- The character looks older than he or she is. This is often done in order to depict Fanservice, violence and other mature behavior that would otherwise be very inappropriate if the characters actually looked as young as they are. Some viewers might still find it inappropriate upon learning the character's canonical ages. This is much like a drawn version of Dawson Casting. See also Really 700 Years Old.
- The character looks younger than he or she is. Artists probably do this to have mature storylines without losing younger viewers (and depending on the genre, it can also be applied for a particular kind of fanservice). This is somewhat like casting Hollywood Homely and Generic Cuteness, in that everyone is drawn in such a way that they seem attractive, or in this case the same age.
- The character models are sufficiently undefined that the player/viewer can superimpose whatever age they want on the protagonist, thus effectively bridging most any age gap to draw in a wide spectrum of viewers. Older and younger viewers will feel surprised after they find out their real age and realizing it's not the same as theirs.
- The character's precise age never figures into the design and is meaningless except in very broad terms from a story standpoint; it's specified only because of the common insistence that audiences can only relate to characters their age.
- The creator is deliberately concealing the age of the character from the audience in service of a later plot twist.
Examples of Type 1.
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Anime and Manga
- Saint Seiya:
- The protagonists are all depicted as young men in their late teens/early twenties, but are actually 13-15. Considering the violence in the series, this may be to avoid the connotations of violence against children. Considering they all underwent Training from Hell around when they were ten years old, there are fans who consider their adopted father to be an inordinately cruel man rather than a Well-Intentioned Extremist. Case in point, this◊ is, at most, a 15 year old girl and that's assuming at least 1-2 years have passed since the beginning of the series to that point.
- Not to mention the Gold Saints, who all looked to be in their Mid 20s at least, yet when their ages were revealed only a few of them are past 20, with the oldest among them (Saga) being 28, in particular Aiolia who looks to be in his 30s, and has one of the deepest voices you'll hear was only 14 when he died, and Big Guy Aldebaran being only 20, despite looking to be in his Late 30s-40s. This was most likely due to the author not thinking that much about it given the discrepancies caused to certain plot points.
- The Spin-Offspring anime Saint Seiya Omega somewhat averts this. The new protagonists are around the same age range as the original ones and actually look like it, except for Haruto, who looks like he's, at most, 16.
- In Ranma has flashbacks in which characters look far younger then their actual age. When Akane is thinking about her past with Dr. Tofu, she resembles 6 year old while her elder sister towers over Akane and wears a high school uniform. There is actually only a three year difference between them, meaning Akane was actually 12 or 13 around that time. Similarly a flashback to Tatewaki Kuno's Hilariously Abusive Childhood depicted the very tall Lord Error-Prone as an extremely short kid who looked around 6. Kuno is 17 and the flashback was 4 years ago, making him 13 in the flashback.
- The main human (or equivalent) cast of Bleach look at least nineteen but are actually in the 15-17 range. Ironically, Rukia looks the most like that age, but is Really 700 Years Old. What makes this even more bizarre is that Chad is explicitly Younger than He Looks on top of that. The 15 year old Orihime from Bleach is famous for her rather large breasts. Likewise Ichigo and most of the other male teenage protagonists have exceptionally mature, chiseled bodies. When a Time Skip happens, this is naturally reflected by the now 17 year old Orihime having even bigger breasts and Ichigo having an even more chiseled body. Since they already looked practically like adults before the time skip, there was little else to do.
- The manga version of Battle Royale suffers from this. They are all supposed to be 15 to 16 years old, the usual age to be during your last year in middle school, but the artist's style has most of them look at least like they are old enough to be close to graduating high school around age 18. Shogo and Mitsuko are two of the worst offenders, looking (and acting) like they are in their twens.
- Some of the students suffer from Type 2, where they look to be about 10 years old and being pretty small for their age.
- According to Word of God, Yoko◊ from Tengen Toppa Gurren Lagann is around 14 years old. The same age as Kid Hero protagonist Simon, who is quite a tad shorter.
- It has been explained that living underground for so long (with no visible sun) has messed up the calendar, and Nia is the only human with an accurate age.
- Also, Simon himself falls more towards the opposite extreme (perhaps to emphasize his Kid Hero aspect) as he's pretty damn short for his age (he's 14, but most people estimate him to only be about four feet tall).
- Note that Yoko's appearance barely changes after the Time Skip when she's twenty-one, indicating that she might be older than 14 pre Time Skip since a 7 year change in your later years is less noticeable.
