Why Do We Criticise Main Characters For Being Overpowered?

Overpowered Feature

I know right from the start of writing this article that I’m going to step on some toes but the argument about main characters being over powered and whether that makes them less interesting comes up time and time again and I decided I wanted to discuss this.

Why are overpowered main characters considered a bad thing?

Admittedly, I do like anime where the underdog comes forward and finally overcomes the seemingly unbeatable peril, but that doesn’t mean every main character has to be a wimp or a developing hero. It’s nice sometimes to have someone competent, in control, and at times even confident to follow along on their quest. In those instances, it isn’t tension that you are wanting to experience but rather the satisfaction of seeing someone overcome a challenge in a fairly capable manner. So, different emotional payoff but still entertaining, right?

Only it seems there is a very vocal group on the internet that seem to think that an overpowered MC exists only as a plot device and can’t possibly be an interesting character. While they are entitled to their opinion, and if an anime that features a strong main character isn’t for them, so be it, why do they feel the need to berate anyone who feels differently or to tear down these anime?

The king of overpowered main characters - superman

Before we get into anime characters that seem overpowered, I would like to point out the most overpowered character of all time, Superman. Seriously, there is only one thing in the entire world that can even slow him down and its ridiculously hard to come across (unless you are a B Grade villain living in Metropolis in which case it seems you will find it every time you sneeze). And with nothing that can actually harm him, let’s be honest there is very little reason to ever feel concerned about the outcome of a battle. His girlfriend died and he turned back time to save her (didn’t worry about all the other victims though).

One of my favourite characters in anime is Sebastian from Black Butler, but by every definition he is overpowered. At no point in the series do you feel he is actually in any danger, and by association there is little that will actually endanger the protagonist of the series, Ciel.


Does that take any fun out of the series? Does it mean it is pointless to watch because you know Sebastian is going to win the fight and finish with s smug smile, usually while polishing something, and then give a cheesy line about being “one hell of a butler”? I didn’t think so. I thoroughly enjoyed watching the series and the fact that not every conflict could be solved simply through pointing Sebastian at it and saying ‘defeat’. Sure, the outcome of any conflicts were inevitable, but the process of getting to that victory was usually quite amusing to watch and it made for a very satisfying experience.

And Sebastian never complains. Or cries. Or pleas for more power. There are no training montages, no wise advisers showing up, or even friendly rivals (at least not in the first season). All of these clichés that occur in anime where the protagonist is still developing and not overpowered can be removed because what on earth will our character learn from them? They are already strong so most of their learning comes about themselves or other people rather than combat.

Another character who seems to take hits for being overpowered all the time is Kirito from Sword Art Online. Firstly, why is he considered overpowered? He nearly dies in every single battle and fails fairly regularly to protect those he is trying to save, which takes a fairly heavy emotional toll on him. The fact that he manages in most instances to save his own life doesn’t make him overpowered.


While some haters argue that knowing Kirito will win a fight makes it pointless to watch. Unless you seriously haven’t ever watched or read any kind of story before, of course the main character is going to win. They only ever lose if it serves a greater purpose in the plot. So knowing he’s going to win doesn’t make him overpowered either.

Kirito isn’t always confident of victory, and he doesn’t walk needlessly into danger or expose himself to harm. He trains hard and he works with other characters – who admittedly get sidelined in critical battles to show off how amazing Kirito is but that’s a whole other discussion – and lastly, he continues to grow and develop as a character (which is another key criticism of him that he doesn’t develop). While his growth is subtle, it most certainly is occurring.


Remember back in the very first episode of SAO when Kirito realised that the game was real and that he could die. The fear he felt and the way it nearly overwhelmed him. And that emotion led him to the conclusion that he had to get strong and had to survive. Then as the series progressed he realises that mere survival won’t be enough. He has to find a way to live. And then he helps other characters realise that they can find a way to live as well. Kirito may become an exceptionally strong character, but he doesn’t just blink and get that way. And I personally found his journey very interesting even knowing he wouldn’t die.

Then again, if you really hate Kirito you can watch SAO abridged and that is pretty funny regardless.

Lastly, I’d like to bring up Tatsuya Shiba from The Irregular at Magic High School. He is totally overpowered in almost every conflict he is involved in. And even though that is blatantly apparent to the audience the rest of the cast that inhabit his world are a little slower on the uptake. Does that make him boring to watch? Not at all. Tatsuya is fantastic to see in action.


