Abusive Parents: Kano's father, if this is any indication. And apparently his mother, too, given that Kid says that she went crazy and killed his and Dark's sister Nadia in a murder-suicide. Word of God is that both of his parents were Scientologists (freezoners, to be exact), which probably did wonders for Kano's mental state, but it's also said specifically that Nadia's death was not because of their religion.
Action Girl: Cho is a far more competent fighter than Kano. And now that she's got the magic weapon of one of the gods too...
Ambiguously Brown: Heyoka can come off as this, but Word of God is that he/she is mixed African American and Native America, Lakota to be exact. His/Her name is also a clue about the latter, since it's a Lakota word for a trickster figure who embodies opposites, in this case gender, and it's implied this isn't in fact Heyoka's legal name and that he/she may have changed it.
Art Shift: In the flashback sections in chapters 45 and 49.
Big Bad: Kuroyama, Tcaolin, and Red are all vying for this position.
Big Damn Heroes: Cho had one of these recently when saving the team from the zombies.
Bi the Way: Word of God is that sexuality is "no big deal" in Grey World, and Cho is confirmed to have had her first time with Mindi, and their relationship is "semi-ongoing." Dark is also confirmed to be bisexual, though it hasn't come up in story yet, and Heyoka is "mostly into guys" but evidently has some interest in girls. As for Kano himself, he's just "Completely Fucking Confused".
Black Bug Room: Kano's mind seems to be composed primarily of them. The only section we've seen that isn't completely horrible (so far) is the warehouse room where Kid resides. And even that place has its problems.
Blessed with Suck: Kano has awesome psychic powers! Only he can't use them (voluntarily) and they drove him batshit crazy. He could probably rule the world if he got around to it, but he's too busy ignoring the voices in his head (some of which are really there) and blacking out so his alternate personalities (all of whom, even theeight-year-old, can use his tele-whatever better than he can), can save his life(/sanity)...and ruin it(/them) a little bit. Or a lot.
Blind Seer: Dee, spidery goddess of dreams and recurring character. She seems to have...misplaced her eyes. She's sure she'll find them eventually!
The Chosen One: The Champion is an integral part of the Triad Bond. Unfortunately, Tcaolin and Tonbo each choose a separate Champion, resulting in... some confusion. Neither of them seems terribly intent on being a very useful Champion, besides.
Cool Sword: The Blade of Sigmr Ch'k, no question. It's a floating magic katana, the handle of which is covered in teeth. When Kano uses it, it hovers six inches away from his hand, connected to his arm by the quetzalcoatlic personification of the dragon-god of war. If that's not a Cool Sword, I don't know what is.
Kano: Speak for yourself. I need at least another month.
Cho: Oh, hush. You'll do fine.
Kano: Sure, so long as Big Bad agrees not to use any advanced fighting techniques. I hope I don't cry. I look all blotchy when I cry.
Death Is Cheap: Several characters, including Kano himself, have technically "died" at least once, but thanks to walk-ins and Mindi's powers, which can bring someone Back from the Dead, it doesn't mean much.
Enemy Without: Red/James also manifests this trope elegantly when he is able to manifest a more or less physical form after Tcaolin "fed him some souls".
Everything's Better with Princesses: Princess Tonbo, who looks a lot like someone Kano used to know... from a mental hospital. The "everything's better" part is also subverted in that Tonbo was raised to be Tcaolin's Soul Jar and wasn't even allowed to use her hands, and if she does merge with Tcaolin she essentially dies. Word of God is that Tonbo is, in part, based on Anthy from Revolutionary Girl Utena, which similarly deconstructs princess tropes.
The Exile: Formerly Cho, who caused too much trouble among the Old Ones and was kicked out, residing in the slums of Ir. Currently the nick, more or less self-inflicted, and also resulting in a new residence in the gutter.
Eyeless Face: Dee. She used to have eyes, but apparently misplaced them somewhere.
