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- Ace Pilot: Becomes one over the course of the series.
- Action Girl
- Ascended Fangirl: In the science lesson shorts, she reveals that she's a big Getter Robo fan. Also, she gets mentored by the actual Getter team in Super Robot Wars Alpha.
- Badass Armfold: Arguably the Trope Codifier in Japan.
- Smash Sisters: With Kazumi.
- Break the Cutie: Breaks pretty quickly in Episode 1, and breaks again in episode 3-4, before Taking Her Levels In Badass.
- Character Development: Noriko starts out as helpless at controlling her mecha, despite being perfect physically, she trains nonstop to improve her skills and can handle her mecha perfectly.
- While she could control her mecha, she wasn't battle oriented, as shown in her first battle in episode 3, where she didn't fire a single shot at the enemy and it lead to the death of her First Love Smith. The events that took place in the battle effected her mentally and she wept when she entered space to have a duel with Jung. During the second battle, where she gets sidelined, Noriko thinks about Smith and vows to never cry again, and that she will fight rather than hide; this makes Noriko transform into a major badass.
- Cute Clumsy Girl: An undeniably cute teenage girl with a tendency to embarrass herself while piloting a mecha. That is, until Episode 4 rolls around.
- Decomposite Character: Her character traits would be inherited by later Gainax protagonists. Shinji Ikari inherited her early personality, Naota Nandaba inherited her relation to a sibling, and Simon the Digger inherited her Character Development.
- Deconstructed Character Archetype : Noriko is an amazingly talented mecha pilot who can become the best pilot should she work hard enough...she's also only 17 when the show aires and suffers from near crippling self esteem issues and panics at the sight of danger, making her a deconstruction of the average mecha pilot at the time in a similar vein to Shinji Ikari. However, she also becomes a Reconstruction of said archtype by Episode 4 by becoming stronger through the tragedy that was inflicted upon her.
- Expy: Of Hiromi Ouka, considering that Gunbuster started as an Affectionate Parody of Aim for the Ace!
- First Love: Falls for Smith in episode 3, and he ultimately triggers her Character Development due to his death and she seems to remain loyal to her feelings for Smith, as she doesn't fall in love with anyone else.
- Gainaxing: She's one of the original girls who started the trope
- Hard Work Hardly Works: A famous subversion, she starts of clumsy and extraordinarily incapable, she works her ass off to become a badass.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners / Les Yay: With Kazumi on levels that would match a buddy cop film. Wait...
- Hot-Blooded: Hints were always present and it grows episode by episode, but by Episode 4, Noriko is as Hot-Blooded a mecha pilot as any Super Robot protagonist. In fact, she's the basis for Simon.
- Indirect Kiss: Has one with Smith, the medium being his drink he gives her.
- Luminescent Blush: Has one after realizing she has an Indirect Kiss with Smith.
- Memento Macguffin: She first gets a yellow ribbon from Kazumi that she wears as a headband to keep her bangs out of her face, she wears it to show her respect and admiration for Kazumi.
- Half way through the series, however, she swaps the yellow ribbon for a blue one, the one that her First Love Smith tied to a ladder for her during their test of courage, she wears this ribbon to honor Smith after his death and to show her change in character. She still wears the blue ribbon, as shown in episode 6.
- Older Than They Look: Due to being in space at relativistic speeds for extended periods of time, Noriko's personal age doesn't match what normal people have aged. Such as when in episode 5 where ten years have passed since Noriko entered space, she is still 17, as her personal time has barely passed at all. In episode 6, another fifteen years have passed with her at near-lightspeed, making her technically 42, but still hasn't experienced much time herself and the only visible difference is she has grown her hair out. Finally, at the conclusion of episode 6, 12,000 years have passed since the implosion when Noriko and Kazumi finally made it back to Earth, having spent enough time at near lightspeed that she STILL remains a late teenager.
- Stepford Smiler: In a sense. She makes it clear that she's going to stop crying in order to become stronger but she never said anything about stop being scared.