Here is a character who exudes calm and confidence in every situation. I would say the issues come more from his lack of personality than from him being overpowered. And once again, it isn’t as though he is never in any danger or never injured. And it isn’t that the people around him aren’t put in danger or injured. The fact that he is going to win a fight doesn’t make it any less exhilarating to watch.

So, while I will admit that an overpowered main character can cause some plot problems (for instance the increasingly ridiculous ways they will try to make villains or situations that do challenge them), having an overpowered MC is not an instant sign that an anime is flawed, terrible, or without a story.

I guess it all comes down to why you are watching the story and what you are after. If you want nail biting tension and uncertainty in a battle’s outcome, certainly these overpowered main characters won’t be for you. But if you are after something else, there may be quite a bit of enjoyment to be found.

Share your thoughts. Do you like or hate overpowered characters? Who are your favourite/most hated overpowered characters?

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

12 Days of Anime Characters – Diablo

12 Days of Anime Title Image

And this is the final day of the 12 Days of Anime. While yesterday I focused on Kanami Chidori from Full Metal Panic, today I’ve decided to finish the countdown off with Diablo from How Not To Summon A Demon Lord. Why? Because he kind of took me by surprise and ended up being a really fun character.

How Not To Summon a Demon Lord - Episode 3 - Diablo

Isekai protagonists have a fairly bad reputation for being generic and dull. Nice guy shut ins with social anxiety also get a fair amount of criticism. Add in harem protagonist to the mix, and Diablo really did shape up to be the single worst protagonist ever.

How Not To Summon a Demon Lord - Episode 5 - Diablo

However, How Not To Summon A Demon Lord never even flinched. They took the generic, the cliche, and the ordinary and went with it. They embraced the faults of these characters as well as their strengths, and gave us, Diablo.


Whether he is posing in front of an army and pretending he’s got it all together or internally freaking out because Shera’s boobs are rubbing against him again, Diablo was a fun character to spend time with. The disconnect between his inner monologues and external dialogue was genuinely amusing. His being nice while being a demon lord gave him enough of an edge to remain interesting. Even though he was overpowered the anime managed to throw decent enough villains his way to keep it feeling fresh.

How Not To Summon a Demon Lord Episode 7 Diablo

All and all, Diablo was a gem of a character to come out of 2018 and one that should be remembered as a sign that not all cliches, tropes and generic isekai characters are created equal.

I hope you enjoyed my 12 Days of Anime and I hope you have a very good holiday.

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

Friday’s Feature: How Does Sailor Moon Avoid The Label of Overpowered MC?

Blonde Anime Girl - Serena from Sailor Moon

It seems as I go back through the Sailor Moon series for review purposes I’ve become a bit fixated on this series again. It is the place where my love of anime was born so I guess that’s really no surprise. However, as I thought through the events of Sailor Moon, even in the early seasons, I started to wonder why Serena never got stuck with that apparently most heinous of labels of being an overpowered MC (definitely spoilers for seasons 1 and 2 of the 1990’s anime below).

serena and Darien

I’ve examined the issue of overpowered main characters in a feature fairly early on after starting my blog. Mostly because I find that the phrase OP MC tends to feature heavily when people are criticising a main character but don’t really have much to say against them other than apparently they don’t tend to lose fights. Apparently that makes for boring viewing but to be perfectly honest it is the foundation of most fiction that the good guys win except when there’s a pressing thematic need to have them knocked down a peg or two. And one could equally argue that a protagonist who loses all the time would be pretty dull to watch as well.

I’m not going to recap all the reasons why I think overpowered main characters aren’t a problem, but I think most anime fans have at least one truly overpowered character in their life that they just love. Even if it is just Saitama from One Punch Man.


Instead I want to look at season one and two Sailor Moon and the reasons why I feel that by any definition she’s OP and yet that’s fine. I will only be discussing the 1990’s anime.

Firstly, she fairly instinctively knows how to use her power. There’s no learning it and at first it is kind of weak and then with training she gets stronger. She get’s one prompt from Luna and then she’s throwing that tiara like she was born to do it (oh wait, she was). And it instantly kills her enemies. While the tiara isn’t strong enough to defeat higher level enemies, that’s okay. As Serena faces more powerful enemies, more powerful weapons literally get dropped into her lap and again, there is almost no learning curve.

Sailor Tiara.gif

Ordinary middle school girl one day; slayer of the minions of the Negaverse the next with almost no inbetween.