The Fair Folk: Fae in Gray World are severely persecuted by humans, and treated as third-class citizens. Everyone thinks of them as thieves and tricksters, a stereotype the nick... plays into perfectly happily. Whoops.
Fingore: When Kano isn't busy hallucinating that there are maggots in his veins or the like, he often feels his fingers burning, sometimes indicating unrest in the Zones. May or may not be related to why he tried to chop his left hand off, but hey, at least he missed and only got two fingers! His ring and pinkie finger don't work too well, incidentally.
Five-Man Band: Could be configured various ways. Kano as the Hero, the nick as the Lancer, Cho as the Big Guy, Starless as the Smart One, and Tonbo as the Chick tends to work out pretty nicely, though Kano's not a very effective Hero.
Red:You want a movie of the week sob story about why I turned out the way I did, or should I just say I was born like this and can't help it?
Freudian Trio: All accounted for in the personalities of our hero, simultaneously adhering to and deviating from the original model more than ever.
Kano is the ego and also The Face personality, the closest thing to a balance between the extremes of the others.
The superego is Kid, The Empath who insists on kindness and moderation in a way which would be so very annoying if it weren't adorable.
Dark begins as the id, before being usurped by Red. Dark was formed as a personality to defend the system from the outside world, but by the time we see him he functions with a deceiving pragmatism and capricious brutality, eventually becoming The Atoner. Now Red, role-accroaching ghost of a Serial Killer, is left to represent all the worst of a humanity's basic instincts plus a cunning, malicious deviousness, and without him actions such as violence cannot be expressed. Notable interactions here are Red's attempts to provoke Kano, Kid's dynamic with Dark (which was originally one of symbiosis and is now...not), and Kid's utter inability or unwillingness to stand up to Red, while he still reasons with his big brother (to decreasing effect).
From Nobody to Nightmare: Red/James was unremarkable when younger but grew up into a serial killer and rapist. Likewise Big Bad Kuroyama was originally a humble doll maker.
Tcaolin. She went from a normal human to a nightmare goddess.
Gone Horribly Wrong: According to Word of God, the gods helped Tcaolin become a goddess because they all (except Fox) loved her and didn't want her to die. Thing is, in the process, they were infusing her with a power that humans were incapable of and never meant to contain, and so everything went horrifically wrong, culminating in Tcaolin rising as a very pissed off goddess who'd been through the worst kind of agony imaginable.
Good Wings, Evil Wings: Dark was meant to be a sort of guardian angel/older brother to Kid, and had fluffy red wings. When the functioning disorder of Kano's Mental World was disrupted, they rotted off and were replaced by wings basically made of darkness, or as the author says "pure oh shit run away." When they show up, you're in trouble.
Gorn: The author actually apologizes when things get especially bloody, claiming to dislike all the blood. Given how often and how copious the bleeding is, however, this is most likely bullshit.
Hammerspace: Justified in-world by the presence of Grims, a floating talking cloud, who seems to serve no purpose in the story other than to carry around the characters' changes of clothes and Kano's sword.
Immortality: All over the place. The Old Ones can heal their wounds by briefly becoming trees, and it is the norm for them to eventually forsake their bipedal bodies to live forever as trees, their consciousness part of a greater root system. It is pretty much unheard of for Old Ones to die, and they are descended from a god. There are plague victims running around who can only be neutralized by growing sacred trees throughthem with god-related magic. Ghosts of the dead rattle aroundKano's mind like candy in a gumball machine. Red/James is still wreaking havoc there long after his brain was blown out by one of his would-be victims.
Living Memory: Karen, like many of Red's victims, exists as a ghost within Kano's mind. Unlike the others, she made it away alive. Real life Karen is doing normal people things.note Luka's exact quote Her ghost is in Kano's mind with the very deceased victims. She turns into a very nasty monstrosity and attacks Kano('s mind self) because he won't let her out. Not that he can.
