A list of archetypes I have noticed in various anime and RPG's. Written in 2000.
|(Style note: I originally wrote this around March of 2000, which was during my senior year of high school. My website was bloggish, and anime-themed, and so the writing style of the list reflects that. However, looking back on it, I'd say my information is still pretty impressive for a casual listing.)
Aquaviann's Anime Archetypes
An archetype (according to Webster's Ninth New Collegiate Dictionary) is an inherited idea or mode of thought in the psychology of C.G. Jung that is derived from the experience of the race and is present in the unconcious of the individual. Every country and culture has its own unique set of archetypes. Simply put, they are types of characters and situations that are repeated in plots. Some examples of universal archetypes are the Hero, the Fallen Angel, the Wise Old Woman and the Star-Crossed Lovers.
The Hero - A young adult (usually) that must overcome a series of challenges to solve a problem. Once the goals are met, the Hero is mentally and spiritually reborn. Examples: Little Foot from "The Land Before Time," Mulan from "Mulan" (duh), Neo from "The Matrix."
The Fallen Angel - A benevolent character that has fallen from grace (or is accused of doing so) and must overcome many challenges to regain his/her honor. Examples: The Fugitive.
The Wise Old Woman - An elderly woman with great wisdom. She displays deep kindness and love towards the Hero. Sometimes she has mystical or spiritual powers. Examples: The Nurse from Romeo and Juliet, the Fairy Godmother from almost every fairy tale with a female hero.
The Star-Crossed Lovers - Two people that care immensely for each other but due to their circumstaces or positions in society, can never be together. Examples: Romeo and Juliet, Jim and Huck (hey, the definition didn't say they were in love. If you've read Huck Finn, you probably noticed that Jim and Huck were like father and son; so it goes).
I have watched alot of anime and played many RPG's in my 18 years of existance, and I have noticed a definite set of archetypes for these. **I include RPG's because most are based on manga, as are most anime. Also, RPG's often have anime made of them or vice versa.**
Here is a list of anime archetypes I have discovered:
The Long-Haired Fallen Angel - A heroic figure who has fallen from grace and despite being scorned for his fall, still remains honorable. This archetype is usually male and has very distinctive long, flowing hair that hangs mid-back or longer. He tends to bear a sword and is also fond of wearing long capes and coats. Examples:
Vampire Hunter D (Vampire Hunter D) -- fallen because he is a vampire...honorable because he doesn't let his need for blood overtake him, and because he defends the innocent and the hopelessly stupid.
Allen Schezar (Tenku no Escaflowne) -- fallen because Chid is really his child instead of the Duke's...honorable because, well, it would be a cold day in hell before anything underhanded or ungentlemanly crossed his mind.
The Cool Old Guy with Scars - An elderly and wise man from whom the Hero has learned valuable lessons. He usually dies at the beginning of the plot, thus shoving the total responsibility on the not-quite-ready Hero. Examples:
Balgus (Tenku no Escaflowne) -- One of the Knights of Fanelia. Van was closest to this knight, who trained him. Balgas died honorably protecting Van and Escaflowne from Dilandau's melefs. As with all Cool Old Guys with Scars, he displays tremendous power. In his last battle, he stops the blade of a melef with with his blade--and he's not in a melef. This guy is supernatural.
The Goth Guy with One Metal Arm - A tall, dark, mysterious man with a robotic arm. He, like the Long-Haired Fallen Angel, has great honor, but there is something eating him up inside. Most Goth Guys with Metal Arms have had their heart cruelly broken, or something similarly traumatic. They, like Long-Haired Fallen Angels, are also fond of wearing long capes or coats...anything that billows dramatically in the breeze. Examples:
Folken de Fanel (Tenku no Escaflowne) -- What a case! This guy is gothed up out of guilt for selling out his family, even though he doesn't admit that he screwed up until it's almost too late. That purple tear is proof. Wonder if he could recommend a good Asturian tatoo artist?
Vincent Valentine (Final Fantasy VII) -- Poor Vincent. His last chance at heterosexuality went and had a kid with someone else. He felt as though he betrayed most of the people in his life and darnit, those metal shoes were uncomfortable! Also, he was as close to being a vampire as they come.