Secondly, given there is a monster of the week, every single week, if we look at her win to lose ratio you have to admit there’s a real imbalance here. Now, we could disqualify any villain taken out by another villain or the very small number that actually get defeated by one of the other scouts, but realistically Sailor Moon has the finishing move in almost every fight regardless of how much or little other characters have contributed. The only real losses she suffers are at the wharf when Malachite traps the scouts in a dome and in the Starlight Tower when Zoisite kidnaps Darien and whisks him away to the Negaverse.


Yet, in neither of instances did Sailor Moon actually fight. She was trapped in the dome without warning and so Malachite avoided going head to head with her (making him one of the smarter bad guys in the series) and once Serena was freed from the dome (by Venus) Malachite ran away (sorry, tactically withdrew). In the case of Zoisite, the fight was with Darien and he lost. Nobody actually fought Sailor Moon until after Darien was teleported out of the tower and then Malachite faced a resounding smack down from a girl who had only just received her magic wand.

Sailor Wand.gif

Thirdly, Serena becomes the holder of the Silver Crystal which is said to be the ultimate power in the cosmos and can pretty much do anything, provided the user isn’t afraid to die in the process. This crystal is the magical get out of jail free card for this series that seems to get stronger when needed and literally does whatever is needed at the time (healing, destroying, restoring, etc). Serena as Sailor Moon and the Moon Princess has the ultimate weapon and is pretty much the only one who can use it. Let’s just be thankful she isn’t all that ambitious.

And that brings me to the second part of this post. Why wasn’t Serena labelled as OP?

Probably because it wasn’t trendy to drop labels like that on main characters back then. Fans weren’t jaded to the point where someone being successful was a sign of poor characterisation. However, there are probably some other good reasons why she escapes the label.

Despite her roaring success in battle and overcoming so many world destroying evils, Serena is totally uncoordinated and just looks so pathetic. It is very hard to take her seriously as a threat when she can barely walk four steps without tripping over her own pig-tails (slight exaggeration, only slight).


She’s also not one of the protagonists with a clear and driving goal forcing her forward. This is where Sailor Moon quite distinguishes itself from so many shounen anime. Sailor Moon is always reactive to threats that appear to upset her normal everyday life. But her normal everyday life is all she’s fighting to preserve. She doesn’t want power or to use her abilities for anything other than to live out her days eating great food and maybe being a celebrity provided she doesn’t have to work too hard.


That lack of drive contributes to the overall view that somehow she isn’t as strong as she is. She isn’t knocking people down to get what she wants left and right or seeking out stronger opponents to test her mettle. At the end of each conflict, she looks forward to putting her crystal on the shelf and resuming her normal life rather than the next challenge she will face.

But that doesn’t make her any less powerful.

Sailor Moon Crystal.gif

In fact, I’m struggling to think of a single character who could actually beat Serena in a real fight if Serena was motivated to fight (as in that character had hurt her or one of her friends). Cosmic Moon Power is pretty unbeatable and given it hasn’t killed her yet (despite the fact that it probably should have) she’s more or less got no limits on what she can do.

What do you think about Serena or overpowered main characters?

Thanks for reading
Karandi James
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In Another World With My Smartphone Episode 9: Behold the Great and Powerful Touya



There’s genuinely no way to ignore the breast groping segment of this episode. While this show has definitely hit fan service points before just for the sake of having them, this is probably the first time I’ve actively wanted to stop watching the show because of a fan service moment. It was just incredibly unnecessary and intrusive into what was otherwise a pretty good episode. Yae’s brother and father have gotten caught up in a war and now Touya’s going to walk in and end it in about five minutes.


Yeah, that’s probably why there are the unnecessary clutter moments in this episode. There is no challenge in this world for Touya as he is incredibly and ridiculously overpowered and while mostly that’s been amusing, this episode really needed to put something in his path to at least slow down the resolution as maybe that would have meant they wouldn’t have needed to have ‘that’ particular scene go on as long as it did.


And once again, we have some fairly casual violence and just kind of dismiss the fact that the guy Touya beat in an entirely unfair fashion crumbles into dust.

Definitely not the best episode this show has offered us.

Thanks for reading.

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Karandi James.


In Another World With My Smartphone Episodes 6 + 7: And the next cliche is…?


Review Episode 6:

There are pretty much two ways an audience can take this show: either it is an uninspired and derivative rehashing of every other light novel isekai story that has ever come before it mashed into one trope laden season OR it is an intentionally derivative story that lets the audience smile even as it packs in every possible cliché and trope it can find into episodes that are full of energy and humour.