Fuuka exists similarly, being part of a soul which fled from her body and somehow ended up in the Zones.
Living Toys: If title villain Kagerou hadn't been an evil aspiring god, he would have been a toymaker. Most of his henchmen are creepy, deformed living dolls.
Locked Out of the Loop: For most of the comic, Kano is unaware of his other personalities, though he's slowly figuring it out. Dark's entire purpose is to keep Kano from remembering a bunch of things about his past.
Mad Eye: Kano's pupils are often drastically different sizes. Kid has it too, inside Kano's head.
The Maze: The slums of the city of Ir are the outskirts of a labyrinth imposing enough that not even the children of the slums go in too deep, at the center of which lie some ruins which the purpose of the labyrinth is to protect people from.
Starless: No one can withstand the Labyrinth.
All to keep people safe from a monument called The Eye...which Kano has a somewhat unpleasant encounter with.
Meaningful Name: The villain, Kuroyama (which means "mirage"), as well as Heyoka, which is the name of a trickster in Lakota mythology who was known for being contrary in nature, fitting in with the fact that Heyoka identifies as genderqueer (and according to Word of God had a Native American grandfather who taught him/her all about the myths and let him/her experiment with his/her gender representation) and is apparently an invoked thing since Heyoka is not his/her birth name.
"Kagerou" means 'dragonfly', but another word that means the same thing is 'tonbo'.
Also probably the titular villain Kuroyama. It roughly means "mirage," and at the very least references the story's nature.
Kid named his older brother/guardian angel Dark because he wasn't afraid of the dark, and Kid himself is known by this nickname because he doesn't seem to have a real one and will introduce himself by a new ridiculous title every time you ask him.
Kid:I am J. R. "Bob" Dobbs.
Cho:No, he's not.
Kid:Then can I be Harry Potter?
Mental World: A good chunk of the story is Fuuka's journey through Kano's chaotic, nightmarish mind, and the horrible things that happen while she is there.
Mercy Kill: Moko does this to an injured woman during the attack on Nishi Village. Mindi also does it to a woman who was crushed (see Contest Winner Cameo) though due to the nature of her powers Mindi can always bring her back later.
The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Inverted. In fact, the exact opposite is true. Not only do Kano's perceptions of his alters affect the way they appear in his mind-Zones-thingsnote Word of God states that Red, for example, has been getting taller and less spindly than Kano despite sharing an appearance, altogether more imposing., Kano will gain or lose scars as different personalities take charge, depending on who they "belong" to. It's all ruled by his perceptions. And he can't control it at all.
Mood Dissonance: Look at all the pretty colors! Even the blood... and gore... is... nice and vivid... dear god.
Mood Whiplash: During the middle of an intense fight between Monster and Kano... we cut to a chibi Monty Python reference and an apologetic note from the author. At the time it was a semi-joke page to cover for an extended hiatus, but in an archive read it... feels very out of place.
Nightmare Fuel Station Attendant: Dark appears to be fond of introducing himself by implanting traumatic memories in people's minds. When they come to screaming, he will smile blankly.note When asked to describe Dark's idea of a romantic date, the author said, "He takes you to see his morgue, then you go away. May involve exchange of traumatic flashbacks via psychic interface and/or flowers."
Our Souls Are Different: Tcaolin gets power by absorbing the souls of humans; their abandoned bodies then become zombies. Kano's mind is sort of like a vacuum for any soul that isn't tied down. In Gray World, people's souls can leave their bodies at will, but if they stay away too long they become demons. Part of Tonbo's soul is currently existing independently of her otherwise functional self, and they're evolving into separate characters. Souls function in other mysterious ways as well in the Kagerou universe.
Speech Bubbles: While everyone sticks to the same font in bubbles, their font color changes. Quite a few characters who communicate without speech bubbles (Dark comes to mind) have rather creepier fonts. This is often one of the only ways you can tell who's talking, and who's in control of Kano's body.