- Took a Level in Badass: Quite possibly one of the best examples. Compare her performance in episode one with that in episode four.
- Rousing Speech: Gives one to Kazumi in episode 5 that rivals something out of Kamina's mouth, combined with a verbal Bright Slap.
- Action Girl
- Smash Sisters: With Noriko.
- COOL BIG SIS: She's actually referred to as "oneesama" more than by her own name!
- Happily Married: Marries Ohta between 2032 and 2033, the marriage lasts only about a year before Ohta succumbs to his illness, but they were happy together nonetheless.
- Heartbroken Badass: In episode 5, when she has to leave Earth for a mission and by the time she gets back, he'll probably be dead from his illness. Subverted when they return to Earth after victory and he's still alive.
- Heroic B.S.O.D. / Out-of-Character Moment: When she breaks down in episode 5.
- Heterosexual Life-Partners / Les Yay: With Noriko.
- May–December Romance: Is in love with Coach Ohta, who was an officer on the Luxion with Noriko's dad.
- World Of Cardboard Monologue
- You Gotta Have Blue Hair
- Author Appeal: Was apparently named by Hideaki Anno. Yes, that one.
- D-Cup Distress: She says she likes the moon because the lack of gravity doesn't weigh down her breasts and she complains how her bra is too tight and she thinks her breasts are starting to sag.
- Faux Action Girl: She's said to be a genius pilot and fighter, but when she duels Kazumi, all of her attacks were blocked and when in combat in space, she quickly got caught by the enemy, couldn't break free, and was saved by Noriko.
- Foreign Fanservice: She's from the Soviet Union, judging by her mecha.
- Expy: If Kazumi and Noriko are Reika and Hiromi, Jung is most likely their Ranko.
- Ineffectual Loner
- Jerk with a Heart of Gold
- The Rival: Starts out as this to Kazumi, but quickly becomes best friends with her and Noriko. She is, however, Kazumi's rival for Coach's affection. She lost.
Koichiro "Coach" Ohta
- Drill Sergeant Nasty
- May–December Romance: With Kazumi.
- Expy: Of Coach Jin Munakata
- Happily Married: Marries Kazumi sometime between 2032 and 2033, the marriage only lasts about a year before he dies from his illness, but the two were happy together nonetheless.
- Ill Man: Contracts space radiation poisoning, Kazumi was afraid that the six months she'd be gone, he'd die and she'd never see him again. He's still alive when she and Noriko return to Earth.
- As shown in the beginning of episode 6, he did die of his illness about a year after Noriko and Kazumi returned from their Curb-Stomp Battle.
- Undying Loyalty: Everyone in the series, at one moment or another, doubts Noriko's ability and usefulness to the war, including Noriko herself... except Coach Ohta. Coach NEVER fails to tell Noriko of how much potential he sees in her and that it's her destiny to pilot Gunbuster, even as he submits her through every Training from Hell imaginable to toughen her up in preparation to pilot it. In return, IT'S COACH'S BEATING HEART THAT MAKES GUNBUSTER NOT SOME ORDINARY MACHINE!!!
- Alpha Bitch: In the first episode.
- Heel–Face Turn
- Defeat Means Friendship: Gets her butt kicked at the end of the first episode and promptly cleans up her act.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Before getting her butt kicked.
- Teens Are Monsters: See above.
- First Love: Noriko's.
- Killed Off for Real: Dies in battle, and his death triggers Noriko's Character Development.
- Indirect Kiss: Has one with Noriko, the medium being his drink that he gave her.
- Nice Guy
- Phenotype Stereotype: A fair haired and eyed American.
- Sacrificial Lamb: Introduced in episode 3. Has some romantic chemistry with Noriko—just enough that it hurts Noriko (and the audience) when he dies in battle by the end of the episode.
- Shout-Out: He's based on Toren Smith, founder of manga translator Studio Proteus.