Follow TV Tropes

Following

Reused Character Design / Anime & Manga

Go To

  • The former Trope Namer here is taken from the Star System, the name given to the collection of characters who features prominently throughout the career of Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka actually kept a list of how much money the actors in his "troupe" were paid for each "performance." He would periodically give them "raises" or "pay cuts" based on their popularity with fans. It was his whimsical way of keeping track of what characters his readers liked. His re-used characters include:
    • Shunsaku Ban. Featured as a detective in Metropolis, a teacher in Astro Boy, and just about everything else in between. Noticeable for his long, bushy moustache; an early dub of Astro Boy gave him the name "Mr. Mustachio", and he retained it as a nickname when some of the comics were translated to English (since it's fairly close in meaning to his Japanese nickname, Hige Oyaji). Ban is probably Tezuka's most recurring star, save for Gourdski, appearing in nearly all his works, from as early as Metropolis, to as late as Buddha.
      • Tezuka fan Naoki Urasawa used the Shunsaku Ban design, modified to his own style, for Dr. Reichwein of Monster. And again in Pluto.
    • Advertisement:
    • Acetylene Lamp. Short, stocky bald guy with a pencil moustache and a dent in the back of his head. Usually plays a cowardly, two-faced con man and other dishonest types; Tezuka frequently draws a lit candle sitting in the dent.
    • Duke Red. Noticeable for his big hooked nose; often appeared as a villain.
    • Hamm Egg. Another recurring villain; medium height and gangly, with a thin, curled moustache. Probably most infamous as the hunter who orphaned Kimba the White Lion.
    • Rock Holmes. A "tough guy" character with good looks and shiny black hair; started out as an upstanding heroic lead, but in Tezuka's later works, he is usually a particularly cruel villain, providing the equivalent of an actor reinventing his persona. In Black Jack, he can be either villainous, neutral or heroic depending on the story.
    • Advertisement:
    • Gourdski / Patch-Gourd. Tezuka's "trademark", and a gag-item/character; a small, pig-like, patched-together gourd. Characters often turn into this thing when shocked or confused as a form of face-faulting.
    • Spider - Like the previous one, it's a doodley character used for non sequitur gags. He always says the odd expression "omukaedegonsu", which is localized as "At yer service". Both him and Patch-Gourd are based on drawings Tezuka's siblings did as kids.
    • Professor Ochanomizu. A large-nosed, heavy-set professor, dubbed Professor Elephun in an early dub of Astro Boy, Prof. Ochanomizu is almost always portrayed as a learned, wise man.
    • Hosuke Sharaku. A small bald kid with a bandage on his forehead. Originally from The Three-Eyed One. Usually a good guy (when with his bandage).
    • Saruta - Looks like Ochanomizu, but differs in that his nose is usually covered with acne scars, and he sports a beard.
    • Advertisement:
    • Notarin. Bears a vague resemblance to Shunsaku Ban, mostly thanks to his short but extremely bushy facial hair. Where Shunsaku is balding, Notarin is completely bald; Notarin is also fatter, shorter, and has beadier eyes. Frequently plays an Obstructive Bureaucrat.
    • Tawashi - A very tall, very thin man with a long nose and a mustache that looks like the bristles of a broom. Probably best known as a detective or police chief.
    • Atom. Astro Boy himself appears in different roles in a couple of Tezuka's works. Most notably, he makes a cameo in one series as little boy who ends up getting stabbed. Tezuka wanted to shock readers by presenting Astro as a human instead of a robot in this story and having him bleed to death; the response from readers was tremendous, and the story remains controversial.
    • Osamu Tezuka. Tezuka often drew a caricature of himself into his stories: a thin man with thick glasses and a bulbous nose, wearing a beret and usually smoking a cigarette. When he wasn't representing the author and speaking directly to readers, he would play a down-on-his-luck artist or similarly pathetic figure. (One memorable appearance depicts him in a jacket with the words "What am I doing here??" written in Japanese on the back.)
    • The only real exception: When Black Jack appears, it is almost always as himself.