Splash of Color: Gray World is monochromatic save a few noteworthy features. In the first chapters, Kano takes on its palette as he walks through it, but his text is green and there are vibrant colors in other objects not from the World such as Tonbo and her spirit animal, and there are sometimes hints of green in Kano's eyes. In his second visit, people not from Gray World have color, and the landscape is largely gray with muted color throughout, especially on points of interest.
Split Personality: The premise of the series centers around this. The main character has quite a few folk living in his head at this point. It's taken quite seriously, as the author is rather a crazy person himself, and VERY knowledgeable about DID.
Stripperiffic: Cho, who usually claims skimpy clothes are better for fighting in... but does eventually admit she wears it just because she can. Her half-sister Moko also mocks her for it.
Summon Everyman Hero: The premise is a deconstruction of this trope. Not only is Kano a breathtakingly screwed-up hero, the summoning process itself has been used for a long time to enable a deeply unpleasant sacrifice.
Superpowered Evil Side: Red, who has an excellent grasp on the magic Kano possesses but doesn't seem to know how to use; the most Kano seems capable of is making lights flicker out. Kid seems to control a different part of Kano's powers than Red and Dark appears capable of controlling them completely but has a shaky grasp on them due to his current state - though Dark's not evil so much as...confused.
Surreal Horror: Expect to say "What the hell is happening and why is it so creepy?" a lot. The swarms of shadowy dragonflies are particularly memorable in this regard.
Surrounded by Idiots: Cho isn't super cagey about expressing her exasperation with the team she's been saddled with.
Teasing Creator: Luka tells us lots of things, but he can't tell us everything! Also seems pretty happy to play along with fan silliness.
Token Evil Teammate: Before becoming the Enemy Without Red fits this trope very well, ducking in to make a snide comment (or press Kano on a harsh decision) or to get Cho and Kano out of trouble (note: snark and saving intermingle) before flitting away.
Took a Level in Badass: ... in theory. We have yet to see Kano's sword practice be very useful. On the other hand, Cho has wasted no time putting her new god-backed fisticuffs to use.
Transsexual: Heyoka is genderqueer. Again, played very realistically, as the author is genderqueer as well. In Heyoka's case, she got put in a mental hospital by her parents for it. Fortunately, the staff at the hospital seem very friendly and are fine with letting her right back out. (Though she does dress considerably more masculine for her release hearing...)
The Undead: Zombies attack the heroes when the Gods start to lose their gripon things. Kano is surprised that they are really there, as he frequently hallucinates that corpses are attacking him (he tries to discreetly shoo the visions away). Ghosts are some of the many residents of Kano's head, though whether they are real souls or just impressions is unclear. Either way, they're equally creepy.
Unexplained Recovery: This trope is not a true definition of Kano's death-and-revival, but he invokes it later to explain.
Verbal Tic: Kano has used "we" interchangeably with "I" most of his life, as well as other plural conventions when referring to himself. (He doesn't notice, because he's crazy.) Cho, who reacts to this with some condescension, has speech including hints of Middle English — Ye, aye, and the like.
The Voiceless: Dark. Included in his repertoire of scars are those from when he once sewed his mouth shut. May communicate with mostly nonsensical, tortured psychic vibes.
Winged Humanoid: Cho. She can grow wings, and even change their color to match her outfit. Certain other Old Ones fit this as well, as do other residents of Gray World. The nick is a Fey, an entire species with gossamer wings (supposedly—they are very withdrawn and we have only seen the nick as he has been cast out. Of another sort is Dark, whose wings are a psychic construction and probably don't actually function for flight.
Word of Gay: Starless is a lesbian. When she gave the name of her previous lover as "Rose" many fans (and Moko) assumed this was a man's name, but it seems it was in fact a woman.
Word of God: The author enjoys throwing readers a bone by revealing trivial (yet entertaining) information about various characters, including their favorite foods, what their voices sound like, and what kind of underwear they prefer.