative what genre they are aiming for. The deliberate style choices made are indicative of whether or not they have time dedicated to them in the story to make them remember able.

The goal for most writers are to get their characters remembered after you turn away from the page. With manga, there are about 15-30 pages per chapter, and if a character is going to appear in that short amount of time, it needs to either make an everlasting impression, or fade into the background. Most characters, even the ones that are only meant for one part of the story get to appear in multiple chapters, but often when focused on the main characters and their problems, it’s hard to get compelling arches, thus writers can just draw what they intend to impart on the audience. Example:



I mean, just look at these guys. This is a character from the Mangas Bleach and Naruto. They aren’t main characters they’re villains, I’ve read these series and I barely remember their names, but if you put these pictures in front of me in a line up I would be able to recognize all of them. Most likely, they were only in the manga for a few chapters, for a fight, existing solely as an obstacle for the good guys for one battle and then they die.

Their outrageous design and exaggerated dialogue is a replacement for actual character development. They lack backstories, complicated thesis, individual motivation. But they have to entertain you in some way.

Now look at the main characters from the same manga.





They look rather ordinary. These stories mostly take place in a realistic high school setting, at least for a bit of it.  They have relatively normal hair and clothing, but they are recognized around the world. Any manga fan, no matter how hipster they are can tell you who these characters are. They have character development that are relate able to the audience and makes them recognizale in and of themselves. The fancy design and the outragous weapons aren’t needed to make them remembered because they are given more time to be fleshed out.