  • Hayao Miyazaki also has accumulated a fairly large number of recurring castmembers, though, unlike Tezuka, they have no set names (at least, none known to the public). Some of the most notable include:
    • Lana - The female lead in nearly all of Miyazaki's works; she stars (via various "ages") as Nausicaa, Kiki, San, Sheeta, Satsuki, and Sophie, as well as nearly every major female role in anything else Miyazaki has done.
    • Conan - Miyazaki's 2nd most prominent character features as the male lead in many of Miyazaki's films, and is almost always the romantic interest to the female lead. He has played (again, through various physical ages): Asbel, Pazu, Ashitaka, Howl, Tombo, Haku; it should be noted that his face is often given more attention to the "harshness" or "softness" of its appearance than Lana's, so as to befit his current character more.
    • Dola - Introduced in Castle in the Sky, she has appeared over the years as bit characters, but recently starred as Old Sophie in Howl's Moving Castle.
    • Kamaji - Introduced to film-watchers as the old engineer of Dola's ship in Castle in the Sky, as well as Dola's husband, he was given a name in his role in Spirited Away. He is recognizable for his sunglasses and extremely large mustache (some people think he inspired Dr. Robotnik/Eggman). An earlier version of the character, packing on the pounds (and so even more closely resembling Dr. Robotnik/Eggman), played the role of the villain in "Albatross: Wings of Death".
    • Mei - Miyazaki's end-all-be-all toddler girl. It's somewhat insinuated visually that Sen of Spirited Away is a much older Mei, rather than a very young Lana. Alternatively, she's a very young Ursula. She's perhaps best known for her starring turn as the title character in Ponyo.
    • Yubaba - A relative newcomer to the Miyazaki gallery, she seems to always be represented as a witch with an extremely large head. She also appeared in Howl's Moving Castle.
    • Charles - A fairly regular comic-relief character; most notably appeared as one of the Ironworks' men in Princess Mononoke, aside from his supporting role in Castle in the Sky.
    • Shougun Mouro/General - A balding/bald general, featured in Castle in the Sky, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, and Princess Mononoke, as well as cameo parts in several other works involving either police or the military.
    • Lepka / Count Cagliostro / Muska, the square-jawed megalomaniac Big Bad.
    • Soot Spirits - Introduced in My Neighbor Totoro, but have also been featured in other Miyazaki works, most notably Spirited Away.
    • The Robots - First appeared in the Miyazaki-directed Lupin III episode 'Aloha Lupin' as an Expy of the robots from "The Mechanical Monsters", but later reappeared as the Laputan robots in Castle in the Sky.
  • Although criticized heavily for a distinct lack of differentiated female character designs, Leiji Matsumoto has nevertheless made his own System, small though it may be. Major players are:
    • Harlock - Matsumoto's most notable and famous character, most of Matsumoto's male leads bear a striking resemblance to Harlock, especially his trademark hairstyle.
    • Emeraldas/Maetel- Visually, they stand as the archetype for nearly... scratch that - every one of Matsumoto's female actresses, period. Scenes involving more than three of Matsumoto's females often leads to insane confusion, at no fault to Emeraldas and/or Maetel themselves. Some installments go as far as to declare them (twin) sisters.
    • Analyzer/ IQ-9 - Matsumoto's standard Robot Buddy design. He swiftly suffered Chuck Cunningham Syndrome in Captain Harlock, but managed to reappear in another "role" in Cosmo Warrior Zero.
    • Tadashi Daiba also makes frequent appearances, usually as a young, upstart young man who grows and matures over the course of the series.
  • Hiroyuki Takei of Shaman King directly referenced this trope when the U.S. Shonen Jump interviewed him and asked him about Anna Kyouyama's appearances in Shaman King, Butsu Zone and Itako no Anna.
  • Akira Toriyama has designed so many characters that he tends to forget what he's done and hasn't done, and thus will occasionally create the same character multiple times. The most obvious examples: Crono and Lucca are Goku and Bulma. A more obscure, but even more clear example is the star of his children's book "Toccio the Angel", who happens to look almost identical to Majin Buu.
