Character Profiles in Manga

When I first got into manga, I got sucked in for the stories and artwork. As I devoured volumes of Sailor Moon, Cardcaptor Sakura, Fushigi Yugi, and the like I came across character profiles mixed within the pages or beginning of each chapter. The mangaka would detail a character’s date of birth, blood type, favorite foods, etc. After noticing a lot of manga had these brief character profiles, I started looking for them as I read a new series.

Aki's Profile from the Ayashi no Ceres manga

I like the idea of getting to know a character’s basic personality outside of what is already presented in the series. The mangakas must enjoy presenting their readers with these profiles because it gives life to a character. The character becomes more than just a pretty drawing in a book. It starts to feel like you are getting to know a real person. The character profiles included in the manga (at least the ones I have read) allows us to connect to the characters. I always like knowing what the actual ages are for each of the characters in a series (if the year is provided of course) because it adds to the imagination. We read manga to escape reality and to dive into a different world for an hour or two. The panels play out like movies in our head and we give voices to the characters based on how we think they should sound.

I also find it funny how relatable these characters can be when the profiles sometimes include what a character likes to eat, what subjects they dislike in school, and their dreams for the future. Back when I read Sailor Moon and I read a character profile I would think, “Wow, she hates math just like I do. We have that in common.” It’s a strange kind of connection to make between yourself and a fictional character, but it’s fun to fantasize what it would be like if these characters really existed and not within our own minds or fantasies.

When I read a regular book (non-manga/comic book) I always have a number of questions running through my head. How old is this character? What would this character enjoy doing based on his/her personality as presented by the author? I really try to get inside the head of a character, especially when it’s a story I’m really into. When mangakas actually consider making profiles for their characters, it shows that they not only care about the characters they create but they want their characters to feel real. I really think this is a fun idea. I’m glad they do this often in manga. It adds an extra layer to the character you otherwise wouldn’t know about.

How do you feel about character profiles in manga? Do you find it enjoyable to read like I do?

10 thoughts on “Character Profiles in Manga

  1. I like them too. I like getting to know characters too and it’s interesting to see how the mangaka thinks their characters would act. Like do they like bitter food or sweet food, etc. Some mangaka even add in theme songs, which is also really cool. :3 I personally also like the random ramblings on the sides. It gives you a look into who the author is and I find that really really interesting. One of my favourite extras was the author of Wild Com. (Yumi Tamura, incidentally my favourite mangaka) talking about interesting tidbits of the three short stories. Some of her thoughts were really funny and I loved reading them. Or Yuu Watase’s extras that involve funny outcomes from scenarios she drew. Those were golden and showed that she has a great sense of humour. These little extras are definitely some of my favourite parts of physcial manga. :3 As always, great post. 🙂

    1. Thanks! And yes, I also love the author notes/thoughts they have at the side of the pages. My favorite ones to read are Yuu Watase’s too. I really enjoy her humor and some of her crazy ideas for when she wrote the manga. Definitely one of my favorite things to read.

  2. Being a sucker of scanlations I’ve never really read character profiles before… but then, not long ago I went looking for them(because I read somewhere that they exist) and I’ll say I absolutely love knowing the characters I love =D it adds up esp. to the fantasizing part, where these small details adds an entire new dimension to the build up =D So yeah… I love ’em 😀

    1. That’s probably the only downside with scanlations vs. the actual manga volume. You miss out on the character profiles inserted in the books or the author notes about their writing process for the series or general talk about the character. It’s great to be able to know more about your favorite character/series.

  3. I really like it when authors provide profiles as well; I think they’re cute and really informative. Two things I’ve noticed, though, is that in at least three shojo manga I’ve read with character profiles given (Love*Com, Sailor Moon and I forget the other one), one of the major female character’s dream is to become a bride. So much for progressiveness, huh? And another thing that’s interesting to note how little these characters weigh – it’s scary that many shojo protagonists are teased for being ‘fat’ but barely weigh 105 pounds dripping wet. It’s pretty bad for the guys, too – a lot of the guys who I’ve seen profiled are like 140-150 pounds even though they’re almost always near 6 feet tall!

    1. I wonder if the lack of a healthy sounding weight is because Japanese think it’s the ideal or many Japanese people actually weigh next to nothing? It’s hard to say. I don’t think I have encountered a profile past Sailor Moon where one of the characters’ dreams is to be a bride. But you’re right. It would be more original if a female character’s dream was to be a doctor, teacher, world traveler, etc. I find it hard to believe that the only thing a girl has to live for is to be married.

  4. I’ve always loved the profiles they would give out in mangas! I would always get disappointed when they wouldn’t have them somewhere. When I first came across them, I honestly blew it off because I thought it was just a waste of space, but the more I reread the manga and came across it, the more I became connected to the character just because of those simple little facts. It made them more real. Oddly enough, my favorite little fact to find out about characters was their favorite and least favorite food. I don’t know, I guess I really enjoyed it because of the random factor.

    1. It’s always a nice touch when they include the likes and dislikes of characters. It’s one of those things that maybe when reading a story, we don’t think about minor things like that until the mangaka fills in those little blanks in for their characters. It adds to the realism of their characters and the world their characters live in.

  5. The first profiles I encountered were in Cardcaptor Sakura, as it was the first shoujo manga I had. I found it pretty cool that I got to know more about my favorite characters, more specifically Syaoran’s wish list in CCS 🙂
    And when the manga-ka has written all of the character profiles, the manga-ka’s will write comments and ‘diary’ notes on that extra space. It’s fun to know how the creator of the manga does her everyday life 🙂
    I wonder of only shoujo manga have those kind of extras? I’m not sure with the shounen type because I have fairly few titles in that genre (only 4, I think), and all don’t have character profiles.

    1. I don’t know. I don’t get to pick up shonen manga titles often to really know if the shonen mangakas create profiles for their own characters. So far, lots of shojo manga include profiles or notes from the author about the writing and drawing process for their series. It would be interesting to know if the character profiles is a shojo thing or if it shows up in shonen as well.

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