Just how many characters is too much?

Watching several anime for some time now, I’ve noticed things that they all have in common: the number of characters affects how the anime would go. The more the are, the overall focus for each is reduced.

That many main characters?

Take Negima for example. On the image on the right, you would see everyone that appears at least once in the entire series. Sure there’s a lot, but the focus is mostly on characters number 8, 13, 27, 28, and that kid in the middle bottom. What happened to the rest? They became just background characters, or supporting the earlier mentioned characters. I would prefer focus on no. 2, 5, 13 (again), 28 as the main characters, but guess they wasted it on filters.

In recent posts, I’ve mentioned about Angel Beats and Durarara having introducing unnecessary characters. That acting/vice president of the student council does seem good to introduce for a short-term character, but they kept him around for too long that, besides regaining Otonashi’s memories, his presence was unnecessary and his constant arguing with Hinata was getting too annoying. In Durarara’s case, the focus of all the characters featured in the opening and endings meant that, given the amount, means that the main characters (Kida, Masaomi, Anri) were given lesser importance than they should be getting. It seemed like a 3-character focus, but this somehow increased to over 20 that it has become a big mess, adding to the jumping around the timeline all over the place. Kind of reminds me of how seasons 3-5 of Pokemon seem to have this “a-Pokemon-an-episode” theme, large diversions by having filters that were not in the game they were based on, or having the main characters of the first season to mysteriously become the main characters again for any beginnings of a new region.

Rightmost top, leftmost bottom, and the 2 next to her
Who is this?

So, this brings me to the next topic: background characters. Have you seen background (“mob”) characters of any anime that looks better than the main characters themselves? I mean, I could see how much better their personality is compared to the main character is. In the ending theme of “Seitokai Yakuindomo”, they featured a girl from the same school the anime is set in, but is also not any of the introduced characters. Well, it’s nice to have an another perspective.

In short, having just 2-3 characters and focusing on them most of the time as compared to having too many and focusing on them only once.

Just how many characters is too much?

Watching several anime for some time now, I’ve noticed things that they all have in common: the number of characters affects how the anime would go. The more the are, the overall focus for each is reduced.

That many main characters?

Take Negima for example. On the image on the right, you would see everyone that appears at least once in the entire series. Sure there’s a lot, but the focus is mostly on characters number 8, 13, 27, 28, and that kid in the middle bottom. What happened to the rest? They became just background characters, or supporting the earlier mentioned characters. I would prefer focus on no. 2, 5, 13 (again), 28 as the main characters, but guess they wasted it on filters.

In recent posts, I’ve mentioned about Angel Beats and Durarara having introducing unnecessary characters. That acting/vice president of the student council does seem good to introduce for a short-term character, but they kept him around for too long that, besides regaining Otonashi’s memories, his presence was unnecessary and his constant arguing with Hinata was getting too annoying. In Durarara’s case, the focus of all the characters featured in the opening and endings meant that, given the amount, means that the main characters (Kida, Masaomi, Anri) were given lesser importance than they should be getting. It seemed like a 3-character focus, but this somehow increased to over 20 that it has become a big mess, adding to the jumping around the timeline all over the place. Kind of reminds me of how seasons 3-5 of Pokemon seem to have this “a-Pokemon-an-episode” theme, large diversions by having filters that were not in the game they were based on, or having the main characters of the first season to mysteriously become the main characters again for any beginnings of a new region.

Rightmost top, leftmost bottom, and the 2 next to her
Who is this?

So, this brings me to the next topic: background characters. Have you seen background (“mob”) characters of any anime that looks better than the main characters themselves? I mean, I could see how much better their personality is compared to the main character is. In the ending theme of “Seitokai Yakuindomo”, they featured a girl from the same school the anime is set in, but is also not any of the introduced characters. Well, it’s nice to have an another perspective.

In short, having just 2-3 characters and focusing on them most of the time as compared to having too many and focusing on them only once.

