Do You Need Characters You Can Relate To? Do You Like To Look In The Mirror?


When reading reviews a comment that is regularly mentioned is how relatable a certain character or situation is and why that makes something more or less interesting. I find this an intriguing comment mostly because the bulk of my viewing growing up was strictly fantasy and science fiction and while you can relate well to the human elements of those shows and some of the characters, the fun of those genres is that they can take you outside of what you know and make you see things in new ways.

However, as I got older and really started looking at what made stories work, I realised that even within fantasy and science fiction, the stories I was drawn to were the ones where the struggles the characters went through felt real. And what made those conflicts and problems real was that I could usually see a parallel to something in my own life or the real world. It was kind of at that point where I started expanding outward from fantasy and sci-fi, as well as copious amounts of horror, and started finding other stories to lose myself in though I never lost my love for fantasy.

While making something easy to relate to might be a draw, does it make it good?

Anyway, the reason I’m thinking about this at the moment is I recently tried to review the first season of Kuroko’s Basketball and what I realised was I didn’t actually like the show. I watched the entire series (25 episodes) in less than a week while working 55+ hours and doing episodic views and reviews of currently airing anime, and I came to the conclusion I didn’t particularly like the show, though I didn’t dislike it either to be honest. So why couldn’t I stop watching it?



He is an incredibly boring character when you just kind of describe him. He barely talks, he has no presence for either the other characters or even the audience (even when he is seemingly supposed to be the centre of attention) and his overall character journey isn’t that interesting in this first season. He didn’t like the way the other members of his middle school team played basketball so now he’d like to beat them. Well, that’s profound. So again, why couldn’t I stop watching?


Because of the relatability. I really related with Kuroko right from episode 1, and not because of basketball because I really did not care about that part of the story. Without the gross exaggeration, Kuroko is someone who is easily overlooked. The guy in the room that even when people know he should be there, they just forget about him. It isn’t that he lacks talent, or that he is getting picked on, or anything like that, he’s just an existence like air. And that is something I could relate to.

At school I was the person who the teacher would ask someone else in the room if they knew where I was, when I was sitting in the classroom. I’m the person who can stand at a service counter forever and will have to wait while everyone around me gets served, sometimes even people standing behind me, and then the service person will start cleaning up behind the counter because they genuinely don’t see me standing there (something which my real life friends find hilarious for some reason).


However, what made Kuroko easy to relate to wasn’t just that he was invisible. It was that he wasn’t bitter about that aspect of his life, he wasn’t hiding because he was being bullied, he wasn’t on some quest to be noticed or not to be noticed… it was just part of who he was.

There are so few characters like that and it was such a novel experience seeing a character that just owned that attribute. That isn’t to say he doesn’t make his presence felt when needed, but again, that makes him relatable. While I might have a presence like air by default, you can’t get through life like that. You have to make people see you sometimes.

So one character, with one relatable trait, was enough to draw me into a show that I don’t actually dislike but it isn’t exactly blowing me away and it made me realise just how powerful this idea is. People are drawn to characters they relate to. They don’t need to be exact mirror images, but when they have that one trait or one thing that the viewer connects with on a personal level, they grab the interest of that viewer in a way that all the brilliant plots in the world probably wouldn’t.


Which made me wonder about a show that I thoroughly enjoyed the first season of, My Hero Academia. What is the draw for that show? Its fun, high energy, great fight sequences, but ultimately it is the characters that I’ve fallen in love with. And when you look at each of the characters what you realise is that they all have some trait or characteristic that you can relate to.

Even if it isn’t a trait you have, it is one you recognise in someone near you. Those characters are incredibly interesting but more than that, you can relate to the struggles they are individually going through even as they are on this fantastical journey to become a superhero.


In one of my favourite shows was March Comes in Like a Lion, I connected very strongly with Rei as he progressed through the story. As a character I wanted to see him succeed but I could understand him when he failed and when he felt he needed to give up. I cheered when he pushed forward, even if it was only a small step, and I cried for him when things got hard.

There were so many moments in my own life where I felt Rei’s struggles related and so many people I know who have gone through depression or similar situations that I could relate Rei’s story too. It felt real and I loved every moment of Rei during its run I really looking forward to its return for season 2 (and was absolutely not disappointed).

What are your thoughts? Do you prefer characters you can relate to?

Thank-you for reading 100 Word Anime.
Join the discussion in the comments.
Karandi James

Kuroko’s Basketball Season 1 Series Review: Dribble, Pass, Shoot, Score



An up-and-coming power player, Taiga Kagami, is just back from America. When he comes to Seirin High School, he meets the super-ordinary boy, Tetsuya Kuroko. Kagami is shocked to find that Kuroko isn’t good at basketball, in fact, he’s bad! And he’s so plain that he’s impossible to see. But Kuroko’s plainness lets him pass the ball around without the other team noticing him, and he’s none other than the sixth member of the Miracle Generation.