    • A particularly notable instance would be Tsun Tsukutsun from Doctor Slump and Yamcha from the original Dragon Ball, with Yamcha looking identical to Tsukutsun after having a haircut. In Battle of Gods, Yamcha even uses Tsun's design from the Dr. Slump remake, with same clothes, hair and all. Literally the only difference was Yamcha's scar.
    • Perhaps the most literal example of this is with Goku and his relatives in Dragon Ball Z. Goku's face and haircut has been used for his father Bardock, his son Goten (who shares an identical design with Kid Goku, just with long sleeves), the Tree of Might movie villain Turless, and a technicality with Goku Black of Dragon Ball Super (who is an alternate timeline Goku who'd been bodyjacked). Even a young Gohan counts when training in the wilderness thanks to wearing gi very similar to his father's.
    • Comparing Dragon Ball, Dragon Quest and Chrono Trigger character designs reveals many similar "archetypes" reminiscent of Android 18, Bulma, Gohan, Pan, Trunks, the Nameks, etc. There are similar designs for characters who are fat or short and have a thick chin or mustache, heroes who wear goggles or a headband, heroes with long spiky hair, young male or female heroes, aliens, dragons, devil characters. The hero of Kenshin Dragon Quest doesn't look too different from his ancestor Roto. The heroes of Dragon Quest V and Dragon Quest VIII look similar (and both look very much like Teen/Adult Gohannote ). There are about four or five types of faces for female characters.
    • Some of the members of the Frieza Force have these kinds of designs:
      • The Medical Doctor is based off of Malaka, who appears in Dragon Ball Z: Bardock – The Father of Goku. A third character that resembles them both appears when Frieza is rebuilt into a Cyborg after his fight with Goku. They all act as doctors (tending to Bardock's injuries and being part of the team that rebuilds Frieza).
      • The soldier Orlen seems to be of the same race as Appule as he looks exactly like him, except he is yellow with large fangs, no spots on his body, and red eyes.
      • Namole. A soldier who resembles Namole previously appeared on Planet Frieza 79, where Vegeta landed after his defeat on Earth for recovery, only this one has darker hair. Another soldier who resembles Namole appears briefly after Namole is killed, except his hair is blue-green, not orange.
    • The school interviewer from Dragon Ball Z: Broly – The Legendary Super Saiyan is just Jimmy Firecracker from the Cell arc with brown hair.
    • Commander Red's design in Dragon Ball: The Path to Power is based after Mr. Borbonne from the Dragon Ball Z episode "A Girl Named Lime", which is funny as both characters in the original timeline are short and hired Tao to deal with a Saiyan.
  • Kinoko Nasu is in the habit of re-using not only character designs (which are done by Takeuchi Takashi, Nasu's friend and the co-founder of Type-Moon), but also backstories and roles. His first project was The Garden of Sinners, and later, when he made Tsukihime and Fate/stay night, he re-used a lot of character modelings, backstories, personalities, and had his characters go through similar events. He did this, (albeit to a very lesser extent) while making Canaan as well.
  • Hellsing manga-ka Kouta Hirano reused some of the character designs when making his next project Drifters. And Hellsing's characters were themselves reused versions of characters from short hentai manga that he made before he started working on the series.
  • Masami Kurumada, creator of B't X, Saint Seiya, and a number of more obscure series usually has a few key designs as well, mainly from recycling characters from his first work, Ring ni Kakero. They do not always follow similar roles, though: Unicorn Jabu in Saint Seiya was given a design similar to the hero's rival in Ring ni Kakero, but played a minimal role in the actual series. Shun, The Fettered, emotional, Reluctant Warrior of Saint Seiya, has the design of Fuma no Kojiro's Kirikaze - a cold ninja who never hesitated to kill when called to.
  • Naoki Urasawa plays with this, by casting the pacifist, good-with-children Epsilon in Pluto with his Johan design from Monster. There's also the nameless killer of Kenji's sister's fiancee in 20th Century Boys who resembles Johan with brown hair.
    • Shogun looks like Martin with longer hair.
    • There's also the retroactive case of Dr. Reichwein of Monster. Being a Tezuka fan, Urasawa decided to pay homage to Shunsaku Ban with the psychologist's character design. Of course, then Pluto (and therefore Shunsaku) comes along...
