This trope is especially evident in 20th Century Boys where the story is still introducing new characters with backstories well into the manga's conclusion. Even the first volume is overloaded with characters.
Air Gear: There is a terrifying amount of people in this manga, and good luck remembering them all. A Presidential candidatenow actual President becomes an important character eventually.
Angel Sanctuary. Not-fans are complaining Kaori'd just come up with new characters when she doesn't know what to write... with about 30 REALLY important characters and at least the same amount of minors that'd mean she sucks as an author.
The amount of named characters in Anpanman is at least 2000, according to the producers. Guinness World Records nominated the series in 2009 for having the most characters (1768) in an animated franchise, but doesn't recognize all the characters brought up by the producers' nomination. An occasionally updated character encyclopedia book showcases the huge number of characters. The core cast consists of about 20 characters.
Assassination Classroom has the titular characters, the Assassination Classroom, better known as Class-3-E. There are 28 students: 25 of them are introduced in the first chapter, Karma joins in late due to a suspension in the third chapter, and two transfer students are added in subsequent chapters. This class has Koro-sensei, the homeroom teacher, Villain Protagonist, Big Bad and main character of the story, Karasuma, a government agent serving as Class E's P.E. teacher, and Irina, a professional assassin who becomes the class' foreign language teacher. There are also several recurring characters such as Chairman Asano as the second Big Bad, students from Kunugigaoka Middle School's main building, the Virtuous Five of Class-3-A, Itano's handler Shiro, Irina-sensei's mentor Lovro, and Takaoka the JSDF drill sergeant, to name a few.
Over 50 nations, micronations, provinces, and supernational coalitions given canon face now, with any of the aforementioned that exists now or has ever existed as a candidate for characterization. Important historical figures like Jeanne D'Arc, Maria Theresa, Friedrich II, Josef Stalin and Adolf Hitler.
And cats, and mochis who DO appear in actual plot lines sometimes. And genderbends. And Parallel world. And God knows what else.
Oh, Baccano!, where do we even start with you? How about the fact that the OP alone names seventeen main characters. Or maybe that it doesn't even cover all of the prominent players in the series. Or maybe we should point out that the light novels introduce even more characters on a regular basis...
Lampshaded by Carol at the beginning of the anime, when she is trying to figure out who the main character is.
Its "sequel" Durarara!! also has a sizable recurring cast, all of whom are integral to the story.
Any sub-franchise of Beyblade is bound to have towards if not over a hundred characters due to the need for a protagonist team, multiple opponent teams, related organizations, and family. Depending on the franchise and fan opinion, that number can be nearly doubled if the battle spirits are also counted. The one exception is the Spin-Off series BeyWheelz, which has only about fifty characters. Still a lot, but not as much.
Black Butler has Ciel, Sebastian, Bardroy, Finnian, Meirin, Tanaka, Elizabeth, Elizabeth's family, Lau, Ran-Mao, William, Grell, Snake, Prince Soma, and Agni...
Oh, and every character that is focused upon in each arc, like Angelina Durless, the Circus, the boarding school...
And this is just in 75 chapters.
Bleach, once it got into its "Soul Society" arc, suddenly introduced about 30 new characters, with a dozen or so more being added with each subsequent arc. Even some of the weapons are characters. Apparently, Word of God is that creation of characters en masse is the author's method of dealing with writer's block. As of now, the total of characters that have appeared in Bleach is over 250. Seriously. One of the anime gag preview sequences lampshaded this, with Ichigo complaining that some characters would need to be killed off soon because there were too many. Which also lampshades the fact that Bleach has a very low attrition rate; up until the final arc it was very rare for non-villains to die, and even among the villains there are always survivors to make a HeelFace Turn or at least an Enemy Mine situation.
In fact, having Loads and Loads of Characters is a frequent criticism of the manga, as new characters barely get a chance to develop or get any screentime before Kubo throws in another 5 or 6.
Bokura no Kiseki. Nearly every member of the main character's class becomes important to the plot at some point. This still isn't too extreme yet, until you bring Reincarnation into the mix. Every single one of these characters is the reincarnation of someone from another set of characters in the distant past. Thus, it becomes necessary for you to remember two names, faces, and personalities for every single character. And that's not even counting the characters in the present and past that haven't yet been linked by reincarnation...They must be remembered as separate characters who could actually be the same person.