Final thoughts on "Durarara!!"

Scenes like this seems to be lacking in later episodes.

Durarara was a 23 episode series that was part of the Winter 2010 anime lineup.

Here’s a brief background on what this anime is about:
It started as the main character. Ryuugamine Mikado, arrives into the urban Ikebukuro from a rural town to enroll into a high school there with a recommendation from a childhood friend of his, Kida Masaomi (because the latter was lonely). Mikado wanted to be in the city as he sees the urban area as where one would have new adventures there, and that he has never left his hometown his whole life prior to that. At the school, after some commotion caused by missing classmates (Harima Mika, Yagiri Seiji), they met Sunohara Anri.

This series has two main arcs that are based on the light novel series. The first half is about Celty’s head and how crazy the Yagiri siblings are over it. The rest of Celty’s body is searching for the head, but to some frustrations. gave up. The second half are about the gangs mentioned in the first episode that reside within Ikebukuro, the slasher, and the secret behind the 3 main characters that they hide from each other.

That aside, how the anime is expressed seemed as though they are following a template they have to stick to and not make any variation to it. The same seems to apply to an another anime by the same novel author (Baccano!), which might explain the cameo appearance somewhere in episode 12 that leave audience who have never watched that wondering what’s with the focus on them. (Some say that they would be involved in a latter Durarara arc not currently covered by the anime)

Smoking?!

On top of that, too many characters are introduced on top of the secondary characters, resulting in a one-character-per-episode like thing that resulted in backtracking of events and timelines already covered in earlier episodes (but in different perspective), which resulted in very little character development and resulted in the main characters (Mikado, Masaomi,  Anri) almost the same time as the secondary characters (Shinra, Celty, Simon, etc.), reducing yheir importance. Characters with very little appearance like Tom Tanaka, Shizuo’s younger brother, and the police that haunts Celty since episode 13, strangely appear in the second opening like they would appear as important characters later on when this second opening first appeared in episode 13. It also seems that none of the episodes are OP/ED-less that, in other anime, suggests an important or serious episode. Even the last few minutes and ending theme of the last episode seemed so cliched and boring with jazz music and fast forwarding from the first to last. If you have seen anime like Code Geass (Autumn 2006, Summer 2008)  Sola (Spring 2007), True Tears (Winter 2008) or, more recently, Angel Beats (Spring 2010), you would know what I’m talking about.

Overall, this anime is worth watching with good storyline and character design, but the second half seemed poorly expressed than the first. In fact, my impression of this anime remained good until about 3/4 through where it became apparent that things have to be rushed or left out.

Final thoughts on "Durarara!!"

Scenes like this seems to be lacking in later episodes.

Durarara was a 23 episode series that was part of the Winter 2010 anime lineup.

Here’s a brief background on what this anime is about:
It started as the main character. Ryuugamine Mikado, arrives into the urban Ikebukuro from a rural town to enroll into a high school there with a recommendation from a childhood friend of his, Kida Masaomi (because the latter was lonely). Mikado wanted to be in the city as he sees the urban area as where one would have new adventures there, and that he has never left his hometown his whole life prior to that. At the school, after some commotion caused by missing classmates (Harima Mika, Yagiri Seiji), they met Sunohara Anri.

This series has two main arcs that are based on the light novel series. The first half is about Celty’s head and how crazy the Yagiri siblings are over it. The rest of Celty’s body is searching for the head, but to some frustrations. gave up. The second half are about the gangs mentioned in the first episode that reside within Ikebukuro, the slasher, and the secret behind the 3 main characters that they hide from each other.

That aside, how the anime is expressed seemed as though they are following a template they have to stick to and not make any variation to it. The same seems to apply to an another anime by the same novel author (Baccano!), which might explain the cameo appearance somewhere in episode 12 that leave audience who have never watched that wondering what’s with the focus on them. (Some say that they would be involved in a latter Durarara arc not currently covered by the anime)

Smoking?!