Vampire Hunter D (again) -- Yes, I can list him twice...this is MY list. In truth, I don't consider him part of this category because he didn't have a metal arm. However, there was something special about his arm...it had a talking hand on the end of it. Seriously. If he told you, "Talk to the hand!" you really could. His hand was his wise cracking conscience. It also singlehandedly (sorry, had to) saved his life a time or two. I know he doesn't quite fit in this category, but I'm too lazy to make up a Long-Haired Fallen Angel Goth Guys with Talking Hands category. Sorry.
The Magical Teen - An oblivious young person that gains special powers for no particular reason. Later it is discovered that the Magical Teen's powers stem from their lineage, or reincarnation. Magical Teens are usually females attending junior high or high school. They often have side kicks and a whole mess of nifty little magic devices to help them out. They also seem to be severely troubled in the area of romance. Examples:
Sailor Moon (Sailor Moon...duh) -- She's the classic Magical Teen, with an out-of-this-world origin for her nifty reincarnation. She goes to junior high, has two kitty side-kicks and enough nifty gadgets to make Rally Vincent feel unarmed. P.S. All of the other senshi are also Magical Teens too.
Hitomi Kanzaki (Tenku no Escaflowne) -- Hitomi seems like a very simple Magical Teen when compared to Sailor Moon. She's got one pendant and alot of indecisiveness when it comes to boyfriends (blonde or brunette? statuatory or puppy love?).
Kagome Higurashi (InuYasha) -- Kagome is rather mature for a Magical Teen, but she meets the specs, nonetheless. Reincarnation? Check (Kikyou). Magical shiny thing? Check (Shikon jewel). Sidekicks? Triple-check (Sango, Miroku, Shippou, etc.). Tumultuous love life? Osuwari-strength-check (InuYasha)!
The Bad-ass Butch Broad - Wow, what a handsome man! Oh, wait, it's a chick. And what a chick she is! The Bad-ass Butch Broad is known for being mysterious, aloof, and armed to the teeth. She likes to wear her hair short, and favors pants to skirts. To be blunt, she's dresses like a drag king...and looks good that way. She's usually a villian, but can sometimes be found playing the good-um..person role. Examples:
Haruka Tenoh or Tenou (Sailor Moon) -- Haruka is by far the most manly of the Sailor Moon team...and proud of it. She has a sweet romantic tie to Michiru, or Sailor Neptune. If you've only watched American Sailor Moon, no, you haven't missed anything--these girls are gay, and American censors had to have their neo-Victorian hissy fit and prevent the episodes with Haruka and Michiru in them from being brought over. *Sigh*. Edit: eventually the Haruka/Michiru episodes were brought over, but the two were presented as cousins rather than a couple. Bleh.
Natasha Radinov (Gunsmith Cats) -- A broad-shouldered, big-handed Russian assassin. Ex-Special Forces and KBG officer, with enough weapons in her coat to be a walking gun-and-knife show. Oh, and don't forget all those explosives. Yikes!
The Smart-alec American - This character is known for being, well...a character. As in he constantly ticks people off, makes reckless mistakes, has a big ego and still somehow manages to be perfectly popular. He is prone to having pony-tail hair and a Leno-esque chin--that needs a shave. He's not literally American, but he displays that go-getter, nothing-can-stop-me attitude that is stereotypically tagged onto U.S. characters. There is, however, a more hidden part of this character. He has iron-clad honor and a heart of gold, and it the only part of his persona that he doesn't flaunt. Personal note: I really like this archetype. If my dad was ever made into an anime charcter, he would be one of these guys. Examples:
Dryden (Escaflowne) -- He's super-smart, rich and famous. He's got a winning smile and fastens his ponytail with a big, fluffy hairbow. He also has a knack for helping people in such a way that they are equally as annoyed with him as they are grateful.
Bill Collins (Gunsmith Cats) -- The ATF agent who has taken it upon himself to be the protectors of Rally and Minnie Mae. He's as annoying as he is helpful, and has a thing for secretaries. However, he is the one who saves Rally from Natasha...(and let's just ignore the fact that the events surrounding Natasha's death make absolutely no sense...if we dwell on that, I may start to rant!).