Wouldn't you know, but with 13 different episodes, Boogiepop Phantom manages to have at least 13 major characters (probably closer to 20). Which doesn't help make the mind screw and non-linear storytelling any clearer.
Bungou Stray Dogs has the Armed Detective Agency (11 named members), the Port Mafia (12 named & recurring characters), the Guild (10 named characters), and a host of characters associated with other groups or unaffiliated, some more relevant than others. And that's just counting the main manga; the casts of the light novels overlap somewhat but also feature their own characters, and there's also Gaiden, which has characters not part of the main series as its stars.
Code Geass has sixty or seventy named characters, about half of whom are required for even a rudimentary level of comprehension of the plot.
As of this writing (episode 39 out of 50 for the whole series), the official website has entries for 55 characters; this doesn't include characters who were in season 1 and died, and that a few of those are group entries.
The first season had about 30 characters, but only 7 or so were important at any given time. R2 jumps off the deep end into characters.
Dairugger XV and its Americanization, the Vehicle Voltron, was often said to have too many characters to get into. You had the fifteen pilots, the on-ship command staff, the support staff, the top brass back on Earth, occasional non-aligned characters, the odd recurring civilians, the peace-seeking enemies, the blood-thirsty enemies, and characters reffed only in flashback, sometimes more than once. If you add the Americanization's policy, sometimes understandable, sometimes infuriating, to not really verbally kill off characters who died in the original, then the cast never really diminishes. If you use only the Voltron universe, then you must add in the Vehicle Team's classmates/friends/relatives, the Lion Force, their allies, enemies and such, as well. In retrospect, it makes one almost glad the third, 'Middle Universe' Voltron series never got made.
Detective Conan, the long runner as it is, has a lot of regulars. The Japanese anime website listed 47 characters in the character list.
In the movies, the writers try to cram in all the recurring characters. It's only natural that Conan, Ran and Kogoro spend time together, but having them go on vacation with Agasa and the four Detective Boys is really kind of weird. A lot of the time, Sonoko and Heiji will tag along, and you can be sure Eri gets shoehorned in somehow. And this doesn't even cover the recurring law enforcement officials. A lot of characters are only there for one case. . Three new characters per case on average. Three cases per book on average. 71 books so far. Three times three times seventy-one. Yeah, that's right. Mr. Aoyama has had to come up with a whopping 613 new characters! Or to put it differently, after creating 400 new characters he had to invent over 200 more!
That is not only it. Over 800 chapters. Around 5 characters for each chapter. You have yourself over 3000+ characters who never get mentioned again and that is without counting the police dept., the forensics guy, the main cast, the detective boys, the Black organization, and a crapload of other recurring characters.
Most Digimon series fall into this; the first episode of Digimon Adventure alone introduces 15 characters, 14 of whom are the regular main characters (the number is later upped to 16), and tack on another seven if you include the evolved forms as separate; The rest of the series features plenty of villains and supporting characters in addition to evolved forms. Most other installments see very similar figures, one of the largest being Digimon Xros Wars where, despite only having a handful of human leads (no more than six), there are at least 20 main character Digimon partners. The main casts of Digimon Adventure through to Digimon Savers add up to at least 50, and that's discounting the evolved forms; including them adds up to well over 120.
In terms of number of mons, the Digimon franchise beat out Pokémon long ago; officially, there are a little over 1,000. One can only guess the number when unofficial Digimon are counted in anymore. And remember, that's not the number of separate Digimon characters. That's the number of individual species.
Dragon Ball and its sequels have so many characters (and ran for so long) that its creator can't even remember all their names. Characters have an alarming tendency to drop off the face of the earth. Somewhat infamous is Lunch, who was mentioned to have gone chasing after Tenshinhan (or seen getting drunk in a bar after he died, in the anime) and was never seen nor heard from again (except for a few seconds of Filler, donating energy in the anime's final battle, about 300 episodes later...).