Basically, I’m in the second camp which is weird because normally this kind of show would either bore me to tears as they pull out the full on harem (no longer even hinted at really) around the oblivious and protagonist and in desperate need of an exciting end to an episode that otherwise involved setting up house, playing games in a carriage and shopping, the suddenly pull out a dragon attack on a village. If it didn’t bore me, I’d find one (or all) of the cast sufficiently annoying that I’d let it go anyway.


And while I’m not going to argue that In Another World With My Smartphone is actually original, because it isn’t, I kind of think the writers here have actually managed to not just shovel masses of tropes toward the audience and expected them to swallow, but they’ve actually kind of considered what makes those tropes fun. While that might not hit the mark for everyone, I have enjoyed Touya (bland and overly nice protagonist that he is), and each of the girls in his harem are quite pleasant in their own way. The individual adventures have been fun and more jokes have hit the mark for me than missed. Plus, we are definitely getting more integration between smartphone and magic now, so the title is becoming less a cheap gimmick and more an actual part of the plot.

Hopefully they don’t lose their sense of fun in the second half of the season.

Review Episode 7:


A bunch of stuff happens this episode and yet you could also argue very little happens. It seems like some of this may become important later, particularly Touya meeting the sassy fairy girl and creating his own gun from a dragon fang as that seems like it should have some far reaching implications. But other bits feel mostly pointless. Entertaining, but pointless.


Like his fight with the king where about the only thing of note is that using Slip is still hilarious (I’m never going to get over finding that funny) and that Touya really can just use whatever spell he likes once someone explains how it works. Otherwise, this match was entirely without narrative purpose and really took up too much of the episode for the few jokes it delivered.


The fairy girl on the other hand looks like she could be a fun character and hopefully she won’t become just another harem hanger on.

Episode 7 was fun but unlike previous episodes I can’t really say this was the slime episode or the dungeon episode or the whatever episode. Very little focus.

Thanks for reading.

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Karandi James.


In Another World with my Smartphone Episode 1: At Least There’s a Reason for an Overpowered MC here

In Another World With my Smartphone - Touya


After dying as a result of God’s mistake, the main character finds himself in a parallel world, where he begins his second life. His only possessions are the body that God gave back to him and a smartphone that works even in this new world. As he meets all kinds of new people and forges new friendships, he ends up learning the secret to this world.

– from Crunchyroll


This show kind of knows that it is not treading new ground bringing us bland self-insert protagonist who through some mix up is being sent to another world after dying accidentally. However, it isn’t letting its own lack of originality get it down and this first episode kind of moves along at a nice pace. Though, it is clear they aren’t trying overly hard with the script given rather than worry about being criticised for an overpowered protagonist they literally write an explainer in and tell the audience to get over it.


Uh huh. So ordinary guy just got all basic abilities boosted and sent to a world full of magic. Guess we can all see where that is going. If that wasn’t enough of a clue, the opening makes it clear we are heading straight into harem (or harem like) territory and I’m just kind of hoping that another male character, other than god, gets any kind of screen time.

One thing I found very strange were the number of eye catches used throughout the episode. Almost every scene transition used one and it was a little bit jarring and broke the flow of the episode a bit. It isn’t a deal breaker but it is an odd choice in terms of pace and transition.


I’m not expecting huge amounts from this, but the first episode was highly entertaining so I’m a little hopeful that I’ll enjoy the season. That said, it could get old fast if they don’t find a way to develop their own identity outside of the generic isekai structure.

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.


The Irregular at Magic High School Series Review



In 2095 magic have become scientifically broken down and magicians are part of various countries basic defense strategy. The Shiba siblings, Tatsuya and Miyuki, have been accepted into First High School but Miyuki is accepted into the first course where as Tatsuya, who scored brilliantly on paper but poorly in practical tests, is only accepted into the second course. The series covers three arcs: The Enrollment Arc, The Nine Schools Competition, and the Yokohama Disturbance.


Let’s address the obvious straight up: yes, Tatsuya and Miyuki are way too close as siblings for conventional comfort and Tatsuya does in fact get his own little fan club of female students (I’d say harem but given his complete lack of sexual awareness or demonstrated desire realistically they could fan girl forever and he’d just ask them if they needed their CAD adjusted). Tatsuya also gets hit with the label of bland protagonist and hopelessly overpowered a lot.


I’m not actually going to deny any of those claims given they are all pretty valid (with the exception that Tatsuya is bland – I’d say more personality neutral for a deliberate purpose) so if that’s enough to make you throw in the towel on a series, this one isn’t going to work for you.