On top of that, too many characters are introduced on top of the secondary characters, resulting in a one-character-per-episode like thing that resulted in backtracking of events and timelines already covered in earlier episodes (but in different perspective), which resulted in very little character development and resulted in the main characters (Mikado, Masaomi,  Anri) almost the same time as the secondary characters (Shinra, Celty, Simon, etc.), reducing yheir importance. Characters with very little appearance like Tom Tanaka, Shizuo’s younger brother, and the police that haunts Celty since episode 13, strangely appear in the second opening like they would appear as important characters later on when this second opening first appeared in episode 13. It also seems that none of the episodes are OP/ED-less that, in other anime, suggests an important or serious episode. Even the last few minutes and ending theme of the last episode seemed so cliched and boring with jazz music and fast forwarding from the first to last. If you have seen anime like Code Geass (Autumn 2006, Summer 2008)  Sola (Spring 2007), True Tears (Winter 2008) or, more recently, Angel Beats (Spring 2010), you would know what I’m talking about.

Overall, this anime is worth watching with good storyline and character design, but the second half seemed poorly expressed than the first. In fact, my impression of this anime remained good until about 3/4 through where it became apparent that things have to be rushed or left out.

Durarara!! Episode 2 – Ikkyo Ichijitsu

一実

Constantly Changing Phase and Being Highly Unpredictable

It’s the first day at Mikado’s High School. As the principal talks about how there are so many new students despite Japan’s declining birth rate, Enri notices that one of the teachers was staring at her body, but looks away when she turns to look at him.

Mikado and Enri are posted to class 1-A, Masomi and Kamichika Rio, the girl who was kidnapped two days earlier, are both in 1-B. Back in 1-A, the teacher calls out for Harima Mika, but she’s not around. Just at that moment, a guy called Yagiri Seiji walks in late just to say that he would not be coming to school as he has “more important things in life” to do.


The focus switches to Rio. Why is she there if she should have been kidnapped and died two days earlier? It all began during her middle school days when she found out that her father had been cheating on her mother. She ensured that her mother saw the envelope containing the evidence, but not letting her know it was from Rio. However, nothing seemed to have changed. She turned to an online friend called Nakura who claims to go through the same problems too. Nakura suggested that they die together in order to make their parents understand what they should have cherished.

Her meeting with someone called Nakura at the appointed location, which is on the same night as the previous episode. She knows that the person she met there wasn’t Nakura, but followed the imposer anyway. Meanwhile, the real Nakura, Orihara Izaya, is watching them from a distance. Rio ends up in being kidnapped , but before she lost consciousness, she decided that this was destiny.

Meanwhile, Izaya pops out of the bushes to extinguish a lit cigarette that one of the kidnappers threw just before they sped away, and Celty was sent to rescue the girl.

Background Characters

Background characters. Though we might be more focused on the more important characters that is the main focus, have you ever wondered why do they look better than the main characters?

To begin with, the design of the main characters are design the earliest. Usually, far earlier than the anime series. So, the background characters are drawn later.

Sometimes, the main character might not be the main focus and most likely not given a name. If they even say anything, it would appear with names like “Girl A” in the credits.

Of course, without these background characters, it would look out of place. There would either be silhouettes (Bakatest), or even completely void of them (Bakemonogatari). Sometimes, they are included, but are not animated (K-on) or very little (Railgun).


Unfortunately, in images like these, there are errors
Take this screenshot for example: in the left image, there are details included like the posters or the duty roster next to the chalkboard, but that girl closest to the teacher on the right is wearing a blue tie instead of a red ribbon. In the right image, the second and third girl from the left have the body proportions out of place: their head is smaller than the body! Of course, the right image is displayed quickly.

Of course, the background characters has to match with the style used for most of the characters, but sometimes, they would just use the same face, but with different hairstyle, outfits, and body language.

There are those where the background characters look a lot better than primary and secondary characters.