– From AnimeLab


Okay, I know my title kind of gives it away but I am not in love with this series. Admittedly, I’m not bit on sport in the first place, so it had to happen sooner or later that I’d try a sport anime that didn’t really work for me and Kuroko just happened to be the one. Still, after Haikyuu, this is probably the one that was most recommended to me by people so I was kind of hopeful going in. And it isn’t that I found Kuroko’s Basketball to be bad, it just does a lot of things I’m not very interested in. But rather than rambling I’m going to try to get into this review.


Probably the main strength of Kuroko’s Basketball is that it is very watchable. By that, I mean you can just turn it on, let it go, and the next thing you know half a day will have disappeared. The episodes don’t drag, it never feels like time is passing (which is odd given how often they show us the clock in the games), and everything just kind of moves along. There are enough bright colours without it being a visual eye sore to look at to keep you focussed on the screen, and the music carries you into each episode and through most scenes. It just fundamentally works and while it isn’t doing anything particularly exceptional it would be very hard to argue that Kuroko’s Basketball was a broken show.

The second reason I found myself caught up watching the first season was Kuroko. I found him a highly relatable character (though not a particularly interesting one). So, particularly in the early half of the season, I was actually really enjoying the show but then something happens. We start to shift more and more to focus on Kagami and the other characters and by the final episodes of the season, even though Kagami and Kuroko are there it would be hard to explain to someone who sat down to watch the show at that point that Kise and Aomine aren’t actually the main characters. So with the character I most liked watching in the show fading out as the season continued, I found myself with a bit more time to focus on other aspects of the show and that was when I realised that while I found it quite watchable, there were very few things that later on I wanted to talk about in regard to the show.


Basically the plot is that Kuroko wants to beat his old team-mates playing with his new team to convince them that his vision of basketball is worthwhile, or maybe just that they are all egocentric jerks (I’m not really sure on what the ultimate motivation is and at times I wonder if he is). And while the motivation to play and win is really neither here nor there it is difficult to care whether they win or not. Aomine is the only person you actually want to see lose and it is quite clear that season 1 isn’t the time for that to happen. So in the absence of any driving plot what we have are the usual team getting together shenanigans, entering a tournament, pulling off some fairly impossible wins, before finally getting knocked out which at first depresses them and then inspires them to come back even stronger for the next tournament. Much the same as every sport story ever.

Where shows like Haikyuu and Days appealed to me more because of the overall cast of characters, their plots are almost identical with the exception that both of those shows had a relatively inexperienced player in the midst. So from a plot point of view Kuroko is pretty standard, though that isn’t a point against it, merely just another point that doesn’t really help it stand out and while it might be older than some of the other shows, I’m only watching this now so that is definitely going to change how I view. That said, if this had been my first entry into sport anime, I probably wouldn’t have watched another.


The cast is a bit of a mixed bag in Kuroko. Other than Kuroko himself, I didn’t really like or care for any of the cast. They all work in their roles and they are all fairly memorable in their own way, but they just didn’t appeal to me. That led to a fairly detached viewing experience and when a character faced a problem I was seldom concerned about the outcome. Whether they played or didn’t, won or didn’t, none of that ever really bothered me. Even the characters who are supposed to be more confrontational didn’t really do much for me. It was more like they were reading the script of high school jock with attitude rather than really conveying the tone and I get that it’s entirely subjective and some people will find these characters quite appealing and realistic, I mostly struggled to see them as anything other than placeholders for personalities and events that were needed to keep the ball rolling, or bouncing as the case may be.

I will point out that the character designs at time caused me some issues. Probably because I’ve watched an overabundance of CLAMP anime where characters are impossibly tall and skinny with heads slightly too large for their twig like bodies, but Kuroko’s Basketball gives us characters that at times, particularly when dressed in school uniforms, has their bodies seem far too thick and bulky and their heads just a fraction too small for the bulk below. It is weird and jarring, though Aomine is probably the character that suffers the most from this effect. When on the court, this effect seldom occurs, but it happened quite often in other scenes.


The games themselves are what they are. They play basketball. There’s back and forth play, there are fouls, injuries, sweat flying in all directions, and occasionally some neon lights around the characters to let you know they are about to do something really cool. I guess if you were more into the characters or more into basketball this might work (or maybe it would work less if you understood basketball) but for me it was more just another set piece for the characters. Basically, watching Haikyuu gave me about three minutes of time thinking I’d like to step onto a volleyball court (before common sense kicked in) whereas watching Kuroko didn’t make me consider anything about basketball other than the fact that I just spent a lot of time watching anime characters play basketball.

There are some great moments between characters and individual plays are occasionally note worthy on the court. As I said at the start of the review, the show’s greatest strength is that it is really watchable. Which means as a piece of entertainment it is definitely hitting the mark. However, in about a months time, when asked what anime I’ve watched recently, I probably won’t even remember I watched this. It was watched, enjoyed enough, and then forgotten in the instant. I may watch the next season of this eventually given I know I’ll probably enjoy the watching and if I’m coming home tired and stressed from work, this kind of viewing is actually exactly what I need because it doesn’t make me think or stress me too much, but it still won’t be something I’d sing the praises of.

Thanks for reading.

If you enjoyed this post and like the blog, consider becoming a patron to support further growth and future content.



Karandi James.