Common Manga Archetypes

Part of the Manga For Dummies Cheat Sheet

The type of Japanese comics or cartoons called manga has its archetypes — classic examples of the art — just like every other art form. The archetypal characters and plots you encounter in manga generally fall into one of four categories:

  • The Good Guys:

    • The Androgynous Rookie (main lead): He’s the new kid on the block who’s full of energy and promise. He usually has an androgynous face and hairstyle.

    • The Sidekick: He, she, or it is the young rookie’s best pal. The two go hand-in-hand and rarely go through a complete manga story by themselves.

    • The Caring Female: She’s the only main, featured female who represents the maternal caregiver and is always around to give emotional support to the young rookie.

    • The Veteran: He’s the experienced character. He’s not necessarily the strongest, but he has a lot of wisdom and makes sure the young rookie is in check with reality.

    • The Loyal Geek: What he lacks in muscle, he makes up in intelligence and loyalty. He’s the one who stays back at the home base crunching numbers to make sure the team wins.

    • The Backup: This guy is pure muscle, which makes him the ultimate backup. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, but he’ll use his dominating physical presence to help the team.

    • The Wise One: He’s the sage mentor who’s been around for what seems like forever.

  • The Bad Guys:

    • The Handsome Icy Villain: This type is cunning, deceitful, and drop-dead gorgeous. His attire is simple — he wears a dark cape, but the rest of his costume is one plain color.

    • The Evil Sorceress: She’s clad in dark armor and a bikini, with a dark cape flowing behind her. With her evil magic, there’s no telling what demonic plan she has in mind.

    • The Awesome Warrior: This handsome and muscular giant relies on his strength to get the job done. In addition to a cape, he never leaves without his elaborate armor.

    • The Military Vixen: This lady takes down anyone in charge to get power for herself. She’s beautiful, but her dark attire and evil smile are giveaways that you don’t want to be near her.

  • Damsels in Distress:

    • The “Little Sister” Princess: Picture a younger sister getting in trouble by sticking her nose in other people’s business. The main character has little choice but to go in and bail her out.

    • The Innocent School Girl: She endures harsh treatment at the hands of her captor while the lead character devises a daring way of rescuing her. Don’t worry, she never dies (that would kill the plot).

    • The Loyal, Selfless Damsel: Compared to the Innocent School Girl, this damsel controls her emotions. Despite being tortured, she remains calm and loyal to her team.

  • Shôjo style:

    • The Rags-to-Riches Girl: Once a commoner or an orphan, this girl is now living a better life. She has to fend off other jealous girls while she tries to capture the heart of her charming prince.

    • The Knight in Shining Armor: This gentleman is a handsome dream for any teenage girl. He’s flawless in every aspect, and any girl can come to him for help or comfort.

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Manga For Dummies Cheat Sheet

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