This trope is especially obvious in the video games; while the classic 16-bit fighting games usually had rosters of 6-12 characters, 2007's Dragon Ball Z: Budokai Tenkaichi 3 ballooned to a whopping 80 unique fighters (20 of which are unique to the anime and anime movies), larger than any other fighting game roster (and there were still characters that they left out). Subsequent games have actually cut back on the number of fighters. Dragonball Fusions probably wins some kind of award: if one counts a fusion of two characters as a character in its own right, it has an utterly absurd 1018 playable characters!
The Evillious Chronicles tends to introduce a large number of main characters in each story arc, and with the series taking place over a thousand years, there are multiple different story arcs.
Like almost everything about itself, Excel Sagalampshades it quite a lot. In nearly every episode that doesn't feature Iwata, Watanabe and Sumiyoshi (due to its focus on other characters), they are shown just before the end credits watching TV and complaining about that. Eventually, they theorize that there may simply be no room for them.
Eyeshield 21's primary cast begins with the Devil Bats team and their peripheral characters (coach, manager, mascot), and then expands exponentially with the introduction of the other teams, each with at least two important characters to their name. However, most new characters get several chapters of their own for their characterization and they are all extremely unique, thus, they are memorable throughout the series.
Fairy Tail. To begin with, the eponymous guild had dozens of members, and five new members have joined since (seven if you count the Exceed). There tend to be at least half a dozen notable antagonists per arc, as well. Factor in members of allied guilds, characters as of yet seen only in flashbacks, Lucy's Celestial Spirits, and their Parallel Universe counterparts, and this trope is clearly in play.
Fruits Basket - as well as Tohru and the 14 Zodiac members, there are friends and family for nearly every character. The manga goes overboard with this; even minor characters are named and - naturally - have their own tragic back-stories, to the point where over half the cast don't appear in any given volume, and Tohru is often put in the background.
The author even mentions in one of her notes that she had come up with a lot more backstory and details about her characters that she just wasn't able to fit in. She also tends to joke about having to shift which characters are jostled to the background by having extra drawings of them complaining about a lack of page time.
Fullmetal Alchemist verges on this. What with Ed and Al in separate places, the various allies they've picked up, and the remaining homunculi wandering around, you need a map and pushpins to keep track of them all.
And that's not even counting the allies of their allies, or the ones their enemies have. Or the ones who are already playing important side roles and haven't even been named yet. Given that this IS an anime with its military central to the plot and having many recurring characters that are high-ranking officials with their own underlings, this isn't too surprising.
The fourth opening of Brotherhood lampshades this, with one scene first showing just Ed and Al and then having more and recurring characters appear until they fill the entire screen.
Fushigi Yuugi starts out with the Suzaku Seven plus Miaka. And then the Seiryuu Seven plus Yui. And then we learn about the Genbu Seven plus Takiko, and the Byakko Seven plus Suzuno. And then you've got other people from the real world and other people in the world of the book... let's just at least be thankful that they don't all appear together at once, okay?
Future Card Buddyfight has a huge cast of main and recurring human characters. The monsters outnumber the human characters and all have their own personalities as well.
Gaiking: Legend of Daiku Maryu shows the Daiku Maryu's crew, the Darius Empire's big shots and their subordinates, and members of the secret society on Earth that aid La Résistance. Given that the Daiku Maryu's crew is 47 members large, and we get to know at least a third of these, the rest of the numbers bump everything way up.
Gantz introduces new characters with every 'round' of Gantz, which is perfectly necessary, as Anyone Can Die, and oh boy, do they ever...
GaoGaiGar has a surprisingly large number of characters, about half of them being humans and the other half being robots that are, to some degree, sentient. There's GGG, Pasuda and his "Generals", The Super Mechanoids (4 Transformers-based mecha, all of which are able to combine with eachother without limitations, which are all controlled by individual Super AI's with different personalities)... And then there are the Masters of Sol, led by Palparepa in FINAL... Plenty of characters to choose from, and most of them are badass beyond sanity.