- Almost everyone in Revolutionary Girl Utena, a show where middleschoolers look like highschoolers while the highschoolers look like they're in their twenties. Considering what kind of messed-up stuff goes on later in the series, this may actually be a good thing. The only exception is that elementary schoolers look like elementary schoolers, which makes Nanami look like one hell of a paedophile for liking Tsuwabuki, despite the fact that she's only thirteen herself. In fact, the only teenagers that do look their age are thirteen-year-old Miki (who's voiced by a woman in the Japanese version and is given a more boyish voice for English) and Shiori, who seems to be the same grade level as Juri (first year of high school).
- Most of the characters in Slayers actually look their proper age (fifteen-year old Lina, twenty-two year old Gourry, and fourteen/fifteen year old Amelia, who, despite her roundish face and large bustline, is mid-height), Zelgadis definitely doesn't look like he's the sixteen years of age he is in the anime. It isn't just his chimeric appearance either; his voice is deeper than Gourry's is. In the original novels, he's a far more plausible twenty.
- Except for Echizen Ryouma and a few other first-years, none of the players on The Prince of Tennis look like they're supposed to be in middle school.
- Lampshaded when Kawamura's father thinks team captain Tezuka Kunimitsu is the coach, and offers him booze.
- Konomi Takeshi originally intended for the characters to be in high school, but was asked to change the setting to middle school for whatever reason. He agreed, but didn't bother changing the character designs.
- Witch Hunter Robin. Robin is 15. She falls in love with Amon, who's 25. You wouldn't be able to tell they're supposed to be different ages without being told - they both look mid-twenties.
- Show of hands: who here thinks Masaru and Toma from Digimon Savers look fourteen (especially considering that nineteen-year-old Masaru looks exactly the same in the Distant Finale)?
- In Mobile Suit Gundam Wing everybody in the central cast looks older than they should. For reference, here are the protagonist Heero◊ (age 15; looks about 18) and The Rival Zechs◊ (age 19; looks about 23), except for Quatre (also 15) who looks younger.
- Until you see one of the Gundam pilots standing next to an adult.
- Of course this is just following a long Gundam tradition: some particularly weird ones are Judau Ashta◊ (age 14; looks at least 17), Bright Noa◊ (age 19; looks at least 22), and Kacylia Zabi◊ (age 27; looks at least in her late 30s). Though Heero at least looks closer to his given age without the near-permanent scowl. In nearly every case, it would be more realistic if the characters actually were the age they appeared to be.
- The main characters in the Battle Royale manga are all supposed to be 9th graders, ages 14 to 15, (except Shogo, who got held back) but most of them look like they're in their twenties at least. Possibly to make all the extremely graphic violence a little easier to swallow.
- Shogo looks like a 40 to 50-year-old Shell-Shocked Veteran. He's...oh, sixteen?
- There are also some characters that are type 2; Yutaka, for example, appears to be about ten. This, however, is Truth in Television: there are quite a few people in early high school who look younger than they actually are.
- Umi and Fuu from Magic Knight Rayearth should've looked a bit like 16 or 17. But they're really 14 years old. By contrast, pint-sized Hikaru is a Type 2 —the two others first thought she was in grade school, and she admits she's a little small for her age...
- Show of hands: who here could tell Son Gohan was no older than eleven/twelve in the Cell Saga, just by looking at him? And who here thought he was at the very least sixteen? No wonder videogames call this form TEEN Gohan, instead of giving that monicker to...well, teenaged Gohan from the Buu saga (who is just "Gohan"). The manga makes this worse. While he looks relatively shorter, his well defined muscles still makes him look like a teenager, and he's nine!
- Also, Goku barely looks any different when he's 12 at the first world tournament he attends than he does at 15 when he's at the second. He only shows a significant change in appearance in the Time Skip where he went from 15 to 18. Same applies to Chichi, albeit she never appears as a 15-year old in the manga.
- In addition, Goku's look never changes from the time he turns 18 to the time he gets de-aged by Black Star Shenron at about fifty. This was hand-waved in one of the dubs by Vegeta, who says that Saiyans age much slower than humans so that they can fight for longer.
- Naruto does this a lot, mostly with antagonists:
- The Sound Five were fourteen years old and look seventeen/eighteen, except Kimimaro who is fifteen and almost looks like a thirty-year-old (though that's at least partially because of his super-stern attitude/look on his face and illness).
- Hidan is 22, but looks about 30. Deidara is 19 and Jugo is 18, but they both look like they're in their mid-twenties (although when he stands next to someone else it becomes apparently that Deidara is relatively short).