However, if you can get past all of that, and Miyuki’s clinginess in the first arc doesn’t make you throw up a bit in your mouth (seriously, Miyuki is an incredibly powerful magic user in her own right, why is she that needy) then you will actually find quite a fun high school fantasy here.


Starting with the world itself. I love that magic has been reintroduced into the world but turned into a science. Magical technicians work on CAD’s to help spell processing speeds and theoretical papers are written about applications for magic in terms of energy production and similar (in fact the final arc focusses on the disturbance surrounding a thesis competition). As a result, the world feels fairly authentic. Characters don’t just chant latinish sounding phrases and poof whatever happens. Each spell is the result of sequences of magic and activation codes with large numbers of variables. That is where Tatsuya is truly an irregular.

See, while Tatsuya is put in the second course at the school, he himself explains that he is poor at practical skills, which in terms of how the school tests and assesses is correct. His spell activation speed when using traditional processes is poor. However, they make a clear point of explaining that Tatsuya can calculate multiple variables exceedingly quickly which means he can produce some impressive effects with fairly basic spells and use spells in unconventional ways. Later on we also learn that he doesn’t need to build an entire sequence anyway because he can instantly recall the entire spell for a ‘flash cast’ which means while he isn’t going to ever ace school his military application as a magician is pretty impressive (hence the overpowered label he gets smacked with even though there are a couple of obvious limitations).


For a brief moment it looks like this story might actually be taking a jab at the use of standardised testing in schools, however after a less than subtle conversation between members of the student council, the issue is quickly brushed under the rug and we just get on with Tatsuya being awesome despite being a course 2 student. This is probably my biggest complaint about this series. There are actually quite a few moments where there could be some good social commentary but rather than embracing these they become more throw away plot points as the story rushes to get on with the next bit of obvious narrative development. The end result is a fairly shallow story that might be entertaining but doesn’t have any lasting impact despite the fact that it has several opportunities to rise about this.

From a fantasy point of view, I found the magic in this story fascinating and I liked how it developed and we learned about different types of magic and different ways of using it. That’s where the three arcs are each distinct and fun in their own way.

The first one we meet the students at school, watch them fend off an attack (introducing a range of spell types) and then some of the stronger students go and massacre the attackers (because who doesn’t send students to do that). However the first arc does well to introduce us to Tatsuya the student.

The second arc is a sports tournament. There’s no getting around that. However with sabotage, secret agents, and the Chinese mafia (I think) all getting involved, it isn’t your standard tournament and this is where we learn more about Tatsuya the weapon. The innovative ways magic is used in a variety of events though is kind of fun. Even something as simple as target shooting has a range of approaches.

Then we go to the third arc which crosses between the thesis competition as well as more about Tatsuya’s military and family ties. Arguably this is the weakest arc because we spend a lot of time in battle and quite a few of the students we’ve come to like are pretty well sidelined for the duration. It’s kind of a shame the story ends on this arc. It is also where I lose any ability to defend Tatsuya from the overpowered label. Some of the spells he uses in this arc really do make him seem pretty unstoppable and also kind of remove any tension about his friends suffering permanent harm. If you want to see some cool spells though, this arc is for you.


Outside of the magic and the way that is explored, the characters are a lot of fun. I really like a lot of the supporting cast members. They each get their moment to shine and most of them are just fun to watch in action. Okay, we do end up heavily female heavy in the cast particularly after the second arc where Tatsuya is assigned to the junior female competitors as their technician. Despite that, the guys manage to make their presence felt and it was nice that this wasn’t a literal one man show.

Visually this anime is really pretty. Character designs are pretty standard, but I love the girl’s uniform and the magic itself is really beautiful to look at. Each setting is distinct enough from the school to the hotel where the sports tournament takes place to Yokohama. I also really like the feel of the cafe where they hang out occasionally.


So yes, I loved this anime. Despite all the clichés that come along (the bath sequence, bouncing breast, misunderstandings leading to a guy getting slapped, rivals, etc) this world feels like a plausible future and the magic is fascinating. The characters hold their own in the story and while Tatsuya may not be the most exciting protagonist, he’s capable and sure of his ability without being cocky (though at times he definitely let’s it known that he does have an inferiority complex which given his family situation seems warranted).

I will point out that not all the loose ends are tied up and there are still a lot of secrets that the Shiba siblings have not yet explained when we reach the final arc of the series (particularly what is going on with their family). Still, it’s a relatively fun watch.

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