Does your manga have any aliens? How about time travelers? Any espers? Even if you don’t go that far, you should have a whole lot of intestering, out of the ordinary characters (remember Mochi & Taiyo’s character creation lessons!) However… the reader is still living in the real world. If you don’t have at least one normal character to anchor your story, the reader will find it hard to sympathize with.
Today’s word: 常識人 (joushikijin)
“Joushiki” means “common sense” and “jin” means “person”. A “common sense guy” is someone whose reactions match the average person on the street.
Used in a positive sense, this could refer to someone who fits well into society (which is important in Japan).
Used in a negative sense, it could refer to someone who lacks personality.
However, I’d like to talk about this kind of character in a manga sense!
In a manga, your joushikijin is usually a fairly ordinary guy, surrounded by stranger or more eccentric characters. If he’s a minor character, his role is probably just to point out how ridiculous everyone else’s ideas are. Not that this ever deters them of course. So often, all he can do is sigh and go along with a long-suffering attitude.
(Think of Kyon from The Melancholy of Suzumiya Haruhi. He’s an excellent example!)
On the other hand, sometimes the joushikijin is in fact the hero of the story! It’s really convenient for storytelling purposes if your hero is an average-joe type. You have to feed your reader information about your fictional world, and the easiest way to do this is to tell them through a main character who also knows nothing.
Another reason why your hero might be an average-joe type is for wish fulfilment purposes. There are loads of manga stories where a fairly normal guy suddenly meets a mysterious, yet beautiful girl (or often, several). The mysterious girl is going to be far more memorable, but the joushikijin helps the readers fantasize “that could be me!”
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