- Itachi already looks significantly older than his official age of 17 when he's introduced, and a static character design leads him to look almost the exact same during flashbacks when Sasuke was 8 (which would make him only 13). A family photo◊ shows that he's always had those weird creases that make his face look a lot older than he is even as an adult since he was apparently born with them. Though the manga also shows a young Itachi without the markings so it's vague if he's had them forever or not.
- Alternatively Kakashi looked pretty much like a teenager when he passed his chunin exams— except that he's supposed to be six. Either Kishimoto forgot, or Kakashi was a very early bloomer. Fortunately for him, he doesn't look much older than Naruto when they are respectively 40 something and 30 something. Though of course, keeping half his face covered doesn't hurt...
- Yumiko from Yoku Wakaru Gendai Mahou is 15 years old, but her body frame is closer to Misa, who's in her 20s.
- In the classic mecha series Invincible Steel Man Daitarn 3. Banjo, the main character, is 18 years old, but looks, acts, and is treated as a man at least in his late-20s, possibly even early 30s. More of one of the early-bloomer types.
- In Black Cat, Woodney, Train's imposter, is revealed to only be 20 years old. He doesn't look 20.
- Jin from Samurai Champloo has a face that looks more like someone in his early thirties, but he's actually only 20. Him complaining about his back hurting in one episode doesn't help either.
- Lucia, from Venus Versus Virus is only fifteen years old, though she looks like she is at best eighteen. The fact that she smokes doesn't make it any better. She looks more her age in the manga, beginning at volume 4, though.
- Rei and Asuka from Neon Genesis Evangelion appear roughly seventeen despite being fourteen, presumably for the sake of The Merch. Contrast them with their alleged classmate, Hikari. Even Shinji seems younger than he is in comparison.
- Zoro and Sanji of One Piece are a lot younger than they look. Neither of them were twenty before the Time Skip, but looking at them, you'd expect them to be in their twenties already. Perhaps because Zoro has been big on Training from Hell since early childhood, and Sanji is a chain smoker.
- Mermaid Melody Pichi Pichi Pitch has this (especially with 13-year-old heroine Lucia), mainly because Hanamori Pink can't seem to draw any female character (besides Yuuri and Seira, both very young girls) flatter than a D-cup. And that's why changing Lady Bat to a girl instead of a Wholesome Crossdresser doesn't work.
- Zettai Karen Children. Before the Time Skip, the main heroines are 10 and look 10, but afterwards, they're 12 and look more 15-16.
- Wandering Son has a few characters, mostly Doi and Chiba (especially Chiba). The latter did look like a ten to eleven year old at first, but starting around volume 4 her appearance became more of a mid-aged teenager. It matches her personality change.
- The predecessor to Wandering Son, Shikii no Junin, relied heavily on Artistic Age. The characters can't be older then 11, but they all look like they're at least 16. It doesn't help that with Art Evolution, whenever Shimura draws the protagonists in her later styles he looks like his actual age (and a lot like Nitori).
- Eyeshield 21's characters have appearances based on their personality, maturity, or whatever their shtick is, despite all of them being around the same age (15-18). The series is very self-aware, however, and never fails to lampshade how absurd some of the characters look.
- In Bludgeoning Angel Dokuro-chan, Zakuro is canonically 9, when physically she looks about 18, due to her... features.
- JoJo's Bizarre Adventure appears to take place in a strange alternate reality wherein twelve-year-old boys look like they're twenty.
- The main protagonist of Only Yesterday looks 40-50 years old sometimes, because of the lines on her face and her homeliness. This is to emphasize her Christmas Cake status. Her actual age? 28 years old.
- Arguably in Azumanga Daioh: Yomi being the Only Sane Man, she sometimes looks as old as her teachers. It helps that her teachers also sometimes look younger than they are, as well.
- All over the place in Sugar Sugar Rune The ten-year-old characters look like they're around 13, while all the junior high characters look like they're in their twenties. Not helped by the show's bad case of Most Writers Are Adults.
- Most of the main cast in Sailor Moon. They are only 14 years old, but look like they are around 17, if not more. This is most noticeable with Haruka and Michiru and the Sailor Starlights. They are around 16-17, yet they look very mature and almost old as Setsuna, who is in her early to mid twenties.
- Hellsing: Integra Hellsing is a young woman in her early twenties, but due to the way she's drawn, how tough she looks thanks to the Crapsack World she's in, and her no-nonsense personality, you'd be forgiven for believing she's in her late twenties to early thirties. Poked fun at in the Abridged Series, where she insults the band of Nazi vampires chasing her by proclaiming how it took a whole squad of them to capture a twenty two year old woman and their response is "She's TWENTY TWO?"
