Created By: acrobox on January 13, 2017 Last Edited By: Arivne on March 21, 2017

Team of Pairs

Putting characters in easy to point out contrasting pairs, so that the group as a whole stands out when seen together.

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You've seen them before, the Five-Man Band, the Quirky Miniboss Squad, the plot relevant cool kids down the street. But what is it about them that let's you know it's them right at a glance, and not a faceless hoard of uncool masses?

Basic aesthetic pairs.

The most common way to make a group of characters stand out is to group them in contrasting pairs with any the odd man out getting the chance to throw in a wild card. Regardless of the nuance, or vagueness of actual group dynamics, these guys just have to look or act wildly enough apart that you A: don't get the members confused, and B: can easily pair them off based on theme.

This can overlap with more established and rigid team formations. The Five-Man Band's usual version can boil down to the first pair being the base and slight variation to foil the base (soft vs sharp, or red vs blue). The second having more extreme contrast (big vs small) and the odd man out is just (female).

But there are many other ways to create pairs contrasting shorthand to let your team stand out. You could do a male base and foil, and a female base and foil with just a team of four. This also works with the Power Trio (base vs foil, and wild card) or The Magnificent Seven Samurai (base vs foil, physical vs intellectual, old vs young, wild card is funny). You can do this with just demeanor and quick dialogue in when the group lines up together (introvert vs. extrovert, Hulk Speak vs Sesquipedalian Loquaciousness, polite vs. rude, or anything off Duo Tropes.)

When done solely through design it's much more common in animation since real humans, and Hollywood attractive actors, tend to look more alike than cartoons drawn from scratch. Also common in multiplayer action and sports games with no story at all but you gotta be able to pick your favorite off the character select screen.

Compare Nominal Importance. See also Geodesic Cast when multiple different teams follow the same template. Sometimes the group can pair off in different ways besides the most obvious, and the odd man can change depending on context. Occasionally the "odd man" is actually the medium, and the pairs are the different extremes.


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    Anime And Manga 

    Video Games 
  • Arms: The first five characters to be revealed. Spring Man is default, a round and sproingy character. Ninjara is the direct foil with a sharper design but similar build. Master Mummy and Mechanica form a physical vs intellectual duo, the former a massive monster using his own strength and the latter a small girl in Nerd Glasses piloting a mech. Ribbon Girl rounds things out as the feminine version of Spring Man.
  • Power Quest: The 5 Robot Models to the character can choose from. And roughly the ingame characters that main them. Max is the default, a heroic boxing Shoto Clone. Axe is the foil, a dark alien looking Shotoclone. Gong is The Brute, a giant robot with slow and simple wrestling moves vs Lon the Old Master with quick highly technical kung-fu, and Speed is the wildcard, Kick Chick to round things out.
  • Snowboard Kids: The five original Sno Bow Kids. Slash the spiky haired lead troublemaker boy, Jam the direct foil Black Best Friend showoff. Nancy the sweet "cute" girl, and her foil Linda the snobbish "hot" girl. And the odd man out Tommy is the fat kid.

    Western Animation 

Community Feedback Replies: 9
  • January 13, 2017
    If you use the word "band" in the title, people will think this is about musical bands. Also, "Aesthetic" may be confusing.

    "Contrasting Pairs" would be somewhat clearer.

    This might work better as an index.

  • January 15, 2017
    edited to clarify
  • March 19, 2017
    • Naruto: the Akatsuki organization members are usually put in pairs, each pair exhibiting contrast between each other. Such as the stoic, calm flame-wielding Itachi and affable, water-using Kisame.
    • One Piece Like the above, the higher members of Baroque Works are put in pairs, usually a male/female pair, with the male using numbers as their Code Name and the female using the name of days (including holidays) as theirs.
    • Project X Zone: the gameplay puts many playable characters in pairs, along with "solo units" you can assign to any pair. Like Ryu and Ken, Yuri and Estelle and Zephyr and Leanne.
  • March 19, 2017

    Try and raid Gender Equal Ensemble for pairs of girls + guys
  • March 20, 2017
    • Characters in Haikyuu are often introduced in pairs of two, who usually have a unique dynamic to themselves. For example, the Karasuno team has main character Hinata and The Rival Kageyama, Team Dad Daichi and Team Mom Sugawara, Gentle Giant Asahi and The Napoleon Nishinoya, and Jerkass Tsukishima and his timid Only Friend Yamaguchi, with the group rounded out by Those Three Guys Ennoshita, Kinoshita, and Narita. Only Tanaka doesn't have a clear counterpart. This dynamic even extends to the team's support, with volleyball veteran Coach Ukai contrasted with newbie teaching adviser Takeda, and beautiful stoic Kyoko with cute nervous Hitoka as two team managers.
  • March 20, 2017
    • Everything I Know About Zombies I Learned In Kindergarten: Lead character Letitia pairs off 12 kindegarteners into buddy pairs like when they go on a field trip, and makes them responsible for keeping track of one another. They manage to survive on their own, without adults, in the beginning of a Zombie Apocalypse because the kids take the lesson to heart. The adults who do finally meet them are amazed that the children are behaving like a military regiment, and calls them "the 20 legged caterpillar" because they do not break rank for anything unless Letitia says so.
  • March 21, 2017
    Western Animation
    1. Alan Mayberry as the buff, competent, unpretentious roadie contrasted with Alexander Cabot as the scrawny, bumbling, Miles Gloriosus. It's a pairing modeled upon Abbott And Costello, with physique adjustment added.
    2. Josie James as the affable and successful leader of the band contrasted with Alexandra Cabot as the thorny The Load nursing a dandy Green Eyed Monster. Their dynamic hews closely to The Ace Bugs Bunny paired with Small Name Big Ego Daffy Duck.
    3. Valerie Brown as The Smart Guy of the group contrasted with Melody Valentine as the Genius Ditz. This pair runs in rough parallel to Straight Man Dan Rowan paired with goofball Dick Martin.
    4. Sebastian the cat is the Team Pet, and can act as catlike or as a Sixth Ranger depending on need.
  • March 21, 2017
    Would the Cullens from Twilight count as an example? And would they work as a page image?
  • March 21, 2017
    I read that as Team of Paris.