    • Kevin Yamagata resembles Sahad who is a dead ringer for Karl Neumann.
    • Dr Abullah is the Persian cousin of God.
    • Heckel from Monster shows up in a minor role in 20th Century Boys.
    • Nina from Monster and Sahad from Pluto have the same professor.
    • Nina looks strikingly similar to Kanna herself.
  • Go Nagai also does this, which probably helps when you've made hundreds of manga.
    • Abashiri Daemon - originally from Abashiri Ikka, also appears in Cutey Honey and UFO Robot Grendizer.
    • You may see similarities between many of his protagonists. For example, Mondo from Guriella High looks almost exactly like Akira Fudou.
  • Several characters from the works of Masami Obari. Examples include Gowcaizer, Hishizaki Shaia and Son Karin from Voltage Fighter Gowcaizer and Tachibana Mizuki from Gravion, all of whom show up in Angel Blade.
  • In Neon Genesis Evangelion, Shinji is Nadia from Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water, except with short hair, Akagi is Electra with her hair down, and Fuyutsuki is Lord Gargoyle. Oh, and Kensuke is basically a brown-haired Jean.
  • In Madowanai Hoshi, one of the two protagonist is literally just Hazuki Oikawa from Moyashimon, name and all. Kei Yuuki's design is also lifted to use for the anthropomorphized form of Pluto.
  • In Lifeguard, many of the same 'characters' appear as in Hayate the Combat Butler. This is also likely to be the case with the original story of Hinagiku and Yukiji's backstory, which was originally planned to be the story Hayate became.
  • Some of the female protagonists from Junji Ito stories look almost identical, like Remina and Kaori.
  • Adachi Mitsuru has created numerous unrelated short stories since 1978 featuring a small repertory company of a dozen or so characters. Originally published as standalone stories in various manga magazines they have since been compiled into a four volume collection Short Program.
  • Pokémon: The Series anime actually does this with crowd shots. They have done this with some individual characters as well.
  • Case Closed: Shinichi's design itself was originally an example of this, being a reuse of Kaito's design, but Canon Welding retroactively turned each into the other's Identical Stranger instead.
  • In Psycho-Pass, Akira Amano, known for her Reborn! manga, reused the designs of her characters from her manga for the characters in the anime.
    • Akane is Yuni.
    • Kogami is Hibari.
    • Makishima is Mukuro.
  • Rumiko Takahashi has a general style for her characters, but they are generally easily differentiated. That is, however, until you compare two of her works side-by-side. Only certain characters, such as Ataru Moroboshi and Genma Saotome and Soun Tendou really stand out among the recurring casts.
    • Ranko / Female Ranma is Mamiya Sakura.
    • Ryunosuke is Ranma, fitting as her character concept was the prototype for Ranma's.
    • Ryouga is Inuyasha is Rinne.
    • Takahashi started Maison Ikkoku two years after Urusei Yatsura and ran both concurrently for 7 years. Her style was significantly refined during this period, and before long the designs in both series started to... converge. Kentaro (MI), Ataru (UY) and Godai (MI) are the same man at grade school, high school and college ages respectively. Sakura (UY) is Kyoko(MI) but a bit more sexy. Akemi (MI) is an older Ran (UY). Ibuki (MI) is Shinobu (UY) added one hair tie or two. Asuka (UY) gets het starry pupils replaced and becomes Asuna (MI)...
  • Fullmetal Alchemist is widely lauded as a masterpiece, both for story but also for the amazing variety of character designs, to the point that dozens of characters wearing identical outfits are easily recognizable at a glance. Compare FMA to Silver Spoon, however, and you see that even Arakawa reuses character designs (though Silver Spoon uses mostly bit and supporting characters from FMA for the main cast, rather than reusing Ed, Winry, Mustang, and Hawkeye).
    • It's also present in Hero Tales. The most noticeable example is Keiro, who's a dead ringer for Bradley.
    • And then she did the new adaptation of The Heroic Legend of Arslan. It can be jarring how much her Arslan looks like Edward, particularly considering their drastically different personalities.
  • Yoshihiro Tatsumi uses a star system as well, the most notable star is a character who is all over his short stories and later played Hiroshi in his autobiography A Drifting Life.