- The students of class 3-4 in Great Teacher Onizuka are in their final year of junior high, making them approximately 14 years old; this isn't too unrealistic in the early manga, which draws them with the mature-yet-still-scrawny builds you'd expect from teenagers in the later stages of puberty. The anime and later portions of the manga, however, depict them as looking akin to 16/17 year old high school students, which is jarring given Onizuka's early annoyances of teaching a class that's younger than he expected.
- Misty in The Electric Tale of Pikachu is only twelve. This is very hard to notice due to the Hotter and Sexier nature of the manga, even when they toned down her design in later chapters.
- In the Pokémon anime itself, Ash, much like direction Sugimori was taking in the games' artstyle as best seen in remake protagonists, looks at least 12 as of the XY saga, thanks to his more defined features, sideburns, tanned skin, and thinner frame. The major crush Serena has on him and the occasional vaguely sexual imagery that comes out of it doesn't help at all. While it has never been officially stated, it can be safely assumed he's still 10 officially. The following Sun and Moon arc reverts Ash back to looking around 10.
- Pretty much all Western comics, especially Marvel and DC. Characters who are supposed to be in their early- or mid-teens are regularly drawn with the musculature and...endowments of someone much older. This is so pervasive that listing the exceptions would be easier.
- Likewise, most Western comic artists are sketchy on drawing small children, so often kids who are especially young will look a couple of years older for simplicity. Valeria Richards, for example, is supposed to be four or five but most artists draw her to look closer to nine or ten (often she's the same height as her brother who IS nine or ten). Other times, particularly unskilled artists will just give children the proportions of adults but make them as tall as children.
- The characters of Archie Comics can lean into this. Sometimes they look more like college kids than high schoolers.
Film — Animation
- Disney Animated Canon is full of this. Take the Disney Princess characters for example. Do either Jasmine from Aladdin or Aurora from Sleeping Beauty look sixteen? The fact that most of the Princess characters are under eighteen surprises many fans, though since Atlantis: The Lost Empire more and more princesses are explicitly over eighteen. In comparison to previous princesses in their age group, Merida from Brave and Moana from Moana are designed to look young.
- Teegra in Fire and Ice is rather tall, busty and curvy giving the impression she is her late-tens/early-twenties, but she is supposed to be 15-years old.
- Angela in Silent Hill 2 is actually nineteen, even though she looks to be mid-thirties or so and often adopts the mannerisms of a little girl. This was done to make her look more than a little off.
- Eddie, meanwhile, is 23 according to the Book of Lost Memories, but his attitude, appearance, and backstory seem more suited to a high school senior or college freshman.
- Crisis Core: when Cloud first shows up in the game he's only 14 years old...but, Cloud doesn't look any different than usual, and is voiced by Takahiro Sakurai and Steve Burton, like always. The only reason you buy that he's a kid is his attitude.
- Looking at Angeal, you'd think he's hitting his mid to late thirties, what with the muscles and the Perma-Stubble. Turns out he's actually 25 years old, born after Genesis.
- Super Mario Bros.: Mario and Luigi's facial hair tends to make them look like they're in their late 30s or 40s, but they're actually only 24, according to Miyamoto.
- Ages are amazingly hard to judge in general in the Final Fantasy universe. For an excellent example, let's take Auron from Final Fantasy X: he's widely considered to be a great warrior from the past generation, has plenty of wrinkles and greying hair, and yet is only thirty-five. Then again, his life has sucked badly enough to make him prematurely decrepit. And being dead and still aging probably didn't help either.
- This causes a lot of problems in the spin-off Dissidia: Final Fantasy - Bartz looks and acts closer to Zidane's age (16) and is practically babysat by the extremely mature and stoic Squall. This tends to shock people to learn that Squall is only 17 and Bartz is his senior (and in fact one of the oldest heroes) at 20.
- Final Fantasy XII's Balthier counts as well. In the English dub, he sounds and acts like he ought to be mid-thirties or so (the age of his voice actor, basically.) The manual puts him in his early twenties, which rather ruins things. Plenty of stuff that sounds pleasantly snarky from an older man just sound like a young punk talking when the character is so young... Except for the fact that, being trained to become a Judge since early childhood, he can easily back up everything he boasts about...
- Same with Larsa. He's keenly intelligent, manipulative, and definitely one of the big movers of the plot, ascending to the throne of Archadia by the end of the game. How old is he? Twelve!