Kaji (Neon Genesis Evangelion) -- He's fiesty, he's unshaven, and he boinked Misato. He also grows melons. What else is there to say?
The Gender-Bending Facially Scarred Villain - Okay, you all know what I'm talking about. This is that certain character that makes more closed-minded anime viewers go "Eeeew!" They can be male or female, but whatever their gender, they have tendancies toward the opposite one. They also have the ability to get grazed by projectile weapons and hold grudges for a ridiculous amount of time. Examples:
Zoicite (Sailor Moon) -- Sailor Moon viewers of North America, are you aware that you are being lied to? If not, you'd better sit down. Okay, here goes: Zoicite is a man. He and Malachite/Kunzite are a couple. Anyway, he fits all the criteria. He's 100% bishonen...want proof? He appears in a shower of pink petals!! Also, he was scarred by a stray rose dart from a rabid prom-crasher...Tuxedo Dork.
Dilandau Albatou (Escaflowne) -- I won't toss out any spoilers, but I will say that Dilandau takes the 'gender-bending' part of this archetype veeery seriously. He has also had the 'facially scarred' part taken care of by Van de Fanel...who could forget that cute little word? "Chiku...chiku..."
Natasha Radinov AGAIN -- Sells drugs. Packs heat. Gets her earring (and earlobe) shot off by Rally and wants revenge...so do I. Her death was a plot cop-out! Um..anyway, if she would have lived, the 'little nick' would have turned into a pretty nifty scar. *sigh* Poor Natasha...
Little Miss Violence - A troubled young woman...she's hurt, angry, and confused about her place in life. She also has a talent for kicking ass. In order to forget her problems, she fights. She has a good cause, but fighting does not satisfy her. It only distracts her from her other problems, making her push them farther down. An anguished but lovable character. Examples:
Gally or Alita (Battle Angel Alita) -- She fights for various causes or organizations, but all she really wants is to figure herself out. This series pushes the philisophical question "What makes us human?" Because Gally is a cyborg, she wonders about her own human-ness and what her emotions amount to. She also wonders how the hell her METAL boobs manage to bounce...
Rally Vincent (Gunsmith Cats) -- Her problems are a bit more subtle than Gally's. If you read the manga, they are easier to see. To sum it up, all of her relationships are problematic. You know something is seriously wrong with anyone who has an ammo compartment in their undies.
Asuka Souryu (Evangelion) -- "I hate you! I hate everyone!" Her hair matches her Eva, but her sweet face and her personality clash violently. Her mother's rejection and later suicide has made her into someone that enjoys screaming in people's faces and busting Angel ass. Who could blame her?
Rei Ayanami (Evangelion) -- She's mostly silent, but more emotional than most people think she is. She snatches one instance of happiness (Gendo and the glasses) and clings to it. She, in my opinion, is even more fragile than Shinji. She fights only for Gendo's approval, but that comes at the price of her own personal freedom...damn, she's so deep..it's no wonder so many people don't like her...she makes ya think!
The Beautiful Floating City/Island - A sparkling and peaceful city that is built on a piece of earth that disobeys gravity. Usually, Floating Cities are technologically or magically advanced compared to the rest of the world. Later in the story or game, the Hero visits the Floating City. Shortly after, the City is rudely introduced to terra firma (see Heroic Tendancies).
The Ancient Hidden Place - A castle or city that has been sealed from humanity for ages. It has been perfectly preserved so that it is displays the lives and culture of its past inhabitants. The Hero goes here and finds a really wonderful treaure or an extremely dangerous enemy.
Heroic Tendancies - Usually, the hero does these things several times during the course of the plot:
Has dramatic disputes with mysterious family members.
Saves the stupid, loveable character in the party.
Arrives in a nice, pretty town and leaves a hole in the ground, or a smouldering heap.
Visits a floating city or island and causes it (directly or indirectly) to fall.
This list is to be continued. If you think of any anime/RPG characters that match my archetypes, or if you notice any other archetypes, let me know!