  • Takashi Yanase often did this with some of characters from both Anpanman and Mighty Cat Masked Niyandar. Some of these include:
    • Ginko was based after Dokinchan, which was then carried over to Shiratama-san. (Which is Hilarious in Hindsight as Dokinchan has a crush on the latter.)
  • Before it was scrapped, Ken Akamatsu was hired to draw a manga of Threads of Fate. A number of its character designs can be seen transmigrated to his manga Negima! Magister Negi Magi. Most obvious are Negi having elements of Rue, and Anya being a dead ringer for Princess Mint. In UQ Holder!, Jinbei Shishido looked so incredibly like Negi Springfield that many fans assumed that it was him.
  • In Zatch Bell!, Dufaux, the bookreader of Zeon, is an Expy of an unused design of Kiyomaro Takamine. Similarly, Ted bears a strong resemblance to one of the original designs of Gash.
  • Jinsei Kataoka, the artist of Deadman Wonderland, has reused Toto's design at least twice: Amano from Livingstone looks like him with blond hair, blue eyes, and a different outfit; the main character of Kamisama Permanent takes it a step further by adding glasses and a star on his cheek along with the palette swap and outfit change, but is still recognizably the same design.
  • Nitori from Wandering Son looks near identical to the protagonist of the mangaka's earlier manga, Inhabitants of the Threshold. You probably won't notice at first due to the very different art styles, but she lampshaded it when she drew them in the first omake of Wandering Son.
  • Several of the main characters of Bakuman。 resemble ones from Tsugumi Ohba and Takeshi Obata previous series, Death Note. Moritaka resembles Near and L, Takagi and Nanamine resemble Light, Kosugi resembles Mikami, Miho resembles Misa and Aiko resembles Kiyomi Takada. Also Niizuma's character of Crow shares some visual traits with Ryuk.
  • Boichi from Sun-Ken Rock has three main actors, Kitano Ken, Tae Seo and the same actress for every girl, this becomes particularly hilarious when you compare Ken to Senkuu. And even more hilarious when you compare Ken to Vash in the Lost Plant one-shot, whom Ken is an Expy. Check the other Boichi works and you'll see even more examples.
  • In Miss Kobayashi's Dragon Maid, Tohru's character design (minus the horns) is based off of Fuyu from Cool-Kyou Shinsha's previous one-shot, RaButa, right down to their choice of dress. This gets lampshaded in chapter 3 when she's shown using the exact same "Finish Quickly Pose" that Fuyu performed to speed up the washing machine. In turn, Elma's design was recycled as Sana in ChiChi ChiChi. In a more extreme example, everyone in My Girlfriend Without Wasabi resembles characters from Peach Boy Riverside due to them all being Reincarnations.
  • Masuda Eiji is pretty fond of doing this, but it's particularly evident in Shuukan Shounen Hachi: there are a few familiar faces, from My Monster Secret − an Akane lookalike, Miké who is basically a male Nagisa and Hachi who looks like a male Mikan − and from Sakura Discord − Saru looks like Kousuke's baseball senpai and the teacher is pretty much the same as in that series. Then there's Inohara Ran, who looks like a fusion between Nomiya (from SD), Youko and Shiho (from Jitsu wa).
  • Hiro Mashima, who typically leans into Only Six Faces, has a tendency to directly reuse older characters with the same or similar names across his major works—Rave Master, Fairy Tail, and EDENS ZERO—but rarely with the same backgrounds and level of importance.
    • Plue/Nikora, a trembling, ball-headed "dog" with a carrot-like nose, is a recurring Series Mascot who predates all of Mashima's works as a doodle he drew in school. He/she has appeared in more Mashima works than any other to date, with a multitude of different roles: in Magician, Mashima's debut one-shot, Plue is a regular female dog whose bizarre appearance is the result of a super serum; in Rave Master, he is a main character who guides Haru on his quest to find the Rave Stones; in Fairy Tail, he's part of a breed of Celestial Spirit called Nikora who Lucy keeps a seldom-seen Team Pet; and in Edens Zero, Nikora is a Servant Race of aliens seen in a single chapter.