- Several of the protagonists look at least three or four years older than their supposed age (usually assumed to be eleven without confirmation, though after generation 5 they have been leaning more towards their mid teens). This is especially noticeable when it comes to the female characters, who tend to be more...developed than an average 11-year old (and sometimes more so than half the adult female cast). A common complaint with Red and his rival Blue in the remakes is that they no longer look eleven, with their slender, somewhat adult-like proportions and less childish facial structures. So much so, in fact, they sound at least 13 in the English dub of Pokemon Origins. In the timeskip, where they're fourteen now, they look around sixteen or seventeen (or at least Blue does; it's difficult to see if Red has changed much at all).
- In Pokémon Sun and Moon, the protagonists are once again stated to be eleven. The female protagonist actually does quite look her age, with her flat chest, large eyes, round face, and childlike proportions, but the male protagonist had thrown off many into thinking they were a few years older; though he can pass for eleven. Not helping is the 3D models, while far more to scale than in previous generations, not being exactly to scale, making the protagonists, Hau, and Lillie appear taller than they should be.
- Misty is implied to be Red's age but by Heartgold and Soulsilver can pass for someone several years older than fourteen.
- In a similar case to Red and Blue above, Silver in the Pokémon Gold and Silver remakes also looks like a teenager, with his thin and adult-like proportions, sharp facial features and all, when he's supposedly the same age as the player character.
- Let it also be known the seemingly at least 40 Cyrus is 27. Given his backstory though, it's possible that he aged prematurely due to stress and trauma.
- Supposedly Cheren from Pokémon Black and White was designed to look fourteen. While not as mature looking as others, most fans pinned him more around fifteen or sixteen. His design in the sequel seems a bit older than people assume from a sixteen year old.
- Many characters could also count as Type 3s.
- One Super Robot Wars 4Koma pointed this out by comparing Sanger Zonvolt and Tetsuya Onodera. Sanger is 29 but looks like he's in his mid to late thirties, making him a Type 1, whereas Tetsuya is the same age but looks like he's in his early to mid twenties, making him a Type 2.
- The Legend of Zelda is full of this throughout the titles. In The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess we have Shad, who looks and acts like someone in his late 20s minimum, but is apparently the same age as Link... Which is 17. Link himself is often mistaken for being in his early-to-mid twenties when the oldest Link's are in their late teens.
- The three lords of Fire Emblem: The Blazing Blade haven't reached 18 throughout the 2-year timespan in the story (Eliwood and Hector are 16-17, Lyn is 15-16, though age lifted into 18-19 outside Japan) but they look at least in their 20s. Rebecca and Nino are 15 and 14 respectively and while their faces and the rest of their body fit their age, they are drawn with very long legs in official art, giving an illusion of making them look older as well.
- It can be hard to remember that most of RWBY characters are under eighteen. Their personalities and voices match their ages, but characters like Yang and Blake can pass for being in their early twenties.
- Avatar: The Last Airbender:
- Azula- a stern, tall 14-year-old who easily intimidates her brother (and everyone else) despite being two years younger than him. It could be the make-up though, since she looks younger without it.
- Ty Lee is fourteen however this is often forgotten given her physique.
- The Legend of Korra:
- Bolin is sixteen when introduced but his muscular physique makes him look older. In future seasons he has barely changed despite being in his twenties.
- Asami in Book Four is in her mid twenties but looks a few years older. Fans joke her hairstyle makes her look maternal.
- The characters in Sonic Boom look older than their main continuity counterparts but Word of God is that they aren't. Amy is still twelve, Tails is still eight, and both Sonic and Knuckles are still sixteen, but they seem a few years older.
- Emily from Little Bear looks like she's probably ten at minimum, but she only turns seven partway through the series.
Examples of Type 2.
Anime and Manga
- Manabi Straight! is all over this. All of the (18-year-old or so) students are cute and rounded, looking about 10. It then lampshades it when members from another school, who are the same age as the protagonists, show up. They do indeed look perfectly 18-like.
- Lucky Star has the girls end the series as 18-year-olds that look like middle-school children or younger. Fans of the series have to constantly fend off lolicon jokes. Doubly so for Konata, who even by the standards of the show looks young. And then there's Ms. Kuroi, who is canonically in her late twenties, but could pass for a teenager.
- 7 Seeds has Koruri. She's the same age as the rest of her team, but being underdeveloped and having a rather cute, round face makes it easy for others to mistake her as being younger. Haru is surprised to learn that she's actually a year older than him.