Giant Robo has a huge number of characters despite being only 7 episodes long. Which isn't much of a surprise, given that most of the cast were taken from Misuteru Yokoyama's manga adaptations of Romance of the Three Kingdoms and Water Margin, both of which are on this page.
Hunter × Hunter to a certain extent. Though the story is almost always focused on the exploits of its main character, Gon, and/or the three friends who make up the rest of his Nakama team, they somehow manage to share storyarc time with almost every member of the Phantom Troupe, Killua's family, powerful Chimera Ants, a number of the more successful Hunter Examinees and a handful of random people they just happen to meet along the way. When they all start meeting each other, it turns into an insanely complicated web that makes you wonder where it's all going...
This example is comparable to the One Piece example below, except for the "random forgotten character becomes important three thousand chapters later". There's four "main" characters (one of whom we haven't seen in ages). Gon has been in every arc thus far and Killua comes close, but even the other two main characters get pushed aside in some arcs. The plot goes all over the place and one has to one it's going anywhere at all. At least it's awesome.
There are upwards of 500—named—characters in Infinite Ryvius. While only a comparative handful play a major role in the story (about 40-some in all), they all get at least a few seconds of screen time over the course of the series.
The episodic style of InuYasha, combined with the many recurring and throw-away characters in the story (both human and otherwise) and the very long length of the story itself, makes for an enormous cast of characters ranging in the 50s.
JoJo's Bizarre Adventure is a series divided into eight parts, with the in-story timeline spanning over a century and eventually resetting itself (long story). This results in a huge cast, as at most one or two characters will appear in more than one part. All and all, this results in 179 characters so far.
Katekyō Hitman Reborn! has rather a bad case of this, the sides are generally sorted into sets of seven and each arc adds at least another seven. The latest arc added upwards of 20. Checking it's character page on Wikipedia suggests there are upwards of 50 characters and it doesn't list all of them.
What happens when you introduce about 20 characters per arc over an ongoing series that already has 350 chapters? You get about 200 named characters, most of whom still have some relation to the plot. Welcome to Kenichi: The Mightiest Disciple.
KoihimeMusou inherited most of the cast from the Romance of the Three Kingdoms novel. This finally comes to its conclusion in Otome Tairan, which does nothing in its title sequences but getting all the characters in.
Kuromukuro has over 30 characters. Not bad for a series that only lasts 26 episodes.
Legend of Galactic Heroes, whose cast list is often compared to a phone directory. True, it's a record holder for a longest OVA in history, but in four seasons of its main storyline and countless spinoffs it managed to assemble up to 660 named characters, many of them regulars, and about hundred MAIN ones. It reaches the point where the characters names are placed on the screen for the viewers benefit. The picture above only covers a tiny fraction of the cast.
The cast of Maji de Watashi ni Koi Shinasai! may not be as extremely numerous as many other examples on this page, but the very first episode of the anime introduces almost all of the most notable characters in short order. Unless you've played the Visual Novel, it's going to take a few episodes to get most of them straight.
In Mahou Sensei Negima! and its Alternate ContinuityNegima!?, the cast starts with 31 girls, the teacher, and about a half-dozen supporting characters. It builds from there. And, in the manga, builds, and builds, and builds... It's well past 30 volumes, and it's been introducing at least five characters per volume or so since the fourth one, many of which will pop up again several volumes later.note Current total - 74 You can categorize the Cast Herds into herds of herds, due to there being so many of them. The character page even managed to break the folder systemtwice and had to be reorganised into half a dozen separate pages.
Mai-HiME has a core cast of twelve Magical Girls, as well as a bunch of other named characters associated with the school, including staff members. About 25 cast members are introduced within the first four episodes... and there are still 22 more to go after that. Many of those characters (or, versions of those characters with different last names) make the transition to Mai-Otome, which itself has a handful of new names and faces to memorize.
Maria-sama ga Miteru has a count of about thirty recurring characters that have all kinds of complicated relationships, either as soeurs, friends or rivals for one another's affection. The writer of the series also has the tendency to give full background stories to minor characters, which starts to get really noticeable as she apparently wants to postpone the obviously traumatic graduation of some of the leads.