    • Sieg Hart from Rave Master is the second most prominent case behind Plue, usually playing a noble Villain in a White Suit with extremist ideas, or who otherwise opposes the heroes before becoming an ally. In Fairy Tail, he's actually two separate characters: Jellal, a Brainwashed and Crazy Fallen Hero who later becomes a heroic vigilante, and is introduced under the alias "Siegrain"; and Mystogan, Jellal's Mirror Self from Edolas. In Edens Zero, he's an Inspector Javert-type Space Police officer named Justice.
    • Bis, an Elite Mook from Rave Master, appears in the Fairy Tail manga as a nameless Mook who Panther Lily steals his Musica Sword from. The Musica Sword is also named after the Rave character Musica, who plays a major role in the story arc where Bis appears.
    • Happy, a talking blue cat, is one of the Series Mascots of both Fairy Tail and Edens Zero. However, both series give him completely different backgrounds: in the former, he's a magical winged cat from another dimension, while in the latter, he's an alien who was killed and reborn as an android.
    • Erza Scarlet, one of Fairy Tail/s main characters, resurfaces in Edens Zero as a supporting character named Elsie Crimson. Appearances aside, however, their personalities are polar opposites: Erza is a Knight in Shining Armor with a strong case of Good Is Not Soft, while Elsie is an Ambiguously Evil Space Pirate and Lovable Rogue. Both also have a strong relationship to Jellal and Justice, respectively, both of whom were inspired by Sieg Hart from Rave Master.
    • Sisters Mirajane and Lisanna from Fairy Tail make a minor appearance in Edens Zero among a group of girls Rebecca is kidnapped with. The two also end up wearing a demon and cat costume, respectively, reflecting the sisters' powers to transform into those creatures in Fairy Tail.
    • Tanchimo, the giant rabbit/emu hybrid creature—er, "horse"—from Rave Master, has a role in Edens Zero as an MMORPG character whose backstory matches Tanchimo's role as the Rave Warriors' steed, and whose name is made out to be a shortened form of "Turn-to-Timonium".
    • Angel/Sorano from Fairy Tail appears as an in-universe anime character in Edens Zero called "Angela".
  • The Brave Series frequently featured reused robot designs from Transformers, owing to the fact that the toys from both franchises were produced by the same company.
  • The character Zycrow from Aqua Knight also appears in Battle Angel Alita as Tzykrow.
  • Gen Urobuchi has stated in interviews that he wants to do a Star System of his own, using his characters from the tabletop session Red Dragon. His first foray into it, however, was not with a character, per se, but with an item. The evil sentient sword Qisha Tianling that Luo Zhenjie / Zhenhua wielded in Chaos Dragon was, years later, seen as a similar sword named Nanasatsu Tenryou (Which is Qisha Tianling in Japanese) in Thunderbolt Fantasy's second season. Her weilder, however, subverts this; while the wielder also shows up wherever Qisha Tanling does and all eventually share a maddening bloodthirsty love for it, the wielders themselves vary in design and personality.
  • Inspector Hiraga from Candy & Cigarettes is a dead ringer to Doctor Coppelius from Coppelion sans the glasses.
  • Satoshi Mizukami has a penchant for reusing character designs in his works. Usually, if he does, it's to highlight similarities between characters in his previous works (i.e.Maimakterion and Senya both being powerful artificial children). Spirit Circle turns this into a plot point; every character that shares a design is revealed to be the same soul, reincarnated in different eras. By the end of the manga, it's suggested that this is also the case for the rest of his works.
  • SD Gundam World Sangoku Soketsuden introduced Da Qiao Gundam Artemie, who's based on the GNY-0042-874 Gundam Artemie from Mobile Suit Gundam 00P. Then in SD Gundam World Heroes, her character model got repurposed as a stock model used for generic background characters, most notably Anne Bonita.
  • Several Great Teacher Onizuka characters strongly resemble characters from Shonan Jun'ai Gumi!, which GTO is a sequel to. Kunio Murai looks like Tsuyoshi Tsukai, Urumi Kanzaki looks like Saya Minazuki, and Mayu Wakui looks like Jun Kamata (even lampshaded in the author's notes).
Top