- All those classmates of Nagi in Hayate the Combat Butler? Yeah, they're 13-14. They look about 10-11. The 16-17-year-olds look like 14-year-olds. Except Maria, who looks her age (17) despite Hayate claiming she looks older. (Note that in the manga, it was the READERS who asked that...go figure)
- Transformers Kiss Players. So very much. For reference, the titular Kiss Players are all in their twenties. They are all drawn to look somewhere around 8 at the oldest, and very disturbingly sexual things happen to them. Artist Yūki Ōshima says he did it "to make jaws drop". It worked◊.
- Most of the main cast of Eden of the East don't quite look their listed ages of 22 or 21, but rather more like 15-17 year old teenagers (or, in Micchon's case, like a preteen).
- The manga and first anime series of Yu-Gi-Oh! lampshade this; little Yugi is so short that he has a hard time convincing people that he's a high schooler.
- Kosuna from Desert Punk looks about 10-12, but is supposed to be 14.
- In the splatter-horror manga Bio-Meat: Nectar, Kiryuu Shinpachi is the new character added in the final act. He appears to be six and a half feet tall, looks like any beefy hair metal guy from the late 80's and is 13 years old. He also has a job as a fisherman and can operate a boat expansive enough to house almost 4000 people.
- While many characters from Naruto fall towards the other side of this, Haku looks almost the same age as the rookie from Naruto's class (though taller), but Word of God states his age to be 15. The fact that Haku's first appearance prompted Kakashi to state there are people stronger than himself but younger than Naruto (12 at the time) probably adds to the confusion.
- Despite the fact that L in Death Note is intended to be twenty-four, he appears to be younger than the seventeen-year-old Light.
- In 31 Ai Dream, a shojo manga by Arina Tanemura, the main character is a 31-year old woman who is returned to her teenage years. However, as her 31-year old self, you'd expect her to be around her early-to-mid twenties, because of her natural beauty, the fact that she's a Meganekko, and the manga's art style.
- The main characters of School-Live! are in their third year of high school, but the Moe art style makes them look as though they're in middle school at most. Yuki's childish behavior doesn't really help. Later college students appear and they look more their age, despite only being a few years older than the high schoolers.
- In the flashbacks to Your Lie in April the children are usually drawn looking younger than intended. Eleven year old Kousei barely looks like an elementary schooler.
- At the end of the middle school portion of Wandering Son the characters are meant to be fifteen but don't look it. Puberty quickly catches up to the characters in the high school chapters though.
- The women in Rock it, GIRL!! are meant to be adults (except for one who is seventeen), and we even get a flashback of Suzuhara in high school, however they're drawn in a way that makes them look like middle schoolers tops.
- Scott Pilgrim is a major offender. Thanks to O'Malley's artstyle, all the characters that are in their 20's, including Scott himself, who looks a lot teen-ish for a 23~24 years old.
- Lt. Q.P. Dahl from Wally Wood's Sally Forth is the leader of his squad, despite being half as tall as everyone else and resembling a bald, prepubescent child.
Religion and Mythology
- Depictions of the Finding of Jesus in the Temple nearly universally portray a child far younger than twelve by any cultural or historical standard.
- Iji is supposed to be twenty but she looks like she's about high school age. Despite canonically being a decent height for a man, the size of her gun gives her the appearance of Small Girl, Big Gun, and she lacks certain assets that could make her look older.
- The protagonists of the Animal Crossing games are implied to be adults but look like elementary schoolers. New Leaf fixes this a bit by making them into lanky Noodle People.
- Almost everyone in the Harvest Moon series:
- The main characters (in particular, your own character and potential spouses) often look to be about their teens at oldest despite getting married and drunk. Your potential spouses' parents tend to look maybe in their 30s or 40s, but anyone younger almost always looks like they haven't even hit puberty yet. Bonus points if the game is in chibi style.
- Rather squicky in the PlayStation 2 version of Harvest Moon: A Wonderful Life, where the 14 year old girl (Lumina) in the Gamecube version is now apparently 18 and available to marry...without changing her appearance at all, though post-marriage she instantly has her adult design after a small timeskip. In the JPN version she was sixteen in SE. Many fans don't even realize Lumina was 14, thinking she was 10 or 11. Harvest Moon DS avoids this by using her adult design from the start.
- EarthBound: Does Ness seriously◊ look 13? Note that those in charge of localizing the American version clearly didn't think so, and made a new clay model that makes him look considerably older, to the point that he could almost pass for 13. Compare the two models for yourself◊.
- Nearly the entire cast in Touhou to greater or lesser extents.
