Character Generation in Manga: How to make characters interesting

My previous post Character Generation in Manga: Characters on a theme showed how to effortlessly generate manga characters within seconds. So now you have the characters, what are you going to do with them?

This post will show you how to develop the featureless characters you have generated. This is different from my post on Anime Archetypes which gives you a broad over view of the generic personalities in manga and anime.

When a character is introduced, their current personalities a result of their back story. But since we don't know much about them, they are usually an archetype that is instantly recognizable, overblown, and familiar. It's very rare that an audience will immediately care about a character in the beginning of a story because caring and identification requires time to build up.

How the character develops a personality happens within a story arc. A story arc requires a character to change from one end of the spectrum to another. If they don't they become a tragic character.

I will take one of the Zodiacs and map his introduction into the story and his transformation from a one dimensional character to someone that I care about. 

Once again, the characters of Fruits Baskets pulls from the mythology of the Chinese Zodiac. When we first meet the Sohma family of the twelve zodiacs, they are under a curse. They are trapped for eternity in an endless cycle of secrets and abuse. Nothing changes, and everyone has given up and simply living their lives as it is.

*Warning of spoilers*
Sohma, Hatori - The Dragon

When we meet Hatori, all we know about him is that he's the doctor of the Sohma family. He takes care of Akito and erases peoples memories when they find out about the Sohma family curse. His personality is serious, no-nonsense, and efficient.

Akemi: So far he's not that interesting, except at a potential threat to Honda Tohru, our heroine.

As the story continues, he invites Tohru over to the Sohma family house to talk. When she arrives, Hatori warns Tohru to leave because the family curse of turning into animals is not as harmless as she thinks it is.

Akemi: At this point I still know nothing of Hatori, and personality to me become heavy-handed, threatening, and mildly scary because I don't know his motives.

When Honda arrives at the family house, Hatori's back-story is revealed. He was once in love with a woman name Kana, his assistant. Kana knew that Hatori changed into a Zodia animal and eventually, they wanted to get married. Sohma Akito got angry at their request and blinded the Hatori in one eye.  Kana felt such sorrow and guilt that Hatori lost his eye that she became clinically depressed. As a result, Hatori had to erase Kana's memories of their time together. Kana no longer knows him even though Hatori still loves her.

Akemi: With this backstory, I now understand Hatori's motives in his warning Honda away. Because of of the hurt, pain, and loss that he experienced when a normal human being tried to become part of the family.

(read the page above from right to left)

WIth this information, Hatori's character has now become a human being to me. He's gone from one of the 12 zodiacs to simply Hatori. I remember him, I'm sad for him, I want him to be happy again. And I'm really hoping that he doesn't turn out to be a villain an erase Honda's memory.

When your audience begins thinking, feeling and asking questions about your character, you have been successful in creating a unique individual.

So let's map Hatori's Story Arc:

Introduction. The family doctor for the Sohma family, he erases peoples memories when they find out about the family curse. 

External Personality. He is very cool and serious. Not very interesting but mildly threatening.

Back Story. He lost his fiance when he erased her memories, because she got caught in the middle of the family curse and her mind couldn't handle it.

Internal Personality. He truly believes he's doing his job as a doctor and a healer when he erases peoples memories because they could get hurt. He has experienced great pain and loss in his life.

Story Arc question. Now that Hatori has transformed from a one-dimensional character, to a human being, is he going to remain the tragic character that always follows orders and erases people's memories? or is he going to break out of the cycle of the curse?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

thanks alot. you helped me realize what i was missing in my story