My Hero Academia, like many school-based anime and manga, has a starting cast of 20 students, two teachers and a few side characters like Mt. Lady and Deku's mom. That's a lot on its own, but each arc tends to introduce many other characters, including a whole other class and two other hero schools, not to mention all the villains. The author himself has often lamented in side stories and volume extras that he has yet to fully flesh out many of even the earliest characters.
Naruto initially had a relatively manageable cast, but once it got to the Chunin Exam Arc, over two dozen new characters are introduced to the series. As the series continued, there sure were a whole lot of characters not named "Naruto", and telling the story of this massive ensemble often meant Naruto himself would go Out of Focus. Thankfully, this is made manageable by healthy uses of the Cast Herd. The relevant wiki lists over one-thousand.note However, some of them are filler characters, while many only have one appearance
In One Piece, especially during the attack on Enies Lobby, there are a very large number of side characters unique to each story arc that play significant roles within, and there are several characters who appear very little yet are supposed to be important and are expected to be remembered, such as Shanks and members of the Shichibukai. Although the only characters who consistently appear in every story arc are the members of Luffy's crew, the show's monumentally huge supporting cast can sometimes play tricks on you. In most cases, a character will be important to the current storyline and then never show up again after the Straw Hats leave his/her native island (though they might get the occasional random cameo.) But every now and then, one of them will make an unexpected reappearance and suddenly become part of the plot again.
The manga also features cover illustrations that act as side-stories for minor and/or supporting characters, and take place at the same time as each current story arc.
If it wasn't taken Up to Eleven already, the Dressrosa arc features a tournament, in which nearly all of the competitors are new characters.
To make a point, the 20th anniversary poll in the manga advertised more than 600 characters (the vast majority of major characters and a few that were from the films) for the fans to vote. The wiki, however lists the quantity of canon characters (as in, they appeared and/or were mentioned, and were named in the manga itself, the SBS, or the Databooks), to be even larger than thatnote Not counting the joke characters, the quantity as for now is a little shy from 1000.
Planetes: To roughly the same level as Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. 7 main characters (Hachimaki, Tanabe, Fee, Yuri, Chief, Ravi, Edel), and a host of well developed and influential secondary (Clair, Hakim, Colin Clifford, Cheng Shin, Goro Hoshino, Werner Locksmith, Gigalt, Dolph) and tertiary (Harry Roland, Kyutaro Hoshino, Nono, The Ninjas, Lucy), characters.
While Pokémon is comparatively manageable, repeatedly rotating humans and Pokémon alike from the recurring roster (with only Ash, Pikachu, Jessie, James, and Meowth as the permanent cast), as of Sun and Moon there's over 100 human characters alone, and apart from the Orange Islands each new area introduces to the heroes' teams (and writes out or puts on buses) a lot of new Pokémon (theoretically up to 18 at a time for Ash and his friends and 12 for Team Rocket, though Jessie and James generally only have two each, plus Meowth). Factor in the one-shot characters (usually multiple per episode), and you're easily reaching thousands.
Pokémon Adventures certainly has its fair share of characters. Never mind the fact that there are 2, 3 or 4 Pokédex Holders with each generation (a total of 21 so far), but there's also their Pokémon, most of the eight Gym Leaders of every generation is a recurring character, then when you factor in each professor, the Elite Four, both Battle Frontiers' Frontier Brains, the separate villains and their important members, and the recurring side characters, you've got quite the extensive character sheet.
It got so bad that starting with fourth installment of the series, New Stage, they weren't able to give speaking roles to everyone - only the characters from Fresh, Heartcatch, Suite and Smile (17 characters) had lines. Everyone from the first three still showed up, though (11 characters).
The largest count ended up being 44 in the eighth All Stars movie, spanning eleven continuities (twelve if you count Cure Echo, who is All-Stars exclusive). And that doesn't count the mascot characters, which are almost as numerous.
Eventually, the All Stars concept had to be retired and replaced with Dream Stars, which only features a team-up of the three most recent continuities. This was largely done because it had become nigh impossible to fit everyone into a 70 minute movie without effectively sidelining 75% of the cast, thereby rending the point of crossing over everyone pretty moot. And who can blame them when the first Dream Stars movie would've otherwise been dealing with 49 heroines (50 if Cure Echo was invited)!