- The Legend of Zelda: Link in The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past is obviously in his mid-to-late teens in his official artwork and this applies to him in The Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening too. The portraits in the latter game make him closer to "young Link" but it's likely the Super-Deformed style at fault. There is less of an excuse for the The Legend of Zelda Oracle games, where he inexplicably looks several years younger than before. Even though according to Hyrule Historia the three Links are one and the same and the Link's Awakening and Oracle games take place after A Link To The Past. There are two versions of the main A Link Between Worlds official art: One with in the ALTTP style◊ and another in Oracles style.◊ That Link is the descendant of the ALTTP Link but suffers from the same problems. He looks even younger than Zelda and Hilda.
- Final Fantasy:
- Krile in Final Fantasy V is fourteen and drawn as such in Amano's designs. Her ingame sprites, however, make her look much younger—capes and robes trail on the ground, her White Mage hood has kitty ears, and there's a lot of pink. To cap it off, her battle sprite faces the front like the child characters from Final Fantasy IV, none of whom were over ten years old.note
- Probably for Rule of Symbolism reasons, Cloud in Crisis Core is depicted as having the face of someone in his mid-teens during a portion of the game when he's about 20. His face abruptly shifts to his Advent Children-style look for the Secret Ending, which depicts him as the "SOLDIER" from the original game... but that scene can only take place a year later, maximum.
- Almost all the kids from Destiny Islands in Kingdom Hearts. Sora and Kairi are fourteen in the first game but could easily pass for someone two or three years younger. Tidus and Selphie both look even younger, and it isn't helped by Selphie's love of jump roping or her dress which are commonly attributed to younger kids, though in Tidus' case he has a little bit of muscle. Remedied in the sequel, where puberty has caught up with the kids.
- Inklings in Splatoon are at minimum fourteen but their designs and builds make them seem younger. Callie and Marie seem like adults but they're approximately seventeen. However, they all look a fair bit older in official art, suggesting that their in-game depiction is a stylistic choice.
- This is part of the appeal of Liar Liar. All the characters are drawn in a soft, animesque Puni Plush style and are all underdeveloped looking while the content itself is a playfully dark tale about an Ax-Crazy girl trying to kill her boyfriend.
- The characters in Welcome To Room 305 are college students but the Scott Pilgrim-esque art style makes them look like high schoolers. It's even worse in actual flashbacks to high school, where they look like primary schoolers.
- The main characters of Cross Heart are supposed to be fifteen at the start however could pass for middle schoolers. This doesn't clear up after the three year timeskip. Subverted when they're shown as adults though.
- Raku from Nyan~ Neko Sugar Girls looks, sounds, and acts like a teenage anime fangirl but lives with her roommate and friend, Koneko. The finale reveals she's old enough to have long since finished college.
- Certain characters in The Most Popular Girls in School, such as Rachel Tice, look younger than their intended ages due to what dolls are used to play them.
- RWBY is guilty of this with their middle-aged characters, to the point that they can easily disguise themselves as high-school/college-aged students at Beacon Academy.
- In Danny Phantom there's Danielle who (at least her human half) looks like an 8-year-old...despite being 12 (sorta).
- The Gorillaz cast age in real time, but 2D still looks barely out of his teenage years despite currently being thirty-three.
- The art style to Justice League Action makes characters like Wonder Woman and Batman look like teenagers, instead of in their mid 20s to mid 30s.
Examples of Type 3.
Anime and Manga
- The anime Osamu Tezukas Metropolis has some combination of 2 and 3. The protagonists range in age from "children", teenagers, middle aged and 50-something, yet they're all drawn with the same simple and aesthetically pleasing lines and generally short/young-looking bodies. Though the adults are clearly adults, their age seems to hover anywhere from 30 to 60, and the younger protagonists can be misidentified as having any age from 12 to 20. This seeming of childlike innocence is contrasted with the very dark and grim setting and plot.
Film — Animation
- Barbie: Barbie, Ken, and her other similarly-aged friends are whatever age the plot or toy demands. She can be the president of the USA one day and a high schooler another. Barbie was originally a teenager, however ever since her sister Skipper was allowed to become a teenager Barbie has usually been played up as at least being in her early twenties. However, she can still be presented as a teenager whenever it's needed. Barbie: Life in the Dreamhouse mercilessly lampshaded and joked about Barbie's Vague Age.
- In Final Fantasy IX all the characters are chibi, so their real age is hard to pin down by just looking at them. Their ages ranged from a 6 year old white mage to a 33 year old knight and Quina, who's an nonhuman gag character with little in the way of biographical information like age or gender.