There are those that add to the realism of having a background character reacting to what secondary characters are doing to them, even if it does not have any actual outcome. Here, a girl (in uniform) is forced out of her seat by Harima Mika (wearing white). She is forced to move to the empty seat behind the main character (Mikado). This all happens while the main character is narrating about Seiji (guy next to Mika) who finally turned up in school and switches focus to Sunohara Eri who is looking at Harima and Seiji and is seated at the front left.

It’s sad that these background characters that look a lot better than the main characters don’t appear much and won’t be remembered as they appeared for only a while.

Oh, and one last thing. Can you guess who this is?

Background Characters

Background characters. Though we might be more focused on the more important characters that is the main focus, have you ever wondered why do they look better than the main characters?

To begin with, the design of the main characters are design the earliest. Usually, far earlier than the anime series. So, the background characters are drawn later.

Sometimes, the main character might not be the main focus and most likely not given a name. If they even say anything, it would appear with names like “Girl A” in the credits.

Of course, without these background characters, it would look out of place. There would either be silhouettes (Bakatest), or even completely void of them (Bakemonogatari). Sometimes, they are included, but are not animated (K-on) or very little (Railgun).


Unfortunately, in images like these, there are errors
Take this screenshot for example: in the left image, there are details included like the posters or the duty roster next to the chalkboard, but that girl closest to the teacher on the right is wearing a blue tie instead of a red ribbon. In the right image, the second and third girl from the left have the body proportions out of place: their head is smaller than the body! Of course, the right image is displayed quickly.

Of course, the background characters has to match with the style used for most of the characters, but sometimes, they would just use the same face, but with different hairstyle, outfits, and body language.

There are those where the background characters look a lot better than primary and secondary characters.

There are those that add to the realism of having a background character reacting to what secondary characters are doing to them, even if it does not have any actual outcome. Here, a girl (in uniform) is forced out of her seat by Harima Mika (wearing white). She is forced to move to the empty seat behind the main character (Mikado). This all happens while the main character is narrating about Seiji (guy next to Mika) who finally turned up in school and switches focus to Sunohara Eri who is looking at Harima and Seiji and is seated at the front left.

It’s sad that these background characters that look a lot better than the main characters don’t appear much and won’t be remembered as they appeared for only a while.

Oh, and one last thing. Can you guess who this is?

Durarara!! Episode 1: Kaikou Ichiban

一番

The First Words You Say Out of Your Mouth

Though this isn’t as dramatic as Eden of the East or Code Geass, the atmosphere of me wanting to watch it for more is there. This feeling applies to K-On! too: there’s no real storyline, but yet, I liked watching it. This used to apply to Railgun too, until they had filter episodes, especially episode 13 onwards and major difference in sequence from the manga and how little it had on parts that co-inside with the main storyline (Index). One of the best anime in the Winter 2010 lineup. A sharp contrast with Winter 2009, where I had dropped everything I had picked up as those were so boring. Look in the archives of this blog dated around April or December for that year or last month for my review.

Watching the opening theme for the first time tells me that there will be a large set of characters being featured. The opening animation matches quite well with the music (裏切りの夕焼け; Treachery Sunset), but the PV of that song is nothing more than the band playing musical instruments on the roof a low-rise building during sunset, which actually looks quite nice. As I mentioned in an earlier post, there’s a woman who had the same effect displaying their names like everyone else, but there is no name given.


This episode introduces to us the world of Durarara through a 15-year old Ryugamine Mikado. Mikado has never left his hometown prior to heading to Ikebukuro to start in his High School education there. There, he met Kida Masaomi, his friend from primary school. Though they had not seen for ages, they had kept contact with each other online. Kida brings him around Ikebukuro and tells him about the people they should pay special attention to.


The focus gradually changes to a girl that had walked past them to meet someone they had only known online for the first time, only to be kidnapped later. There are already rumors of people disappearing in the area between Ikebukuro and Shinjuku, targeting people who are least likely to be noticed missing like illegal foreigners. The group that kidnaps this girl seem to have a particular interest in teenage girls (十代女子).


