From the mecha anime craze in the late 80s and early 90s to the recent Isekai boom, the world of anime has always been subject to ever-changing trends. There’s one particular trend that has been quite prevalent in recent years, which is the use of an “Overpowered Main Character”.
This type of character has been around forever, but there’s a noticeable increase of this type of character in countless anime that was released within the last couple of years. While overpowered characters are fun to see, they also have their own drawbacks and limitations. So here are some of the things that can be considered to be the five downsides of having an overpowered character in an anime.
5. Carbon Copy Characters
One of the main proponents of the overpowered characters, and also the one that arguably popularized these tropes, is none other than the Isekai genre. After all, the overwhelming majority of characters who are transported into another world ended up becoming the strongest person in that world. That is the case with Rimuru from That Time I Got Reincarnated as a Slime, Ainz from Overlord, Tanya from Youjo Senki, Satou from Death March to the Parallel World Rhapsody, and many others.
Sure, you can argue that some of those characters are not originally the strongest being in their series. But almost all of them received some sort of unique powers or abilities that makes it easier for them to claim the title of the strongest.
As a result, we now have a strange situation where the main character from a series has a strong resemblance to the characters from several other series. Different series might give different kinds of quirkiness to their characters, but at their core, they are just a carbon copy of each other.
4. Limited Character Development
There are a couple of story elements that need to exist in a work of fiction, one of them being character development. How much emphasis is put into this particular story element may vary depending on the genre, theme, and also the author’s storytelling style, among other different factors. But it is still an essential element nonetheless. We need to be able to see the growth and the changes in the main characters as the story progresses.
That is where these Overpowered Characters (OP) tropes fell short. While we can see the growth of these OP characters, we rarely get to see their developments. After all, the usual course of action is to develop a weak character into a strong one, by throwing all kinds of obstacles in their way. But what can you do if the characters are already overpowered from the beginning? The answer is not much.
There’s only so much development that can be done to this type of character because they can easily overcome the obstacles that are thrown in their path. For example, Ainz and Rimuru are still the same “Kind to their family, ruthless to their enemy” characters, but Mob and Saitama stay the same clueless and carefree characters throughout their story.
3. Sidelined By Other Character
Since an overpowered character has limited room for development, it’s hard to put them into the center of the stories without repeating the same thing over and over again, i.e. fighting and winning against increasingly stronger opponents.
Compared to those powerful people, it’s way easier to focus on the struggle of common characters who try their best to get stronger. People who always have a hard time in their fights. Underdogs who do whatever they can in order to come on top. For the viewers, these types of characters are often much more interesting to see, and also easier to root for. As a result, the OP characters ended up being sidelined by weaker characters in order to make the story more interesting.
This is exactly what happens in One-Punch Man and Jujutsu Kaisen. During the Monster Association arc, Genos and the rest of the S-Class heroes get much more screen time than Saitama who is conveniently lost in an underground tunnel. Satoru Gojo is trapped inside an unbreakable prison in order to let the rest of the cast get their chance to shine. Had Saitama and Gojo stood on the front line, the fight would end in an instant, which is clearly not as interesting as the rest of the cast trying their best to survive and beat their foes.
2. Predictable And Formulaic
In order to make a story interesting, the main character needs to face a conflict in order to get better and closer to their objective. However, if the character has already become the strongest since the beginning, then the story will simply enter the aforementioned cycle, fighting and winning against increasingly stronger opponents. That is precisely what happens in the upcoming Solo Leveling anime adaptation.
Solo Leveling is an incredibly fun series to follow, but it is also extremely predictable and formulaic. Those who have read the original webtoon would know that the main character suddenly turns into a powerful character, and then gets even more powerful as he fights against increasingly stronger opponents. The fights will get more tricky and difficult, but the main character will also gain more weapons and abilities after every fight.
After a couple of fights, you’ll begin to notice the unmistakable pattern, and predict what would likely happen next. The same thing happens with Ainz from Overlord, Rimuru from That Time I Get Reincarnated as A Slime, and other overpowered characters.
1. The Story Gets Boring
When it comes to overpowered characters, this one is possibly one of the biggest concerns for both the creators and also the viewers. Because when you consider the fact that these types of characters tend to have limited character development, they are practically carbon copies of each other, they often get sidelined by other characters that are more interesting than them, and their stories are usually quite predictable and formulaic, well, you get one boring series on your hand.
Granted, not every series featuring such characters will feel boring to the viewers. A story that does not revolve around OP characters, such as Jujutsu Kaisen, or a story that has numerous interesting supporting casts, such as One-Punch Man, might fare better than a story that simply has overpowered main characters as the sole focus of the story. But for the countless isekai anime that have one overpowered character carrying the whole series, well, it might be fun at first, but just know that it’ll get boring soon.
Everybody loves seeing an overpowered character's power through their opponents. That’s why more and more anime are being made based solely on that premise, especially in the isekai genre. What these studios may not realize, however, is the fact that this type of character also has its fair share of downsides that could make people get tired of seeing them. So in that regard, the overpowered main character is actually the simplest but also the trickiest character to have.
Do you have a favorite overpowered character? What do you think about OP characters in general? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.