- Most characters in Disgaea may be Really 700 Years Old, but that doesn't mean that characters don't find themselves subject to this by merit of just comparing age. We seriously doubt that you would have guessed that Mao and Raspberyl are about the same age (1578), that Yukimaru is 20, or that Adell (17) is younger than Almaz (18), without looking at their listed ages.
- In the Sonic the Hedgehog franchise, while Sonic's age is stated to be 15, his actions, size, design, and manner of speech make it just as easy for him to be whatever age the player is, though it has been noted that he was once much younger than he is in the current game series. This was actually a retcon on Sonic Team's part. The original design was given the age 16, making him even older than current Sonic. For Generations they decided to make him a younger Sonic due to his shorter, chubbier design and the fact his adventures were before the modern design.
- Two words: Mickey Mouse. And any other Classic Disney Shorts characters, really.
- The Zeta Project makes it hard to tell who's what age. Agent Lee and Agent Bennett are particularly ambiguous, while fandom assumes West is younger than the other characters due to his personality. But everyone else is arguable.
- My Little Pony: Friendship Is Magic: The ages of the mane cast are intentionally vague to the point that they could really be interpreted as being anything from teenagers to being around thirty or so. The Apple Family Reunion episode revealed that the cast was (1+8*x) years old, leading to a fandom riot about whether the cast was 17 or 25. The Equestria Girls movies don't exactly clarify things as characters who are explicitly several years apart in Equestria are in the same grade.
- The CatDog characters are apparently old enough to have been young adults during The '70s. This pins them as being in their forties during the series however they look ambiguous enough to be as old as that to as young as their twenties.
Anime and Manga
- Class 3-A in Negima! is all around 14-15 years old. Their actual character designs run from Type 1 (Mana, Kaede, Chizuru) to Type 2 (the Narutaki twins), and even some who actually look like teenagers in the middle. This has gotten numerous lampshade hangings.
- Katekyō Hitman Reborn! have largely avoided this with the main cast (especially the girls) actually looking relatively like 14/15-year olds. Bianchi (18) and Adult Lambo (15) who are Type 1 and the two 5-year olds who are Type 2 are some of the more noticeable exceptions.
- Really jarring when, in a flashback, Gokudera is of a normal height at three years old.
- Baccano! has a case where three major characters (Firo, Luck, and Claire) were all roughly the same age (19, give or take a year), but don't look like they could be. Firo's Type 2 status has been pointed out in the books, but few would ever pick up on the fact that Luck is physically (and chronologically) younger than Claire unless they looked at their family photos.
- Kamichama Karin has both Type 1 and Type 2; the younger characters (around 12-13) look more like elementary schoolers than middle schoolers, where as the older characters (14-15) look more like highschoolers.
- Everyone except the older characters is drawn as a chibi, which makes accurately ageing them just by looking very hard to do.
- In Attack on Titan it's all over the place. The 104th trainee squad consists of 15-17 year olds, some of whome look their age, and others who don't. This trope come more into play, however, with character's whose ages are never mentioned. Levi, Hanji, and Petra all look like they could be close in age to the protagonists, though they could be anywhere from three to ten years older. Levi is also quite short and much smaller in stature compared to some of the others, making him appear younger. Word of God is that Levi is over 30.
- Infinite Space has many characters who fit in both Type 1 and Type 2. For Type 1 example, there is Terzi, who is 33 yet appears to be somewhere around 50s. As for Type 2, there is Hierarch Myagmar, who is 37 but looks like a man in his late twenties.
- Pokémon has plenty of characters who fit both Type 1 and Type 2. For example, Red and Blue are canonically eleven but in the remakes of Pokémon Red and Blue they look like teenagers. On the opposite side of the spectrum is Emma from Pokémon X and Y, who is said in-game to be sixteen but looks younger and is treated years younger than the vaguely sixteen to nineteen year old protagonist.
- Homestuck, amusingly enough, plays this trope both ways with the same characters. In the standard art style, the thirteen-year-old cast looks much younger (somewhat justifiable in that everyone was almost set to be ten years old), but in most of the alternate Art Shift styles which regularly crop up, everyone looks between sixteen and eighteen. Admittedly, no-one actually acts like they're thirteen; it's pretty clear that age is meaningless beyond protagonist John Egbert's birthdate being an Arc Number.
- Aggravated even further with the post-Scratch universe. The new set of protagonists are explicitly stated to be fifteen years old, but they look identical in age to the original four heroes.
- There are also the pre-Scratch trolls, who are all confirmed by Word of God to have been around nineteen years old at the time of their deaths. Their ghosts have the same childlike sprites as every other protagonist does.