After another brief section of Ryuugamine and Kida introducing to more people, like Simon who works for a Russian-own sushi restaurant, the kidnappers were waiting in a multi-story carpark for their higher-ups when a motorbike rider appears and tries to rescue the girl from the kidnappers. When one of the kidnappers try to ram her with the car, it was revealed that she did not have a head. This is the legendary black rider everyone has been talking about. Ryuugami and Kida were lucky enough to see her with their own eyes. Shortly before that, they encountered a strange woman that had a scar on her neck. (If you look closely, the skin tones of the head and body do not match)


Throughout the anime, there appears to be a chat room and a same voice (changes in each episode, and it seemed to be done by whoever was narrating the preview in the previous episode) narrating what they had typed. They are Kanra (甘楽), Seton (セットン) and Tanaka Tarou (田中太郎). As at episode 8, the real identities of these people are currently unknown, but it is for certain it was not the girl who was kidnapped.

Durarara!! Episode 1: Kaikou Ichiban

一番

The First Words You Say Out of Your Mouth

Though this isn’t as dramatic as Eden of the East or Code Geass, the atmosphere of me wanting to watch it for more is there. This feeling applies to K-On! too: there’s no real storyline, but yet, I liked watching it. This used to apply to Railgun too, until they had filter episodes, especially episode 13 onwards and major difference in sequence from the manga and how little it had on parts that co-inside with the main storyline (Index). One of the best anime in the Winter 2010 lineup. A sharp contrast with Winter 2009, where I had dropped everything I had picked up as those were so boring. Look in the archives of this blog dated around April or December for that year or last month for my review.

Continue reading

Celty’s head


In the opening sequence of Durarara (デュラララ!!) , you would notice that only this woman does not have a name, but yet appear as an important character.

Enri Sunohara shows her diary of her with Harima, a friend from middle school who had gone missing before school began. Sunohara mentioned that Mika Harima was stalking Seiji Yagari, the guy in the second episode who came late only to declare that he won’t be coming to school for “something more important”. Notice that Mika Harima likes to wear a hat and clothes that are white and pink.

When I first saw this in episode 2, I didn’t realize that there were two empty seats instead of just one right behind Mikado Ryuugami. The other one is in the red circle of the right image.

Sunohara became the class representative as she and Harima wanted to become one. She looked at the empty desk where she should have sat. Since Ryuugami was sitting right in front the empty desk and she was looking for a male class representative (as indirectly mentioned by the old man), her looking at that direction made him raise up his hand.

Who is this woman that has an odd scar that Ryuugami bumped into episode 1 that later became Yagiri Seiji’s lover? Notice that the colour of the skin is diifferent. I would assume that this was just after the head transfusion. Well, how do you explain the odd scar mark and the uneven skin tone? The mention of Celty’s head gone missing in episode 4 and the head shown in episode six must mean something, though it is revealed that the kidnappers seen in the first two episodes is actually (one of) the supplier(s) for the Yagiri Pharmaceutical.

Here’s a theory of what might have happened: The Yagiri Pharmaceutical company (managed by Seiji’s older sister) hunts for people that wouldn’t be noticed if they had went missing. Yagiri Seiji likes Celty’s head, but Mika Harima likes him. Mika Harima might have heard (after stalking Yagiri) that the company does experiments and have somehow acquired Celity’s head. So to have Yagiri love Mika, she decides to have her head swapped with that of Celity. Just after the surgery, she decides to have a walk around with her new head. She bumps into someone (Ryuugami), thinking that it’s Yagiri, but upon realization that it’s someone else, she runs away in horror. (This was the only time we heard her voice) She searches high and low around Ikebukuro, but eventually, she found him.

Speaking of episode 6, this episode revealed a lot of the mysteries from the earlier and made me look back at the earlier episodes and would notice details that I wouldn’t notice.