Then Hugtto! Pretty Cure said "Nuts!" to that and had a two part episode that not only brought in all fifty-five active Pretty Cure, but also virtually every film-original Cure and a number of one-shot Cures from their respective series. AndBunbee.
The Prince of Tennis features one school's tennis team as the main characters. Each team they play has somewhere between seven to nine members, several of whom will show up at random times despite not being the opponent of the week; some teams show up in their entirety multiple times. Throw in the coaches, family members, friends, and random extras, and you have a character list spanning over 100 characters, a good 40-50 of whom show up often enough to be considered to be of some importance. Fortunately, they all have their school tennis uniforms.
Who are we kidding? Every single manga series Rumiko Takahashi creates has this trope.
Although none of the componentseriesofRobotech have particularly huge casts, their fusion into one universe results in a series with three main characters, around thirty regular characters (although not regular at the same time) and many other supporting characters. Take into account the various characters created for additional material like Robotech II: The Sentinels (most of which are still canonical, even if their adventures aren't) and Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles and you get, well...loads and loads of characters.
By the final season of Sailor Moon, the main cast became so big (including three distinct groups, the Inner Senshi, Outer Senshi, and Starlights, along with two characters Put on a Bus) the cast almost never appeared all together in the same episode. This was lampshaded in a late episode where a Monster of the Week is fought in Usagi's house, but they and the monster spend most of the time jostling for elbow room. The dub has a similar joke, when Eudial's minion becomes indignant after being told to hold them off, angrily complaining there are over a dozen of them.
Saint Seiya (also known as The Knights of the Zodiac) has as many characters as there are named stars in the sky. Initially that's 88-and that's just by the end of the second arc. Then you add in the 'dark' versions of these characters... and then everyone from the Asgard and Poseidon arcs... and then the 108 Spectres of Hades for the final arc... Oh, and the filler characters from all 5 movies!
While the first two seasons of Shakugan no Shana kept the cast fairly manageable, it has gradually expanded, and judging from the first Season III opening, it'll grow quite a bit more this season. The character sheet definitelyNeeds Wiki Magic Love.
Shaman King. It has about 50 (or more) characters that appear constantly in manga, almost every one of them receiving a fair share of attention; quite impressive, except when you see that almost half of these characters are spirits that are used by the shamans themselves.
The first episode of Shirobako alone introduces more than twenty characters in a single go. It's bad enough that, whenever someone connected to a production is on-screen, their names and positions are always included.
Simoun. Chor Tempest is supposed to have 12 pilots at a time, but a few filter in and out as the series progresses, giving maybe 13 or 14 developed characters in Chor Tempest alone. Outside of Chor Tempest, another 7 or 8 characters get extensive attention. That's at least 20 major characters.
Across the series of over fiftylight novels, five anime seasons, and a buttload of manga and games, the Slayers franchise has its fair share of characters...
Starting with the Arachnophobia arc, the cast of Soul Eater has grown rather impressively. There's a central cast of seven main protagonists, another seven minor protagonists, the Shibusen staff, three major villainous groups, the other Death Scythes, and quite a few additional minor characters.
Super Robot Wars OG: The Inspector, being based on the Super Robot Wars franchise, naturally has loads of characters. It largely assumes the viewer is familiar with the game, or at least watched the previous series, Divine Wars. A complete listing comes to somewhere on the order of Eighty-Three characters, somewhere around half of which would probably be classified as "important".
Violinist of Hameln. Watanabe lampshades this too, with every single character, be they background or one-shot or drive-by, showing up for the final throwdown (and the main cast commenting on the ridiculousness factor growing). Once Poseidon shows up, it just keeps on getting sillier... and yet, somehow, still manages to keep on providing Crowning Moment of Awesome events all the while.
Wandering Son is headed this way. There have been various distinct characters, and numerous family members from said characters pop up.
In World Trigger, the Earth defense organization, Border, has over 130 named agents, 30 team operators, and 6 executives. Add in the R&D personnel, civilians, and antagonists, then you have more characters than chapter numbers.